For those knitters who can knit and purl and easily do simple stitches (or are willing to learn), I’ve found two free shawl knitting patterns. One I have knit, the other I have not.
The word “beginner” is relative. I’ve been knitting for many years, yet I consider myself a beginner knitter. I say this because every time I try a more difficult pattern, I have trouble. I have a lot of stitches to learn. Fortunately there are some good video tutorials out there to help with that.
Many shawls begin with a garter-tab cast-on (see link at the bottom of this page for how to make that type of cast-on). That type of cast-on can really difficult to comprehend as a beginner.
The FREE shawls listed here do not use the garter tab cast on.
Stitches You Will Need to Know
Besides casting on and basic knit and purl stitches, you will need to know how to do the following stitches.
K2tog (Knit 2 together)
YO (Yarn over)
Kfb (Knit front and back)
Picot bind off / normal bind off
I have saved some video knitting tutorials at my Pinterest Knitting board which cover knitting stitches listed here (all except seed stitch which is k1,p1 and doing the opposite on the next row)
#1. The Simple Shawl
The Simple Shawl pattern, which is a free download at Ravelry, begins with a cast on of 3 stitches. I have started this pattern, but don’t have a finished product to show you. See images at the link to the pattern.
Begin by casting on 3 stitches. A normal, simple cast-on is fine.
Row 1: KFB (knit front and back), K1, KFB – the knitting front and back at the edges makes increases, as does the center increase by doing a yo, k1, yo.
These are simple stitches to learn, if you don’t know them. Use a wooden needle for a better grip. Metal is very slippery when getting started.
Doing increases this way (YO, K1, YO) makes “holes” in the center part of the shawl. I suggest using 2 stitch markers – one on either side of the center stitch – because that center stitch can be difficult to locate.
For the bottom edge of the Simple Shawl you will need to know how to k2tog (knit 2 together) and then do a picot bind off. I have never done picot (pronounced “pee koh”) but I have some video tutorials at my Pinterest board (link above).
Click the Simple Shawl pattern link above for the download to see the remainder of the pattern.
#2. Link to the No Fuss Shade-Loving Shawl Pattern
Below is a photo of the No Fuss Shade-Loving Shawl Pattern I knit which has this same center increase. It is also a good one to try if you are not an experienced knitter. It is the first, shawl I ever knit! View the blog post where I have made notes on my experience knitting this NFSL Shawl.
More Simple and Free Shawls to Knit
Another shawl I had fun knitting is the Scrappy Bias Shawl. It is a free pattern, and can be knit with one color or many. I created mine using colors that created a gradient effect. Use scraps, or leftover yarns for this one if you like.
It’s knit back and forth, beginning at the pointy end, while easily adding length to each row. The shape is asymmetrical, or elongated. Simple stitches include KFB (knit front and back), K2tog (knit 2 stitches together).
Hidden Gems Free Shawl Knitting Pattern
This elongated shawl pattern is one I’ve knit more recently. It is a free pattern and is quite simple. You must know how to knit front and back, knit two together, and slip-slip-knit. The knitting begins at one pointed end then increases to the center, and decreases again to the other pointed end. The designer knit hers in hand-spun yarn, so I am doing that as well. Any fingering or DK weight yarn would work. Read more about this shawl pattern at the link above.
Helpful Links For Learning to Knit a Shawl
The Craftsy site has a page about Tips for Shaping a Top Down Shawl which may be helpful if you try other types of shawls, or make one up yourself!
Because a lot of shawl patterns use the garter tab cast-on, it’s a good idea to eventually learn how to do it. If you are interested, learn how to do the garter tab cast-on at the Tin Can Knits site. Their photos with explanations are better than videos I’ve found, and believe me, I’ve watched many horrible videos.
The garter tab is used when a shawl is begun from the top center. From there is expands outward. This cast on can be tricky because you will want the top edge of the shawl to be as straight as possible.
In the Moon Sisters shawl below, I needed to do a garter tab cast-on.
Shawl Patterns to Buy
I’m all for getting things for free, including knitting patterns, but it’s also nice to support designers who have put time and effort into sharing their shawl ideas. Free is great for beginners, but once you feel like expanding your knitting abilities, check out the designer shawls to buy.
Most of the shawls I’ve knit were pretty simple, but my first purchased shawl was done as a MKAL (Mystery Knit A-Long) and it was NOT easy, but it was fun, and when I was able to finish, it boosted my confidence.
Here is a list of shawls you will have to pay for, but they are not expensive. Some I have knit, and others I have not. Do a search, and you will find many, many shawls. Decide on which shape you prefer, and then the toughest part is next – deciding on colors!!!! Mostly the popular shawls are knit with sock / fingering weight yarn.
- Moon Sisters shawl – Triangle, top down – Big shawl, with fun center motif. Two sock yarns are held together while knitting. FYI: You must read the center stitches in chart form!
- Dewdrops Shawl – Triangle, bottom up – Pretty easy, with edge that was a bit more challenging.
- Suburban Wrap – Long shawl with “V”shape.
- Bay’s Edge Shawl – Long, but begins as a triangle, then edges are added on.
- Quince Wrap – Rectangular shape, not difficult.
More Good Knitting Practice For a Beginner
Dishcloths, scarves and shawls are good projects for beginners to knit. Repetative stitches reinforce abilities and simple projects are good to work on when less attention is needed. I always have a simple project set aside to knit in the evening while watching television.
But, wouldn’t you like to try your hand at creating a hat, mittens, socks, or even a sweater? Tin Can Knits offers a large variety of knitting patterns that are not only free, but very cute (they have kids stuff too)! I sure wish I had come across this page a year ago when I needed simple free projects for practice.
Below is my first attempt at mitten knitting using TCK’s World’s Simplest Mittens pattern.
I hope this page helps you find your way to knitting a fun shawl, or something else. Jump in and try something new. I dare you!