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It Started with a Sketch: Solaris Veil

Variegated yarns: you either love them or hate them. Variegated or multi-color yarns are dyed with short, non-repeating color lengths and often in vibrant colors. They can look very tantalizing on the skein but when knit up, the colors produce unexpected and sometimes garish effects such as pooling or flashing. I don't usually like to use variegated colors in my designs but my latest shawl pattern, Solaris Veil, is an exception: it was specifically designed for them.

Solaris Veil :: shawl knitting pattern

Solaris Veil was born out of contrasts: light and shadow, colorful and colorless, busy and relaxing. The shawl plays on the idea that roughly 95% of the known universe is made up of dark energy and dark matter. There are vast reaches of nothingness between the stars with only periodic bursts of bright brilliance.

I had two skeins of yarn that were ideal for the design, one mixed with all the colors of the Orion Nebula, the other a neutral light gray void of any discernible color. Solaris Veil combines the two into a shallow triangle-shaped shawl with alternating sections of garter stitch in the wild variegated yarn and simple lace in a solid or tonal.

My first sketch for Solaris Veil.
My first sketch for Solaris Veil.

Combining textures and colors this way has a two-fold effect on the overall look of the shawl. For one, garter stitch stops the multi-color yarn from producing big splotches of a single color. And pairing the variegated with a subtler color tones done the whole shawl, still giving it visual interest but preventing it from becoming busy and distracting.

Solaris Veil :: shawl knitting pattern

All in all, this creates a shawl that strikes a balance between challenge and relaxation. The garter-stitch sections are mindless and quick to knit, the lace bits require a bit more focus. The shawl is a satisfying knitting experience with different sections that are engaging yet not overwhelming.

The shawl is worked from the top down starting with a garter-tab cast-on at the neck edge. The garter tab extends into three-stitch wide garter edges that frame the shawl on two sides. The shallow triangle shape — which I've used previously on Grand Fir, Enter the Dragon, or Sirimiri, for example — is achieved by increasing stitches in the middle of the shawl in a more gradual pace than is usually done in conventional top-down triangle shawls.

The lace stitch patterns in the shawl are also in a triangle formation, mimicking the shape of the entire shawl. You only need to know four types of special stitches to knit the lace: yarnover, K2tog, SSK, and the centered double decrease CDD. Lace is done only on right sides of the work; all wrong-side rows are easy purl-back rows with edges in garter stitch. To accommodate knitters of all preferences, both charted and written row-by-row instructions are given for the lace patterns.

The shawl ends in a wide border that grows from the lace pattern used between garter-stitch sections. A stretchy bind-off is done in the variegated yarn to add a decorative edge to the shawl. When correctly aligned, the middle peak on the edge lines up with the center spine of the shawl.

The shawl pattern is one size only, measuring about two meters (80 inches) in wingspan and 60 cm (24 inches) in depth. The shallow triangle shape makes a shawl that's comfortable to wear draped on the shoulders, worn Sontag-style, or loosely wrapped around the neck, either once or twice.

To knit Solaris Veil you'll need two colors of fingering-weight yarn, one skein of approx. 400 meters or 440 yards of each color. My sample shawl was knit in Knitlob's Lair Luonnotar (100% superwash merino, 400 m/100 g, 444 yd/3.53 oz), a hand-dyed single-ply yarn from Finland. The variegated colorwork is one of a kind; the solid silvery gray is called Hopea (which literally translates to 'silver').

You can find similar yarns from practically any indie dyer. Superwash merino singles are a great choice for shawls because these yarns drape beautifully, retain their shape, and don't need to be re-blocked often. But if superwash is not your thing, wool/silk blends or straight-up sock yarns would also work wonderfully for this design.

Bigger brands also offer hand-dyed single-ply 100% merino yarns. madelinetosh Tosh Merino Light, Malabrigo Mechita, or Hedgehog Fibers Skinny Singles are among the most popular ones. If you wanted to re-create my celestially-inspired Solaris Veil, I've put together a few colorway suggestions below.

Solaris Veil is now available in my pattern shops on Payhip, LoveCrafts, and Ravelry (seizure warning). If you're on my mailing list, check your email for a coupon code for the pattern! Share your shawl creations on Instagram with the hashtags #solarisveilshawl and #talviknits.


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Solaris Veil is a shallow triangle shawl with lace and garter stitch, designed for those wild variegated yarns that look so seductive on the skein but you don't know what to knit with. Learn more about this shawl knitting pattern: the inspiration behind the design, how multi-color yarns can be toned down, how the shallow triangle shape is achieved, and why Solaris Veil strikes a balance between challenge and relaxation. Yardage requirements and colorway suggestions included! #knitting #shawl

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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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