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Fill-in-the-Blanks Shawl Design


£8.00 (approx. $12.50)*
* Paypal will show you the precise currency conversion before you confirm the sale.

It’s here! I’ve never been quite this excited about anything I’ve created, so I apologise in advance if I gush a little too much. :)

What is ‘Fill-in-the-Blanks Shawl Design’?

Well, it’s a method I devised that allows you to create 4 neck-down shawl shapes using a stitch pattern of your choice, without having to chart anything out.

In my post on Easy Shawl Borders, I postulated that it would be possible to devise a formula to allow knitters to use 2 sets of stitch markers to fill a shawl with a stitch pattern “on the fly”. As with many things, in practice it took more thinking than I’d anticipated to make a formula that would work for all stitch patterns. I scrapped one version that required a whole page of numbers to be calculated, and then filled in on the instruction sheet. The final worksheets are 1 page each and only require 2 numbers: the first is the number of stitches in one pattern repeat + selvedge stitches, and the second is the number of stitches in one pattern repeat excluding the selvedge stitches. Write those on your worksheet and you’re ready to knit your custom shawl!

I tried to make this ebook as comprehensive and awesome as I could, which is partly why it’s been so long coming. To the best of my knowledge, this is a unique resource; there is nothing as simple, mindless or convenient in any other knitting book or ebook. It provides both instant gratification, and a great way to learn about shawl design.

fill-in-the-blanks shawl design

Beginning Shawl Design

The Shawl Knitting Cheat Sheet has been downloaded over 10,000 times since I released it a little over a year ago! I admit I had no idea it would become so popular, but since then I’ve learnt a lot about the kind of shawl resources that knitters are looking for.

“I want to design my own shawl, where should I begin?”
That’s a question I’m asked very often, and one I see on knitting forums time and time again. Beginners always jump in at the deep end; it’s understandably difficult to know how much you don’t know, and it’s frustrating to keep being told to backtrack and take things slowly. That’s why I’m so excited to finally be able to offer fearless new knitters a solution.

fill-in-the-blanks shawl design

10-Level Shawl Mastery Checklist

Have a look at the list below. Where do you stand?

  1. Understand how to knit shawls from patterns.
  2. Understand how increases and decreases create shawl shapes.
  3. Begin to understand how stitches are manipulated to form stitch patterns.
  4. Understand how stitch patterns fit into the shawl shape.
  5. Understand how stitch patterns can be manipulated to fit better into the shawl shape.
  6. Understand how stitch patterns flow into each other.
  7. Understand how to write out patterns in a way that allows you and others to follow them easily.
  8. Understand how to streamline your design process so you can design faster.
  9. Understand how to alter stitch patterns to better effect.
  10. Conduct stitches like a symphony.

The Free Shawl Cheat Sheet will help you with #2, the Little eBook of Knitting Stitches with #3, and Fill-in-the-Blanks Shawl Design with #4 and #8*. The Blank Shawl Templates included with the latter will help you with #5. Many of these are not levels to be attained, so much as challenges that you are likely to face in different ways in different shawl designs, but it’s still helpful to identify your weaknesses and work on them.

* I used the ebook for a shawl I will be releasing soon, and it made things so much quicker! I was able to simply copy the instructions for the set-up rows, fill in the chart and get knitting. Even just having the blank charts all set out so you don’t have to think about them is a great time-saver, so if you do nothing else, make sure you download them below!

What’s in the Ebook?

  • 1-page fill-in-the-blanks worksheets to create 4 top-down shawl shapes:
    • triangular
    • square
    • circular
    • and semi-circular.
  • 3 stitch patterns to try right away,
    • with both written & charted instructions
    • photographed on both right & wrong sides.
  • Advice for working shawls with stocking stitch, reverse stocking stitch or garter stitch backgrounds.
  • Advice for combining and dividing stitch patterns.
  • Advice for troubleshooting.


  • Instructions for creating plain shawls with patterned borders.
  • Instructions for working a bottom-up triangular shawl using the stitch pattern of your choice.
  • Blank charts for advanced knitters.
  • Booklet version – if you have good eyesight, you can print 2 pages per sheet and be the proud owner of a super-cute little paperback version.

