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Mystery Revealed: Smoke and Mirrors

The fifth and final clue of Smoke and Mirrors came out today so it's now become time to reveal this year's mystery shawl. This shawl design went through quite a few iterations until it emerged as the pattern you see in the photos below.

First sketch for the Smoke and Mirrors mystery shawl.
First sketch for the Smoke and Mirrors mystery shawl.

The earliest sketch I could find in my notebook is from September 2020 when I still envisioned this as the 2021 mystery shawl. The concept and shape were already pretty much the same: stripes, lace, and a garter stitch border. Yarn choice was also locked in — two colors of smooth fingering-weight yarn combined with a third one in fluffy lace weight — although I ended up changing the colors for the final sample.

But the execution would've been completely different. My original plan was to work the shawl in parallel strips in intarsia, working some of the sections with wool and silk/mohair held together, some with just the fluffy stuff, and yet others with the fingering weight alone. But when I tested this set-up with a small-scale sample, it soon became evident this would be a very frustrating way to knit a shawl. Turns out, intarsia while juggling three balls of yarn is quite annoying. Who would've thunk! If I wasn't enjoying knitting the shawl, how could anyone else?

Back to the drawing board! I shelved the mystery shawl idea and then, a year later, had a brainwave: the same shape and sections could be achieved by picking up stitches along one edge of the shawl, avoiding intarsia altogether. And what if you threw in some brioche?

With that background info out of the way, here's a clue-by-clue rundown of Smoke and Mirrors.

Clue 1 of the shawl starts with just one stitch! This section establishes the asymmetrical triangle shape for the shawl. The clue is worked in stockinette stripes in the two fingering-weight yarns A and B. But the way the stripes are worked is a little unusual. To avoid breaking yarn after each one-row stripe, you're working two right-side rows back to back, followed by two wrong-side rows back to back, switching yarns at both ends of the rows.

This technique of sliding stitches back to the beginning of the needle comes in handy in the two-color brioche in Clue 2. If you've been following me for a while, you know I have a bit of a complicated relationship with brioche. In this shawl, however, I felt a vertical element was needed to counterbalance the horizontal stripes in Clue 1. Brioche tends to look quite loose and sloppy but working this section with smaller needles helps to keep it in check.

But if you're not a fan of brioche, you can still knit this shawl! An alternate version of Clue 2 can be done in corrugated ribbing. On the right side of the work you might be fooled into thinking it's brioche. On the wrong side, however, you can clearly see the floats instead of an reversible fabric. Since corrugated ribbing is not very stretchy, I recommend using the larger needle size for the alternate version.

Clue 3 adds another texture to the shawl: garter stitch color blocks in the fluffy Yarn C. Again, needle size is changed for these blocks to match the stockinette gauge with Yarn A. This one is the second smallest and fastest of the clues to knit (after Clue 1). And then there's a twist...

In Clue 4, the knitting direction changes! If you've worked any of my shawl patterns before, you'll know I usually like to add a two-stitch i-cord at both ends of the row to keep the edges neat. But not with this one! And the reason why becomes obvious in Clue 4: stitches are picked up along the long diagonal edge of the shawl. (Slipped stitches would make picking up more difficult).

Clue 4 is worked entirely in the fluffy Yarn C in a simple lace pattern that's made with just yarnovers and centered double decreases. To maintain the triangular shape, the established rate of increases continues, now at both ends of the shawl. In the corner where live and picked-up stitches meet, a straight angle is formed by increasing two stitches on every other row.

Lastly, Clue 5 ties the whole thing together. Granted, it's not the most exciting of things to knit: lots and lots of garter stitch. For a neat finish on the top of the shawl, stitches are picked along the remaining edge and an applied i-cord is worked in Yarn B.

The rows are getting very long at this point! I usually run out of steam by the last or second-to-last clues in mystery knitalongs. That's why the pattern has a few of shortcuts for those who don't want to go the extra mile. You can either work as little of the garter stitch border as you want and skip the i-cord edgings, or skip the border altogether and frame the entire shawl in i-cord. I recommend doing some kind of edge treatment, though. Not only does it give the shawl a finished look, it also serves as a handy place to hide your yarn ends in.

The full Smoke and Mirrors shawl pattern with all clues combined into one single PDF document will be available next week in my patterns shops on Payhip, LoveCrafts, and Ravelry (seizure warning). Share your creation on Instagram with the hashtags #smokeandmirrorsmkal and #talviknits!


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Smoke and Mirrors is an asymmetrical triangle shawl knit in 3 colors. Simple stitch patterns and textures play off of each other in this shawl made of straightforward visual elements that draw your attention every which way like a magician performing an illusion. Pick 2 contrasting colors of smooth fingering weight yarn; a complementary color in fuzzy lace weight rounds out the trio. The pattern comes with row-by-row written instructions. #knit #knitting #knittingpatterns #shawl #garterstitch

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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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