Review:Clapotis pattern

Ah,the mighty Clapotis! This must be one of the most popular designs in blogland. Google returns 230,000 results for the search term “clapotis,”and Ravelry lists it as the #2 pattern with 250 WIPs,2,716 projects,and 344 blog posts. (In case you were wondering,the #1 pattern is Monkey,with 259 WIPs).

(How the heck do you pronounce “clapotis”? I pronounce it French-like,“klap-o-tee.”A friend of mine insists on pronouncing it “klap-otis,”but she might be doing this just to vex me. I am sadly vulnerable to such tactics.)

But ask yourself…how many Clapotises have you seen in the wild? I have seen precisely one,and it was at a fiber festival,so that doesn’t really count. Based on the number of people working on a Clapotis,we should be ankle-deep in the things. What’s happening?

A brief (and entirely unscientific) study of the factors involved in the high Clapotis failure rate revealed the following:

1. Poor yarn substitution:Fiber content

The pattern calls for four (four!) skeins of Lorna’s Laces Lion and Lamb,which retails for around $32 per skein. We all love our knitting,but do we love our knitting enough to drop $120 on the yarn for a scarf? Most of us do not,so we throw ourselves on the mercy of our stash,and pick something a little more affordable.

Lion and Lamb is a worsted weight,wool/silk blend with a smooth,almost slick feel. When subbing a yarn for Clapotis,I strongly suggest you knit a swatch several inches high,then drop a stitch. How hard is it to get that stitch all the way down to the cast-on row? Do you have to pluck at it with a crochet needle while tugging your swatch back and forth?

Magnify this stitch-dropping experience by about 12,000%. This is what it will be like to knit Clapotis with that particular yarn.

2. Poor yarn substitution:Weight

Lion and Lamb is a worsted-weight yarn,and you still need 820 yards of the stuff. According to these numbers I totally pulled out of Google’s butt [pdf] and some sloppy Erika Math,you would need to substitute 987 yards of sport,or 1,110 yards of fingering weight yarn.

Let’s take a step back and look at those numbers. That’s a lot of knitting. If you substitute a yarn smaller than worsted weight,it will involve more knitting still –99.5% of which will be plain old stockinette. Are you up for that? You sure? Many have tried,and many have failed.

Trust me,closets across the world are littered,choked with the remains of partially-completed Clapotises in fingering and sport weight yarns.

3. This thing is really,really big

The pictures in the original pattern don’t really give a feeling for the size of a completed Clapotis. Even the finished measurements (21 inches by 55 inches) fail to convey the sheer gigantism of the thing. Have you seen the picture Franklin took of Knit and Tonic’s Clapotis on the beach? Well,I can’t find it right now,but here’s her official FO picture. Look at it! It’s huge!

The size has two consequences:

* It’s a lot more knitting than you might expect.

* Choose your colors wisely!

That kicky red-and-orange variegated yarn may look awesome in the skein,but ask yourself,how will it look at blanket size?

You may try to avoid the size by knitting it smaller,with fewer set-up rows. That’s what I did,and it looked great at first!


Unfortunately,Clapotis is designed to curl. That’s part of why it’s so huge –it curls up into a tube and still looks great. However,if you knit it in sport-weight yarn (as I did),it will curl up into a tube about the size of a pencil. And then you will wrap it around your neck and you will feel sad.


Clapotis is beautiful and easy to knit,and the pattern is very well-written,but it does have several potential pitfalls. Approach with caution.

20 comments to Review:Clapotis pattern

  • Kelly

    I have feared the great kluh-poy-tus (how I read it,having only studied Spanish,and no French–unless you count two weeks in gradeschool where I bit*ched about ‘maintenance’for ‘now’=dork me).
    Anywho,it’s huge and I can barely conceive of doing another hat right now. There go my xmas plans.

    Thanks for the Hallow’Eve Early Scare Post! (ok,I’m sure I’m alone on the fear,but really!)

  • Kelly

    p.s. I think my pronunciation is decidedly just Midwestern Dork,Urban Region. Don’t blame the Spanish after all. Otherwise,my head would read

  • Josiane

    You’ve got the pronunciation of clapotis right,except for a teeny tiny little detail:in French,the syllables aren’t cut at the same place they are in English –in this case,it is cla-po-tee.

  • And then for some of us,there’s:

    4. It doesn’t appeal,so we never started one in the first place. ;)

    Come to think of it,the Monkey socks don’t appeal either. They’re pretty and all,I just can’t imagine wanting to knit or wear them. (Much less make them for someone else.) Definitely an odd kick in the gallop. [g]

  • But I love my mini clapotis made with half a skein of sock yarn and even wore it to work today! A little ironing makes it flat. Over time mine started curling a bit,but it looks fine that way too. Once it gets into the pencil roll category I’ll just steam it again.

