view basket

Easy Shawl Borders

shawl with lace border

As I continue to receive the sweetest “thank you” notes for the Shawl Shaping Cheat Sheet (which has now been downloaded over 3000 times), I’ve been considering easy ways to add borders to the shawls. Unless you want to push mindless knitting to the edge, that is… ;)

I tried my idea on this grey triangular shawl that’s been languishing for a while. All I did was work a stitch pattern which divided nicely into my stitch count (253). I stopped the regular shawl increases, so the border has straight sides, and a rounded tip (fig.1). Usually the 4 increases every 2 rows would be maintained into the border, so the shape of the shawl wouldn’t change (fig.2).


It’s difficult to predict how this method would look with different stitch patterns, but I really like the way it looks on this shawl. The tip definitely needs to be blocked to look good though, and I don’t know whether some of the larger shawl shapes would stretch the border out too much at the corners. What do you think? Do you like the effect?

shawl with lace border

If you’d like to try adding a border like this, the various shawl shapes will allow the following stitch pattern multiples:

TRIANGULAR: mult. of 4+1
SQUARE & CIRCULAR: mult. of 8+1
SEMI-CIRCULAR: mult. of 6+1
HEART-SHAPED: mult. of 6+3

Any variations on these are also good. For example, stitch patterns that are multiples of 2+1, 4+5, 8+1, 8+9, 12+1, 12+5, etc. will all work for the triangular shawl. Any stitch patterns worked over an odd number of sts will work for all the shawls, such as the lace stitch I used:

ROW 1: K1, *yo, k2tog, rep. from * to end.
ROW 2: Purl across.
ROW 3: *Ssk, yo, rep. from * to last st, k1.
ROW 4: Purl across.

shawl with lace border

shawl with lace border

shawl with lace border

An alternative would be to place stitch markers at the beginning and end of “blocks” of pattern repeats, to keep them separate from the shawl increases. Each time a pattern repeat was completed, if there were enough stitches for another repeat, the stitch markers would be moved along. In fact, if I wrote up a “cheat” like this, it could be used to fill in any shawl shape with a stitch pattern. Of course, there would be zig-zags of white space around the stitch pattern, but that isn’t unusual, though I do find the square border above rather more pleasing.

Please let me know what you think, shawl knitters!

shawl with lace border

P.S. This is my 7th shawl this year, so I’m sort-of on target for 11 shawls in 2011! :)

4th July, 2011  // Technique // tags: , .


  1. Julie says:

    It’s beautiful!! thanks for such great notes on how the border was achieved, it really does look lovely.

  2. Sharon says:

    Thank you for all the great information and patterns.

  3. Ruth Ann says:

    I am new to your website and love it. I have made three shawls using your “cheat sheet” – I made one in stockinette stitch and ended with several rows of seed stitch. Another I made in garter stitch and ended with a picot bind off. The third, I crocheted the bind off. I am definitely going to try your lacy border on the next one – beautiful. I never could have come up with it on my own. Thank you.

    I love your photography and your sweet, gentle nature. How refreshing!

    • laylock says:

      I’m so delighted you’ve found the cheat sheet useful! When I have a bit more time, I’m hoping to compile a companion sheet for some borders. I love the idea of a picot bind off though! So simple but it would really add a sweet touch. :)

  4. Carla says:

    Thanks to a tip on Ravelry I first found your Shawl Shape Cheat Sheet — thank you! Today, on a hunch, after searching I now find your blog. I am thrilled with what I see so far. Yes, the delicate border is a gentle touch for the simple grey shawl. I look forward to both reading back posts and to seeing what you have for us in the future. Blessings…

    • laylock says:

      Thank you for your thoughtful words, Carla. It’s lovely knitters like you who I think of when I’m creating new posts and patterns.

  5. Josefina says:

    I was excited to find your Shawl Shape Cheat Sheet (I found it after Happy Knits tweeted about it). I am so happy you have added this post to it. I’ve wanted to design my own shawl, but I find the idea of adding the border so intimidating. I’m sure it’s a matter of math, but I don’t know WHAT the math is, so I can’t conceive of doing it just yet.

    Anyway, I very much like the look of this shawl, including the border.

