Free Pattern: Lovely Lace Shawl (Plus More Lace Tips!)

Tips for Joining A Shawl Worked in Two Halves

Some long rectangular shawls or scarves are worked in two pieces and then joined at the center. Why? Because certain lace patterns produce a lovely scalloped or patterned edge at the cast-on end, but do not produce a matching pretty scallop at the bind-off end. If you were to work the shawl or scarf in a single piece, the two ends would look very different–and most knitters prefer the swoopy fancy cast-on edge to the comparatively plain bind-off edge!

Designers resolve this by knitting one half of the shawl which is then set aside while casting on and knitting another matching half. The two halves are then joined, usually by…no, no, don't run away, not yet anyway…grafting them together using the Kitchener stitch.

There's that dratted Kitchener stitch again. Just when we all were having so much fun, knitting a gorgeous lace shawl, that silly grafting thing had to go and sneak up on us at the very end. The existence of that sentence, "Now graft the two halves together using the Kitchener stitch" has stopped many a knitter from knitting certain perfectly lovely shawl patterns.

Methods for Joining the Two Halves and (bonus!) Saving Your Sanity

You can substitute a three-needle bind-off for the Kitchener stitch. This is easy and quick, but it can produce a pronounced ridge right down the middle of your shawl.

Another method, suggested by Alice Halbeisen, the designer of the Lace Shawl pictured above (and this week's free pattern!), is to bind off each half very loosely, and then stitch the halves together. This second solution works quite well, with only a minimal ridge if you do it carefully.

Here are some tips for seaming success:

1. If there is a "plain knitting" row, bind off on that row instead of a "lace knitting" row.
2. Bind off in pattern, meaning: If there are a mixture of knits and purls, knit the knits and purl the purls as you work the bind-off row.
3. Use the mattress stitch to sew the seam.
4. Carefully match column for column as you sew.
5. Use pins or locking stitch markers to "baste" the halves together to help keep the stitches and columns matched up.
6. Be sure to catch the legs of the very last stitch in each column, and alternate columns as shown in this tutorial.

Ultimately, however, every knitter sooner or later should become proficient at the Kitchener stitch. It seems to be some sort of scary monster that intimidates a lot of us; but really…it's just another knitting technique, just like entrelac or turning a heel or short rows. We're all knitters, and that means we're smart enough to Kitchener! I admit: I can graft when I need to, but I still have to look at the diagrams and in the process there's a lot of words coming out of my mouth that my momma wouldn't approve of. And so this summer, I'm making it one of my personal goals to conquer that silly grafting thing, once and for all. After all, who's the boss of my knitting? Me, that's who. So stay tuned! And don't forget to download the free Lovely Lace Shawl pattern.

— Sandi


Sandi Wiseheart is the founding editor of Knitting Daily. She is now the author of the popular Knitting Daily blog: What's on Sandi's Needles.

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26 thoughts on “Free Pattern: Lovely Lace Shawl (Plus More Lace Tips!)

  1. I shied away from Kitchener stitch because everyone told me it was so hard. Finally, my son noticed my hesitance to do a shawl I really wanted to do because I was avoiding that stitch and he pointed out the fact that anyone who could master lace knitting, frontwards and backwards charts, and tiny needles should surely be able to do a simple joining stitch. That really made me put it into perspective and now I am halfway to a new lace shawl!

  2. I’m generally a fearless knitter. But I do fear 2 things: steeks and the Kitchener Stitch. Ever since Sandi shared how to graft sock toes on the needles, I haven’t even attempted grafting any other way.

  3. For those that want a “cheat” for grafting this sort of thing, try this:

    Knit each piece to the point where you would graft it. Take a smooth contrasting yarn of a similar weight and knit the next row in pattern (if possible this is easier if it’s all knit or purl, but a patterned row will work). turn and bind off but leave the last loop rather than pulling through, you’re going to undo the bind off soon.

