The Simple Things

Finished Stonington Shawl

Finished Stonington Shawl

Elizabeth Zimmermann (EZ for short), knitter and knitting teacher extraordinaire claims garter stitch to be one of the most versatile, useful and fun stitches in knitting. Most other people think it’s the most basic and therefore boring thing ever. I’ve got to admit I’ve always been a bit of a garter stitch snob. It does have it’s uses but it never struck me as particularly inspiring.

But then you go and check out Jared Flood’s aka Brooklyntweed’s blog with its beautiful photography, pretty projects and his love for all things EZ. And suddendly you feel the magic. I mean just look at his Tweed Baby Blanket or the beautiful Bridgewater Shawl. Most of their charm is derived from a very basic garter stitch square that’s topped with a bit of fancy lace. Further search on Flickr and Ravelry quickly uncovers EZ’s Stonington Shawl as one of those very easy pretty much all garter stitch patterns that seem to produce stunning results. And the construction on this one seemed really intriguing. Well, what else is a girl to do but jump over her shadow, pick up some delightful Shetland lace yarn and dive in head first into hours and hours of garter stitch?!

I cast on for this shawl back in 2010 before going on a weekend trip with the company that involved airports and bus transfers. The diamond shaped center worked up quickly enough but after that things slowed down considerably. And let’s be honest here. Miles and miles of garter stitch IS a fairly mindless endeavour.

Stonington Shawl - lace edging

Stonington Shawl – lace edging

In the end it took 8 months to complete and I had to reorder two times with Jamieson and Smith in Lerwick, Shetland to finally be able to finish this shawl. After the plain garter stitch got done I decided to go for a slightly deeper and a more elaborate edging than the original pattern asked for to spice things up a bit. The double diamond row works nicely with the simple garter stitch body if I dare say so myself.

Double diamond lace edging

Double diamond lace edging

The whole shawl only took 8.5 skeins of Jamieson and Smith 2ply Lace yarn. That’s a mere 212 grams of yarn. On 4 mm needles the fabric is open and airy but not too flimsy. As always I really enjoyed working with Shetland yarn. There is nothing artificial to it. Just a natural beauty that makes even the most simple patterns stand out.

Stonington Shawl in Shetland 2ply lace yarn

Stonington Shawl in Shetland 2ply lace yarn

Has this been a lot of work and long time in the making? Sure. Was it fun to knit? Totally. The construction with the diamond center and seperately worked border sections and knitted on edging make for a literally seemless construction. That’s fun all in itself. Would I work another one of these? I’m pretty sure I would. The combination of simple yet beautiful and classy is timeless and alluring.


Pattern: Stonington Shawl by Elizabeth Zimmermann from Shawls and Scarves: The Best of Knitter’s Magazine
Yarn: Shetland 2ply Lace by Jamieson and Smith, Color L63 heathered jeans blue, 212 grams (1440 meter)
Needle: 4 mm
Finished size: 135 x 135 cm

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  • Margrethe Troensegaard

    A beautiful piece of work indeed. I’m working on such a piece for my son to come, and am in doubt as to when to start narrowing down in the central diamond square. For a finished measurement of 135×135, what did the central diamond on your shawl measure, I wonder?

    • sgutperl

      Hey Margarethe,

      thank you for your kind words. With such a blanket knitted on the bias you don’t really need to know the width of the diagonal (that’s the stitches you’ve got on your needle) but you can simply measure one side of the triangle that is already hanging from your needle 🙂 Just measure from your cast on point up the side to beginning of your current row and you’ve got the measurement that will be the width of your blanket. Is that somewhat understandable?

      Of course you could also calculate how long your diagonal will need to be if your aim is to reach a 135 by 135 cm square. According to the Theorem of Pythagoras you have to add the square of both sides square(135) + square(135) to get square(diagonal). Now one square-root operation later we know that your diagonal will be 190 cm 🙂

      But unlike with other patterns the cool thing about the biased square is, that you really don’t need to care about the widest point. I find this construction really great for working with a set amount of yarn. For example if I have 6 skeins of yarn, I just increase until 3 skeins are nearly used up. Then I start decreasing. The second part will take up exactly the same amount of yarn as the first one. Neat, eh?! 🙂

      Best regards and happy knitting,

  • Margrethe Troensegaard

    Dear Susan,

    Thank you for your thorough explanation – that makes perfect sense. I suppose I am asking to the ratio of the central square to the bands (also in garter stitch), before starting the lace. I think your shawl shows a particular nice ratio, with the central square not getting either too big or too small. Presuming that the outer measurement of the shawl is 135×135 (and its diagonal 190cm, as we cleared), how much does the inner square measure? Or, if you prefer, approx. how many cm of garter stitch between the central square and reaching the lace edge?

    This is a detail and of course I can just try my way… Never having done such a lace knitted project before, however, I am also not very familiar with how much the piece expands when stretched. In any case: congratulations on a beautiful piece of work!


    I can of course just go ahead and try

  • Margrethe Troensegaard

    Oh, and one more thing, dear Susan – (apologies for taking advantage of your knowledge…)

    The recipe I used was from the updated EZ Knitting Workshop book (p. 75), which doesn’t include the YO squares as you see in many of the versions of this shawl on Ravelry, for example. In hindsight I would have like to have a single square run about 5cm from the very edge of the centre square to create a nice framing of the central diamond. However, I like your solution too – How did you mange to create the nice ‚holes‘ at where the central diamond connects to the trapezoids? I have followed her instructions exactly, ending the edge of the central diamond with a „wool forward, slip last stitch p’wise“, which creates rather big, loose loops at the edge. Is following her instruction of knitting side 1 (e.g. alongside D-C) at the rate of „knit up 1 stitch into the first loop and 2 into the 2nd“ enough to create the effect you have, or did you do this differently?

    • sgutperl

      Hey Margarethe,

      I get what you mean about getting a pleasing ratio of. center vs. border. My center square is about 65 cm wide, the border about 15 cm on each side, followed by the edging. Personally I think this border 1/4 of the width of the center square is quite pleasing but of course a matter of preference.

      The eyelets around center were done at the beginning of each border section. I think after picking up the loops from the center diamond I knitted two rows, then did one row „YO, k2tog“ across the next. The same for the other 3 border sections.

      Happy knitting,

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