    I didn’t quite understand what you meant regarding the “zig-zags of white space around the stitch pattern” when you were discussing adding a border while continuing shawl increases. Does this mean one would just do stockinette (or garter, or whatever) on the increased stitches until such time as enough new, increased stitches were made to do an additional repeat of the border pattern? Is it really *that* simple?

    Again, thank you. The pictured shawl is beautiful. Do you mind sharing which yarn you used?

    • laylock says:

      “Does this mean one would just do stockinette (or garter, or whatever) on the increased stitches until such time as enough new, increased stitches were made to do an additional repeat of the border pattern? Is it really *that* simple?”

      Yes, that’s exactly it! Sometimes those “empty” spaces will blend right into the pattern, and you’ll hardly be able to notice it (for example, feather & fan is fairly subtle), other times they will be quite obvious. The latter case is where the designer can use their artistry to fill the space with a smaller pattern, or half of the original pattern, or something else that creates a nice transition.

      I hope that makes sense. I will write up a more detailed post on how to do this in the near future! :)

      The yarn I used isn’t terribly inspiring, I’m afraid. It’s a Turkish mohair/acrylic blend from a brand called Alize. I should also warn that this stitch pattern has a slight tendency to curl, so it needs to be blocked.

  6. Angela says:

    This is just beautiful! I wish I knew how to k it more advanced stuff. Ill get there and this will the first thing I make. Just started knitting a few months ago.

  7. […] has posted a follow up to her fantastic Shawl Cheat Sheet, this time taking a look at shawl edgings. This is super handy, as I always tend to get stuck when working out a […]

  8. KnitPurlGurl says:

    AWESOME! This works so well with the cheat sheet!!! :) Thanks so much!

    • laylock says:

      You’re so welcome! I’m hoping to publish this in a more useful format soon too, but I must concentrate on writing some more patterns first. ;)

  9. Nancy says:

    Many, many thanks for making the cheat sheet available. I am really enjoying using it.

  10. Kathy says:

    Thanks so much for the shawl cheat sheet and for your other aids in designing shawls. I love the beauty and simplicity of this border on your grey shawl.

  11. […] like to add a simple border to a plain 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 […]

  12. […] my post on Easy Shawl Borders, I postulated that it would be possible to devise a formula to allow knitters to use 2 sets of […]

  13. Linda says:

    Came across this easy shawl border while looking for a solution to a knitting problem.
    Making a lace rectangular shawl with a mohair blend yarn. Beautiful pattern, but it’s beginning to look like the finished shawl would be a bit skinny for my liking. Your easy shawl border looks like a good fit with the pattern of the shawl. Now I’ll just have to anticipate picking up the stitches on the long edges to complete the border. The best part about your pattern it that it can be made as wide as the designer desires!

  14. sherrie says:

    I am new at making a shawl, your youtube video is so easy to learn and you have some lovely shawls-thank you

  15. ivory bleu says:

    dear are you, firstly thanks so much for your sheet, with this one i hat tonight yesterday finished my first shawl- a heart shaped and my husband called em +shallow bird* .) so happy i try to make the next heart shaped with a mesh border.So if I Understand it right i can do this like obove but with three *BREAKS+ ?stitches. So i try to make it to beginn and end and third in the middle …
    THANKS A lot and happy knitting and creating :)

  16. Jennifer Kirkby tatro says:

    Hi! What bind off did you use? I was reading that it is important to make a stretchy choice for the edges of lace shawls. Thanks so much for your helpful research! I am loving learning from you!

    I added your lace edging to a recent shawl, and I also used a nice lace panel in the middle tip with a few increases first, so that the tip would sit well. I like the effect!

    Thanks for the inspiration!

  17. Becky says:

    I just ran across your site and boy am I happy & excited, delighted and more.

    I cannot wait to knit a shawl fom your cheat sheets.

    Keep the good work up. By the way any cheat sheets for crocheted lace afghans?

  18. Becky says:

    Love the idea for shawl cheat sheets is really great.

  19. Pat Adams says:

    I LOVE your tutorials and website! I am a beginner knitter, just finished my first shawl for a prayer shawl ministry at church. I wanted to make a triangle shawl for myself and wanted to do it with a border. LOVE IT and can’t wait get busy. THANK YOU!!!

Your Favourites ❤

  • Your favorites will be here.