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Whelk Shell (R3)

knitted whelk shell

Whelk shells are the twirly, spiral sort (from sea-snails). This knitted version is based on the common whelk that I often find on the beach in Kent.

A printable version of this pattern is available.

You will need:

  • scraps of double knit
  • toy stuffing
  • 4 x double ended knitting needles (3mm)
  • tapestry needle
  • scissors


(A list of abbreviations is available.)

Cast on 20 stitches and join into the round.

  1. Round 1: [k1, p1] repeat to end.
  2. Round 2: k2tog, k –
  3. Round 3: [p1, k1] repeat to end.
  4. Round 4: k2tog, k –
  5. Rounds 5-8: as rounds 1-4 (16)
  6. Round 9: [k1, p1] repeat to end.
  7. Round 10: k –
  8. Round 11: [k1, p1] repeat to end.
  9. Round 12: k2tog, k –
  10. Round 13: [p1, k1] repeat to end.
  11. Round 14: k –
  12. Round 15: [p1, k1] repeat to end.
  13. Round 16: k2tog, k –

Repeat rounds 9-16 until 6 sts remain.

Thread yarn through remaining stitches and pull tight.

Making Up:

Making up is the tricky bit in this pattern as we have to twist the knitting into a tight spiral.

Loosely stuff the knitted cone, leaving about 3cm empty space at the large end. Shape as follows:

Diagram showing how to twist the shell into shape.
  1. Hold the cone so that the start/end of the rounds are on top. We are going to refer to the line along the top as the spine.
  2. Bend the end of the cone around to the left and towards you. Use the bend in the tube to trap the toy stuffing in place.
  3. Keeping the spine on top shift the cone up so that it sits on top of the open end. Sew into place.

Continue to bend, sewing the spine to the underside of the cone until you run out of knitting. When completely twisted the shell should look something like the diagram below.

Diagram showing the shell twisted into shape.

If any toy stuffing is visible pull out small amounts until the bend hides it completely. (If the shell is going to be handled a lot, add a couple of extra stitches at the first bend of the shell so that the stuffing can't escape.)

Open out the mouth of the shell by tugging the cast on edge to the side and sewing against the body of the shell. The new position of the edge is shown as a dotted line in the diagram.

Lose any remaining loose ends in the body of the shell.


Needle/Yarn Size

As with most ODDknit patterns the yarn and needle sizes in the "you will need" section are just a guide. Feel free to improvise with whatever needles and yarn you have lying around - that's half the fun!