Saturday, August 12, 2023

Seashore Crescent Shawlette


I love to spend hours looking through vintage needlework books and old newspapers, and have a decent collection of stitches I have either printed or hand copied over the years, and I even bought a stack of booklets from eBay.  

I came across the Cowrie Shell Insertion some years ago on and knew that I had to use it for something.  There are a lot of edgings and insertions on this site, and I have seen most of them in my travels through the old stitch books, newspapers and magazines. This particular insertion pattern I believe was originally printed in the late 1800's in Canada in Home Work.  Not all of the the old books have pictures of every stitch, so this site is quite helpful as it has pictures with each stitch, and also uses modern terms.  While the old books always have an explanation of the abbreviations used, it can still be confusing; for example, they use "n" for narrow, which is generally k2tog.   

I decided to use this insertion as an edging for a crescent shawl, my favorite kind of shawl to knit.

I wanted this shawl to wear on vacation this past July; I eagerly cast on at the beginning of the year with a fine lace weight cashmere yarn in a light tan/white blend - perfect for the beach because it reminded me of the sand.  The yarn was so fine, I had to use one of those giant lighted magnifying glasses you wear around your neck to see what I was doing.  It took me forever to make progress.  I had about 50 repeats of the shell pattern done when disaster struck.  I made a mistake and had knit back to fix it, then accidentally dropped several stitches... and it went downhill from there.  So I abandoned the lovely cashmere lace yarn because it was June at that point and I knew I would never be able to finish the shawl unless I used a heavier yarn.

I had gotten a ton of Premier Chameleon from my local Dollar Store a while back and figured it would be perfect.  So I cast on and was able to finish the shawl in time for vacation.  This yarn is supposed to change color in the sun, however it never really did more than get a few very light spots of purple here and there.

This little shawlette measures appx. 9 inches from the center top to bottom curve, and appx. 35-1/2 inches tip to tip.  Just a little something to drape over your shoulders to keep the summer air conditioning at bay.

I used only one skein of the Premier Chameleon yarn, which is 100% cotton, #3 weight (DK/light worsted) 229 yds / 210 m - 3.5 iz / 100 g, and a 32" circular needle in a US size 6.

yo = yarn over

k2tog = knit 2 stitches together

k = knit

p = purl

ssk = slip, slip, knit - slip a stitch knitwise, slip another stitch knitwise, insert left needle into the front of these stitches and knit them together through the back loop

Cowrie Shell Pattern:

Row 1 (ws) : yo, k2tog, k2, p2, k2, yo, p1, k2, p2, k4

Row 2: (yo, k2tog, p2)2x, k1, yo, k1, p2, yo, k2tog, p2, k2

Row 3: yo, k2tog (k2, p2)2x, yo, p1, k2, p2, k4

Row 4: yo, k2tog, p2, k2tog, yo, p2, k1, yo, k3, p2, k2tog, yo, p2, k2

Row 5: yo, k2tog, k2, p2, k2, p4, yo, p1, k2, p2, k4

Row 6: (yo, k2tog, p2)2x, k1, yo, k5, p2, yo, k2tog, p2, k2

Row 7: yo, k2tog, k2, p2, k2, p2tog, p5, k2, p2, k4

Row 8: yo, k2tog, p2, k2tog, yo, p2, k4, k2tog, p2, k2tog, yo, p2, k2

Row 9: yo, k2tog, k2, p2, k2, p2tog, p3, k2, p2, k4

Row 10: (yo, k2tog, p2)2x, k2, k2tog, p2, yo, k2tog, p2, k2

Row 11: yo, k2tog, k2, p2, k2, p2tog, p1, k2, p2, k4

Row 12: yo, k2tog, p2, k2tog, yo, p2, k2tog, p2, k2tog, yo, p2, k2

Work the Cowrie Shell pattern 30 times and bind off.  With the wrong side facing, pick up and knit 180 stitches.

Shawl Body:

Row 1: knit 92 stitches, turn

Row 2: knit 6 stitches, turn

Row 3: knit to 1 stitch before turning point, ssk, knit 2, turn

Row 4: knit to 1 stitch before turning point, k2tog, knit 2, turn

Repeat Rows 3 and 4 until all stitches of the shawl body have been worked.  Bind off and block.

Below is a video of the cowrie shell stitch.


  1. I'm making my own shawl based on this pattern, and I have a question about the stitch count for the shawl part. Is the pattern [half the live stitch count + 2], and then follow the pattern, [turn, knit 6, turn, etc] or do I need to change the [k6] as well?

    1. I recommend the Crescent Shaped Shawls worksheet from Laylock, which is what I use. It has a fill in the blanks formula you can use to calculate the stitch count.