Fall Leaves Shawl Pattern and Recipe

This is a recipe to create a rectangular shawl in either medium or DK weight yarn. It’s a beautiful pattern that’s great for beginners and experienced knitters alike. The lace pattern is a variation on the very popular February Lady Sweater, and reminds me of fall leaves. This is a recipe more than a pattern because it gives you a formula to design your own shawl, although there’s also an option to simply follow the pattern I’ve provided in the Instructions section below. You can download a PDF of the pattern using the link at the bottom of the page, and knit along with the video tutorial to learn how to knit the lace pattern while knitting a swatch. You might also want to check out this lesson, which demonstrates how to do all the skills necessary to knit the beautiful Fall Leaves Shawl.

Materials: 

You’ll need the following materials:

  • Yarn in either a solid or semi-solid color; the beautiful lace pattern would likely disappear with a full variegated colorway. You will need 600-800 yards of a medium (worsted or aran) weight yarn or 800-1000 yards of a DK weight yarn depending on how big you want to make your shawl. Rectangular shawls are often 15-18” wide and 60-70” long. 
  • 24” circular needles in the size that allows your lace to drape the way you like. (Note gauge is not important but drape is; see the section below on Customizing Your Shawl.) I suggest starting with the needle size recommended with the yarn you choose, or size US 8 for medium yarn and size US 6 for DK. 
  • I also suggest needles 1mm larger than the size you use for the main body of the shawl for both for the cast on and bind off.
  • 12 or so stitch markers to place between each repeat of the lace pattern.

Abbreviation/Terms:

You can find demonstration videos for how to do each of the following and more in Beginning Knitting Lesson 8:

  • K: Knit
  • P: Purl
  • K2tog: Knit 2 together – insert the right needle into the first two stitches on the left needle (knitwise like usual) and knit them at the same time
  • PM: Place marker 
  • SSK: Slip slip knit – slip the first stitch on the left needle to the right needle, knitwise, repeat with the second stitch, insert the left needle into the front loops of the two slipped stitches and knit together
  • Sts: Stitches 
  • YO: Yarn over

Lace Pattern:

The lace pattern is worked over 7 stitches and 4 rows as follows:

  • Row 1: K1, K2tog, YO, K1, YO, SSK, K1
  • Row 2: P
  • Row 3: K2tog, YO, K3, YO, SSK
  • Row 4: P

Using the Stitch Markers:

After you finish the garter stitch border, all rows of this shawl start with a section of garter stitch (knit on both the right side and wrong side of the shawl), followed by several repeats of the lace pattern, and end with a section of garter stitch. I place stitch markers in between each of these sections (including between each repeat of the lace pattern), which I find helps me make sure I didn’t miss a stitch or make a mistake in my lace before continuing to the next repeat. 

Customizing Your Shawl:

I suggest starting by knitting a swatch in the lace pattern to make sure the fabric is flowing like you want. Start with the size needle recommended for your yarn, or size US 8 for medium yarn and size US 6 for DK weight. Knit the following swatch:

  • Cast on 27 stitches (for either weight yarn); I used the long-tail cast on.
  • Knit 1 row.
  • For every subsequent row, K3, repeat the lace pattern for that row 3 times, K3.
  • Repeat the 4 rows of the lace pattern 6-8 times until you have enough of a swatch to be able to feel the drape.

You can knit along with the following video, which starts after you’ve cast on your stitches and knit one row:

After you finish your swatch, if the fabric feels too stiff, try a larger needle size. If you’re having a hard time seeing the pattern or it feels like it’s all lace and no structure, try a smaller needle size. You might also consider blocking your swatch before you make a final decision – the lace pattern does open up a little when it’s blocked.  

I also suggest measuring the width of your lace repeat so you can calculate how many repeats you want to do to create the width of the shawl you want. Rectangular shawls are often 15-18” wide; you can decide how wide you would like yours to be. I have assumed a 1” border on each side, although if you choose a wider shawl, you may want to increase the width of the border to 1.5” or even 2”. (The border width on the shawl in the photo above is 2” knit with medium weight yarn.) Once you know how wide your lace repeat is and how wide you want your shawl to be, you can calculate how many lace repeats to do.

For example, if my lace is 1.56” wide and I want a shawl that’s approximately 16” wide, I could do the following calculation:

  • 16” goal-width for my shawl less 2 borders (1” each) is 14”.
  • 14” wide section of the lace panel for my shawl (my target) divided by 1.56” (the width of my lace pattern) is 8.97, which I will round to 9 repeats.
  • To check my math, I would take 9 repeats of the lace pattern times 1.56” (the width of 1 section of lace) and get 14.04”, then add 2” for the border and get 16”. Total my shawl would be just over 16” wide. 

The next step is to calculate how many stitches to cast on, using the following formulas: 

  • Medium weight yarn: Take 7 stitches times the number of lace repeats you plan to knit, then add 10 stitches (5 for each 1” border). 
  • DK weight yarn: Take 7 stitches times the number of lace repeats you plan to knit, then add 12 stitches (6 for each 1” border).

Remember to increase the number of border stitches if you plan to have a wider border.

Using my example above with the 16” shawl, 7 stitches times 9 repeats is 63 stitches plus 10 stitches for the borders means I would cast on 73 stitches.

Instructions:

Feel free to substitute your own number of lace repeats, border width, and cast on stitches using the calculations above. The pattern below uses the following:

  • 1” border on each side (5 sts wide for medium weight yarn and 6 for DK.)
  • For medium weight yarn, 9 lace repeats with a gauge of 1.56” per repeat; 16” wide shawl.
  • For DK weight yarn, 11 lace repeats with a gauge of 1.24”per repeat; 15.5” wide shawl.

The shawl is knit flat, so you turn the work after every row.

Cast on:

Using the larger needle size and the long tail cast on method, cast on 73 stitches for medium yarn or 89 for DK yarn. 

First border:

Knit every row for 1” (count the number of rows as you go so you can knit the same number on the final border.)

Lace section:

Start the lace section as follows:

  • Medium yarn: K5, PM, knit 9 sections of lace placing a marker after each section, K5
  • DK yarn: K6, PM, knit 11 sections of lace placing a marker after each section, K6

Continue through all the rows of the lace pattern, repeating those rows until the shawl is 1” shorter than your desired length. A common length for rectangular shawls is 60-70”.

Final border:

Knit every row for 1” (or the same number of rows as your first border.)

Bind off:

Use the larger needles to bind off using the traditional bind off method.

Finishing:

Sew in ends and block your shawl to help open up the lace pattern.

Download the Pattern:

Down the free pattern for the Fall Leaves Shawl:

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