    I had a customer recognize the pattern. Said she bought some yarn to make one but hasn’t cast on yet.

  • I made one! With one skein of unknown yardage,it was about 4 feet in length and 1 across. I called it the Clapotisette (easier to pronounce) and gave it to a friend in the UK. Planning another with some more hand-dyed,yardage unknown. No problem.

    While we are on the subject of pronouncing French,how does one utter “Jamiroquai”? (I’m not sure I even got the spelling right).

  • I did see one in the wild;in fact,itwas what got me to buy the Lion and Lamb to make one myself. Unfortunately,I bought before the pattern mentioned that you really need four skeins instead of the three it originally called for,so I’ve never been happy with the size of it,even though I ripped most of it out and made it slightly narrower. Someday I’ll frog it and reknit it (for the second time),either in different dimensions,or as another pattern altogether.

  • I’ve made four clapotis now and I have to admit that I still like the pattern. I’m a lover of mindless knitting and easily memorized patterns –I like knitting the clapotis because it’s so easy to use as a carry-around project. The first one I knit in Butterfly 10 mercerized cotton,and that turned out to have a really nice drape. So I knit another one in mercerized cotton for my mum. :) Then one in silky wool for me,and then one in laceweight mercerized cotton for my aunt. That one turned out very nice,and I may knit another for myself out of the leftovers. The curling doesn’t bother me too much,and I wear the silky wool one all winter,and often get compliments.

    You’re right,though –I’ve only ever seen clapotis in yarn stores,on other shoppers,and in window displays.

  • Advicemonkey

    Someday,I will be able to take the Clap-o-tis out for a walk but since it has been almost three years from cast,it does not seem unreasonable that I have scheduled it debut for sometime in the beginning of 2010. I fell into a lot of the problems that you mentioned. Fingering weight yarn that is a little too sticky to slide,and the mindlessness of the pattern makes me a little bonkers after about 10 minutes a month. :) Thank you for the post,it reminds me I should plow through the remaining 50 rows and finish the damn thing.

  • I substituted a HORRID yarn when I knit my klap-o-tee and that,coupled with the fact that I don’t even wear shawls,is the reason mine never sees the light of day. I’m thinking about knitting another one scarf-width with some yarn I picked up at MD Sheep and Wool and seeing how I like that.

  • I started one using a variegated Madil Eden bamboo DK/worsted-weight yarn,which worked very well for the drape and the dropping stitches. But I made it narrower because I only have 2 skeins,and the rolling became evident after about 12″. It is currently in the “ZZZ”stage,according to Ravelry. It may find itself frogged before it ever wakes up.

  • Pattie

    I made an incredible stole with it,big,with some really yummy Colinette purples kind of ribbon yarn stuff. It’s very dramatic. And I’m very short. So I don’t wear it often.

  • Pattie

    And it’s SO satisfying to run down those dropped stitches! On purpose!

  • You’ve got that pronounciation right at least according to the designer,Kate. I asked her when I met her in Paris though of course she said it in a much more lovely French sounding way.

  • I’ve seen two Clapotis in the wild,one at a small get-together of knitters (so it may not count,according to your rules) and one at a technical-writing conference so it definitely counts. That being said,never cared much for the pattern m’self.

  • I finished a clapotis about 2 weeks ago and wore it to a rehearsal dinner.

    Most of the reason I love it was my yarn substitution. It’s a sparkly rayon that I got for $38. I only skipped one repeat so it’s plenty big enough for a shawl. And I got a million compliments on it!

  • the main reason why my clapotis didn’t get done? i set it aside for holiday crafting,and never picked it back up,lol. i should,though

  • pam murphy

    I made one from (should I say this?) red heart’s super saver in black! But I had a lot of fun making it. Seemed there was alot going on and so did not get bored with all that stockinette stitching. And the truth is that I don’t do purling if I can get away with it! I cheated by working back and forth with the right side facing at all times. You know,kniting backwards! I have to make several more of the lovey Clapotis because the sister-in-laws all want one! A great pattern. pam.

  • Excellent look at the famous Clapotis! I’ve hesitated to make it,and now I think I’ll hesitate further. Thanks!

  • I am one of the few who have made this pattern several times (at last count,I have made 12 in varying yarn types). Not surprisingly,I completely agree with your thoughts on that careful consideration should be made on the selected yarn before casting on. Now if you could pardon me,I’m going to cast on for a Clapotis-inspired baby blanket…;)
    Bunny hugs,