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Free Shawl Knitting Cheat Sheet

5 basic shawl shapes

Shawls that you can knit until you run out of yarn are the bread-and-butter of knitting, to me. I know there are knitters who can’t stand the tedium of plain knitting, but I love the opportunity to think, listen to the radio, watch a film, or even read, while my hands are busy and productive.

This 1-page cheat sheet provides the shaping formulas, and row-by-row instructions for knitting 5 such shawls: square, circular, triangular, semi-circular, and heart-shaped. All you need is some yarn, a pair of needles, and some stitch markers. If you’re stuck on a desert island, you can improvise with plant filaments, some smooth sticks (sharpened to a point), and a few seashells with holes in them. You’ll need the instructions though, so click here & print them out now, and tuck them away safely in your pocket!

These shawls grow outwards from the neck, and are bound off around their circumference. This means that you can start knitting without any plan, and decide at the end whether or not you want to add a border in a different stitch pattern. Or you can just add a fringe. Once you get the basic idea, other modifications are very easy to make too: coloured stripes, textured stripes, different stitches, m1s instead of yos, etc. You can knit the shawls with any yarn from lace-weight to bulky. If you’re working in garter stitch, I recommend going up a needle size or two, to get a fabric that drapes nicely. The most important thing is that you like the way it feels.

I should note that the square, circle and semi-circle shawls will not be perfect in shape, but they can be blocked to be this way. For a (pretty much) perfect square or circle, it would be best to work in the round. And for a less semi-hexagonal semi-circle, distribute your increases across the row in a less linear fashion (like Citron, for example). Nevertheless, the former two shapes provide nice shawls that will stay on your shoulders, unlike the variations knit in the round, which need to be folded.

Need I mention that these make great summer knitting projects, when it’s too hot to think? Please knit them in the brightest, most brilliant & beautiful colours of yarn you can find. Thank you.

If you like this cheatsheet, you might also like the CRESCENT SHAWL SHAPING WORKSHEET & FILL-IN-THE-BLANKS SHAWL DESIGN.


  • Please DO NOT redistribute this PDF file.
  • Please DO NOT link directly to the PDF file. Link to this page, or use this short link:
  • You are welcome to use this PDF for educational purposes.


– Edna of Tricô Sem Costura has kindly translated the PDF into Portugese.


CARR. 9: 1M, laç ✽meia
até o marcador, laç,
passe o marcador, 1M,
laç, rep. a partir de ✽
mais duas vezes, meia até o último
ponto, laç, 1M.

– Ravelry user Nylwenn has very kindly translated the cheat sheet into French. Cliquez ici pour télécharger “5 formes de base pour châles”.

13th May, 2011  // Downloads, Knitwear Design // tags: , , , .


  1. fruwho says:

    Thank you so much. I’ve been wanting to design my own shawl for some time now, and the cheat sheet is an amazing asset to that process!

  2. Tracy M says:


    Thanks so much! I shared this with my knitting group. I’ve already made the heart-shaped shawl. I LOVE it! Then I decided to use up a bunch of handpainted sock yarn and try each of these patterns.

    I’m stuck on the circular shawl. After row 4 I have nine stitches. Row 5 seems to need 11 stitches. I know I’ve got a cold, but I can’t figure it out. I think this line is wrong:

    Row 5: *(k1,yo) twice, pm, rep. from * twice more, (k1,yo) twice, 1k.

    Please help?

    I’m looking forward to knitting the other shapes, too!



    • laylock says:

      Hi Tracy, that sounds like a great project! I’m getting 9sts for Row 5 though, hopefully it’ll all work out when you look at it again. Get well soon! :)

    • Marie says:

      Hi Tracy,

      I’m having the exact same problem with getting 9 sts for Row 5. Were you able to figure it out by any chance… I’m still stuck lol but would appreciate any feedback/help anyone can provide?

  3. Katrina says:

    I love the cheat sheet. I love shawls. Thank you for some easy patterns. I will be sharing your site with all my knitting friends.

  4. […] of The Little eBook of Knitting Stitches as have been downloaded. Not nearly as popular as my Shawl Knitting Cheat Sheet which has been downloaded over 5000 times. […]

  5. […] carré, un des 5 proposés par LAYLOCK Share this:TwitterFacebookJ'aimeJ'aime  Cette entrée a été publiée dans châles et […]

  6. Christina says:

    Thank you sooooo much I’ve been looking for a simple patter but big enough to curl up in. :).

  7. […] recipes – Zimmerman’s books are fantastic for this, and if you are into making shawls, this chart of how to make various shapes, is a […]

  8. Kate says:

    Thank you for sharing the cheat sheet! This is really great!

