My current work in progress:

Seaforth designed by Alice Starmore, knit in British Breeds 5-ply Guernsey Wool on US 3 needles.


Yarn and Needles

I’m so happy to see that a bunch of you are interested in knitting along on my Shetland Pi project. Anyone is welcome to join in at any stage of the knitting — and I’ll be posting the pattern as a freebie when I have my shawl completed so don’t worry that the pattern will “go away” at the end of the Knit-along.

Yesterday I posted a photo of the yarn I am going to use — the Madelinetosh Tosh Merino Light, which is a single-ply fingering weight yarn. But truthfully, you can knit this shawl in pretty much any weight yarn you please: laceweight, fingering, sport, DK, or even worsted weight. The heavier yarn you use, the bigger your shawl will be. And of course, the larger needles you’ll need to use.

I’m guessing that in fingering weight, my blocked shawl will be somewhere in the neighborhood of 60″ in diameter. Done in laceweight, it will be smaller, done in a heavier yarn, it will be bigger.

And you don’t necessarily have to use all one colorway of a yarn if you don’t have enough in one color — you could use different colorways in different sections of the shawl if you wanted.

The shawl will consist of 5 different stitch patterns, so basically, you have 5 sections. Each of the patterns is a fairly strong vertical motif. The yarn I am using is slightly variegated, and I think it will work well with the design because each of the 5 motifs is strong enough to show in a yarn with a little variegation. You could, of course, use a solid color (or colors), or a heathered yarn.

What needle size? I am knitting my shawl from a fingering weight yarn and I want a nice open-looking lace. I plan to use a U.S. size 7 needle. You can pretty much use whatever size needle you like, depending on how lacy and open you want your finished shawl to be. A rule of thumb:

  • Laceweight — use a U.S. size 4 – 5
  • Fingering weight — use a U.S. size 6 – 7
  • Sport or DK weight — use a U.S. size 8 – 9

Tomorrow I’ll post a pattern for a gauge swatch and a picture of my swatch, so you can get an idea of what I’m going for. If you knit a gauge swatch and block it, you will be able to roughly estimate how big your finished shawl will be when I tell you how many rounds are in the shawl.

How many needles do you need? At a minimum, you need one set of dpns and one circular needle in your size. You need the dpns for the cast-on (which will be 9 stitches). When you have increased enough to be able to transfer your work to a circular needle, you will do so. You could conceivably make this with a set of 8″ dpns and 1 24″ circular. I’ve got lots of needles, so I will likely transfer my work to a 16″ circular as soon as I’m able, and then to a 32″ circular when I’ve increased enough stitches for that. While you can fit the total number of stitches on a 24″ circular, I think a 32″ will be far more comfortable as the stitches won’t be as crowded on the needle.

Current Pi Shawl

On my current shawl, I’ve reached the point where I am starting the edging pattern.

And today is Elizabeth Zimmermann’s 100th birthday. 🙂

Lucy Sez:



  1. Bonnie H. says:

    I’m considering joining your KAL. I have some laceweight that I received in a Ravelry swap. At least it says it’s laceweight from Pagewood Farms but looks more like a light fingering to me. I’ll have to see how many yards are there. It’s a huge skein – already caked and ready to go.

  2. you make the kal appear to be something for anyone’s skill level – thanks because i hadn’t quite made up my mind if i would attempt as you went along — might need to check the stash, especially when you can do color changes. looking forward to the swatch — thanks for taking the time to create the new project to entice other knitters

  3. lynda hitt says:

    This sounds like fun, if I didn’t already have 19 projects on the needles and DH wasn’t whining about the projects scattered all over the truck. I’ll bookmark the pattern and do it later.

  4. Aussie Rosemary says:

    Shoppel wolle’s zauberball lace weight. I wonder if 1 ball – 874 yards- would be enough I daresay the shawl could be stopped earlier.

  5. Could you please give both the unblocked & blocked gauge for the swatch? I’m new to blocking & would like to know if I’m somewhere close before trying it. Thanks!
    .-= PlainJane´s last blog ..More Photos! =-.

  6. Dr. Jackie says:

    Do you think the pattern would be better in a dark or light color, or doesn’t it matter? I was looking at the same yarn in Briar…

  7. Thanks, Wendy. What a lovely tribute to EZ. I’ll be following along…
    .-= Andrea Vlahakis´s last blog ..Dear Elizabeth Zimmermann… =-.

