Project Notes » Clapotis (Daffodil)


So I caught this bug like everyone else and started this scarf/shawl. I got yarn to make as many as 3. We’ll see how it goes. I think the pattern is fun and the right mixture of mindless and creating a cool effect which goes a long way to making it a project I repeat.

The first one is in Lorna’s Laces Shepherd Worsted in a colorway called “Daffodil”. This one is for my friend R. To complete it took 3 balls of yarn. I worked one less increase repeat than the pattern calls for and my gauge loosened a bit through the middle (I was knitting fast and loose!) which accounts for some of the pooling. The finished scarf measures 55×21 inches.

I’m working on a second one now and took a little detour and designed a matching hat as well. Click here for the pattern.

Quick Tips

  • Join the Clapotis Knit-along
  • If you’re worried about stitch counts, remember you’ll have one less stitch after a purl-side row than after a knit-side row.
  • Instead of using stitch markers, you can purl the stitch that you’ll drop.

Making a Clapotis Swatch

This swatch won’t have the bias slant that the actual shawl/scarf will have, but it’s useful to help you figure out the laddering and stitch twisting and whether you like the way your fabric drapes with your chosen needle size.

Cast on 19 stitches (includes 2 ladders), plus 6 more for each additional ladder you want in your swatch. Alternate rows 1 and 2, putting markers where indicated, or purling the stitch immediately after the marker notation. If you would like more than 2 ladders, repeat the section noted []* for each additional ladder.

Row 1 (right side): k5, k tbl, [(m) k1, k tbl, k3, k tbl]*, (m) k1, k tbl, k5
Row 2 (wrong side): purl across

(m) = marker position

Repeat rows 1 and 2 until your swatch is the length you desire (4-6 inches). Bind off on a row 1. When you reach a marker, drop the stitch off the needle and let it run a few rows. Pick up the top bar, knit it through the back, and then bind it off.

Due to the square nature of the swatch, the bottom and top of the ladders will be a little tighter than in the actual Clapotis when knit on the bias, so make sure the swatch has enough length that you can spread it out and see what is going on in the middle few inches.

This swatch is also a good training ground for trying out techniques like twisting the stitches on the purl side or working mirrored twisted stitches like I describe below.


I’ve done a few mini essays on techniques in this pattern. Read on…

Using the Yarn You’ve Got

The Clapotis pattern calls for 615 yards of yarn in gauge. Many people have found that they need more than that despite achieving the recommended gauge. There are a couple of techinques for making sure you don’t use more yarn than you have on hand. I describe them below.

The same amount of yarn will be used for the increase section and the decrease section. If you are worried whether you will have enough yarn, you can take note of how much the increase section uses and save the same amount for the decrease section. There are two methods for figuring out how much to save. I call the first one “Simple Count” and the second one “Weigh and Calculate”.

Simple Count

The number of dropped stitches indicates how many straight section repeats you have completed. One way to keep track of how much yarn you will need to finish is to work to the end of your first ball and see how many straight-section repeats you did. You will be able to do this many with your last ball before decreasing.

If you’re using smaller balls of yarn, you need to adjust this plan slightly. Work the increase
section and continue to the end of whatever ball you’re using when you transition to the straight section. As above, count the number of straight section repeats you’ve completed (by counting the number of stitches you’ve dropped), let’s say 2 repeats. Then count how many balls you’ve used to this point, let’s say 3 balls. If you have 5 balls remaining, you can work 2 of them without thinking. When you start the next ball, you must work 2 more repeats before starting the
decrease section.

A good way to keep track of how many balls you’ve used is to always join a new ball of yarn on the right side row. Then your yarn tails will always be on the right edge of the scarf, where you start dropping stitches from. You can just count up the tails when figuring how many balls you’ve used at a certain point.

Weigh and Calculate
If you have access to a scale, you can weigh your scarf when you finish the increase section. If you save this much yarn aside for the decrease section, you can work all the rest of your yarn for as many straight section repeats as you can. Don’t mind the weight of the needle, it will just make sure you have a little comfort zone when finishing. If you’re really concerned about the weight of the needle, weigh it before starting (circular) or weigh its mate (straights).

However, if you want to gauge how long your finished Clapotis will be, you can do a little math.

First weigh your increase section as above and save aside that much yarn for the decrease section. Let’s say your increase section takes 62 grams of yarn (which mine did, but I did one fewer repeat than the pattern called for).

Then you’ll need to know how many repeats you can do in the straight section. Do one repeat and weigh the thing again. Let’s say this takes 16 grams of yarn.

