Day 1: Hantsuki Shawl Knit Along

Welcome to Day 1 of the Hantsuki Knit Along. I'm


and it is truly my pleasure to knit along with you as we craft Berroco's little beauty together. As always, I promise you'll have fun, pick up a few tips and finish this KAL with gorgeous new wardrobe piece.

If you are just joining the KAL and need more details/supply list, you can get them here.

Start here: Lace Swatching and Blocking

Isn't swatching a huge waste of time, not to mention a waste of good yarn? Well, No and No! Look at the process this way, your swatch is a miniature snapshot of the completed project. This snapshot will be a good indicator of the shape, the drape and how the stitch pattern will look and feel. For lace, it's also a good opportunity to learn the stitch pattern repeats over a smaller and much more manageable number of stitches.

Then there is size - you want your project to actually fit and flatter. I can't tell you how many times I have put a lot of time and energy into a project, roared into my bind off, then come to find out it didn't fit. Too big, too small, too short, too long! A huge disappointment, not to mention lost time and money. No disappointing projects here, so we are definitely going with the swatch!

Does KnitDocDonna swatch in real life?  Absolutely!

Knitting Doctor Tip:

 If you really hate the thought of wasting that yarn, keep those swatch squares and seam together to make a lace sampler scarf or shawl.  

Make Your Gauge Swatches

How big do I make the gauge swatch? We want to be able to measure at least 4" x 4" and have some sort of frame that will make measuring easy.

Let's look at the pattern and zero in on the gauge. Look at how many stitches to 4" (it's 20).  Now look at how many stitches are in each pattern multiple (there are 10).  This one is an easy one!

So, 2 pattern multiples of 10 are going to give us our 4 inches. I'm also going to add the 1 stitch that is in the pattern repeat, and 3 stitches of garter each side for a frame.

20 (2 pattern repeats of 10 stitches)

1   (extra stitch in the Lace Pattern 1)

6 (garter border for ease in measuring)

27 stitches

Now that we have our stitch count we can go ahead and cast on 27 stitches loosely (see Knitting Doctor Tips below ) using the cable cast on method.

How-To Cable Cast On

Step 1:

Begin by making the usual slip knot (leaving enough of a tail to weave in later if you choose to keep the swatch) and cast on one more stitch using any cast on method.

Step 2:

Insert the tip of the right hand needle between your slip knot stitch and your first cast on stitch.

Step 3:

Wrap the working yarn around the back needle (as if to knit)

Draw out a loop between these 2 stitches and place it back on the left hand needle.


Continue these 3 steps, drawing your loop between the last 2 stitches on the needle, as pictured above, until you have cast on the required number of stitches. 

Knitting Doctor Tip:

The secret to this cast on is to do it a little loosely so your first row moves easily off the needles.

Lace almost always benefits from a loose cast on. If your cast on is too tight it will be less attractive and compete with the airy look of the overall project.

Knitting the Swatch

Now that we have all of our stitches cast on we're ready to start that swatch in earnest!

Work 3 rows in garter stitch (i.e knit every stitch)

When you've completed all 3 rows your work will look something like the image below and we've just built our bottom swatch frame.

Lace Pattern 1 - Row 1

Knit 3 stitches.  Place a marker. Follow Lace Pattern 1 Row 1 (i.e. purl) to last 3 stitches, place another marker and knit the last 3 stitches.

Now you have a 3 row garter frame on the bottom and a 3 stitch garter frame on each end.  We'll continue that 3 stitch garter edging at the beginning and end of every row of the swatch.  That will build the sides of our measuring frame.

Knitting Doctor Tip:

Stitch markers at the borders are not absolutely necessary, however; they're agood memory jogger reminding you to change to your edging stitch.

Lace Pattern 1 - Row 2

We'll start out by again knitting our 1st 3 edge stitches and slipping our marker. Once that 's done we can move to the actual pattern stitches by knitting the 1st stitch and then repeating the stitches in the 1st set of parentheses 2 times.

Knitting Doctor Tip

Reading and understanding parentheses in patterns is pretty simple when you know the secret.  It's nothing more than designer shorthand.  Row 2 could be written another way . . . after the k1, the designer could have said yo, ssk, yo, ssk instead of (yo,ssk) 2x.

