Skip to content

Sometimes in my knitting I want a small palate-cleanser project. The knitting equivalent of a fancy restaurant offering a citrus sorbet between courses, if you will.

After casting off a sweater or some other long project, I almost always turn to a small shawl of some description. I find that knitting a small shawl allows me to clear my head, while I think about what to do next.

These little projects have much to commend them:

  • Gauge isn’t quite as crucial (I know it matters for yarn usage and getting the right fabric, etc, but it’s generally less vital than when knitting a sweater. Don’t come at me in the comments!).
  • There’s no sewing up to procrastinate over.
  • It’s a great use for a special skein from stash.
  • New techniques are fun to work on a small project—it makes less of a risk.
  • Little shawls make perfect gifts, with no worries about sizing.

The shawls I have scouted for you today were all published last year, and cover a range of techniques. I hope you will find something to inspire you next time you’re between bigger projects!

Unravel & Entwine by Lola Johnson

Lola Johnson’s beautiful Unravel & Entwine design comes in a range of sizes, with the shawlette version (pictured) using just 400 meters of main color and 80 meters of contrast. The contrast cables are created with stranded intarsia to give a slip stitch cable over a garter stitch background. The finished effect is very striking.

A Blaze of Light by Raven Knits Design

With only a few stitches to cast on and cast off, Raven Knits Design’s A Blaze of Light shawl has a clever construction. It is worked from one corner in garter stitch, with the lace border worked at one end of the rows. Once the longest row has been worked, the remaining lace border is worked back and forth with short rows and joined to the live stitches as you go. Simple and yet very effective!

Semplice by Vera Marcu

Using a simple mixture of stockinette and reverse stockinette to create a graphic block pattern, Semplice by Vera Marcu is an ideal soothing knit. The design uses just 320 meters of fingering-weight yarn, and can easily be extended if you have a longer skein to use.

Water Lilies by Lisa Renner

Look no further for happy-place knitting! Lisa Renner’s Water Lilies design uses the Assigned Pooling technique. Knitting with a yarn that has a main color and contrast dyed into the skein, you work the flower bud stitches every time the contrast color is reached, with the remainder of the shawl worked in stockinette stitch. Simple and yet very effective!

Memento by Jacqui Verbeek

Memento is a small, crescent-shaped shawl, designed by Jacqui Verbeek. It features bands of garter stitch alternating with a simple diagonal lace pattern and looks fabulous in speckled hand-dyed yarns as well as in semi-solid or solid-color yarns. This is a perfect pattern for a special skein of sock yarn—you know, the one you bought at the last yarn festival you went to? It can’t be only me who does that!

About The Author

We think Jen Arnall-Culliford is flat-out brilliant. Jen is one of the knitting world’s superb technical editors and teachers, and the star of the tutorial videos.

Cheerful. Cool headed. Supersmart. To take lessons from Jen ups our knitting game, every time.


  • Very timely Jen, a palate-cleanser is just what I need. I’m hard pressed to choose between the first three though.

  • Hi Jen! Beautiful choices. No, you are not th⁹e only one!!!

  • Thank you Jen!! Your comment about gauge gave me my first chuckle of the day .

  • Hi Jen, these are stunning offerings, and why, yes, I have been looking for a small shawl as a gift, palate cleanser, and stash buster. However did you know?

  • So wonderful to find read your thoughts. I keep returning to shawls (and hats & mitts) for soothing projects that I’m likely to finish. Thanks for sharing your wisdom.

  • Perfect timing! Your pattern scouting is great for a one-skein vacation project, small enough to carry along. Of course, we have to leave space in the luggage for a souvenir skein or two.

  • Thank you Jen! Like the other commenters, this is exactly what I was looking for. I have the yarn ready and Semplice is calling my name.

    I don’t know how you read our minds!

    • Ooo I love your picks! Your post is inspiring, and I like learning a new technique in a smaller project. Thanks!

  • Some great (and new to me!) suggestions, and love that you included several different shapes.

    I have knit quite a few small shawls as they are great to keep me warm in winter. Especially if you have ‘ooh, isn’t this fingering weight pretty’ skeins in stash.

  • Great article! I’ve never been a shawl knitter, but Memento is calling out to me. Thanks for the ideas, Jen!

  • Jenn is definitely flat-out brilliant….and so is this little collection of patterns!

    Usually my knitting is pretty uninspired at this time of year. My enthusiasm for a couple of biggish WIPs has dipped, and not close enough to Christmas for gift-knitting pressure!

    I just snapped out of that! I have a number of spectacular single skeins…and now I am keen to finish this comment and dig them out! Thanks, Jenn…..and MDK!

  • What a great selection of unusual shawls. I want to knit several of them, from those single skeins I did indeed buy at fiber festivals. This is so distracting! I want to cast on immediately and ignore my longer WIPs.

  • You did it again, Jen. I love them all.

  • Bravo, Jen!! I want to make them ALL! Thanks especially for mentioning those very special
    single skeins with gorgeous colors
    that we’ve collected along life’s way —- perfect!

  • Thank you Jen. I have knitted lots of shawls but all these offer different challenges and I love them – now which to choose???

  • I love these shawl patterns. Jen always comes up with something different to stretch your horizons. She has marvelous taste and is a wonderful writer and teacher. If I tried everything she has offered, it would take a life time to do. Keep up the good work and offering us new and different challenges.

  • May I just put in a plug for my favorite small shawl I’ve recently knit? It’s the Frida Feather Shawl by Trin-Annelie (

    The pattern is written for a single skein of fingering but gives so much info to help use as much of your single skein as possible. Even better, it gives info to help you adapt the pattern if you want to use a different weight.

    Also, I tested the pattern, and the process was great. The designer was there and active throughout. Bonus: though her older patterns are not size-inclusive, all of her newer ones are.

  • All are beautiful, I would love the instructions.

  • I like them all. I love to knit and also to crochet.. would love to get the patterns all of them.

Come Shop With Us

My Cart0
There are no products in the cart!
Continue shopping