    Lay your pieces out in “grafting position”, for me that’s right side up with the pieces laid out smooth and my grafting tail on the right. To graft, just follow the path of the contrast yarn as it passes through the stitches of the last row of the pieces. After you’ve done a bit (a few stitches, a few inches) undo your bind offs and pick the contrast yarn out of the stitches and tighten up your grafting. Continue on until your piece is beautifully seamless.

    Since the graft creates a row, and you knit the row it is creating with the contrasting yarn on both pieces, this method allows you to easily match any patterning that might appear. You could graft a lace row with decreases and yarn overs with this method, and it works great for rows where you would have to pick up a wrap for a wrapped stitch style short row.

  4. How incredible. I have just finished up some projects and I have been looking now for a couple of weeks and wanted to do a lace stole with some DK weight yarn that I have had for over a year (left over from another project). I actually, just about an hour ago, was looking at my Victorian Lace Today book to see what I could do with anything in there. And then I checked my email and saw this lovely stole! And it’s free (who doesn’t love free?)! Thanks for the great pattern and the great timing!

  5. I have also knitted this type of scarf by casting on the first half with a provisional cast-on, using waste yarn. Then you can pick up those cast on stiches and start knitting in the other direction. As I recall, there was a lovely scarf in the Knitting magazine within the last year that was done using this method.

  6. What in the world is so difficult about the Kitchener stitch? I taught myself how to do it years ago, just following the directions on a little card I bought at my yarn shop.

    Sometimes making a big deal of a little thing turns it into a big deal. All in the mind.

    If a person can follow the directions to make a lace pattern shawl and can’t do the Kitchener stitch….. well, do that math!

  7. I don’t understand what distresses so many knitters about Kitchener stitch. I learned it easily early in my knitting career (right after learning to bind off), and I don’t find it difficult at all. All you need is a good tutorial and a little practice.

  8. I love the Kitchener stitch tutorial in Jacqueline Fee’s “The Sweater Workshop.” Come to think of it, I love almost everything about that book. In the spirit of Elizabeth Zimmermann, but with more detailed, beginner-friendly instructions, it has probably done more than any other book toward making me a fearless knitter. I was still a new knitter who had not yet developed a fear of grafting when I read it. Now I *enjoy* grafting.

    The mnemonic from that book, which has stuck with me as “Front: Knit off, purl on; Back: Purl off, knit on,” has helped a lot.

  9. Hi,

    I”m sorry, I just don’t get what the big deal is about Kitchener Stitch. I think that many people are put off thinking that there is some compelling need to memorize this technique in order to be called a “true” lmotter/ Let the truth set you free—-no really smart person memorizes anything that is so easy to look up! Just get out your little index card and chant as you go—all will be fine.

  10. My initial fear was loosing stitches and found that if I worked a couple of row in waste yarn, following the pattern – knit the knits, purl the purls – and then bound off the waste yarn. I would leave enough of the fashion yarn to do the actual grafting with (usually 3 to 4 times the width of the piece stretched). I would then take the fashion yarn and follow the first row of stitches, laying the fashion yarn over the waste yarn and alternating sides. The first stitch was in the opposite piece and then back to the orginating piece (the one with the long tail that I’m using to stitch with) and then to the opposite piece.

    I know it sounds confusing, but the first row of the waste yarn gives you a roadmap of sorts to follow as you work through the stitches, it also makes it easier when you are switching between knits and purls.

  11. Honestly, what exactly is so scary about Kitchener stitch? I only learned it a couple of years ago, and I’m so used to it now that I don’t even need to say my “mantra” (knit, purl, purl, knit) when I do it.
    There’s a fantastic video tutorial available at If you watch it a couple of times, and then do it *with* the video a couple of times, it’s dead easy!

  12. Here’s an alternative to weaving the center: make a v-shaped shawl. Knit the two halves as usual. Line them up next to each other and knit across both pieces, doing a double decrease where they meet. If you decrease on both sides, you’ll get a gentle angle; decrease only on the right sides for a sharp angle.

