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Let’s knit a simple shawl

December 22, 2016


I love a big shawl,  something I can really wrap up in to keep out the cold. In this tutorial we will be knitting Grain, a simple garter shawl.

First up, download the free Grain shawl pattern and then away we go! The pattern is written for 3 weights of yarn, fingering, DK, and worsted. Because the shawl starts in the centre and works outwards, all versions follow the same basic instructions. Tutorial shown in Brooklyn Tweed Arbor in ‘wreath’.

The first step is the garter tab cast on. We have a detailed tutorial on how to work the garter tab cast on here, covering a couple of different methods.


9 sts cast on using the Garter Tab Cast on

Set up row (WS): k3, PM, k1, PM, k1, PM, k1, PM, k3

As you work the set up row you place your 4 markers, separating your work into 5 sections: 3 edge sts, first main section (1 stitch), centre stitch, second main section (1 stitch), and 3 edge sts. PM is the abbreviation for ‘place marker’. If you are confused about any of our pattern abbreviations, refer to our full abbreviations list here.


When you place your markers your two main sections will only have 1 stitch in them, but those are the 2 sections that will grow as you work your shawl. The edge stitches are always 3 sts and the centre stitch is always a single stitch.

Row 1 (RS): k3, SM, yo, knit to marker, yo, SM, k1, SM,
yo, knit to marker, yo, SM, k3 [4 sts increased]
Row 2 (WS): knit

Once you have worked rows 1 and 2 a few times the pattern starts to become clearer.


You can see that the edge stitches and centre stitch remain the same, while the two main sections start to grow.


Grain Shawl Process

The Grain shawl begins with a tiny cast-on, grows and grows, always keeping its triangular shape. It’s done when you run out of yarn, get bored, or decide it’s big enough!

That’s really all there is to it! Just keep going until you reach the desired size, or until you are almost out of yarn, leaving just enough to bind off all of your stitches. It really is the simplest of shawls. You can work a series of chunky stripes, as we have done, or just pick your favourite for a single-colour shawl.


This is just a mini shawl, but creating a larger one just means more knitting. Grab a few of your favourite skeins and cast on!

Grain Shawl Construction


What else is fabulous and free from Tin Can Knits?

Check out our many other the fabulous free patterns sized from baby to big, and get started making modern seamless knits for the entire family!  Like our work?  Get our email updates and we will let you know about new patterns, tutorials, and events.

We’ve got a bunch of other in-depth tutorials too…

button-tut-wheat-b button-tut-vivid button-tut-rye-b button-tut-pop-a button-tut-maize-b button-tut-gramps button-tut-gothiclace-b button-tut-dogwood-a button-tut-flax-c button-tut-barley-a button-tut-twsm button-tut-antler

More simple TCK patterns to try:






33 Comments leave one →
  1. Angie Hardy permalink
    April 19, 2021 3:28 am

    I’m excited to start this lovely shawl! I’m going through my stash of yarn and working on how to put the colours together. I love the thick stripes in yours! Your instructions for the cast on was very helpful! I’m sure I’ll be making more after mine for my daughters! Thank you!

  2. December 29, 2020 7:21 am

    È possibile avere la traduzione in italiano per l’esecuzione della simple shawl. Mi piace molto. Grazie

    • December 31, 2020 12:34 pm

      Hi Maria – I’m sorry, our patterns are currently only available in English.

    • Claire permalink
      March 20, 2021 2:41 am

      Ciao Maria Rosa, faccio una traduzione per lei con piacere se lei interessa ancora. Claire

  3. Karen permalink
    January 7, 2020 3:52 am

    How am I to block this when I finish? It looks like it should be half as tall as it is wide, but the dimensions given is like 23inches by 63inches, which means 1/3 as tall as wife?

    • January 7, 2020 12:53 pm

      Hi Karen – I would block it to measurements, if you are feeling precise. Get out the ol’ tape measure and when you lay it out make it 23″ by 63″. Garter stitch is pretty pliable so you don’t want to block it to a wild size.

  4. Kathleen Schmitt permalink
    July 2, 2019 1:06 pm

    I finished the first and second rows (using set up row). Directions say work rows 1 and 2. But I no longer have markets to start row 1 again. Do I add the set up row prior to every row 1? Thanks

    • July 4, 2019 9:41 am

      Hello! You need to leave your markers in the work. When you get to ‘SM’ you’ll slip the marker from the LH needle to the RH needle, leaving it in place on the needle between stitches. That way you can continue to use it as an indicator of where to increase.

  5. Jennifer permalink
    April 21, 2019 1:09 pm

    Hi there I am so excited to knit a shawl for myself. I read in previous comment that I should keep the yarn weight the same for the whole project but can you tell me approximately how much yarn I would need to make this? Thanks so much for all your free patterns and tutorials!

    • April 25, 2019 12:44 pm

      Hi Jennifer – the yardages are on the front page of the pattern, it depends which weight of yarn you use for which yardage amount.

