crescent shawls: tiling flattened diamonds.

When I posted Galaxite on Saturday, I wrote in passing about using a tiled flattened diamond to create the stitch pattern. This post goes into more detail about how this structure was created.

Crescent-shaped shawls have been popular among knitter and crocheters for several years now. The first such shawl I remember seeing was Annis, which caught a lot of people’s attention. A lot of other crescents used the same basic method (the body done with short rows, and the fancy edge knit straight), but designers started branching out very quickly, finding a variety of ways to make a crescent shape.

Last winter I knit Sacre Coeur, which uses a very different method, which I found fascinating and unexpected. Its designer, Nim Teasdale, will be the first to tell you that she didn’t invent it (at least, that’s what she said when I asked), though I think she does an excellent job of working with it. I don’t know an exact name for the style (if you do, please comment!), but it seems to be popular at the moment: one advantage to it aside from its beauty is that the shape can be worked until the knitter runs out of yarn or decides they’re done.

The method starts with casting on a small number of stitches, then increasing three stitches at each edge over two rows, while putting whatever stitches one likes between the edges. When blocking, the bound-off edge is curved around, while the two selvedges are blocked out as straight as possible.

basic chart shape for one kind of top-down knitted shawl.(click on any image to enlarge)

So, the basic chart shape looks like this. I’m only showing the right side rows, and am not going into detail about the edges. For this post, I’m concerned with what shape tiles most neatly in this method without leaving weird extra stitches at the edges. This originally came up because I asked Nim what rectangle ratio worked nicely for her crescent shawls. You’ll note that I ended up heading in a different direction entirely from rectangles! Though rectangular repeats can be derived from this too.

While the very bottom row of the shawls doesn’t have to be six stitches, I found that it worked well for these flattened diamonds. You’ll see why in a little while.

After an abortive attempt which worked out strangely and didn’t repeat properly (and I don’t know what I was thinking), I decided that I’d try stacking more identical triangles on top in the same orientation and see what was left in the gaps between the triangles.

Here’s the result of that experiment.

beginning exploration of tiling triangles on a knitted crescent shawl.(click to enlarge)

Aha! the small grey space in the middle of those three triangles is inevitably another triangle, but one row shorter than the other triangles.

Note that this could lead off on another design adventure – one which put different patterns in each triangle. I’m not going to play with that; if it sparks your interest, go for it!

In any case, I realized that if each bigger triangle was going to have an upside-down triangle for a hat, that meant I could combine them to make diamonds, like this:

tiling diamonds on a knitted crescent shawl.(click to enlarge)

The colors don’t really mean anything here; they’re just meant to highlight how the diamonds tile, and that the last row of knitting is going to cut off part of the diamonds wherever one stops. The purple box outlines the shape of the rectangular repeat.

Important: while this specific version of the method requires starting with six stitches on the bottom and increasing three stitches on each side for each right side row, the number of rows for the repeating diamond doesn’t really matter, aside from needing to be odd, and the same throughout a given stitch pattern. The points on the side of each diamond touch the points of their neighbors on each side; the vertically adjacent diamonds aren’t worked at all in those rows.

small tiled flat diamonds for crescent shawl(click to enlarge)

This is an example of the smallest size diamond that can be used for this method: 3 rows high and 12 stitches wide.

In any case, it’s possible to fill one of these diamonds with a stitch pattern and then tile the result all over a crescent shawl. Or to alternate the result with plain diamonds, or with diamonds the same size but different stitch patterns….

You might be wondering how my secret code grid techniques transfer to diamonds – I hope to explain that soon, but certainly in another blog post.

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