You begin with only three stitches and can decide as you go how wide to make your shawl or scarf, and whether to keep it simple or jazz it up a bit with an eyelet border. If you pay attention as you knit the first corner of the rectangle, you'll be able to judge exactly how far you can go and still have enough yarn left to finish the piece--so you won't waste any expensive yarn.
There are some design considerations you'll need to settle before starting. One is finding a gauge that gives you the texture you want and properly shows off the yarn. Another is the width you want for the shawl or scarf.
You might be aiming for a thick, cozy fabric for a colorful handpaint yarn, or for an airy open fabric for a novelty texture yarn, as I have shown here. The pictured yarn is Karabella's Gossamer, a thin mohair/nylon blend with short runs of glittery stuff spun in every several inches. The thick glittery accents are only about three stitches long, forming squiggles in the more open fabric of the mohair. I am knitting this on size 10 (US) needles, and the shawl is about 24 inches in width. I don't yet know how long it will be, but the amount shown in the photo is less than one ball, and I have two more.
In concept, there are actually two elements--the shaping of the shawl itself, and the rectangular outline of eyelets that forms a simple border. You can knit the shawl without the eyelet design, so I will describe it that way first. Then I'll describe how to knit it with the eyelet border, as wide or as narrow as you like.
Posted December 8, 2002.
Judy Gibson, Descanso, California.