  9. Saneknitter says:

    Wow! This is a wonderful guideline! Thank you! I’ll have to go and be creative now.

  10. charlotte says:

    this is the kind of info I have been searching for. Thanks so much!

  11. Karla says:

    Thank you so very much for the basic shawl shapes cheat sheet. They are just what I needed and have been looking for. Fantastic!

  12. Donna says:

    Thanks for sharing this. Unfortunately I just finished working on a so-called ‘Circle’ shawl for the last 2 weeks, and no matter how vigorously I block it, I can’t get it to be more than 3/4 circle, and that’s with stretching it out of shape. It seems to naturally want to be at about 2/3 of a circle. Are there errata for this one?

    • laylock says:

      Hi Donna,
      I’m sorry, I’m not sure what went wrong with your shawl. I don’t think there’s a problem with the instructions; if you look at the projects on Ravelry, you’ll see several people have knit the circular shawl with good results.

  13. […] I am using the pattern instructions from  the blog, where free instructions for the bare bones of 5 shawls can be downloaded for free. Check it out! […]

  14. cyankali says:

    First of all thank you for the various shawl patterns! I was always searching for a basic pattern that shows the differences between them.

    And second.. wow! I love the layout and design you chose for the patterns/instructions!

    Same goes for your website design!

    Stunning, i love it! :)

  15. Jason says:

    I am not a quilter or crocheter(?). I found this website after reading about Sarah in the $100 start-up. Congratulations!

    I am curious, however, who the graphic designer is, who worked on the Cheat Sheet?

    If I ever become a “yarn person” I will come back, lol.

    With gratitude,


    • laylock says:

      I’m really looking forward to reading it, but I don’t think it’s been released in the UK yet.

      As for the design, I’m flattered that you think it looks professionally done. It was just me & Mac Pages, though. :)

      I hope you do take up knitting one day!

      All the best,

  16. Marie says:

    I too want to thank you for a fabulous shawl tutorial :). I am a new knitter and I’m just learning/practicing how to do the YO. I started with the square shawl shape and I just finished Row 6 and have 17 sts on my needle, is this right?

    • laylock says:

      Hi Marie,
      That’s correct. You should have 17 sts after ROW 5 and 25 sts after ROW 7. :)

      • Marie says:

        :) Yeeeaaahhh it’s working. Who would have thought such a small thing could make me so happy lol. Thanks for the feedback by the way.

  17. […] top-down shawl, you can use the technique I mentioned in Easy Shawl Borders in conjunction with the Shawl Knitting Cheat Sheet. Choose a stitch pattern, count the number of stitches on your needle, then use the calculator to […]

  18. […] Shawl Knitting Cheat Sheet has been downloaded over 10,000 times since I released it a little over a year ago! I admit I had […]

  19. naomipaz says:

    First thank you for the wonderful shawl cheat sheet.

    If the matter of the circular shawl has already been resolved, then please ignore this.

    If not, then here’s my two cents: I had a problem just looking at the math of the circular shawl.

    To cover 360 degrees whether you go around in a circle or any other shape, I think you have to increase 8 every OTHER row, just as you do in the square.

    As written, the number of new stitches per row are exactly the same as for a triangular shawl which only goes around 180 degrees.

    So think it’s knit every return row and increase 8 on every right side row.

    Typos happen, but thanks so much for your good work and generosity.


    • laylock says:

      If you increase 8 sts every OTHER row, then you’ll get a square shawl. 8 sts every 4 rows rounds the points a bit and makes the shawl look more circular.

      The triangular shawl increases only 4 sts every other row. I’ve seen several shawls made using this cheat sheet on Ravelry, so I’m fairly sure the instructions are correct. :)

  20. treelady says:

    thank you, thank you, just what I was looking for. I have this pattern I’m dying to start, it is a triangular shawl but the design is calling me to knit it in a half circle. As it will be almost impossible to undo I don’t want to use trial and error with the increases. Now I can start. keep up the good work – kind regards, linda

  21. […] than plain top-down shawls are plain centre-out shawls. Following on the popularity of my first Shawl Shaping Cheat Sheet (to date it’s been downloaded by over 12,000 knitters), here is a second cheat sheet, this […]

  22. […] Free Shawl Knitting Cheat Sheet – Laylock Knitwear Design The finishing techniques workshop held at Castaway Yarns on Saturday the 2nd June was a great success and became a master class in professional finishing. All the girls brought 'work in progress' and following an exercise in grafting and mattress stitch, applied their newly learnt skills to their own work with outstanding results. It's a great fun filled way to spend your morning, knitting with other mums or just sitting on the sofa having a chat and a cup of tea, whilst Audrey Wilson teaches your child how to knit. […]

  23. […] you don’t already have her basic Shawl Shaping Cheat Sheet, grab that while you’re at it. Share […]

  24. […] Free Shawl Knitting Cheat Sheet – Laylock Knitwear Design. […]

  25. Paula says:

    I watched your video on the easiest shawl ever that you even managed to fit on a tweet. Thanks for such a clear cut demo., but my question is once I have the basic triangular shape that seems to be forming, how do you “end” it?