  13. I agree with the other commenters – what is so difficult about Kitchener stitch? It isn’t really even a new “stitch”; it’s just knits and purls, some of which are left on the needle for a moment. No one gets upset when directions say “knit front and back” into one stitch.

    Thanks for the lovely shawl pattern though!

  14. It would be wonderful if the actual pattern could be printed off without any advertising on it. I realize your site is for advertising, but it is a nuisance to see it when trying to read a pattern.

    Elizabeth Harp

  15. I totally agree with what Tephra and BPurdy advised (use of waste yarn). I also do one more step: I take a wet piece of muslin or any other cotton/linen cloth and steam few final rows of my work (together with the waste yarn). This “sets” the yarn in position. Then I can very gently pull the waste yarn away and join 2 pieces of my work together. Stitches don’t run. I often do garment shoulders this way, especially if the yarn is bulky.

  16. Good morning. This shawl is a “must do”. Would it work using the crochet chain method with waste yarn, as used in your “Mariloise’s Scarf” in the Fall 2001 issue of Interweave Knits, page 57? It should, given that Row 1 is plain knit and could be used to pick up the stitches at the middle of the shawl to start the pattern going in the opposite direction. I have made the “Mariloise’s Scarf” several times for friends and acquaintances who have fought breast cancer, so it readily came to mind how it was constructed.

  17. Thanks for this pattern! My mom asked me to make her a “stole,” and I’ve been looking at lots of patterns. We live in hot old Texas, so something light is called for. Also, she’s a very stylish seventy-year-old and doesn’t want to look like a granny (and I don’t want to make something for her that she’ll smile and praise and then put away forever.) This looks just right! Also it meets my criteria for a largish project: I must learn something new. I’ve never made knitted lace before, but I think I can do this. All the best, Jenni

  18. Grafting is a pain, but worth mastering. The clearest instructions I have yet seen (ie, the ones that worked for me) come from Country Bumpkin’s “A-Z of Knitting” (it’s an Australian publication) – step by step photos and good descriptions. It’s like anything, it requires practice, but at least I suddenly knew what I doing.

  19. Why doesn’t anyone suggest knitting a few rows of waste yarn and then doing the kitchner stitch? Machine knitters have been using this technique for years. It enables you to see the stitches you need to graft and you won’t lose them because they are held with the waste yarn. Once grafted you unravel the waste yarn and you have a seamless – no ridge – join.

  20. I agree– what is the big deal about Kitchener stitch? Knit, purl, purl, knit and at the end of the row, not only no seam, but ta da! –magic!. Kitchener is a slick little piece of magic. Why would you NOT want to do Kitchener stitch? Treefinder is right: all in the mind. Note to knitting powers that be: stop presenting this as scary. If you think it is easy, it is. If you think you can do it, you can. In knitting and everything else, for that matter.

  21. I enjoy Kitchner stitch. I know I’m an oddball, but I do. I remember the rhythm by making it a kind of sing-song thingy:

    Knit off, purl on, purl off, knit on, knit off, purl on, purl off, knit on, etc. etc.

    Works every time! (Just remember that your next stitch will always be EXACTLY the opposite of the current stitch. If you’re currently purling, your next stitch will be knit. If you’re leaving the current stitch on the needle, the next stitch will come off the needle.) Easy and fun!

  22. Your recent Piecework lace knitting edition showed the lovely veil made by the subject’s mother, and it was beautiful! However, you didn’t enclose the pattern for it or for an alternate veil. It would have been very much appreciated if you could have spent the time to do it. I can’t imagine how you and your co workers do all the lovely designs and patterns for your readers that you do so often. Thank you that you all put in patterns for those of us that are not advanced knitters. I have knit for well over 45 yrs, but am usually in a hurry to make items for family members. So, I avoided anything more than an intermediate in experience. Now that I have more time to give to projects, I can try patterns that require more experience.

  23. Sorry to be a pain – love this pattern, want to make it, however don’t know how to achieve the scalloped edging. Do I need to find another pattern for this?