Knitty: little purls of wisdom
beauty shot

The United Kingdom is a land dominated by water, from the rain that falls from the sky in every month of the year, to the ocean that surrounds the island country to the streams and rivers that cover the landscape. It seems like there is water everywhere I look in this place. Venturing out of London, the character of the water changes; the sluggish tidal River Thames upstream breaks down into smaller and smaller rivulets until by the time you hit the country side, there are tiny rills and larger streams cascading down every hillside, plunging and leaping, spraying droplets across the rocks that pen them in.

Rhaeadr grew out of playing around with texture, cables and top-down shawl design at the Plug and Play Pembrokeshire retreat in October 2012. The cabled body of the shawl reminds me of the ripples on the surface of a brook as is meanders over rocks in the streambed. The water increases in speed as it nears the edge of the cataract and finally spills over in a fluid sheet of droplets spraying from the edges -- the deep knit/purl ribbing and picot bind off evoke the rushing waterfall and misty spray as it cascades down to a deep still pool at its base. The name of the shawl is the Welsh word for waterfall.

spacer model: Rachel Brown
spacer photos: Allison Thistlewood


Depth: 26 inches from back of neck
Width: 52 inches



spacer SweetGeorgia Merino Silk lace [50% merino/50% silk, 765 yds per 100g skein]; color: Sapphire; 1 skein.

Recommended needle size
[always use a needle size that gives you the gauge listed below -- every knitter's gauge is unique]
spacer 40-inch US 4/3.5 mm circular needle

spacer yarn needle



22 sts/36 rows = 4 inches in stockinette stitch, after blocking
24 sts/36 rows = 4 inches in pattern stitch (body)

[Knitty's list of standard abbreviations and techniques can be found here.]

This shawl is worked from the back of the neck downward, with 4 sts increased on every row: 1 st on each edge and 1 st on either side of the center st.

On WS rows, all sts are purled, including the newly increased sts.
On RS rows, you will be working a 2x2 cable cross every 4th row. The left and right sides of the shawl are mirrored, so in one row, in the first half the cable crosses will be worked in one direction (i.e. to the right), but on the second half after the center st, the cable crosses will go in the other direction (to the left).

A chart describes the increases in the first four rows of the edging. In brief, on the first row you will make a purl stitch in the middle of the four stitches of the cable cross two rows previous. On the third row of the edging, you will make a purl stitch inbetween each of the two knit stitches of the two arms from the cable cross. The result is a k1, p1, k1, p1, k1, p1, k1 spray coming out of each cable cross, separated from the next repeat by a column of p2.

There is a dramatic increase in the stitch count in the first rows of the edging, leading to a ruffled border

C4R: Slip next 2 st to cable needle and hold in back of work; k2, then k2 from cable needle.

C4L: Slip next 2 st to cable needle and hold in front of work; k2, then k2 from cable needle.

M1PL (WS): Insert left needle, from front to back, under the horizontal strand which lies between the stitch just knit, and the following stitch; then purl into the back of this loop. 1 stitch increased.

M1PR (WS): Insert left needle, from back to front, under the horizontal strand which lies between the stitch just knit, and the following stitch; then purl into the front of this loop. 1 stitch increased.

Picot bind off: *Using the cable CO method, cast on 2 sts, bind off 5. Repeat from * to last 2 sts; cast on 2, bind off 4, finish off.

The charts for this pattern are very large and fit on a letter-sized page.
Click here and print the resulting page. (left side body chart revised 6/22/14)

Cast on 2 sts.
Work 6 rows in stockinette, starting with a RS row.

Setup row 1 [RS]: K2, pick up and knit 5 sts along long edge, pick up and knit 2 sts from CO edge. 9 sts total.

The outside 2 sts form the edging and will be worked in stockinette stitch throughout, as will the center stitch.

Set up row 2 [WS]: P2, M1RP, p2, M1LP, pm for center stitch, p1, pm for center stitch, M1RP, p2, M1LP, p2. 13 sts.

Body of Shawl
Row 1 [RS]: K2, M1L, work Row 1 of Body Chart Right Side to marker, M1R, slip marker, k1, slip marker, M1L, work Row 1 of Body Chart Left Side to last 2 sts, k2. 4 sts increased.

Row 2 and all following even rows [WS]: P2, M1RP, work next row of Body Chart Left Side to marker, M1LP, slip marker, p1, slip marker, M1RP, work next row of Body Chart Right Side to last 2 sts, M1LP, p2. 4 sts increased.

Work Rows 1-28 of Chart 1 once, work Rows 5-28 of Body Chart three times, and work Rows 5-18 Body Chart once. 469 sts total, with 232 sts on each side between the markers.

Note: The last 2 rows worked in the Body section are included on the Edging Chart so you can see how the pattern lines up with the cable crossing from Rows 17-18 of Chart 1.

Next row [RS]: Work Edging chart across, working repeat section 37 times on each side.
After Row 3 of the edging chart, you will have 707 sts total.

Work in ribbing pattern as set in Edging Chart Rows 7 & 8 until the edging is approximately 3.5 inches deep.
Bind off on the RS using the Picot Bind Off.


Weave in ends, leaving a tail hanging. Soak shawl in tepid water and wool wash. Squeeze out excess water, and pin out to dry. Since this is a cabled piece, you won't need to block as aggressively as you would for a lace shawl, but do pin out the border as much as possible to enhance the ruffled edge.

Let dry and trim any hanging ends flush with the surface.


Rachel Brown is an ex-Bostonian now living in London by way of southeast Texas. When she's not knitting, she's likely to be spinning or dyeing up fiber for her shop, Porpoise Fur. She also spends her time wrangling kids, coddling dogs, slaving away at the lab bench, and co-organizing Yarn in the City: The Great London Yarn Crawl.

You can find her knitting/designing/spinning adventures on her blog.