Simple arithmetic makes an adventure out of an Asymmetrical Shawl

This week we’re looking at Revolutions yarn. This is a gradual gradient fuzzy and chunky yarn that lends itself readily to being knit into a lovely asymmetric shawl with softly transitioning colors.

A little arithmetic and a few easy knitting skills and you’ll be able to knit a shawl that will generously drape over your shoulders and keep you warm. If you really don’t want to do any arithmetic, take a look at the free patterns I reviewed yesterday.

The 5 colors in this wheel of Revolutions will fade from one to the next in this asymmetrical shawl by working a few short rows, and some strategic increases.

To knit this shawl, I used a size US 11 [8mm] circular needle. Straights would have been fine as I just knit back and forth, but as there are going to be a lot of stitches by the end of this journey, I’d rather have the cable to hold all the stitches.

This shawl starts with just a few stitches at the bottom tip and then you increase on both sides to create the triangle. However, the rate of increase is different on both sides, and this is where the arithmetic comes in.

To those readers who run when they hear the word “arithmetic”, please stick around, as this is NOT going to be painful.

To begin you’ll want to choose a number which will be your mathematical constant. That is, this number will be the basis for all the other basic and easy calculations you’ll need to make. I would suggest 5, 6, 7, or 8 to be your math constant. Choose whichever is your favorite out of these four.

The garter stitch rows make it easy for newer knitters to make this shawl, and truly show off the yarn well by giving a more textured surface for the fibers to fluff out.

The next thing we need to figure out is the rate of increase on either side of the point. We want one side to increase more dramatically, than the other so let’s divide the constant by 3 and round-off to get the increase rate for the side that has a more gradual increase. The answer will be 2 for all of these but 8, for which it will be 3.

Then we take away that from the constant to get the increases for the other side.
5 – 2 = 3.

6 – 2 = 4.

7 – 2 = 5.

8 – 3 = 5. And so on if you choose to go higher than 8 as your constant.

So to begin you’ll cast on your constant: 5 (6, 7, 8, etc). The numbers in parentheses are just to help you see the options for each of the four suggested constants.

Then you’ll knit 2 rows. By the way. This scarf is all in garter stitch as the yarn has enough texture of its own and so lacework or other texture is really not necessary to pursue.

With a locking stitch marker, indicate the first side, which will be the side with the dramatic increase, and leave the one with the slow increase unmarked.

Row 3: Knit cast on 3 (4, 5, 5) sts. Knit 3 (4, 5, 5), knit in the back loop of the next st to tighten up the gap formed by the first knit-on stitch, then knit across to the last 3 (3, 3, 4) sts, (knit into the front and back) of the next 2 (2, 2, 3) sts, knit 1—you now have 10 (12, 14, 16) sts.

Row 4: Knit across.

So you can see that we’ve already doubled the stitch count, and you’ll need to repeat Rows 3 and 4 until you have 4 times the original number of cast on stitches. When you reach 20 (24, 28, 32) sts, then stop with an odd-numbered increase row and don’t knit back.

The wedges created by the short rows fill in with the newer darker color from the next stage of the gradient in Revolutions yarn.

A second important characteristic of this asymmetrical shawl is that it needs to start flaring like a horn or a scroll on the side that has the slow increase rate. We do this by working short rows. Because of the fuzziness of the yarn, and the garter stitch rows, we don’t need to learn any fancy short row techniques, but this is where the arithmetic comes into play a second time.

We’ll be making several “sets” of short rows, and the first short row of every set is going be based on a multiple of the constant x 2. So we now have 20 (24, 28, 32) sts and this is a multiple of 10 (12, 14, 16), which is twice our constant.

Second, while we’re working short rows, there are no increases worked on the dramatic or marked edges.

First short-row section

Row 1: Knit 10 (12, 14, 16), slip next st, bring yarn forward between the needles, return the slipped stitch to the left-hand (LH) needle. This is called a wrapped stitch and is a common technique in show rows. You’ll leave the remaining stitches on the left-hand needle unworked, and now turn the work.

Row 2: Knit back.

Row 3: Knit 5 (6, 7, 8), slip next st, bring yarn forward, return the slipped stitch to the LH needle, turn.

Row 4: Knit back.

Row 5: Knit across all stitches.

Next Increase section

Now you return to increasing dramatically on one side and gradually on the other until you’ve reached the next multiple of your constant x 2, in other words 30 (36, 42, 48) sts.

In the following short-row sections do the following.

Take the total number of stitches and subtract the constant x 2 if it’s the 2nd short row section, by 3 if it’s the 3rd, by 4 if it’s the 4th, and so on. Work the first short row to that number, wrap and turn and knit back. For our shawl that would be to 20 (24, 28, 32) sts, wrap and turn.

For the next series of rows, work each short row with fewer stitches by subtracting the constant once for each short row. For our shawl, the next short rows would be to 15, then 10, then 5 for a constant of 5. To 18, then 12, then 6, for a constant of 6, and so on for the others. After the set of short rows is over, you knit a plain row across to the dramatic or marked edge and work increases again.

This approach to alternating between increase sections and short row wedges will create a dynamic look with the colors as they fade from one to the next because the rate of color change will be faster in the short rows than along the dramatic increase edge.

As you can see, using arithmetic pattern, you can create a fun project that doesn’t take too much planning and results in a beautiful gradient shawl.

True to my predictions, the colors of Revolutions gradually fade from one to the next and are highlighted by the wedges formed with short rows.

This is part 4 of 5 in this series.
Go back to part 3:4 tips for knitting with fuzzy yarn

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