Baking Up Your Own Pi Shawl Design


Today we're going to go over how to incorporate lace and texture into your Pi Shawl pattern template so that you can design a one-of-a-kind shawl. Knowing how to read charts is helpful for this portion, but not required so don't worry if that's not one of your strong points. It's also good to keep in mind that these shawls can be as simple or complex as you like so don't feel obligated to cover every inch in a daunting lace stitch if you really just want to knit a beautiful yarn into a stockinette circle.

If you're interested in learning a bit more about Pi Shawls themselves & their origins, please take a look at the first blog post that I did in this series: Intro to Pi Shawls. And if you need to know the basics behind the shaping of this type of shawl you can check out my Pi Shawl Recipe or play around with my free pattern for the Stash-Berry Pi Shawl.

Now, onto the good stuff...

Adding Lace & Texture To Make a Custom Pi Shawl Pattern

Now that we know the basic framework to create a Pi Shawl, we can start playing around with adding in stitch patterns of our own choosing and design. This is where the fun of designing Pi Shawls really comes into the light because we'll be working within those "Non-Increase Sections" from our Pi Shawl Recipe. Since these sections don't have changing stitch counts, we can select a stitch pattern that is worked over a number of stitches that is a multiple of our total stitch count.

What does this mean?

As an example, let's say that we're looking for a stitch pattern for the 2nd Non-Increase Section in our Pi Shawl. At this point in the pattern we would have a total of 36 stitches and we know that this section will be a total of 6 rows/rounds tall. So, we can look for stitch patterns that use an amount of stitches which are multiples of 36 and that are no taller than 6 rows/rounds. Here are some stitch patterns that would work:

Stitch Guide for All Sample Patterns:

K - knit

K2tog - knit the next 2 stitches together as one

Ssk - Slip 1 stitch, slip 1 stitch, knit the 2 slipped stitches together as one

Yo - wrap the yarn over the the right needle front to back

Sample Pattern 1

We could use a stitch pattern that has a 2 stitch repeat & is 2 rows/rounds tall like this one. The 2 stitches in each row/round would be repeated 18 times across/around over a total of 6 rows/rounds to fill in the entire Non-Increase Section.

In-the-Round Written Instruction for Sample Pattern 1:

Round 1: *Yo, k2tog; repeat from * around.

Round 2: K around.

Sample Pattern 2

We could also use a stitch pattern that has a 4 stitch repeat & is 3 rows/rounds tall like this one. The 4 stitches in each row/round would be repeated 9 times across/around over a total of 6 rows/rounds to fill the entire Non-Increase Section.

An easy trick to add interest is to incorporate colored stripes in your patterns, I've done that with this pattern. If you keep the amount of rows between the colors small, you don't have to break each color as you go. Just carry it up the back of your work until you are done with the color for more than 3-4 rows/rounds.

In-the-Round Written Instructions for Sample Pattern 2:

Round 1: Using color 1, *k1, yo, ssk, k1; repeat from * around.

Round 2: Using color 1, *k1, k2tog, yo, k1; repeat from * around.

Round 3: Using color 2, k around.

Sample Pattern 3

Another option would be a stitch pattern that uses a 6 stitch repeat & is 6 rows/rounds tall like this one. The 6 stitches in each row/round would be repeated 6 times across/around over a total of 6 rows/rounds to fill the entire Non-Increase Section.

In-the-Round Written Instructions for Sample Pattern 3:

Round 1: *Yo, ssk, k4; repeat from * around.

Round 2: *K1, yo, ssk, k3; repeat from * around.

Round 3: *K2, yo, ssk, k2; repeat from * around.

Round 4: *K4, k2tog, yo; repeat from * around.

Round 5: *K3, k2tog, yo, k1; repeat from * around.

Round 6: *K2, k2tog, yo, k2; repeat from * around.

Do I have to do lace?

In the sample patterns I shared above, I chose to keep to some very simple lace patterns. Lace is an openwork stitch pattern that will be enhanced by larger needles and a good blocking when you're finished with it. This makes it an excellent choice for incorporating into Pi Shawls. Stockinette also lends itself well to this design because it stretches & the yarn will generally fluff-up a bit to fill in the gaps after washing/blocking.

You can choose to use textured stitches, cables, colorwork, whatever your heart desires, just keep in mind that some of these stitch patterns "suck-in" your fabric and will require you to do more than just double your stitch count on your increase rows. You really should make a swatch for stitch patterns that will make the fabric more dense (lookin at you fair isle) because they may not work as well as you would hope without some extra mathing on your part.

Coming up Next Week

Next week we'll be wrapping up our discussion on Pi Shawls with a photo tutorial for a knitted-on edging. You don't have to use this kind of edging for your shawls, but it is a fun technique to have in your pocket so that you can add some more variety to your projects if the mood strikes.

If you haven't already, be sure to sign-up to receive my emails so that you'll get notified every week when a new blog post goes up or a pattern is released. Have a great week!

Happy Knitting,

Shaina ^_^

Try It Out!

It's best to put a new technique into practice right away so that you can remember it in the future. Here are some of my patterns based on the pi-shawl technique.

Stash-Berry Pi Shawl


The Kindly Hosts Shawl begins at the center on DPNs with a tutorial for Emily Ocker’s Circular Cast-On. It progresses through 4-5 ever-increasing sections of lace patterns designed and selected to represent some of the elements of nature that were loved by the elves in Tolkien’s novels: flowers, trees, and streams of clear water rushing over pebbles. The shawl finishes with a color-blocked knitted-on edging that creates the illusion of intarsia but is actually just worked with one color at a time.

Kindly Hosts - Full Pi Shawl Pattern

$5.00 USD

“And I guess that’s why they call it the blues,  Time on my hands could be time spent with you…”  - Elton John  I’m sure that Elton never thought that this famous line would ever pertain to knitting, but I couldn’t stop thinking of this song while I was dyeing the yarn for the kits & designing this half-pi shawl. It’s a very fun and addictive knit since you’re always changing either patterns or colors or both. Because of this you’re sure to find yourself sneaking in “just a quick row” here and there whenever you find yourself with a little extra time on your hands.  The shawl begins with a garter-tab and progresses through 6 lace & garter sections before ending with an Icelandic Bind-off (my favorite!) to give it a lovely, stretchy finishing edge. The lace sections feature simple through moderately-advanced lace knitting techniques (Eyelets, Vines, & Estonian Snow Flowers to name a few) so if you’re wanting to stretch your legs a bit and learn some new stitches, this is a great pattern to work through!

I Guess That's Why... - Half Pi Shawl Pattern

$5.00 USD

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