Monday, February 23, 2015

Pembroke & Triangle Shawl Construction

I've been getting some great questions lately about my bulky shawl patterns, so I've decided to share some extra info here on the blog. 

First up, let's talk about Pembroke and standard top-down, center-out triangle shawl construction. I'll be talking about Pembroke specifically, so you'll probably get more out of this if you have the Pembroke pattern to refer to, but a lot of this information also applies to triangle shawls in general.

I designed Pembroke as an instant-gratification project for knitters who may be new to lace or new to triangle shawls or both. This construction is used a lot - if you see a triangular shawl that has a center spine with holes on either side of that center stitch, it was probably constructed this way. This is especially likely if it has a garter stitch top edge.

When I first encountered this construction in a pattern, I was completely baffled. Instead of following the pattern and learning something new, I assumed the designer must be crazy, so I threw the pattern away and made up something that made more sense to me. Looking back, I'm sad that I missed out on a great learning opportunity and wish I had just asked a more experienced knitter friend to explain it to me because this construction is really cool! It's one of the things in knitting (like Kitchener stitch, turning a heel, and mattress stitch seams) that's just magical! 

It was years after that first experience that I finally figured this construction out, and I don't want that to happen to you! 

The diagram above shows how the construction works and I'm going to explain all the steps below.

First, you'll cast on a small number of stitches, probably 3 or 4. Pembroke calls for 3. You may use a provisional cast-on, but not always. I recommend a provisional cast-on for Pembroke and any other very bulky shawls and I'll explain why as we go along. Then you knit the "tab," which is often 6 rows of garter stitch. (Knit every row.) The number of rows can vary depending on the pattern, but 6 is common.

After knitting your 6 rows, don't turn the work, but rather pick up 3 stitches along the vertical edge of the "tab." You can pick up between the ridges, or you can pick up into the "knots" at the edge of each garter ridge. This is the method that Stephen West recommends in his Craftsy shawl class, and, while I used to pick up between ridges, I like his method better as it avoids a ridge on the wrong side of the work. (So thanks, Stephen!)

So now you have 3 stitches from the original cast-on number plus 3 that you picked up along the vertical side for a total of 6. Again, don't turn you work, but instead either pick up 3 along the cast-on edge or remove your provisional cast-on and knit into those 3 live stitches. 

If you pick up the stitches instead of removing a provisional cast-on, you'll end up with a ridge on the wrong side of your work. With light-weight yarns, it's pretty imperceptible, but with bulky yarns, that ridge can be huge and noticeable. With a provisional cast-on you won't have any ridge!

Now you have 9 stitches total on the needle and your garter tab is complete. This is the center top of your shawl (shown in gray and labeled, "Garter Tab" on the diagram above) and you'll be working outward and down toward the point from now on.

Stitch markers divide the sections of the shawl and will help guide you as you work from the charts, so it's important that you place them during your next row of work. 

Here's a close-up diagram of the Garter tab after all the stitches have been picked up. Each "m" shows where you'll place a marker.

The marker should be placed:

1. After the first three stitches (this is going to be one side of the top garter edge of your shawl)
2 and 3. On either side of the center stitch (your "spine" stitch), and 
4. Before the last three stitches (the other side of your top garter edge.)

When working your yarn-overs, be sure not to shift your markers away from these spots - always keep them after the first three, on either side of the center stitch, and before the last three.

First, a word about reading charts:
Each box on the chart represents a stitch - the Key will tell you what each symbol means. Be sure to read the Key carefully as stitches are worked differently on right and wrong side rows. Always read the charts from right to left on right side rows and from left to right on wrong side rows. 

The charts in Pembroke look like upside-down triangles, and you may wonder, "What's with all the blank space?" The blank space is there to allow the chart to grow - because this is a triangle shawl, it grows as you work by adding increases at the sides and the center. You’ll just work the stitches shown in the boxes and then skip to the next box over, regardless of the blank spaces in between. 

So Rows 1 and 2 go like this: 
Row 1: Knit 3, (marker), yarn over, knit 1, yarn over, (marker), knit 1, (marker), yarn over, knit 1, yarn over, (marker), knit 3. 
Row 2: Knit 3, (marker) purl 3, (marker), purl 1, (marker), purl 3, (marker), knit 3

You'll continue working in this way until you've finished the Setup Chart. 

The Leaf Lace Chart has an added element - red boxes labeled, "8-stitch Repeat."  Whenever you have a "repeat," you'll need to work the stitches inside the box more than once. In the case of the Leaf Lace Chart, you'll work those eight stitches three times. It works like this:

Work according to the chart until you come to the red box. Work the 8 stitches in the box, then work those same 8 stitches twice more. Then work the center stitches until you come to the next red box. Work the stitches in the red box a total of 3 times, then work to the end of the row. Work in this way through the rest of the Leaf Lace Chart.

The Arrowhead Scalloped Edge Chart works the same way, except that the repeated stitches need to be worked five times instead of three.

There's a little two-row edge treatment, and then the bind-off! The first time I knit this shawl it took me about three hours, so I hope it's quick for you too!

If you're curious to see more Pembroke shawls, check out the projects on Ravelry (there are over 500 of them!)

Post a comment below or join the Pembroke KAL in my Ravelry group. 

I'd love to see your FO's so please share them in my Ravelry group or link to them in your comment!

I'll also be starting a new KAL soon. You can knit any of my indie patterns and I'm offering a discount on patterns for participants. Join us!

Get the Pembroke Kit from Craftsy or download the pattern from Craftsy, Ravelry, my website, or Patternfish. (If you want to knit a larger version of the shawl, be sure to buy the pattern from Ravelry or my website to get the extended charts.) 

If you're an LYS, you can get the pattern in print through Stitch Sprouts or via the Ravelry in-store pattern sales program.

Next time I'll talk about doing the math to make Sentiment larger.

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