There’s no shortage of shawl knitting patterns out in the world to explore. You can start knitting a shawl from any direction and can use a multitude of stitch patterns and techniques when creating these accessories. Knitting a shawl from the top down is a great way to dive into shawl knitting. Once you know the basic structure of a shawl shape, you can cast on just a few stitches and knit until you are ready to bind off. Try exploring some of these common top-down shawl shapes for your next knitting project!
These accessories are typically worked in two wedges or three wedges. The two-wedge (or triangle) shawl is an immensely popular style and it a great place to start your shawl knitting journey. Two-wedge shawls are commonly worked with single increases at the starting and ending edges of the shawl, along with single increases on either side of the center spine stitch, for a 4-stitch increase on every Right Side row.
The three-wedge shawl has a similar construction but has an additional wedge. Instead of one center spine stitch, these shawls feature two spine stitches to separate the wedges. Like the two-wedge shawl, the three-wedge contains single increases at the beginning and end of each wedge, for 6 stitches increased on every Right Side row.
A heart-shaped shawl is like a top-down triangle shawl with additional increases being worked at the beginning and ending edges of the shawl. The advantage to having these extra increases is that there is a longer edge along the neck, making it easier to wrap and wear.
There are many ways to construct a top-down crescent shawl. One easy way to work this shawl shape is to work all the increases along the top edge, at the start and end of the rows. In the photo below, two stitches are increased at both the beginning and end of the Right Side of the shawl. On the Wrong Side, one stitch is increased at both the beginning and end. This yields a total of 6 stitches increased every two rows.
These semi-circular shawls are an adaptation of the Pi Shawl, created by Elizabeth Zimmermann. The same increasing structure is used for the half-circle shawl as with a full pi shawl. The advantage to this shawl shape is that it allows you to add stitch patterns very easily into the piece.
No matter what shawl shape you choose, you’re sure to have a lovely accessory to wear all year long!