What Will This Ebook Allow You to Do?

  • Design your own shawls, in 4 shapes, with your choice of stitch pattern, without the need to chart anything!
  • Mix and match the 4(+1) shawl shapes with the 3 stitch patterns provided to knit up to 15 different shawls + the same number of plain shawls with patterned borders.
  • Make great use of any stitch dictionary you own, to create your own design in minutes. Don’t have a stitch dictionary? How about a Little eBook of Knitting Stitches?
  • Gain a better understanding of shawl construction and patterning. Once you grok the method, it’s also easy to invent (or unvent) your own shawl shapes.
  • Indulge in some mindless design. Once you’ve set up your stitch markers, and understand when to increase, all you need in front of you is your stitch pattern.
  • Ask a loved one to choose a shawl shape and a stitch pattern and quickly create a custom-knit gift. If they’re a knitter, you could even write them up a personal pattern! (How FABULOUS would it be to receive a hand-crafted pattern named after you? I’d love it!)
  • Knit a patterned shawl to any size and for any amount of yarn you like. I recommend at least 200m/220yds for the smallest shawlette, though, unless you’re knitting for a very small person, or a teddy bear. :)

If you’re a more advanced knitter, you can also:

  • Use charts from top-down shawl patterns you already own to change the shape of a shawl. For example, once you understand the process, you could turn your favourite triangular shawl into a square so that it stays on your shoulders better.
  • Make money! There are many designers who’ve used the Crescent Shawl Shaping Worksheet to create and sell their own designs. With a little practice you can do the same.

3 stitch patterns x 4 (+1) shawl shapes = 15 shawl designs

bulky pink shawl
snakes & ladders shawl
little shells

Additional Downloads



  • You’re very welcome to sell patterns designed using this formula, but please make sure you write everything out properly and do not redistribute the worksheets.
  • You’re also welcome to sell items made using this ebook.
  • I’m considering special pricing for teaching licences, for knitters who would like to use this ebook as the basis for a (paid) knitting course. Send me an email if you’re interested.

Birthday Giveaway!

Because it’s my birthday, and I’ve been meaning to hold a giveaway for ages, anyone who purchases the Fill-in-the-Blanks Ebook between now and the end of 8 July 2012 (12pm GMT) will be entered into a draw to win a package of knitting goodies. I haven’t decided exactly what the prize will be yet, but it will include a cabled mug like this one, and a set of Warm Wool Heart postcards. Depending on how many entrants there are (and how much time I have), I may also be able to arrange a couple of runner-up prizes. :)

ETA (9 July): The winners have been announced!


  • Thank you to my wonderful tech editor, Akshata Dhareshwar, for her diligent, meticulous work, for being a lovely person, and for putting up with my slow communication!
  • Thank you to all test knitters. As always I had trouble keeping track, so if you haven’t received a copy of the final ebook, please let me know!

little shells shawl

20th June, 2012  // Downloads, Ebooks, Knitwear Design // tags: , .

Stitch Pattern Calculator

Click here to access the Calculator

I spent a couple of hours several months back, working through the Javascript Fundamentals course at Codecademy and I was inspired to create a simple calculator to aid in shawl knitting. It solves two questions:

1. How many repeats of this stitch pattern can I fit into my stitch count?
2. How many stitches would I need to have for my stitch pattern to fit perfectly?

If you knit and design shawls on a regular basis, you’ll know how frequently you need to make this sort of calculation. Of course the calculator can be used for all sorts of knitting projects, but I thought I would briefly outline how to use it for shawls.

Using the Calculator for Shawl Borders

If you would like to add a simple border to a plain top-down shawl, you can use the technique I mentioned in Easy Shawl Borders in conjunction with the Shawl Knitting Cheat Sheet. Choose a stitch pattern, count the number of stitches on your needle, then use the calculator to determine how many repeats you can work. If you need a total number of stitches that your increase rate will not allow, then I recommend fudging. No one will know that you only increased 2 sts on that last row instead of 4! ;)

Using the Calculator for Shawl Edgings

You can also use the calculator to help you find/adjust edgings that will work for your shawl. This is easiest when you’re working a top-down shawl and are knitting an edging onto live stitches. In this case, instead of inputting the number of stitches your stitch pattern requires, you would use the number of rows in one repeat. The selvedge stitch number would usually be 0 unless you work a set-up or bind-off row.

