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 stitch, triangular shawl.
First up, download the free Grain shawl pattern and then away we go!
5 Steps to knitting the Grain shawl
- Garter tab cast on
- Placing Markers
- Increases and the body of the shawl
If following a knitting pattern is new for you, check out our tutorial on how to read a knitting pattern here. You can check out how to read the materials section specifically here.
The pattern is written for 3 weights of yarn, sock, DK, and worsted. This way you can choose the yarn that’s bets for you! Do you want a lightweight shawl for those cool summer evenings? Or something big and cozy for heading out into the snow? There’s no wrong answer, just the yarn you like! If the terms worsted and DK have you scratching your head, check out our yarn tutorial here.
Because the shawl starts in the centre and works outwards, all versions follow the same basic instructions. Pattern sample shown in Sweet Fiber Cashmere Aran in Moonstone, Chartreuse, Smoke, and Olive. Tutorial shown Brooklyn Tweed Arbor in Wreath.
The Grain shawl is knit back and forth in rows so you COULD use straight needles, but that’s a LOT of stitches so I’d recommend using a circular needle. This will allow you to more evenly distribute your stitches, and I find it makes knitting a bit more comfortable. You can use a needle between 32″ and 60″ long.
For the circumference of the needles you’ll choose one that suits your yarn.
The Grain shawl increases from just a few stitches (9 to be exact) at the centre back spine, to many, many stitches at the edge. It is worked in rows with increases every other row.
What in the world does gauge mean, and why does it matter? Well, the basics of gauge is that if you have more of fewer stitches per inch than the pattern calls for, your shawl will turn out a little bigger or smaller than the pattern specifies. For more information on gauge check out our tutorial here.
For a sweater this is VERY important, but for a shawl it’s LESS important. I would personally just cast on, work a few inches, then measure my gauge. Then I’ll know if I like the fabric at that gauge and if my shawl will be the right size.
Now, if you’re a more diligent knitter, or more concerned that your shawl come out to the exact measurements specified, you’ll want make a swatch. Check out this post for all the details on swatching.
The garter tab cast on
The first step in the Grain shawl 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. Choose the one that suits you best! You can also just cast on 9 stitches.
In the set-up row you’ll be placing 4 markers. These will separate the edge stitches and spine stitch. This will help you remember where to put your increases as your shawl gets bigger and bigger.
These markers separate 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. We also have an in-depth tutorial on markers 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.
It’s time to start increasing! For this shawl we’ve specified a yarn over (yo) increase. For more details on how to work a yarn over (yo) see our tutorial here. You’ll be increasing in the two main sections, two stitches in each section every other row. 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.
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.
This is just a mini shawl, but creating a larger one just means more knitting.
Once your shawl is the desired number of stitches, or the desired size, it’s time to bind off. I like to use a regular bind off, but I use a bigger needle for a slightly stretchier bind off.
Next up is blocking. Don’t skip this step! It’s a chance to give your new knit a bath and to lay it flat to even out all of your stitches. Be careful not to block your shawl too big, garter stitch can try to stretch out, but if you use your measuring tape you can keep things under control. For more information on blocking check out our blocking tutorial here.
Make it your own
This pattern is begging to be hacked! You can work a series of chunky stripes, as we have done, hold multiple yarns together for a fun marled look, or just pick your favourite colour basic single-colour shawl.
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