Queer Enough Shawl

This one’s for all the folk who might not “look” queer: the bi folk in “straight” relationships, the trans and non-binary folk who maybe don’t “look” queer to outsiders, the ace folk, and everyone else who struggles with whether they’re really “queer enough” for a LGBTQA+ space. This free shawl pattern is intended as a gift to the many people who’ve wondered how they fit in as well as those who are gloriously out.

Queer Enough Shawl modelled by the designer, Terri Oda. It is a crescent shaped shawl featuring rays made from lace and tiny cables. The shawl has been made in bright rainbow colours.

I’m going to warn your right now that the name “Queer Enough” is also a pun on “Clear Enough” — I’m intentionally not writing out all the details because I’m worried if I aim to make it perfect and beginner-friendly it’ll never get out there. As such, I’d say this pattern requires intermediate-level pattern reading skills or the sort of mind that sees patterns easily. You might have to search for your own tutorials if you need ’em. But I know you can do it! You’re resourceful! Go you!

And if you’re the sort of person who *loves* filling in these details and just knows you can make this pattern better, please get in touch because I’m happy to have it improved, I just didn’t want to block myself from releasing it. I do plan to improve it as I go if I can.

This shawl was originally knit as part of the Quiet Queer Craftalong, a June-July knit-a-long intended to encourage folk to make things using patterns from queer designers and materials from queer dyers, kit makers, and more. I consider myself queer enough that this should count, but I always encourage you to also purchase patterns/materials from queer folk who make fiber arts part of their regular income! (I’m a computer security person professionally and get paid more than enough to be able to give away patterns but not everyone can afford to do that.)

Edit Aug 9, 2022: Added little repeat charts for each section. Also, thank you to the many people who told me the message and the title of this pattern resonated with you! <3

Shawl overview

“Queer Enough” is a top-down crescent shawl pattern with simple lace and cable “rays” that come out from a center spine.

Gauge/Needle Size/Yarn are all flexible. Use what feels comfortable to you and make it as big or small, thick or thin as you like to wear.

My gauge was 21 sts and 36 rows /4 inches (unblocked in pattern) and I used a US 6 needle and sock/fingering weight yarn.

Choosing colours

I used KnittedWit sock-weight yarn in an older version of a temperature rainbow kit available from the ShannaJean Etsy. These use 10g “gem” sock minis, which are smaller than the more commonly available 20g mini size. This particular yarn inspired the pattern because it has dark/light pairs of colour for the garter/lace rows to pop a bit more. These kits come with 14 colours, I only used 12 for my shawl.

You could get a nice effect by using a single main colour for one of the sections and minis for the other, or just using two skeins of yarn.

Shawl worn bunched up around the neck as a scarf

If you like to wear shawls wrapped around your neck like scarves, please note that the garter section may tend “stick out” and be more visible, particularly if it’s been a while since your shawl was blocked. If you tend to wear your shawls less bunched up, the lace section will block to be larger and potentially more visible. You can choose your colour configuration with those in mind! I used the brighter rainbow for the garter and the pastel rainbow for the lace.

Icord cast on/set up section:

Use Judy’s magic cast on to cast on 6 stitches (3 per side). We’ll be using this as a provisional cast on to make a 3-stitch icord edging, so you’re going to be leaving behind those rightmost three stitches until setup is done, and we’ll be adding one more to the “left behind” section with each row.

Row 1 (first after cast-on): knit all 6 stitches.

Rows 2-10: Slip 3 stitches to left needle and work only those 3 stitches in this row. Knit front and back in first stitch, knit next two. Do not turn work. (increases 1 stitch)

Once this is done you should have 15 stitches on the needle.

(If that all sounds terrible/confusing, you can also make a 9 row long icord and pick up 9 stitches along the side and three stitches at the beginning for a total of 15. I just wanted to try a cast on option that wouldn’t include picking up stitches.)

You can mentally divide your 15 stitches like this:

  • 3 left icord border,
  • 2 left shawl body,
  • 2 for left leaning cable,
  • 1 for center,
  • 2 for right leaning cable,
  • 2 right shawl body,
  • 3 right icord border.

Row 11 (wrong side): slip 3 (place marker if you like to have a border marker), knit front and back, knit 3, place left spine marker, slip 1, place right spine marker, knit three, knit front and back (place border marker if desired), slip 3. (increased by 2, stitch count 17)

I didn’t bother with border markers, but I’ve noted where they go in case you want them. Slip them as you come to them from now on.

Row 12 (right side): knit 3, knit front and back, knit 3, right leaning 1 by 1 cable, slip spine marker, left-leaning 1 by 1 cable, knit 3, knit front and back, knit 3 (increased by 2, stitch count 19)

You’re now set up to start in a garter section.

General Pattern Overview:

Your shawl is going to come in 5 “wedges”: two matched borders on the edges, two “body” sections, and one slipped stitch spine in the center.