    • laylock says:

      Hi Paula, once your shawl is as big as you want it, just cast off all the stitches. For a top-down shawl like the cheat sheet ones, make sure your cast off is very loose.

  26. Beverly says:

    Thank you so much for the Little eBook of Knitting Stitches and the cheat sheet. I love your videos and everything else and hope you come back very soon!

  27. […] for square, circular, triangular, semi-circular and heart-shaped shawls, and you can download it here.  A second, very handy freebie also provided by Laylock is this rather nifty knitting pattern […]

  28. ElizabethAnn625 says:

    I just watched your video “Easiest Shawl Pattern. Ever.”
    Left a comment (LizKS48) and had to come see what you had on your website. Love, love your shawls! Downloaded the PDF, 5 Basic Easy Shawls and am itchin’ to get to making these. Thanks so much for letting us have these patterns! Love your website! You have some beautiful work here. :) Looking forward to making these easy shawls. :) Thanks again!

  29. Ines says:

    Thanks so much! You are so kind to share this!! I truly appreciate it!!

  30. Mignon says:

    Thanks for the cheatsheet. I think I am having a brain freeze. I know “pm” means place marker but what does “sm” mean?

  31. bonjour,
    merci pour les renseignements concernant la construction des châles
    je souhaiterais commander le modèle Parasole stole. Est ce qu’il existe une traduction en français pour commander le modèle?
    Cordialement yvonne

  32. Bonjour et MERCI pour ce tutoriel!!! Addict des shawls, je souhaitais me lancer dans la création des mes tricots-KDO… voilà de quoi me lancer dans l’aventure!!! Encore MERCI

  33. Rita says:

    In the triangular drop down scarf the one on you tube
    R1: yo,knit to the end. Repeat till the required scarf.
    How do you bind off please email me or just reply here. Thanks

  34. vicky says:

    I wanted to know if you have this knitting shawl chart in crochet form? I’m sure that there are 5 basic shapes for crocheted shawl. Could you email me and let me know.

    Muchas Gracias,

  35. Lois A says:

    I’m pretty confused abut the 5 Basic Shawl
    Shape cheat sheet.

    How do I make the “arms” on the heart-shaped shawl.

    I must be missing something here. What else do I have to do?

    Looking forward to a reply. I have the yarn on the needles – what now?

    Thanks for your help.


  36. Nicole says:

    thanks for the cheat sheet, enjoyed reading through great sight.

  37. […] pretty well. And wash it. Its probably the softest acrylic I’ve ever used. I found a shawl cheat sheet that I used and I love the heart shaped style – no hassle getting it to stay on your […]

  38. Ruchi says:


    I love the cheat sheet for the basic shawls. I am looking forward to trying the triangle shawl. I was hoping to connect the front and make it into a poncho. Do you think that will work? Do you have any cheat sheet or suggestion on how to add a hoodie to it?


  39. cynD says:

    I may be ditzy but… how much yarn for the shawls? does one require more than the other?. I tried making one on my own. I kept having to buy yarn. The yarn I was making my version with was a speciality yarn (pom-pom) and I think I had 6 balls, however I was making it up on the fly, it was kind of a mess… but it served it purpose. and is extreamly warm. A moderate weight how much?

  40. […] Free Shawl Knitting Cheat Sheet – Laylock Knitwear Design […]

  41. Rhea Rhodan says:

    Thank you so much for this!

  42. […] lace shawl that was drawn up by the Knit Purl Gurl in 2011. It’s a great starting point. The cheat sheet for basic shawl shapes in particular is really […]

  43. […] If you’re a beginning knitter and wanted to try your hand at making a shawl, Laylock has a brilliant and free cheat sheet. […]

  44. rachel says:

    I am just wondering how many stitches you cast on to start. I love the basic instructions and hope to make one tonight!

  45. jen says:

    you are my new favorite person! ;) i just stumbled across your blog today and i thank you for the lovely, helpful freebies!!!

  46. anita says:

    hi, this may be a really (really, really) stupid question, but i was wondering how many stitches do i begin with for each shawl shape. i cannot see it in the cheat sheet and, as a beginner, i was looking for some help.
    thanks so much. anita

  47. amita says:

    Hi, i m new to knitting. I would like to know what is yo. And how to do it.

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