This shawl uses a half-pi construction, which doubles the number of stitches after each section. The construction is well-suited to showing off gradient yarn, and the final section is adjustable based upon how much yarn you have available. Although the name Polyxena refers to a character from the story of the Trojan War, the “poly” part of the name means “many,” which refers to the gradient or color-changing yarn used in this design.
Designed specifically for the Jumbo Sock Garden Party Cake from Art-by-Ana, the pattern includes instructions for three sizes based upon how much yarn you have (463 yards, 555 yards, and 693 yards).
Art-by-Ana Sock Garden Party Cake (75% Merino, 25% nylon, 693 yds/633 m per 150g cake); 1 cake
or 670 yds (612 m) of another fingering weight gradient yarn
Optional instructions provided for 463-yd and 555-yd versions
US 6 (4.0 mm) 32” (80 cm) or longer circular needle, or size needed to obtain gauge (Note: I’m a tight knitter, so take time to check your gauge to be sure you have enough yarn for the shawl)
2 stitch markers
26 stitches and 35 rows over 4” (10 cm) in stockinette
Straight edge: 62” (157.5 cm)
From straight edge to widest point of half-circle: 25” (63.5 cm)
Skill Level: Advanced Beginner
Skills needed: yarn overs, decreases (k2tog and ssk)
If you have Version 1, chart knitters, the chart key is missing the symbol for the ssk. On the charts, the left leaning slash should be an ssk (the right leaning slash is correctly labeled as k2tog). The key has been corrected on Version 2 (dated October 31, 2016).
Thank you to my test knitters (acsparky89, megknitsalot, and knitngoddess) who provided valuable feedback. Thank you to Ana of Art-by-Ana for creating the gorgeous yarn used for the sample. And thank you to the women of Stitch Definition, who provided photography (Anne Podlesak), tech editing (Maureen Hannon), and graphic design/layout (Elizabeth Green Musselman).
The Story Behind the Name
Polyxena is a character in Greek plays and poems about Troy. Her father, Priam, was the king of Troy, and Polyxena was engaged to be married to Achilles. But when Achilles went to the temple to meet her (or in some versions of the story to be married), her brothers Paris and Deiphobus kill Achilles. His ghost returns to demand the sacrifice of Polyxena (in some versions, the sacrifice is payment for Achilles’ murder and in others the sacrifice is so the Greeks will have enough wind to sail their ships home).
Many medieval authors used stories from the Greeks and Romans within their own tales, sometimes retelling the stories and sometimes just as a quick reference within the story, an allusion to something contemporary readers would be familiar with. Geoffrey Chaucer, one of the most important writers in medieval England, referred to Polyxena in several of his works. In Troilus and Criseyde (which takes place during the Trojan War), Polyxena is Troilus’s sister, and Troilus promises his friend, Pandarus, that he can have Polyxena if Pandarus will help Troilus win the hand of Criseyde (who is Pandarus’s niece). In The Legend of Good Women (which might more appropriately be titled The Legend of Bad Men), Polyxena’s name is evoked as one of love’s martyrs.