  1. Right Border icord + increase:
    • knit 3, knit front and back (right side, increase 1)
    • knit front and back, slip 3 (wrong side, increase 1)
  2. Right Body section: this will vary depending on whether you’re doing a garter or lace section.
  3. Center slipped stitch spine:
    • slip spine marker, knit 1, slip spine marker (right side)
    • slip spine marker, slip 1, slip spine marker (wrong side)
  4. Left body section: this will vary depending on whether you’re doing a garter or lace section.
  5. Left border icord + increase:
    • Knit front and back, knit three (right side, increase 1)
    • slip three, knit front and back (wrong side, increase 1)

Don’t worry, I’ll write out the full rows below. This is to help you understand how they fit together.

Legend for Charts

Tiny cables without a cable needle:

With these little 1-1 cables, I prefer to cable without a cable needle. KnitPicks has a nice tutorial on how to do this if you’ve never tried it.

Garter Section:

The garter section features cables and a spine that “float” over the garter stitch, with 9 stitches between garter rays (10 if you include the bottom part of the cable, for a total of 11 stitches per repeat).

Right side row:

  • Border + increase: Knit 3, kfb
  • Work right wedge:
    • If you have enough space before the first ray (12 stitches) to add a full repeat then do so by working a 1:1 right leaning cable, k9. This should take you to 1 stitch before the next ray
    • Knit to 1 before ray, work 1:1 right leaning cable. There will always be 9 knits between cables (or 10 stitches between rays of you count the bottom of the cable as a stitch)
    • If you have enough space before the center marker (12 stitches) to add a full repeat then do so. K9, 1:1 right leaning cable.
  • Slip center marker, knit 1, slip center marker
  • Work left wedge:
    • If you added a repeat in the right wedge center, do it again on the left wedge center. (work 1:1 left leaning cable, k9. This should take you to the next ray.)
    • Knit to the ray, work 1:1 left leaning cable. There should be 9 knits between cables in the middle
    • If you added a repeat in the right wedge edge, do it again on the left wedge edge.
  • Increase+ border: kfb, knit 3

Wrong side row:

  • Slip 3, kfb
  • Knit to center marker but slip each ray as you come to it (I find it easier to use stitch markers to mark the rays, but you can count)
  • Slip center marker, slip 1, slip center marker
  • Knit, slipping rays when you come to them
  • Kfb, slip 3
Queer Enough Shawl: charts for cable sections

If you find out your stitch counts are off so there’s not enough space between rays (it should always be 9 knit stitches or 10 if you’re counting and include the bottom half of the cable) or your left and right sections aren’t set to start a new ray at the same time, you can fudge them by adding an increase or decrease next to where the ray happens; the rays can disguise the adjustment. (Or you could go back and fix the mistake, but who has time for that? I give you permission to fudge if you need it.)

If you miss a slip on a ray, you can correct it on the right side by undoing that stitch and letting the yarn hang behind.

Lace Section:

The lace section features “rays” coming out from the center spine with yarnovers on each side and a decrease on the outer edge. The center ray needs to line up with the previous row.

Right side row:

  • Work border + increase: k3, kfb
  • Work right wedge:
    • If you have enough space (12 stitches) before the first ray, start a new ray with ssk, yo, k2tog, yo, knit 7 (which should take you to 3 before the first ray.)
    • [knit to 3 before next ray, ssk, yo, k2tog, yo] repeat until center marker. There should be 7 knit stitches between inner rays.
    • If you have enough space before the center (at least 11 stitches), start a new ray with k7, ssk, yo, k2tog, yo.
  • Slip center marker, k1, slip center marker
  • Work left wedge:
    • If you worked a new repeat on the right wedge center do it again on the left. (Start a new ray with yo, ssk, yo, k2tog ssk, yo, k2tog, k7.) This should take you to the stitch before the next ray
    • [knit to next ray, yo, ssk, yo, k2tog] repeat until last 4 border stitches. There should be 7 knit stitches between inner rays.
    • If you increased on the right edge, do the same on the left edge. You need at least 15 stitches including the 4 stitch border+increase), start a new ray with k7, yo, ssk, yo, k2tog
  • Increase + border: kfb, k3

Wrong side row:

  • Slip 3, kfb
  • Purl to center marker
  • Slip center marker, slip 1, slip center marker
  • Purl to last 4 stitches
  • Kfb, slip 3
Queer Enough Shawl: charts for lace sections

The new rays should be paired: the two center ones happening at the same time, and the two edge ones happening at the same time (but not all 4 at once). If your stitch counts don’t match in these places, you’ve probably made a mistake. You can go back and correct it or just fudge it

In the lace section, the easiest place to adjust without it being noticeable is the decrease beside the ray: make it a double decrease (to remove an extraneous stitch) or make it a k (to add one).

Continue this section until you want to switch back to garter. I stopped after a wrong side row when I no longer had enough in my mini skein to complete two rows. You can use a scale to figure this out and maximize your use of yarn or just eyeball it. I won’t tell. I actually switched yarns near the end of a row because I got in a groove and didn’t realize I was running out of yarn a few times and I don’t find it very noticeable.

