How to Knit Circular Shawls (As Well As Annular Shawls & Rings)

Welcome to the next episode of my Shawl Design for Everybody series! Today’s topic in our shawl design course is how to knit circular shawls and creating patterns for annular shawls and rings.

How to Knit Circular Shawls

Circular shawls are best worked from the center outwards. Start with a provisional cast on of 6 sts and knit one row, working in the round.

Remember your school math? There has been a number called Pi: the geometry of the circle unveils when looking at the mysterious relationship of the circumference of a circle to its radius. This ratio (circumference to radius) equals to Pi.

Or, as Elizabeth Zimmermann tells us in her book The Knitter’s Almanac:

“[…] the geometry of the circle hing[es] on the mysterious relationship of the circumference of a circle to its radius. A circle will double its circumference in infinitely themselves-doubling distances, or, in knitters’ terms, the distance between the increase-rounds, in which you double the number of stitches, goes 3, 6, 12, 24 and so on.” 

Well said. An implementation of the template mentioned above, usually called the Pi Shawl, is shown in the figure below: the number of rounds doubles between each increase round.

Shawl Design - How to Knit Circular Shawls
Illustration of the Pi Shawl construction method: the number of rounds doubles between each increase round.

Pattern Template for Circular Shawls

The most simple pattern template for knitting circular shawls is as follows.

  • CO 9 sts
  • Knit 1 round
  • (YO, k1) around
  • Knit 3 rounds
  • (YO, k1) around
  • Knit 6 rounds
  • (YO, k1) around
  • Knit 12 rounds
  • (YO, k1) around
  • Knit 12 (24, 48, …) rounds with increase rounds in between (or until shawl is of desired size)
  • Bind off loosely, block.

Annular Shawls (Rings)

Annular shawls are circular shawls with holes in the center.

Shawl Design - How to Knit Annular Shawls (Rings)
Annular shawls can be constructed by casting on more stitches, following the increase instructions of circular shawls.

The more sections of a circular shawl are omitted, the larger the center gap is going to be.

Shawl Design - How to Knit Annular Shawls (Rings)

Pattern Template: Annular Shawl Patterns (Rings)

  • CO N=36 (or N=72, …) sts.
  • Work N rows
  • Work increase row (double stitch count)
  • Work 2*N rows
  • Work increase round (double stitch count)
  • Work 4*N rounds
  • Work increase round (double stitch count) (24 sts)
  • Work 8*N rounds

Same here as for circular shawls: repeat working in this schema until your shawl is of desired size, then work an edging (garter stitch border or something more complicated, as you please) and bind off loosely. Block gently.


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