Learning the Stitches

Let's start in the order we will be doing them. 

Yarn Over (yo)

Move your working yarn toward you between the needles. It's as easy as that!  Take a look at the image below:

The magic (creating that eyelet) actually happens when you work the


stitch.  In our case that next stitch is the Slip Slip Knit or SSK.

Slip Slip Knit (SSK)

Another easy one....don't let anyone tell you otherwise!

Insert the tip of the right hand needle into the stitch on the left hand needle from bottom to top as if to knit.  Don't wrap your yarn, but merely slip the stitch from the left to right hand needle.

Now let's repeat what we just did (sliding the next stitch from the left needle to the right hand needle).

You'll see that you have both slipped stitches seated on the right hand needle. Directly below those 2 stitches is the yarn you moved forward in the yarn over (yo) maneuver.  Now that yarn which has been waiting patiently is now poised to actually become that eyelet!

Insert the left hand needle into those 2slipped stitches from top to bottom, wrap the yarn as usualand complete the knit stitch. 

Here's How the Stitches Look

As you wrapped the yarn and completed the knit stitch you've also completed the yarn over. Take a look at the image below. Moving from right to left you'll see the 3 knit edging stitches, the marker and the 1st Knit 1.  Right after that Knit 1 (where my finger is pointing) is the yarn over stitch.  See how it slants?

Knitting Doctor Tip:

If you've lost your place stitch wise, look for those slanted stitches and you'll know they are your yarn overs landmarks and they can help you find your way.

Now we've mastered the 1st parentheses stitches and done them twice, go ahead and k1, so we can move on to the 2nd set and finish up the row. In the second parentheses the stitches are the Knit 2 Together (k2tog) and the Yarn Over (yo) which we already know. I'll show you the Knit 2 Together and then we're good to go!

Knit 2 Together (K2TOG)

This is a very easy one - what it says is what you do. 

Insert the tip of the right hand needle from bottom to top into the next 2 stitches on the left hand needle, wrap your yarn and knit as usual.

Finish up the stitches in the 2nd set of parentheses (remember to do it twice), then Knit 1.

We're not done yet!  Remember, we're doing 2 pattern stitch repeats for the swatch, so here's what to do.

Look for the *

Go back to the beginning of the row and look for * and then repeat the sequence of stitches after the * slip the marker and knit the edge stitches. 

Row 2 mastered!

Knitting Doctor Tip: 

When you see * the symbol indicates that you will at some point be repeating the stitches directly after the *.  Sometimes you will see the * both before and after a group of stitches. Your pattern will always tell you when to repeat after the *

This is also an example of designer shorthand.  The designer could also say it another way and tell you to repeat a stitch sequence a specific number of times, or write it all out. That can make for a pretty long pattern row!  Love that *

Row 3 is another easy one!  When we're finished our work should be setting up like this. 

Notice where my finger is pointing. See the decreases are sloping to the left...look a couple of stitches to the left and you'll see they are sloping in the other direction. Mirrored decreases! Those decreases that point toward each other are also setting up the gentle scallops that will be the bottom edge.

Get Ready for the last row of this lace pattern.  After we've breezed through this row we'll be ready to continue Rows 1 to 4 to complete our swatch!

Lace Pattern 1 - Row 4

For this row you know all the stitches except the p2sso so you can start the row and when you get to thep2ssohere it is:

Pass 2 Slip Stitches Over (P2SSO)

This is one of those stitch abbreviations that looks absolutely daunting when you see if in a pattern.  When you get right down to it, this is another simple maneuver that is exactly what it sounds like. 

Here's how it is done:

Step 1:

Insert the right needle into the next two stitches on the left needle as if knitting them together and slip them to the right needle

Step 2:

Knit the next stitch on the left needle.

Step 3 and 4:

With the left needle pull both slipped stitches over the knit stitch (just as you would when binding off, but with 2 stitches)

Notice the triangle shape that the completed stitch creates.

Knitting Doctor Tip: The P2SSO is also known as the Double Vertical Decrease. It has no slant just points straight up.  When you see either of these terms in a pattern write up know that's a stitch that you've mastered.

Now that we've reviewed all of the stitches, we can go ahead and complete Row 4.