  8. I can’t wait!
    .-= LaLa´s last blog ..Episode 20 – Leslie’s 30th! =-.

  9. Sheryl LaGood says:

    Thanks Wendy for making this a very approachable project. I’m definitely joining – now to decide what yarn to use!

  10. Thanks for hosting this KAL, I look forward to joining you!

  11. I’m a joiner…and a super sucker for any KAL…and shawls.
    So consider me in!
    I want to use stash yarn, and when you mentioned the possibility of using different colors for the 5 sections…I immediately thought of the perfect bag of lace-weight yarn in my stash…just waiting for the perfect pattern.

  12. EZ Lives!

  13. Okay! Count me in 😉 I have some fingering weight that I’d love to use. And, I’m a huge EZ fan. Thanks for doing this.
    .-= Nora´s last blog ..Been a while… =-.

  14. Maria Neill says:

    I can’t begin to describe how ready I am to join the shawl knitting experience!!! Thank you!!! I am ready to cast on!!!

  15. suncatcher says:

    Wendy, I think this idea you have is fabulous. I have tears in my eyes enjoying your generosity of sharing your knowledge and experience. I have wanted to knit a pi shawl for a few years but have been hesitant because my skills are only so-so. Thank you so ~ : )

  16. martha simpson says:

    Hello Wendy, I’m new to wendy knits. How old is Lucy. Does she ever get in your yarn? She is a beautiful cat. The pi shawl is beautiful. I am hopeful with more knitting experience I to will knit the pi shawl someday.

  17. What a wonderful idea you’ve come up with. I am recovering from eye surgery, but as soon as I can knit again I’ll check in with this KAL.
    .-= Tamsie´s last blog ..Walk in the woods =-.

  18. I’m ready…well almost ready. I’m just trying to decide on yarn.

  19. Mary ~ Awntie says:

    oh cool i found an empty circular so have tools and seasilk for knit a long! what’s one more wip give or take?

  20. Thank you Wendy for this great opportunity! Would you consider this KAL fit for a lace beginner? Also, I’m not really fond of circular needles. Would it be possible to knit this project on double point needles? If yes, how many do you think would be a good number? Thank you again and again! Have a nice evening!

    Catherine from Quebec
    .-= Catherine´s last blog ..Petit lapin automnal =-.

  21. Celestine says:

    I have some wonderful cashmere and silk in my stash. I have never knit with either fiber. Do they both work for lace?
    I knitted a scarf with alpaca last year and it seemed to grow. Someone told me after I knitted the scarf that alpaca can do that. It might be longer now, but still feels great and looks good.

  22. Mmm. Happy birthday, EZ!

    And I love the idea of your KAL. Am definitely looking forward to the pattern at the end (My knitting schedule is already overbooked. Sigh)
    .-= Virginia´s last blog ..Morning Commute =-.

  23. I love to Pi shawl variations and I’m sure yours will be fabulous. Count me in!
    .-= Kim B.´s last blog ..My Yarn Crawl =-.

  24. I think I’d like to join in on my FIRST ever KAL! Now I just need to stash dive and pick a yarn… and soon!

    Thank you for doing this. 🙂

  25. I was wanting to do a Pi shawl, but all the fingering weight in my stash wasn’t in yardages enough to make an entire one. I’m glad multiple colors can be used in this project.

  26. The shawl knitalong sounds intriguing. I don’t have sufficient yardage in any one yarn, but am considering joining in…an excuse to buy MORE yarn! Just don’t tell the other projects languishing in my queue.

    I wanted to thank you for the article in Knitcircus about charting patterns. I love to have charts to work with and some pattern authors just aren’t into charts. I have been known to sit with a pencil and graph paper and make my own. Being able to do it on the computer in Word will be very helpful!
    .-= BlueMoonArtistry´s last blog ..More wheel love =-.

  27. I don’t think I’ll be doing the KAL, but just to kibbitz – I generally prefer longer needles rather than shorter, and longer point sections as well. If you’ve got the longer needle but not the shorter, there is always the Magic Loop approach.

