FREE PATTERN: Stash Shawl


This is a dandy project for using up all your leftovers and oddballs. It’s less a pattern and more a basic instruction.

Here’s a tip from paola to manage all the random little balls and prevent this. Pin a knee-high stocking or trouser sock to either edge of your work and stuff all the balls you’re not using in them. When you pick a new color, remove the ball from the sock, knit across, pick out your next color from that sock, stuff your old color inside, and continue.

What you’ll need:

400 – 500g misc. coordinating yarn, ranging from dk to bulky
Long #10US circular needles

First, pick out your yarn.

You might want to give yourself a couple of days with this step, to be sure you’re happy with your assortment. This was my initial grouping, but I took out several of the larger balls and scrounged up more odds and ends, saving those bigger balls for other projects.
First, pick a couple of full balls or dk or light worsted to use as your base yarn. You’ll want about 250-300 yards. Using the lighter yarn as your base will keep the gauge more consistent. This will be enough to carry throughout the shawl, tying all your odds and ends together. My base was 2 balls of Ultralight fuzzy alpaca that I’d hand-dyed a sloppy mix of reds and oranges.
Once you have your base, start snagging up other orphans and leftovers. As you toss balls into the pile, consider the overall look you want. Do you want a mad riot of color and texture? Anything goes. Do you want sharp, popping lines? Pick smooth yarns and solid colors. Prefer a more hazy, blended look? Focus on a color family and include variegated and fuzzy yarns in your mix. I used about half and half classic and fuzzy yarns. The fuzzy softend everything up, while the smoother yarns added a richness and texture.
If you’re not good at visualizing how yarns knit up together, CO 12 stitches with one of the bulky yarns and knit about 4″, alternating color, weight and texture every row, and repeating your base yarn every 5th or 6th row.

Once you’ve got all your yarn together, you’re ready to go.

Using bulky yarn, loosely CO 180 st. You’ll cast on and bind off with bulky yarn to give stability to the edges and keep your edging from puckering in. You’ll also want to knit a bulky row every 5 to 7 rows to keep the overall gauge even.

Then you just knit all rows, alternating between yarns. Vary weights and colors. If you find the color you want to use next is on the other side, every once in a while, you can go back to the side you just worked and knit in the same direction instead of turning your work.

To keep the edge tidy, you’ll slip the first stitch of every row with all of your yarns on that side held in front. Then you’ll move all of those yarns to the back as one strand, and continue knitting with whichever you’ve selected for the row. This keeps all the strands in a nice woven-in border along the edge, even if you just carry them for several inches.

When you near the end of a ball, you can either measure it (3.5x the total length will get you another row), or you can just knit to the end and join in a new random ball. This is very easy if you’re using animal fibers–just spit splice the new ball into the old one and continue. You needn’t choose a similar color, but a similar weight will make things easier on you.

Continue until you’ve knit 18 – 24″ or more, then BO loosely, again using a bulky yarn. Weave in ends. Block if you like (I didn’t bother)


If you want to get as close as possible to the original, here’s what to use (I’ve picked close cousins for the handdyed and handspun options):

  • 1/4 – 1/2 skein of Valley Yarns Berkshire in burnt orange
  • 1/4 – 1/2 skein Brown Sheep Lamb’s Pride Bulky in medium brown
  • 2 balls Filatura de Crossa Ultralight in red (or sub another fuzzy mohair or brushed alpaca blend that’s about 150yds per 50g, in red or red/orange var.)
  • 1 ball Diamond Natal in color 667
  • 1/2 – 1 ball elann.com Peruvian Uros Aran in cognac
  • 1/2 – 1 ball elann.com Highland Wool in Tuscany green
  • 1/4 ball Knit Picks Sierra in Cranberry
  • 1/2 ball Knit Picks Decadance in Winterberry
  • 1 hank of Malabrigio or similar irregular or handspun, worsted or lighter, in red
  • 1/4 – 1/2 skein Lamb’s Pride worsted in red
  • grasshopper says:

    I love it! What did your final dimensions turn out to be?

  • Nikol says:

    About 24 x 74, after a day of wear to let the garter relax a little.

  • elsa says:

    love this shawl!!! it’s beautiful! thanks for sharing… elsa

  • Andi says:

    I’m a novice spinner and this looks like a great way to use all of the skeins that I’ve accumulated as I’ve played with this fiber or that… I could probably buy something like Lamb’s Pride Bulky as the unifying yarn and just go to town.

  • grasshopper says:

    That’s what I’m thinking too, Andi!

  • Nikol says:

    I used up 4 weird little balls of my handspun in mine, too. I’d recommend a lighter-weight yarn for the unifier, something dk or light worsted though, to keep it from becoming too heavy with all the handspun.

  • Soren says:

    So you ran the ends of every yarn you used up the sides together? Just checking. I think I might leave the ends hanging and tie a new one on every row to make fringe.

  • Nikol says:

    Yep, along the sides. If you go with fringe, will you send a link when you’re done?

  • Michelle says:

    So does that mean you knit with the base yarn every single row, and held it along with a second yarn every once in a while, or did you just knit more rows with the base color, but dropped/carried it when you picked up another yarn? Absolutely beautiful colors you chose, it looks fabulous.

  • Nikol says:

    Michelle–No, the base yarn just keeps the colors all tied together. I only used one strand per row.

  • paola maranan says:

    I am in love with the way this looks! I have started my own but am running into a novice knitter problem — how do I keep all the various balls of yarn (I’m working with about 9 of them) from getting all tangled with each other and wrapped around my knitting? Eek!!

  • Nikol says:

    I think it’s just the nature of the beast. If you have lots of lightweight balls, try pinning them down with large safety pins. They’ll just stay out of your way until your’e ready for them. (That’s my trick for intarsia–but it’s really only for 10-30g balls, tops, or you risk pulling.)

  • paola maranan says:

    Here’s what I ended up doing with the tangled mess — I found two knee high stockings/trouser socks and I have stuffed the balls of yarn that I am not using on either end of the work. Still a little nutty and it is HILARIOUS looking but soooo much better!

  • Nysa says:

    I loved this so much I made one, too. But I made a little capelet version with the same colors, some thicker textures and a huge orange button. Thank you for the inspiration and the instruction on how to combine different weighted yarns.

  • Nikol says:

    Paola, that’s so freaking clever!

  • T H E . T H R I F T Y . K N I T T E R » Blog Archive » Chicago! says:

    [...] you want to take my Stash Shawl class (6:00 tonight) or my Hat Menagerie (gnome, bear, pony, kitty, lambykin, devil, etc.) class [...]

  • Heather says:

    I finally made a stash shawl of my own. Thank you for the inspiration and the tips & techniques! If you like, I can send you a link to photos (I have no blog).

    I didn’t find a solution to the tangling-balls problem except to put all the balls on my desk. But then they tended to fall off and roll away across the floor…

  • elizabeth says:

    i made a blanket bedspread in similar fashion afew years ago all in bluse as well as vest similar but just join the sides and a long wrap that reaches to the ground love making them love your site also and have looked at making your woodland shawl

  • Karla says:

    I’ve started one of these stash shawls tonite. Thanks so much for the inspiration. I was racking my brain, trying to think of what to use in lieu of a pair of stockings/knee highs (I haven’t any!) and came up with 2 gallon ziplock bags. These are working fine, and since my yarns are mostly in skeins, and I’m using eight strands, I make sure I have no more than four in a bag at a time, to keep the balance. Sounds wacky, but it’s working! :)

  • Marilla Wex says:

    This is a really amazing pattern. I’m looking forward to trying it!

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