Knitting Rectangles: Transform with a Fold

Shape: rectangleTwo pairs of equal sides, four equal angles.  Whether you cast on for width and work to length, or cast on for length and work to width, knitting lends itself to making rectangles. This simple shape frees the knitter to experiment with color and pattern, no garment considerations necessary.

What types of rectangular projects do we make? Trivets, placemats, table runners, scarves, stoles, shawls, baby blankets, lapghans, afghans: all are simple rectangles. What else can we make with a rectangle if we permit slightly more complexity, allow a fold here, a seam there? Can we transform that simple rectangle into something more three dimensional?

Fold and seam the rectangleOne Fold, One Seam

One of my favorite rectangular transforms is to take one short end, and seam it along one of the long edges opposite. The resulting shape is a rough cone, smaller at the top by one short end width and larger at the bottom by one short end width. Make the rectangle small, and you’ve got scarflette; make it large and you’ve got a shoulder-hugging shawlette.

I’ve used this construction on at least four published shawlette designs. The fun in making each is in the stitch pattern or technique coupled with the yarn chosen. The resulting fabrics have different weight and drape, which effects the way each looks when worn.

Sizing the Rectangle

Making a rectangle is easy, right? But what size should it be, either for a shawlette or scarflette? How do I know it will go over my head (scarflette)? Not be too tight around my shoulders (shawlette)?

Scarflette The smaller top side of the cone needs to stretch enough to go over your head but not be so large it gapes around the neckline. The bottom side of the cone needs to be large enough to rest on your neck and upper shoulders but not so large the fabric bunches up.

The scarflette’s inner circumference is 24-1/2″ – 6″ = 18-1/2″ around. Its bottom circumference is 24-1/2″ + 6″ = 30-1/2″.

Shawlette The smaller top side of the cone needs to be large enough to go around your neckline but small enough it doesn’t slide off your upper shoulders. The bottom side of the cone needs to be large enough to accommodate your total body circumference and arm movement but not so large it flaps around.

The shawlette’s inner circumference is 42″ – 16″ = 26″ around. Its bottom circumference is 42″ + 16″ = 58″.

Both projects can be customized to fit your body. Depending on which project you’d like to make, measure around your head, neck, neckline, upper shoulders, upper body including arms. Make your rectangle slightly narrower or wider, longer or shorter to hit your measurements. Remember knit fabric stretches, and depending on the yarn and fabric, may stretch quite a lot.

Have fun!

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