  6. Winnie permalink
    February 17, 2019 3:01 pm

    I am a beginner, beginner and very happy to work on such a pretty project. I wonder if you have a tip for keeping up with how many stitches are on each triangle at any given time. I have gotten off one stitch several times and am getting weary of counting each side every time I finish a row. Is there a trick to keep track? Thank you!

    • February 20, 2019 12:39 pm

      Hi Winnie- I don’t know if there is any trick to it really. Each RS row adds 2 sts to each triangle (one at the edge and one at the spine)

  7. Christa permalink
    January 28, 2018 2:23 pm

    I’m less than 20 rows to the end of my shawl and I realized I missed a yarn over 2 rows ago…do I have to frog it or is there another a way to fix it?

  8. Zameena permalink
    December 20, 2017 4:05 pm

    Hi! I was wondering if I could use one colour? I’m trying to work with yarn that I already have left over from making your Barley hat! I made Barley twice and Rye socks once last year :)

  9. Peggy Davis permalink
    October 24, 2017 11:28 am

    I am doing the shawl in 4 colors. How many rows do I do in each color to get the same effect you did?

    • October 26, 2017 12:44 pm

      Hi – Mine are not exactly the same number of rows for each colour. I just knit until I ran out of yarn.

  10. Laurie Boettner permalink
    August 1, 2017 4:37 pm

    I just bought the most fabulous yarn at my LYS on Sunday and I’ve been searching and searching for an easy shawl pattern as I’ve never made one before. How appropriate that I came across this one from Tin Can Knits since the first socks I ever made were the Rye Socks from you! :)

  11. Mary O'Shea permalink
    June 18, 2017 6:33 am

    I am thinking of doing a picot bind off. I tend to be too tight in bind offs but not with the picot. Do you think that will work? Thanks


  12. Darleane Johnston permalink
    February 7, 2017 11:57 am

    I am so pumped to make this shawl! I am just doing the first row on the RS. I keep ending up with 2 stitches on my centre mark. I have re done it 5x and I don’t know what I’m doing wrong. I am SM after the YO but then when i knit in between the 2 SM I end up increasing a stitch there because of the YO right before the SM.

    • February 7, 2017 12:28 pm

      Hi Darleane

      You may just want to watch carefully for a few rows and then skip the center 2 markers. If you can see where the ‘spine’ of the shawl is, you won’t actually need the markers. It sounds like your YO is just traveling a bit on you.

      • Darleane Johnston permalink
        February 9, 2017 5:56 pm

        Thank you so much Alexa! I ended up figuring that out, by pure frustration and determination! Lol 😂 I love the pattern so far! It is my first shawl and so far I love it!

  13. January 15, 2017 6:30 am

    THANK YOU!!! I’m actually working on someone else design at the moment…and was deeply concerned that it wasn’t working out right and couldn’t quite wrap my head around how it was going to “grow”. You just made all the worries and anxiety go poof!! Thanks you so much!! I knew if I checked out your site I’d find help and clear clear explanation of what was going on…and I did.

    FYI I made my first sweaters from you patterns too. All three of my grandsons now proudly wear the FLAX pullover. Of course now I’m getting requests for more from the grown boys!!

  14. Tracey permalink
    January 7, 2017 8:56 am

    learned my first provisional cast on…thank you. was wondering about when to do the color change…start a new color on the right side or wrong side?

    • January 9, 2017 10:33 am

      Hi Tracey – I always start the new colour on the RS, but it doesn’t really matter with garter stitch as long as you always start a new colour on the same side (that side becomes the RS)

  15. june permalink
    January 2, 2017 5:43 am

    A triangular shawl is what i have been yearning to learn to knit n so it feels like godsend.thank you Emily and Alexa! And more so coz it is in the Simple Collection.
    June from India

  16. Deborah Mindick permalink
    December 22, 2016 2:49 pm

    I am so excited for this shawl. I have tons of yarn and tons of patterns – but my secret fear of knitting a shawl has kept me back. But now I can forge ahead! Thank you for the free pattern. I just made a Barley hat and my daughter loves it! I hope to make a couple more as well. Happy Holidays to all!

  17. Isabelle permalink
    December 22, 2016 12:54 pm

    Thank you so much for this free pattern.
    Merry Christmas !

  18. Lynn permalink
    December 22, 2016 10:17 am

    I can’t tell from the pattern whether you start with the fingering and when you change to the DK, to the Worsted to the Aran. Can you help?

    • December 22, 2016 1:47 pm

      Hi Lynn – you can knit it in any weight, but stick with one (I knit this one entirely in an Aran weight, but you could knit it in DK or in Fingering)

  19. December 22, 2016 9:52 am

    Reblogged this on Teia's Pink Book of Goodness and commented:
    This tutorial for a simple shawl is one of the best and the Simple Collection from TinCanKnits is one of my favorites. — happy knitting!

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