12mm-US 17

How to Create Short Row Shawls and Shawlettes

short row shawl
This short row shawl is available on Ravelry

I have knit just about every kind of shawl and scarf imaginable over the years and designed quite a few originals but I always tended to gravitate towards the traditional top-down triangular construction with increases in the center and along the edges until I found a wonderful antique lace pattern that I didn’t think would lend itself well to this method. So I decided to do a short row shawl and the more I work on it, the more I really enjoy the short row construction and how much more versatile it is for customizing the size and shape of your shawl.

I love shawlettes and scarves and admit I am a little obsessed with them. I have a really large collection of them and I think between my scarves and shawls I could almost wear a different one everyday during the winter months without wearing the same one twice. LOL Most shawls are rather large and the points can be kind of thick so they don’t always lend well to wrapping around your neck in a scarf-like fashion. This is especially true for ones knit in a heavier gauge of wool. The short row scarf allows you to easily narrow those ends while maintaining the pattern without a lot of complicated graphing and calculations.

The advantages of using short rows to shape your scarf is that, unlike decreasing stitches at the beginning and end of each row, when you are finished and ready to add an edging, there is no need to pick-up and knit stitches along the outer edge as the stitches are all still on your needles and ready to go.

Another big advantage, for me anyway, is that you start out with many stitches on the needle while you are excited about the project and as the piece goes along, the rows become shorter and shorter making it feel like an easy knit. I don’t know about you, but sometimes I begin to get bored with a shawl pattern after working it for a few weeks. With this method of knitting a shawl, I don’t seem to have the same problem because by the time I begin to feel a bit bored with the pattern, the rows start to move faster and I am done in no time!

How to knit a short row shawl:

  • Choose your lace pattern
  • Choose your yarn
  • Choose your needles
  • Knit a swatch of the lace pattern so you can test the gauge to know how many stitches you will need to cast on for your desired length.
  • Cast on the desired number of stitches adding 2 or 3 stitches on each end for a garter stitch border.
  • Knit 2-3 rows of your pattern and then begin doing short rows.
  • If you want a traditional triangle, knit one stitch less at each end of row (leaving the unworked stitches on the needle and placing a marker when you turn so you will easily know where to turn on the returning row).
  • For narrower ends, I work to within 3 stitches of the end of the previous row and turn. This makes a shallower shawlette that is perfect as a scarf.
  • Work back and forth in shorter and shorter rows until your shawl is the size you want. If you want it triangular you will work right down to one or 2 stitches, if you want it to be more semi-circular shaped, you will just stop when it is the right shape. Then work 3-4 rows of garter stitch before beginning your edging stitches or just bind off loosely if you want a plain edge.

Give the short row shawl a try. It is ideal for any lace stitch or striped yarn that you do not want to have an obvious increase worked in the center as you would with the traditional triangular shawl construction. It also is great for self striping yarns that you want to have nice horizontal stripes instead of the V shape.