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It Started with a Sketch: Ardisia

The 2020 advent calendar kicked off on December 1 with a brand new shawl pattern: Ardisia.


This pattern was very much born of the idea of what if. How many times have you knit a shawl that starts with simple garter stitch or stockinette body and then ends in a fancy border? Yeah, me too. What would happen if you turned the usual shawl construction on its side?



Ardisia features a wide ribbed border that runs on one side throughout the entire shawl. And when I say ribbed it's not the whole truth. The stitch pattern is based on ribbing but with cleverly placed increases and decreases that actually make it look like cables. The difference is you don't have to use a cable needle and the stitch pattern doesn't pull in as much as cables would because there are no overlapping stitches.



The width of the twining rib border stays constant but where the shawl grows is on the other side, towards the left end of the shawl. The body of the shawl features a nubby texture made with dip-stitch droplets, akin to the vibrant red berries on the Ardisia plant. These droplets are really fun to work but the are quite the yarn-eater!


A sketch for Ardisia.

Ardisia is also an experiment in shawl shape. My usual go-to shawl shape is the corner-to-corner on-the-bias shawl in which increases are placed along one edge the shawl and decreases on the other. Doing a fixed-width border on one edge meant having to forego decreases so the shawl grows more rapidly. Instead of being a tapering boomerang shape, Ardisia is a straight-angle shawl. There are only increases, always placed on the same edge — the other two edges remain straight. My sketch has the edge proportions backwards — I'm so used to knitting boomerang-shaped shawls I didn't know how to picture the effect this would have on the final shape!


The yarn I used for the shawl is also something I've never used before: Lichen and Lace Rustic Heather Sport (100% wool, 197 m/56 g, 215 yd/1.98 oz). It's a sport-weight singles yarn which in and of itself are rare to come by. It's also made of minimally processed non-superwash wool which just adds to the rarity factor. And as the name suggests: it's very rustic, quite grabby and scrunchy to work with. But just the thing for a cozy shawl because the bouncy woolliness brings out beautifully the differences in texture. The colorway I used, a dark maroon called Beet, is perhaps not the wisest choice to try to photograph on the darkest month of the year.



I'm not usually one for having extraneous bits on my knits but for Ardisia I wanted to zhuzh it up by adding tassels to each of the three corners. And I must say: I'm a tassel convert! They are quick to do — much easier than pom poms — and the perfect way to use up any leftover yarn you might have.


To knit the shawl you need approx. 700 m (or 765 yd) of yarn without the tassels — that's 755 m (or 825 yd) including tassels). But that's just a suggestion! The pattern is written in a way that makes it easy to scale the size up or down, depending on how much yardage you have or how big of a shawl you want. Just do fewer or more pattern repeats — the pattern tells you the amount of yarn to reserve for the bind-off. My sample shawl with seven pattern repeats measures approx. 150 cm (59") in width and 80 cm (31½") in depth.



Ardisia is now available on Ravelry (seizure warning!), Payhip, and LoveCrafts. If you join my mailing list, you can get 15% off the price and get access to the rest of the advent calendar offers!


Share your shawl on Instagram with the hashtags #ardisiashawl and #talviknits.

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Susanna Winter is a knitwear designer, creating timeless and elegant pieces with clean lines. She has been knitting for over 20 years, knit blogging since 2007, and designing knitting patterns professionally since 2016.

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