Three Ways to Wear Knit Shawls in Different Shapes

A crescent-shaped shawl in pale blue and yellow stripes is draped around the torso of a white dressmaker's form. In the background is a large monstera plant, a brick fireplace, and some framed antique prints on the walls.

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I love knitting shawls and always have. For the longest time, though, I wasn’t quite sure how to wear knit shawls after I had finished making them.

Part of that was because the shapes I had to chosen to knit were very traditional, and that didn’t fit well with my overall wardrobe aesthetic. I needed shapes that were more drapey.

Another issue was that the shawls I was making were too small. I couldn’t maximize their potential because they were too small for my shoulders. I needed something larger and more substantial.

After some trial and error, though, I found a few shapes I really like and ways to wear them that work well for me. Here are three of my favorites.

The Crescent Shawl – Wear Knit Shawls With Ease

A crescent-shaped shawl in pale blue and yellow stripes is draped around the torso of a white dressmaker's form. In the background is a large monstera plant, a brick fireplace, and some framed antique prints on the walls.

First, let’s talk about the crescent shawl. This shawl shape is my favorite to wear because it stays put. Its natural curve means I can drape it around my torso and go about my day without having to secure it with anything.

That’s particularly helpful when I’m wrangling my small child or carrying a load of groceries and don’t want to have to constantly be adjusting my neckwear while I’m at it. If you want, you can secure it with a pin, but I don’t think that’s terribly necessary.

To drape the crescent shawl as I have in this photo, start with the fullest part of the shawl hanging in front of your torso and the two ends headed backward over your shoulder. Then bring one of the ends around your neck to the other side and drape it down the front of your torso. Do the same with the other end.

The shawl shown here is my Shortbread Shawl. You can knit it with two 100g skeins of fingering-weight yarn. I knit mine with two skeins of a gorgeous fingering-weight yarn from Akara Yarns. You can also try Knit Picks Stroll (affiliate link) for an affordable, durable yarn, or Koigu Premium Merino (affiliate link) for a high-twist yarn with lots of stitch definition.

I knit this shawl with my trusty Chiaogoo 32″ circular needles (affiliate link) in a size 4.

The Asymmetrical Triangle – A Twist on the Crescent

An asymmetrical triangle-shaped shawl in a soft gray color is draped around the torso of a white dressmaker's form. In the background is a large monstera plant, a brick fireplace, and some framed antique prints on the walls.

Next up is the asymmetrical triangle. Like the crescent shawl, this one has a bit of a natural curve that helps it stay on your shoulders.

This knit shawl shape tends to have a bit less of a wingspan than a crescent shawl in the same weight with the same yardage, which means it can be a little bit more fiddly. I find, though, that will generally be offset by using a slightly looser gauge so that the knit fabric has a more fluid quality. That helps it hang and drape more effectively.

To drape your knit shawl the way I did in this photo, start with the triangle of your shawl pointing downward along the front of your torso. Wrap the shorter end of the shawl up and around your neck first, then do the same with the longer end of your shawl. The longer end will hang down near the point of the triangle.

The shawl shown here is my Plenitude Shawl. I knit my sample using Camellia Fiber Company’s Sylvan Fingering yarn, which is wonderfully soft and still one of my favorite yarns to work with. It has a gorgeous drape and is both lightweight yet warm.

I knit this shawl with my trusty Chiaogoo 32″ circular needles (affiliate link) in a size 4.

The Rectangle Shawl – A Classic That’s Hard to Beat

A rectangle-shaped shawl in a chocolate brown color is draped around the torso of a white dressmaker's form. In the background is a large monstera plant, a brick fireplace, a vase filled with various sherbet-colored roses, and some framed antique prints on the walls.

Finally, the good old-fashioned rectangle is a reliable workhorse shawl. It can be tied around your shoulders, doubled up and worn as a scarf, pinned with a pin, or worn in any number of creative ways. I’m a big fan just doing a double loop letting the ends hang. If I really need it to stay put, nothing beats a good, sturdy knot.

To wear your rectangle wrap the way I’ve displayed it in this photo, start with about 25% of the shawl hanging down the left or right side of your torso. Wrap the shawl around your neck and shoulders, being careful not to twist it. Then drape the remaining tail down the other side of your torso. It’s really important to avoid twisting the shawl as you wrap it. Keeping it untwisted will give you more coverage and warmth, but having it wrapped this well will help it stay put a little better than just simply draping it around your shoulders.

This is a photo of my Overbrimming Wrap, which I knit using Purl Soho’s Linen Quill yarn. This yarn has a slightly rustic nature with a loose spin, so it’s great for soft, drapey knits when you use it at a loose gauge.

As usual, I knit this shawl with my trusty Chiaogoo 32″ circular needles (affiliate link) in a size 4. Are you sensing a theme here yet? Circular needles are great for shawl-knitting, and I’ll go into that in more detail in a blog post soon.


Learning how to wear knit shawls doesn’t have to be a total bear! After some experimenting with these various styles, I’ve settled into a nice routine with them and often incorporate knit shawls into my regular wardrobe.

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4 Comments

  1. Kelly O’Connor

    Hi Lauren,
    I’m enjoying your knitting blog posts. Is there a way to subscribe to the blog for notifications Ofer posts?

    1. Lauren Rad

      Hi Kelly! Thanks for the kind note. I’m not sure if you can subscribe for notifications of new posts, but if you sign up for my newsletter (https://www.abeeinthebonnet.com/subscribe-to-my-newsletter/), I send out regular updates with links to new posts, discounts on new pattern releases, etc. That’s the best way to make sure you don’t miss anything!

  2. Patricia Dr. McNeill

    Hi Lauren, your blog post about how to wear shawls popped up in my feed. Very interesting! Read other great posts. I spin, knit &garden (zone 7b). Do you have a newsletter? I’d love to receive it

    1. Lauren Rad

      Thanks for the kind note! Yes, you can sign up for my newsletter at https://www.abeeinthebonnet.com/subscribe-to-my-newsletter/. I’m glad you’re enjoying the blog and hope you’ll continue to find it useful.

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