Because of where the yarn-over increases are placed in such a shawl, they help to shape it.
To give you a better idea of how this works, try these basic directions:
Cast on 7 stitches. Knit straight across for one row, then begin the following pattern.
- K1, YO, K2, YO, K1, YO, K2, YO, K1 (11 stitches total)
- K to end.
- K1, YO, K4, YO, K1, YO, K4, YO, K1 (15 stitches total)
- K to end.
If you do about 5 repetitions of that 4-row pattern, then bind off the shawl, you’ll notice, when it’s off the needles, that because of the placement of the increased, it really does have a triangular shape, and the place where you started is in the very centre of that long top section, with the middle section coming down to a point. The miracle of cool construction!
But what to do with all the stitches between the yarn-overs. That’s where the fun of designing comes in. Pick a stitch pattern that you like, and pattern, and start knitting it in those panels. The Feather and Fan Comfort Shawl pictured above is a great example of this, inputting the very popular feather and fan pattern that gives that shawl its distinctive waves.
This can be done with any stitch pattern. Browse your stitch dictionaries to see what you like best, and work with it. Don’t be afraid to switch stitch patterns, either, to spice up the shawl. Maybe do one stitch pattern for the bulk of the shawl, and then a few repeats of a different one to act as a border or edging. The possibilities are endless!
As you increase in stitches, you’ll find that you have too many to use in your current pattern, but too few to add another repeat alongside it. This isn’t a problem. Just work those extra stitches as you normally would, knitting or purling depending on what kind of pattern you’re using, and leave them along the centre line. That’s where you’ll start the next repeat of your pattern anyway, and doing this for a few rows won’t detract from the overall look of the shawl you’re designing.
Another way to make a triangular shawl, one that’s a bit easier and doesn’t involve quite as much shaping, is to start at the bottom and increase towards the top, the way one would normally think such a thing should be done. Still add your yarn-over increases toward the outside of the shawl (leaving a few extra stitches after that to use as a border, of course), but start your pattern from the bottom. For example:
Cast on 5 stitches.
- K2, yo, K1, yo, K2 (7 stitches)
- Knit to end.
- K2, yo, K3, yo, K2 (9 stitches)
- Knit to end.
And so on and so forth, until you have enough stitches to start your pattern. For some patterns, this may mean that you have straight lines running up the shawl, but for others, if they can be staggered a bit or don’t require too many stitches, you can avoid that appearance.
If those ways of making your triangular shawl don’t suit what you have in mind, or you want to design something a little bit out of the ordinary, then Fleegle has an excellent blog post on a different kind of triangular shawl construction, which I heartily recommend reading if you’re really interested in designing your own shawls.