Love’m or hate’m, they are a perennial favorite.
Many knitters don’t seem to realize, there are a limited number of templates that are used to ‘design’ poncho’s. Learn the templates or basic shapes for poncho’s –all are easy to learn—and you are half way to designing your own. Learning to design something as simple as a poncho is a good way to start learning to design. There are 20 to 30 ways to shape a an armseye and sleeve cap.
With poncho's, it is simpler to understand the basic shapes and how those shapes work.
Most are of the templates are easy..the final design, is the result of pairing a basic template with specific yarns, and stitch patterns, at a specific gauge.
Every template/style has advantages and disadvantages—and defining what is an advantage is what is a disadvantage is mostly personal opinion.
So here one of my governing opinions--
I like symmetry in clothes.
I personally think that asymmetrical clothes are unbecoming on everyone, but stunningly tall, thin and naturally very symmetrical bodies (ie, super models) can still look good in them.
Normal people, (ie not exceptionally tall, or exceptionally thin, or exceptionally symmetrical) people look less than their best in asymmetrical clothes.
Anyone who is short, or fat (or just not thin!) or is slightly out of balance just looks terrible.
I have other opinions about clothes, but most of them are not big factors in poncho’s.
So what are the basic shapes, and what are the advantage/disadvantages to them? I have created some drawing to help explain them.
Guide to images:
Dotted lines =folds
Red lines =seams (dotted red =optional seams)
Blue lines =neck line/opening
Green line= cast on edge
Large Arrow=common directions of knitting.
In many castes, there is more than one way to knit the basic shape. And in every case, there are many options available to the knitter/designer to customize the shape.
1—the Folded Rectangle.
Advantages ------Very Easy, Can be worn several ways
This poncho is knit, starting at narrow edge as a large rectangle.
It is ‘finished’ by folding it in half, and sewing 1 side seam, leaving a 10 or so inch gap at folded edge, which creates a neck opening.
Normal worn with the fold line at one center shoulder, and the seam line at other center shoulder.
It can also be worn with seam as center front, (which makes a shawl-like back, and a v neck front, or with seam line in back (and back v neck) and a boat neck in front.
No matter how you wear it, its not symmetrical!
The center front /center back styles are at least right/left symmetrical, (but not front/back symmetrical)
When its worn with one side having a seamed center shoulder edge, and the other arm having a folded edge, its totally skewed. And it gets more skewed with every wearing.
It can be modeled to look good, but I think this style is the most disappointing for knitters (especially new knitters who are least familiar with model tricks!)
2--2 Peice Rectangle Poncho
Advantages ---Very Easy, Less Asymmetrial than poncho1
Disadvangtes--Asymmetical, Seamed, Requires 2 identical pieces
The seamed 2 rectangle poncho is another popular pattern.
It is less asymmetrical than ponch 1, but I still don’t like it. It's often shown with a striped element, (either real stripes (horizontal) or cables or other Vertical stripes.
And right there at the seams, (2 since this poncho as mirror symmetry and the back is the mirror image of front) the “stripes” are at right angles.
This creates a strong diagonal line across the body—its not too bad on children, or any one thin, but its not the best choice for adults.
Secondly, since the knitting drapes and folds differently, (and stretches differenty over time) it becomes more asymmetrical over time. It also tends to twist while being worn--the seams end up a the center shoulder line, and the poncho ends up hanging even more asymmetirally.
3- Rectangular Poncho
Advantages----- Easy Symmetrical Versital (can be knit and worn several ways)
Disadvantages---Creating Neck opening, often called a serape or a ruana
This is a great poncho. It's easy, and it's symmetrical.
It can have a boat neck or V neck, it can even be knit as a ruana –
Its suitable for stripes --knit color stripes, or ‘stripe like patterns' (cables)
The side seams can be left open, sewn all or part way shut.
Depending on how you knit it, and which neck opening you chose, it can be more or less difficult to knit and to wear.
It can be knit in 2 long rectangles, with a center back seam and center front open as well.
4—The Rhombus (knit in the round)
Advantages -----Intermediate skills required, Can be worn several ways, Symmetrical
Disadvantages---Can be tedious towards the end, Doesn’t cover lower arm
One of my favorite poncho styles.
Normal worn folded so that looks like a notched Square, it can also be worn as a boat necked rhombus. (especially suitable when very short!)
The Cast On edge is the neck edge, and the shape is created by increasing 4 times every other round. (one increase each side of center front/center back stitch)
Because there are increases every other row, the pleasant rounds at the or near the cast on edge soon grow to be endlessly long by the lower edge.
And unless you knit it long enough to have the center front and back touch the ground, the poncho will only cover upper arms, not the lower arm.
Four more basic templates for poncho's, and some images of poncho's that use the basic templates shapes.