Completing the Swatch

We've got all of the rows of Lace Pattern 1 down pat, and our swatch should be close to measuring in at 4" wide, but now we have to grow it to 4" high.

I checked my row gauge and it says 32 rows for 4", so I'm going to repeat Lace Pattern 1 Rows 7 more times. It will go fast, I promise!!

Knitting Doctor Tip: Your stitch count does not vary from row to row on Lace Pattern 1 as it does in some lace patterns.  You should have 27 stitches each and every row. To make sure you stay on track, take time to occasionally count those stitches.

Take a look below.  I have 3 repeats of rows 1 - 4 completed.  See how the lace motif is starting to show up?  Also, notice how much spring there is in this yarn and how some parts of the swatch almost look raised.  That's another good reason to evens out the landscape and you'll have a smooth fabric without losing stitch definition.

Thoughts on Knitting the Swatch

Now that we are into the midst of swatching I just wanted to share a piece of advice I share with my students. And that advice is "knitting is not a race, it's a process."

Don't be dismayed if you are not going as quickly as you think you should be or maybe you have needed to rip out once or more. I'll be the first to tell you I'm always good for several rip-outs per project. Take your time. Our KALS aren't going anywhere, they are available to you anytime. Take longer to do a row and learn the stitch sequence.  You'll pick up speed before you know it and won't be sorry you took a little longer than you would've liked. Keep your eye on the prize (i.e. your beautiful finished piece).

Finishing the Swatch

Whew! We've gotten to our 32 rows it's time to add our top frame of garter stitch rows. 

Knit those 3 rows (removing those markers if you've used them) then bind off!

Knitting Doctor Tip: Bind offs tend to be much tighter than the cast on edge. To match the cast on and bound off edge of garments and accessories, bind off loosely or go up a needle size or two.

Measuring the Swatch

Here's my swatch all bound off. Notice anything in the images below? 

My width is pretty much as I was hoping for, but my height is off by about a 1/2 an inch. Ok, this is useful information. Let's see what it looks like after it is steamed.

How to Steam the Swatch

You can use either a hand steamer as I'm using or an iron on the steam setting.

Step 1. 

Place your swatch on an ironing board or other flat surface or (iron or hand steamer)

Step 2.

 Grab a skirt hanger and use the clips to secure your swatch (hand steamer only)

Step 3.

Use short bursts of steam directly over the fabric (NEVER ON). 

Our intent is to even out the stitches and see if our swatch grows and softens, not to flatten the stitches and fiber.

Swatch Final Measuring: 

Now that we've steamed our swatch and let it cool, it's time to measure again.  

The swatch height at 4 " so it grew a 1/2 inch. I am exactly at gauge!

Additionally, the stitches have evened out and the stitch definition is still there. My width is still good, too!

Knitting Doctor Tip: If your gauge is off after steaming, you should adjust your needle size. If you have too much width, go down a needle size. You will be able to adjust the height with steaming.

Time to  Measure!

I've looked at the patterns specifications and see Hantsuki is 12" in length.  It also looks as though the neckline starts at the collarbone.   Hmm, where is 12" going to land on me? 

There's only one way to find out.

Customizing the length of your shawl

Take your tape measure to your favorite mirror and measure from the collar bone and over the bust down to the 12" mark.  Where does it land on your frame?  Is it just perfect or do you want it longer.

Adding Length

What did you come up with?  Need more length?  If you did, we are going to merely add it to the inches you'll be knitting on Lace Panel 1.  

Assignment for the Week

Time to knit the garment! Your assignment for this week is to cast on the full 281 stitches and knit as specified in the pattern until you reach 4".  If you are adding length, add the desired extra inches to the 4", just be sure you end on Lace Pattern 1 - Row 4.

If you are concerned about making a mistake, use a knitting lifeline!

How to use a Knitting Lifeline

See you next Tuesday, July 29th for Part 2.

Happy Knitting!



Donna Pelzar

Donna (aka the Knitting Doctor) is the face behind The New Street Knitter patterns. She teaches knitting instruction for all skill levels in her studio and loves to focus on techniques and interesting stitch patterns. She recently expanded into pattern design and we are thrilled to be able to offer her patterns at NobleKnits. Donna also hosts all of our Knit Alongs.