Question of the day: “How do you achieve a vortex shape in shawl knitting?”
Well, the answer is simple: by introducing asymmetrical decreases on one edge of the shawl. But this answer actually raises more questions: why the heck is that?
What Turns A Triangle Into a Vortex Panel?
I tried to answer this question in detail today while working on the chapter on vortex and swirl shawls of Shawl Design in Plain English: Fancy Shawl Shapes: the key to vortex panels is the knitting direction, actually.
Assume we are knitting a vortex shawl with the following parameters: one increase every row combined with three bound off stitches every sixth row. This results in a total of one stitch increased every second row. (6 – 3 = 3 total stitches increased in 6 rows (1 in 6), cancelling out results 1 stitch increased every second row – 1 in 2).
Theoretically, it should look like shown below. (Gray: normal stitches, green: increased stitches, magenta: decreased / bound off stitches).
But it does not. The result is a vortex. Why? Because we are not knitting vertically! The actual knitting direction is an arc as shown below.
This is what turns a triangle into a vortex. The knitting direction as shown above (the black arrow).
The shape shown above is the basis for each and every vortex shawl and swirl shawl. More than one of this shapes can be combined, and if the number of panels is matched against the increase angle, a swirl shawl (a circular shawl in fact, but achieved differently than described in the chapter on circular shawls in the shawl design course.
Combinations of Vortex Panels: Fans and Swirl Shawls
If some vortex panels are combined, fan-like shapes are the result.
Swirl Shawls: How Many Panels?
When it comes to swirl shawls, it’s very important to match the increase angle with the number of vortex panels worked in the round. To make your life easier you can download a spreadsheet for easy calculation of the number of panels:
Details are provided in the upcoming volume three of my book Shawl Design in Plain English: Fancy Shawl Shapes (published Sep. 8th).
Any more questions? I’m happy to hear them!