If you bought 3 balls of yarn at ~113 grams each, you’d have a total of 339 grams of yarn. The increase and decrease sections take 62 + 62 = 124 grams. You’d have 215 grams for straight section repeats, which means 215 / 16 = ~ 13 repeats. You can measure the distance from one repeat to the next after you drop the stitches. I got ~2.75 inches. Multiply this by the number of straight repeats and increase repeats to get your total length. So 6 increases + 13 straights = 19 repeats x 2.75 = 52.25 inches. I rounded down on the measurement, so it turned out a little longer.

If you do this calculation and you think your Clapotis will be too long, you can use this math figure out how many straight section repeats to do to get the length you really want.

To Twist or Not To Twist (Stitches)

The knit-along group had a bunch of discussions about why you twist the stitches right next to the dropped stitches and what happens if you don’t. I decided that before I pushed ahead, I should find out. I was also curious as to why the twists only occur on the knit side and not on the purl side. So I made
a swatch.

Unfortunately, my camera was having trouble focusing on the off-white yarn on the light colored wood surface. And the battery died before I could make any changes. So this photo is all you get (and it’s rather fuzzy). And while I didn’t block the swatch, I did give this swatch a fair bit of pulling and tugging as abuse before I took the picture.

Key to the dropped columns:
1: All stitches next to the dropped stitch were twisted (knit-side and purl-side)
2: No stitches next to the dropped stitch were twisted
3: As specified in the pattern, only knit-side stitches next to the dropped stitch were twisted.

So what do we see? In column 1, there’s a crisp definition to the stitches right next to the ladder. In column 2, the stitches next to the ladder are looser than the rest of the stitches in the knit section. This is because they pull in a little of the slack from the ladder. This might become a little more pronounced through the life of the garment. In column 3, there’s a “rowing-out” issue. The alternation between twisted and untwisted stitches in that column produces a different tension by row. This visual effect is probably lessened in a varigated colorway and may be minimized with blocking. Perhaps the difference in the yarns contributes as well (technique swatch is 100% merino, pattern photo is wool/silk). I certainly didn’t really see it on the closeup photo with the pattern.

For my own Clapotis, I decided that I liked the look of column #1 the best, so I’ll be twisting stitches on the purl side as well.

Mirrored Twisted Stitches

When I finished my first Clapotis I decided that I didn’t like the way that the stitches next to the ladder differ from each other and that I suspected it had to do with the way they twisted. I thought the key would be to mirror the twists and have the top leg of the twist either always point toward the ladder or always point away from the ladder.

So I swatched it up. The color is a little dark (it’s cream on forest green but the flash washed it out too much), but the detail is a lot easier to see than in the swatch above.

Column 1 shows twists where the top leg leads out to the ladder. This means I do the normal twist through the back loop on the left side of the ladder stitch. In my work, this side is a little tigher and tends to curl in toward the ladder. You can see that mirroring this side makes both sides curl in toward the ladder a little (highlighted with the arrow).

Column 2 shows twists where the top leg leads out to the stockinette section. This means I do the normal twist on the right side of the ladder. I find that this edge tends too look a little more ragged (probably because of knit-to-purl tension issues) but that overall, they look flatter and more like the stockinette sections.

I haven’t decided which kind I’ll use for my next Clapotis. I think that doing as in column 1 will produce a fabric that will retain more of the curl even after blocking, at the risk of making the stockinette sections narrower. If I go this way, I might go so far as to alter the pattern in order to add another stitch to the stockinette sections so they are 6 stitches wide.

How do I mirror the twists?
A normal twist is accomplished by knitting or purling through the back loop. This causes the stitch to twist to the left or clockwise.

A mirrored twist is accomplished by twisting the stitch to the right, or counter-clockwise. To do this, slip the stitch as if to knit (this twists it). Transfer the stitch back to the left needle without twisting it further. Then knit or purl normally.

To do Clapotis
The normal pattern is: KKK T (m)K T
K = knit
T = twist (or ktbl)
(m)K = the ladder stitch: purl or “move markers and knit” (whichever you desire)

The mirror pattern for column 1: MT [(m)K T KKK MT]* (MT = mirrored twist)
The mirror pattern for column 2: T [(m)K MT KKK T]*

Caveat: My instructions above assume knitting where the stitch mounts normally face to the left. If you are a combined knitter and normally knit into the back loop (because your stitch mounts face right), you already have to make accomodations for twisting. The mirrored twist I describe above will give you a twisted stitch, but it may already be how you twist your stitches.


The colorway:

The end of the increase section:

After 10 repeats of the straight section:

All finished:

Close-ups of the back:

Close-ups of the front:

All folded up in a ball to give away: