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Free Circular Shawl Knitting Cheat Sheet

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The only thing more mindless to knit 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 time for medallion-style shawls knit in the round.

The hardest part of creating this cheat sheet was deciding which shapes to include. In the end I went for the swirl (or spiral) because it’s ever-popular, even though it stands out a bit from the others because it uses single increase units instead of double, and the hexagon because, although it might not be an obvious shape for a shawl, it has several advantages: 1) it tiles (tesselates) nicely, so it can be used in a modular fashion, 2) it can be blocked reasonably round, and 3) it can be folded in half for a very wearable shawl shape.

If you’re new to knitting in the round, you may want to read my page All About Circular Knitting. Barring the cast on, which can be a bit fiddly even for experienced knitters, these shawls make great beginner projects. As with the first cheat sheet, they can be knit in any weight yarn, and you just keep knitting until you:

  1. Get bored,
  2. Expire,
  3. Suspect you might be knitting a ranch house,
  4. Need the needles for another project,
  5. Realise it’s been a year since you started the round,
  6. Become convinced your stitch count has more figures than your income,
  7. or, you know, decide your shawl is large enough.

“I call this the Rosetta Stone of shawls.” – PurlOnions
I received this comment on my 5 Basic Shawl Shapes Cheatsheet just today and it made me chuckle in delight, not just because it’s an amazing compliment to my work (thank you, dear PurlOnions!) but also because I’ve been a bit obsessed with Egyptology recently!

And speaking of languages, I want to thank lovely Jennifer (Nylwenn on Ravelry) not just for translating the Cheat Sheet and the Bow Pouch patterns beautifully into French, but also for putting up with my slow communication. Merci beaucoup!

Other Excellent Uses

  • You can use the circular or swirl instructions to knit top-down hats! Knit until the circumference of your “shawl” is the same as the circumference of your head (where the hat brim will sit), then continue knitting around without increasing until the brim is long enough for you. Bind off and you’re done!
  • Knit each shape until it’s large enough to use as a coaster. You’ll learn about shaping, and have a set of useful accessories at the end. Solid increases will work better for this, and DK or aran-weight yarn.
  • Swap yarn colours every few rounds for an easy-peasy way to create a very attractive shawl. Colour-blocking is still in, no?

A Few Pointers

  • As always when knitting garter stitch, I recommend you use needles 1-2 sizes larger than your yarn calls for.
  • The abbreviations “pm” & “sm” sometimes cause confusion; these stand for “place marker” and “slip marker” respectively.
  • You may want to use a different-coloured marker for the “pm” so that you can distinguish the beginning of the round.

More Shawl Resources


  • 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.

Please note this cheat sheet has not been tech edited or test knit! If you do find any errors, despite my best efforts, please let me know and I will correct them as soon as possible. Enjoy! :)

25th September, 2012  // Downloads // tags: , , , , .


  1. Audry says:

    You’ve done it again. I just love your cheat sheets. Even a seasoned knitter can learn a thing or two from you.

  2. Thea says:

    This is awesome! Thank you so much for creating all of the cheat sheets. What great resources.

  3. Sue says:

    Love the cheat sheet and I am so happy to have found your site. I know I am going to be a constant visitor.

  4. Natalyon says:

    Thank you so much for this cheat sheet :-) I love knitting in the round and getting a different shape than a round !

  5. Annette says:

    You’re smart, funny and generous! <3
    Fabulous, thank you!!!

  6. Jessica-Jean says:

    I love this addition to your ‘cheat sheets’!
    Thank you!

    Lately, what I’ve done with the circular shawl patterns I’ve used is add two or four pattern repeats so that the folded-in-half shawl is more than a semi-circle. It stays on the shoulders much better, though it won’t lay flat. Can’t have everything!

  7. […] and you can download it here.  Alternatively, if you want to knit a shawl in the round, there is this cheat sheet option.  A second, very handy freebie also provided by Laylock is this rather nifty […]

  8. Great info here!!! Thanks!!!

  9. Marie says:

    Wow… just beautiful designs. I will try the circular shawl and see how far I get. Thank you once again for sharing your awesomeness with us!

  10. Juanita says:

    i’m a new knitter and i really am not understanding this part and this feels like a really stupid question but where are you supposed to do the increases? like on the circular one it says “16 increases every 4 rounds” so where do the increases go?
    sorry if this doesn’t make sense. i feel like i’m overthinking this…

  11. sarah says:

    the sheets are wonderful- i care there in my bag where ever I Travel :)Thanks so much for sharing.

  12. […] Pattern: Circular Shawl Cheat Sheet + the lace portion from Glitz at the Ritz Yarn: Ocean Blue Handspun by Me Needles: US […]

  13. chloe says:

    Would you please check this pattern pdf?
    Myself, as well as two other knitters have been unable to download it for the past week,
    Thank you in advance–chloe

  14. […] paar einfachen Formeln, um die Basis-Tuch-Formen ohne viel Nachdenken zu stricken. Und dann das Free Circular Shaw Knitting Cheat Sheet für runde Formen. Also ran ans neue […]

  15. KT says:

    Just discovered your 5 Basic Shawl Shapes Sheet and it’s truly inspired. Thanks for your generosity in sharing this one page treasure

  16. Mary Bayless says:

    I am knitting the lilaceous Bridesmaid shawl. I am at the end of the first wing. Cannot figure out the cast off instructions looks messy

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