If you’re feeling fancy you can start the lace repeat a bit early and fit only one yarn over and decrease in. I’ll leave this as an exercise to the reader. Please note that although the shawl increases are all on the outside, because of the way the rays tilt you will have +1 space to count towards your repeat in both the center and edge sections. So if you start your half-lace the instant you can, you’re going to need to keep it going twice before you get to a full repeat. If none of this makes sense just do the repeats when you’ve got the full 11 stitches and save yourself the headache.

Lace to Garter Transition Row:

I found one extra yarn over helps make the cabled rays and the lace rays line up better. They won’t line up perfectly unless you block it very carefully (and as you’ll see below, that’s not an option in my life) but I like the transitions better this way.

Close up of shawl showing the transition between lace and garter sections and the fact that my rays aren’t perfectly straight.

Right side row:

  • Knit 3, kfb
  • Right side: knit to 3 before each ray, ssk, yo, 1:1 right leaning cable, knit to center marker
  • Slip center marker, k1, slip center marker
  • Left side: knit to ray, 1:1 left leaning cable, yo, k2tog, knit to last 4 stitches
  • kfb, knit 3

For the wrong side row and onwards follow the garter pattern.

Queer Enough Shawl: Chart for transition rows

Continue swapping between garter and lace sections until you run out of yarn or you decide you’re done.

Charts

These charts are intended to help you see visually how to line up the sections so that the rays continue in unbroken lines. (The lines will, however, still be a little wobbly at the transition unless you’re very careful about blocking them. It’s ok.)

Legend for Charts

Here’s a very-wide chart to show how everything fits together:

Very Wide Chart (click to enlarge)

And here’s it split into two hopefully more readable segments:

Right side chart. Note that the left side of the chart will line up with the Left Side Chart)
Left Side chart. This needs to line up with the Right side one)

If I try to make a printable version of the pattern I guess I’ll have to make these prettier.

Final section:

For my shawl, I ended on a lace section. I like the way the lace can be blocked to points so I used a strechy bind off added a picot at the end of each ray. If you don’t like frilly edges, you could also try ending on a garter section and using an icord bind off.

Start the last two rows on a wrong side row: slip 3, kfb, knit to 4 before end, kfb, slip 3. Turn work.

We’re going to do a stretchy picot bindoff where the picots go over the end of each ray.

  • Bind off part: knit 2, take two on right hand needle and knit 2 together through back loop (bound off 1 stitch). After that first pair, you can just k1, knit 2 on right hand needle together through back loop. (Every time you add a picot you’ll be back to the knit 2 beginning again, though.)
  • Picot part: cable cast on 2 then continuing binding off as before.

Bind off with picot row: bind off 1, picot, bind off until stitch before ray, picot. Continue in this manner until you reach the center spine. On the left side of the shawl, switch to adding picots after binding off the ray stitch. Add one more picot when you reach 2 stitches left at the end.

Close up of the shawl showing the center picot after blocking.

Finishing the Shawl

Like most lace projects, this shawl should be wet-blocked and stretched well for best effect.

Rainbow shawl being spun in a salad spinner. This is one way to remove some excess water after soaking (another example would be to wrap it in a towel and squish)

People always seem to have questions about blocking. Unfortunately, my process is ridiculous because I have a child who wants to help. So here it is for posterity, but what you should do is search for someone else’s blocking instructions if you need them.

Shawl blocking in progress. You definitely don’t need this many blocking wires.

Blocking this shawl was a lengthy process:

1. Soak shawl
2. Squeeze shawl and put in salad spinner
3. Child hears salad spinner and nearly has meltdown because he wanted to do it. I manage to negotiate not re-wetting the shawl so we can “start over”
4. Dog hears child with salad spinner and comes to investigate
5. Child determines that face licks are detrimental to his process and banishes dog from kitchen.
6. Dog waits a few minutes then goes around to the other door and gets banished again.
7. Child decides this moment must be recorded (see reel), gets mad at mom for not hitting the video button and instead getting the second picture.
8. Shawl is finally released from its torment and taken downstairs. Gate is locked so dog can’t follow.
9. Dad opens gate to follow and brief altercation with child ensues. Dad insists he is not a dog who has learned to open gates, and not trying to horn in on special shawl blocking activity.
10. Blocking mats have previously been used for pom pom snowball fight and some cleaning must occur.
11. Shawl is blocked while child adds “traps” with extra pins and wires and a “timer” made from a stitch counter.
12. Child explains his creative process in great detail. Possibly as an attempt to postpone bedtime.

And there you have it, 12 “easy” steps. As I said, search for someone else’s blocking tutorial if you need one that doesn’t include child management.

I hope this is enough that at least a few people can make a Queer Enough shawl of their own. Thanks for reading!

3 thoughts on “Queer Enough Shawl

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