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!

















Maker Faire Bay Area Time!

Edit: See the bottom of the post for a short recap of my sessions in the NeedleArts Zone, and some links to weaving references for teachers and parents!

It’s Maker Faire Bay Area weekend! And Maker Faire has its very own NeedleArts Zone, sponsored by TNNA, The National Needlearts Association. The NeedleArts Zone provides opportunities for makers small and large to learn how to knit, crochet, spin, weave, needlepoint, and cross-stitch. Supplies and teachers are provided FOR FREE: show up, sign up, and you’ll get to try something new. I’m excited to be teaching weaving on little looms, one of my new favorite things to make with!

Maker Faire has something for every kind of maker, as well as makers of all ages. 3-D printing, alternative energy, rockets, robotics, VR, woodworking… the list is endless. And if you’re not sure you want to MAKE, it’s a great place to people watch.

Here’s a few photos from yesterday’s set up. You can find the NeedleArts Zone in building 2, Craft section. We’re right on a corner!

Maker Faire Recap

Stitchers on Friday morningIn addition to helping set up on Thursday, I worked Friday afternoon and Sunday morning/early afternoon in the NeedleArts Zone teaching weaving, my current fiber-related new hobby. Here are just a few thoughts and photos on the experience!

Friday was student day at Maker Faire. When the gates opened, the first students into the Needlearts Zone swarmed the needlepoint station. SWARMED, truly. Every time I looked over from the weaving station, the needlepoint tables were full of stitchers. How wonderful is that?!

My tables quickly filled up with new weavers ranging in age from eight to 18. I had some great conversations with parents, who wanted to know where to get the looms so their kids could keep weaving at home. Teachers can incorporate making a loom out of cardboard into their class activities, getting kids to practice measuring and cutting skills before moving on to weaving itself (see these free patterns from Red Heart for instructions on making a cardboard loom as well as the basics of weaving: LW4978, LW4979, LW4918).

Sunday was equally busy, but with adult learners as part of the mix. Many went beyond the basics of plain weave and tried more complicated basketweave and tapestry techniques. While we had warped the looms for students ahead of time, each student learned how to take their piece off the loom and finish the ends so they had something to take home as a reminder of what they learned.

It was exhilarating to be part of creating so many new weavers, spinners, knitters, crocheters, and stitchers!


#KnitWithBeth Lace Sampler

Beth, Yonca, Amy at the Universal booth

With the #KnitWithBeth Lace Sampler poncho yarn sponsors Yonca and Amy of Universal Yarns!

Want to learn something new? Make a commitment to someone else that requires learning a skill. Whether you want to learn how to design your own lace poncho or learn how to do a Facebook Live video, making a commitment is a great motivator! :-)

For the last two Fridays I’ve been appearing on the Creative Knitting magazine Facebook page, leading a Facebook Live knit along of the Lace Sampler poncho in the Spring issue. I’ve learned I LOVE doing live video, that I like having both a tall and short tripod (tall for long views of garments, short for closeups/tutorials), and that to create video in landscape format you have to START with the phone/recording device held horizontally. I hope those of you have watched have learned a few things from watching, hopefully about lace knitting and designing! Many thanks to the folks at Universal Yarn for sponsoring the knit along; you can see what they are up to on their Facebook page.
I’ve put together the various links and some resources from the knit along below. I hope you find them useful. You are welcome to ask me questions here or on my Facebook page. I’ll be going live there next Monday, February 20 Friday, Feb 17th at 1pm Eastern/10am Pacific with one last KAL “episode” and I think I’ve persuaded Kara to join me: see how far each of us has gotten in our Sampler!

poncho-onlyLinks to the KAL and related videos

  1. On the Creative Knitting page, Kara demos two techniques used in the Sampler’s stitch patterns.
  2. On the Power Purls Facebook page, Kara  shows some insertion patterns you could use instead of the ZigZag Trellis.
  3. And the KAL kicks off Feb 3, with me on the Creative Knitting magazine Facebook page. I went over some basics on the Lace Sampler as-is, and some considerations for designing your own. I showed some new swatches I was thinking of using for a different version of the poncho.
  4. Before the KAL on Friday the 10th, on thePower Purls’ page, Kara and I do Q and A on the KAL.
  5. And at 1pm Eastern/10am Pacific: the KAL conclusion, in which I showed more swatches, including an experimental one, and made my final choices for the new version.

Design Within A Rectangle

Panels of different sizeThe poncho’s rectangle is the canvas for playing with lace stitch patterns. The Sampler has three panels, each with a different stitch pattern. As the illustration shows, I could have made the panels the same or different sizes. There’s a design choice here, though the stitch repeat of each pattern has a part to play as well. When designing, you start with an idea, knowing that as you begin to implement it may change.

Interested in designing your own version of the poncho? Download this blank chart (with a chart symbol key) and give it a try!

Stitch Patterns Side by Side

If stitch patterns that sit side by side don’t have the same row repeat, it can be difficult to keep track of the row you are on for each pattern. When they have a common multiple, it can be a little easier to track. When working the final row of the largest repeat, you are also working a final row of smaller repeats. Put a marker in that final row, and count from it when checking where you are in smaller repeats. Move the marker up every time you finish one repeating the larger pattern.chart_row-reps-common

Sometimes the visual appeal of a stitch pattern is so great, it’s worth the pain of row repeats that don’t match up, or match up after many rows. Put a marker in the first or last row of each stitch pattern, moving it up as you complete a repeat.