Knitting & Programming

I love knitting and I love languages, so it follows that I should like programming. There is a long-standing tradition linking textiles and programming, and I recently came across this excellent article on Knitting as Programming (thanks to my Dad, who teaches Java). Alex draws a distinction between “executing” (knitting) a pattern, and actually programming it (writing/inventing the instructions). It all ties in (in my opinion) to the question of how detailed pattern instructions need to be. I certainly enjoy creating “design formulas” like my Crescent Shawl Shaping Worksheet, and the Fill-in-the-Blanks Shawl Design ebook I’m currently working on. The latter is particularly program-like, including if/else statements and loops. And while I have a long way to go before I can call myself even an intermediate programmer, I do enjoy Alex’s description of an experienced knitter, in particular the phrase “knot topology”:

When it comes to this kind of knitting, an experienced knitter is one who takes a modular approach, mixing and matching existing patterns and individual techniques, to build a finished product. It’s someone who can look at a pattern and figure out how to knit it in a different yarn, a different gauge, and a different size, without breaking a sweat over the calculations. It’s someone who geeks out on the knot topology, the 3D spatial reasoning, and the materials science of it all… and knows how to put them to practical use. It’s the difference between being a code monkey and being an engineer.

I hope you find my forays into programming useful, and have a go yourself at being a stitch engineer. :)

19th June, 2012  // Downloads, Knitwear Design // tags: , , , , .

Rosy, Posy, Pink & Poesy

It’s Knitting & Crochet Blog Week again! You can read all of last year’s posts here.

I’ve written before about my love of pink, especially paired with dark green. And while I magnanimously love all colours and can spend hours inventing new colour names, if I had to choose one, I’m sorry Lilac, but let there be Pink.

Last year during Blog Week, you may have seen this yarn on my shelf. Now it’s winding/winging its way to being a fully-fledged shawl. All grown up!

bulky pink shawl
bulky pink shawl

I’m using my own Fill-in-the-Blanks Shawl Design formula (currently in testing!) with the Wheatear Stitch. I’m so so so excited about this ebook, I just can’t wait to release it!

fill-in-the-blanks shawl design

“Pink, it was love at first sight” – Aerosmith

And then there’s this bottom-up, leafy number which I’m knitting in Artist’s Palette Glisten; 100% silk, except for the 100% pleasure that I’m quite certain is plied with it. It’s also been in my stash for far too long! If you’ve never understood “process knitters” (i.e. knitters who enjoy the process of knitting as much as, if not more than, the finished project), then perhaps you’ve never knit with a yarn which makes you want to watch every stitch take form. Silk takes dye particularly well, and no photos can do these colours justice. The yellow isn’t yellow, it’s gold

spring shawl
spring shawl
spring shawl

“Pink is the color of romance and a friend tells me that the girl with the pink dress at the party is the one who is selected for each dance” – Alfred Carl Hottes

Was Hottes talking about roses? I don’t know, but recently I’ve developed a penchant for polymer clay and I made this pink rosy posy heart pendant from white Cernit and coloured it with a blush…

rose heart pendant

And I think blushing must be what Emily Dickinson writes of as a “shawl of Pink”:

Shame is the shawl of Pink
In which we wrap the Soul
To keep it from infesting Eyes —
The elemental Veil
Which helpless Nature drops
When pushed upon a scene
Repugnant to her probity —
Shame is the tint divine.

One last heart/shawl in progress, which isn’t strictly pink unless I get vaguely scientific and point out that white light is a combination of all colours (think Pink Floyd prism).

heart shawl

C’est tout! Lick a pink confection, listen to Piaf, and pick a pink stitch (a pinch?) or two. Á demain…

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