  28. If I wasn’t in the middle of making baby blankets for two expectant mommies I would join along – I look forward to joining as soon as I’m able. What a great idea!


  29. Hiya,
    I’m very, very tempted to join this – however for me your shawl would turn into a blanket – I have some Cascade Eco Alpaca that needs “using up”. So now my question is, I have about 1700 yards (8 skeins) – would that be enough? Are you able to guess how much I’ll need? Pretty please?
    .-= Karen´s last blog ..Ooops =-.

  30. Helen Wyld says:

    Good luck with the edging – takes a LONG time but worth it!!

  31. AHHH! I’m in! I didn’t even think of using multiple colors of yarn! I wanted to join but I couldn’t as I can’t afford, at present, all the yarn. But I DO have one LARGE skein of laceweight in my stash that I could get at least 2/3 of a shawl from! OHH! I am sOOOOOO excited!

  32. I have been considering a Pi shawl for a while now, but had a stole in sport weight that has been frogged & restarted. I’m now considering frogging it again (only 65 rows, LOL) and making your Pi! I have lost my mind, I think…but life is short, and I should have the shawl I want, so yeah, I’ll play along!

  33. I have to admit that while I have a skein of Wollmeise (actually 2, but I don’t think they go well together) that I am looking to buy even more yarn for this.
    .-= Seanna Lea´s last blog ..blame my husband =-.

  34. Very excited to join in this KAL….Thanks for starting it Wendy!

  35. I’m very excited. I ordered yarn based on the gauge. I’m worried it’s more lace weight than fingering because of the vague terms.
    .-= LoriAngela´s last blog ..Alls Fair =-.

  36. Got started just before bedtime last night, so I could say I started this Pi on EZ’s birthday. Am already at about 7″ in diameter. A year ago, I’d have died of boredom with all this plain knit between patterns. Now I’m in the mode. Just finished my first two lace shawlettes, and am quite hooked on lace. Thanks for the pattern and encouragement!

  37. Elianastar says:

    I am definitely going to do mine in laceweight because I’m SWIMMING in the stuff. I started buying lace yarn maybe three years ago, in anticipation of knitting lace, but I’ve not jumped in and used *any* lace weight yet. Seems like the perfect marriage of needs: tons of lace yarn purchased to make a lace shawl, a desire to make a Pi Shawl, a KAL (first for me), an intriguing pattern idea, an opportunity to use more than one color and I’ve got two or three colors I think might go really nicely together, and the opportunity to get a running start on getting several shawls together for this next fall/winter. That I’ll get the pattern a little at time, I must say, is perhaps the most tempting part of the entire thing! Hard to get overwhelmed when I’ll only have a little bit at a time to focus on, I can come and get the next part when I’m done with one part, and I know what I’ll be making so it isn’t like one is flying completely blind, wondering, “what in the heck is this gonna BE???”

    I need to get back on track with my current (urgent) project and start winding up the target yarns on my nostepinne as a break from the frustrations of this current project. I adore my nostepinne, finding it such a soothing exercise to feel the soft yarn flowing through my fingers and forming a lovely cake of squishy joy… and no dropped stitches! LOL!

    Okay…can’t believe I’m making this commitment, but I’m in. I really need to destash a bunch of lace yarn, and I can’t think of a better start than a huge Pi Shawl! LOL!

  38. Elianastar says:

    Q: I’ve got six 440yd hands of Knit Picks Gossemer in Sweet Pea (discontinued yarn/color) lace weight yarn. I’m trying hard to talk my daughter, who has recently taken up knitting and doing really well, to take the plunge and KAL with us/me, offering her this yarn only IF she’ll do it with me. 🙂 I originally bought it with the intention of knitting her a shawl or something from it, so this is even better. LOL!

    So my question is, will people here who are on Ravelry look at this link…
    … and give me some feedback on using this yarn in this project? There are several examples of Pi Shawls in this particular colorway. I’m going to do a swatch in it when that is posted, but I’d love the feedback of others… to bolster my case for her joining me in the KAL. 🙂

    Thank you, anyone who responds! (Please use my name in your reply if you do, so it isn’t confusing to anyone who maybe doesn’t read all the earlier posts.)

  39. If I am using a laceweight (which I have in my stash in abundance) would the yardage change? Or just the finished size with the same yardage? Sorry, new at this.