A gallery of some of the stitch patterns under consideration for the Lace Sampler variation. All the swatches were 32 pattern rows between garter stitch borders. Seeing a photo of a pattern knit up is just not the same as seeing it appear on your needles!

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Playing with Swatches

Once you have a bunch of swatches you like, you can play with ways to arrange them. You can see not only if the arrangement works from a design perspective, but from an implementation perspective (Arrow does NOT look like it would work with Mira and Flowing Lace!).

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Final Swatching

You select your stitch patterns, do the stitch repeat math, and select edge stitch and insertion patterns. And then you test it with another swatch. Sometimes it works, and sometimes… not. This insertion pattern doesn’t work well with these stitch patterns. Back to the drawing board.



Fingers crossed the choices I made on the 10th work!

Welcome, 2017

The Kid and me at Carlsbad Caverns

The Kid and me aboveground at Carlsbad Caverns National Park.

It’s a new year, and time for something new here on the Beth Whiteside Design Blog. Throughout 2016 I was the Creative Knitting Magazine update editor. Every three weeks I created a newsletter, keeping readers up-to-date on the latest news from the magazine, Annie’s, and around the industry. Each issue contained a tutorial and link to a pattern using the skills or techniques learned in the tutorial. The January 5th update containing a tutorial on short rows was my last.  It was a lot of fun and I learned a lot. And now it is time to bring that energy and knowledge back to my own blog’s content! Here we go!

January 2nd found me driving a new-to-me car from Houston back to San Francisco with my son. We crossed ~2000 miles in four days, making time only for a half day at Carlsbad Caverns National Park in New Mexico. There is no other word but incredible for the miles and miles of caves, with their delicate spires and formations. HIGHLY recommend a visit! After unpacking at home, it was time to get ready for the next big event in my work life.

The National Needlearts Association

If you don’t know of it, The National Needlearts Association is the trade organization for the needlearts. It is a membership organization composed of wholesalers (those folks who make yarn, tools, canvases, and such), retailers (LYSs and other needlearts stores), and service professionals like myself (aka designers, teachers, editors, social media folks, web site designers, etc). Twice a year there is a trade show where we all gather to see new product, network, take business classes, and do all the other things that industry professionals do at business conferences. This year’s winter show was January 19-23 in San Jose, CA. Just down the road from me, so of course I went!

Teaching: Creating Schematics With Illustrator

class_photo_schematicsOn Saturday I taught one of my professional classes, Creating Schematics With Illustrator. Illustrator is an amazing, powerful tool for creating graphics, and it is easy to get lost in all the possibilities. The class is designed to be an introduction to working comfortably in Illustrator, and learning how to use the tools to produce garment schematics. For anyone who took the class, either in San Jose or when it was offered last year, I am offering a 1-hr follow-up Schematics With Illustrator Lab over Skype on Wednesday, February 15th at 6 pm Pacific/9 pm Eastern. Go over your handout again at home, and try copying a schematic from a magazine or book. Then bring problems and questions to screen share. The class will be limited to 5 students, and cost $20.  For more information and to sign up, send me an email or use the Get in touch form.

New Products, Show Floor

In addition to teaching, I participated in a new event at the show, the Industry Services Showcase. I talked to people wandering by about my editing, graphics, and instruction services. Since it was a new event and I’m not sure the word got out about it, traffic was a little light, but I think it was still worth doing.

The area in front of the entrance at each show there is an area showcasing new products. It is always fascinating to see things that will be appearing next at the LYS. I practiced my walking-and-filming skills as I wandered through the displays, if you want to have a look at what’s new yourself.

Here’s a random sample of booths I visited while on the show floor:

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#KnitWithBeth on the Lace Sampler!

poncho-only copyIn other news, if you didn’t catch it in the slideshow above… I’ll be the host of a Knitalong on the Creative Knitting Facebook page on February 3rd and 10th. Through the technological wonder that is Facebook Live, I’ll guide you through making the Lace Sampler, a rectangular poncho with three lace stitch patterns. Feeling adventurous? I’ll help you design your own version, with info and tips on choosing stitch patterns and combining them successfully. Hope to see you online!

That’s it for now. Till next time!


And the Craftsyversary winner is…

CraftsyLogoBellaterre! Congratulations, and enjoy your free Craftsy class!

I’m looking forward to seeing all of you who signed up in class, answering your questions, and seeing your projects. Color work is some of my favorite knitting, and just getting this celebration together is nudging me back toward it as I try to restart my own independent pattern line. One of my older patterns that I still love making is the Triangle Man Pillbox. I wonder if the class color patterns could be adapted to the hat stitch counts… ;-)

Modern Stranded Knitting Techniques classFor those of you looking to expand your knowledge of stranded color knitting, I’ll point you at Mary Jane Mucklestone‘s new class, Modern Stranded Knitting Techniques. She has still more motifs for you to work up while practicing your technique, and you’ll get to make the cool cowl you see in the picture at right. Each of us has our own bag of knitting tips and tricks, and Mary Jane brings a lot of great ones to this class!

Check it out using my affiliate text link or the one on the photo, and you can get 50% off the purchase price.

Until next year!