Designing a Hap Style Shawl

I mentioned in my TdF Final post that I wanted to make a Hap style shawl out of some of my handspun but couldn’t find a pattern that I liked so I decided to design my own.

I’m going to try to document my process.  This is the first time I’m designing a shawl.

I want a garter stitch center square.  Here was the first problem in finding a pattern.  Nearly all of them knit the center square on the diagonal – in essence,  a diamond,  not a square.  I don’t like knitting on the diagonal.  I just want a simple no increase/decrease square.

Next, I want to use The Old Shale pattern for the border.  That’s easy enough.  I want to use the basic 18 stitch variation.  After a bit of searching, I discovered that to go around a corner you simply add a few more stitches, 24 or 30 stitches total.  I’ll go with 24.

Ok so I need to make a square that’s a multiple of 18 st plus 24 (half of 2 corners).  I also need to be mindful of the fact that I have 642 yards of yarn to do the who shawl with.  I now need to know two things – how long is 18 stitches in garter and how much yarn does that use.  Time to swatch.


I chose a size 6 needle, both because it was handy and because my yarn varies a bit in thickness.  My swatch is 36 stitches and 15 rows. All measurements are unblocked.

  • 18 st in garter = 4.25 inches and 14 inches of yarn used
  • 15 rows in garter = 1.5 inches
  • 24 st in garter = 5.7 inches and 19 inches of yarn used.

Now to decide what size I want the square to be.  I checked out a pattern in the same weight but with one of those diagonal squares and it said the whole shawl measured 40 X 40 inches.  That seems like a good size.  Estimating from the picture, it seems like the border/edging is about half the size of the center.  Two borders (one on either side) means that the center must be about 20 inches.  The pattern didn’t say but I’d guess the measurements were after blocking so I can go a bit smaller than 20 inches.

24 stitches for the corners plus three 18 stitch repeats is about 18.5 inches

  • 5.7+4.25+4.25+4.25=18.45 inches.

That’s 78 stitches.

This is the tricky part.  I’ll have to pick up stitches on the sides and I’ll want to pick up 78 stitches to make all 4 sides the same. 78 rows, picking up a stitch for every row is only 7.8 inches.  That’s no good.  How about picking up a stitch for every 2 rows? 156 rows would be about 15.6 inches.  Hmm, that’s 3 inches short of a square (this is probably why people do the diagonal diamond.)  An actual square would be 185 rows but then you have to kind of fudge things and skip rows to pick up only 78 stitches.  I’m kinda planning to release this as a paid pattern and that sort of thing is hard to explain.

Then I also have to take into account yarn usage.  156 rows would use about 263 yards while 185 rows would use 311 yards.  311 yards is nearly half my yarn and I don’t know yet how much yarn the Old Shale pattern will use. Time to swatch more.


In the end I will be doing the Old Shale pattern in the round and I know there are differences in yarn usage between flat knitting and in the round knitting.  I’m pretty sure that I use more yarn in the purl rows than knit rows in flat knitting so swatching flat will increase my measurements a bit, which is a good thing.  Better to have extra yarn than not enough.

  • 4 row 18 st repeat of Old Shale = 54 inches of yarn used
  • 4 row 24 st repeat of Old Shale = 72 inches of yarn used

There are 4 corners of 24 stitches plus 12 total of 18 st repeats. One full round of 4 rows would use 936 inches or about 26 yards.  I want 7 repeats so that’s 182 yards.

Also 12 rows or 3 repeats of Old Shale = about 1.5 inches.  Give or take a bit.  It’s hard to measure with the undulations. 7 repeats should measure around 3.5 inches.  2 sides of this border would then be 7 inches.  I was planning on 20 inches so that’s quite a bit different.  But I’m not taking into account an edging.  So now to figure out what I want for an edging.  This will be knit on sideways so I need a row count that matches up with my stitch count – 312 stitches.  But it’s only every other row of the edging that gets knit together with a border stitch so it’s actually 624 rows.  Plus 12 rows for easing around the corners.  636 rows.  More swatching.


I found an edging that I like. It’s 12 rows which divides evenly into my row count.  I knit it once on it’s own, just to get the feel of it and then I figured out how to knit it onto my swatch.  Then I measured how much yarn it uses which is about 3.33 yards.

  • 53 repeats of the edging multiplied by 3.33 yards for each repeat = 177 yards

Sizewise, the edging is about 4 inches, adding 8 inches to either side.  Adding that to the 7 inches of Old Shale gives me 15 inches, close enough to my 20 inch goal (which is after blocking anyway.)

Now let’s add up all these estimations of yarn usage.

  • 236 yards for 156 row center
  • 182 yards for Old Shale border
  • 177 yards for edging
  • 595 yards total

Well that’s well within my total amount of yarn of 642 yards.  Still kind of close since that yarn measurement is also an estimation.  Just for curiosity, I’ll figure out that bigger square total.

  • 311 yards for 185 row center
  • 182 yards for Old Shale border
  • 177 yards for edging
  • 670 yards total.

Well that really gives me my answer.  I don’t have enough yarn for a truly square center so the almost square (and easier to pick up stitches on square) will have to do.

One last thing to figure out.  I want to stripe the Old Shale border.  5 of the 7 repeats will be in a different color than the main body.  So how much yarn will that use?

  • 26 yards per repeat multiplied by 5 = 130 yards

So I need to dye 130 yards brown and the rest teal.  I’ll do the edging in teal as it will contrast against the brown.


This is obviously not to scale nor are the colors right.  It just gives an idea of what I have in mind.

It actually took me most of a day (probably a good 12 hours) to figure all of this out.  This is just the calculations.  Now I have to knit it (and cross my fingers that my math and estimations are good) and then write up the pattern.  I’m thinking I might want to find test knitters for this one.

And before all that I have to dye the yarn.


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