Other Names for a Shawl

Happy shawl month! At Interweave, we are celebrating shawls all February long. To get on the same page from the get-go, we started out the month by asking what exactly makes a shawl a shawl. By the established definition, a shawl is flat, worn around the neck and/or shoulders, has no holes for appendages, and is bigger than a scarf but smaller than a blanket. A shawl can be any shape, knit in any weight of yarn, and in any type of stitch pattern.

These patterns solidly fall into this category, though they are not named exactly as such. They are all still technically shawls, and I’ll show you why.

The Extra-Wide Trapezoid Shawl: Grapevine Wrap

One such project is the Grapevine Wrap by Ayano Tanaka, knit in Blue Sky Fibers Woolstok. This so-called “wrap” is flat, has no holes, and the size is right. The shape of this wrap is a trapezoid, the yarn is worsted weight (though you could make this with any weight of yarn), and the fabric is made with a combination of garter stitch and cables along on edge.

shawl knitting pattern
Grapevine Wrap by Ayano Tanaka, Interweave Knits Winter 2020. Photo by Harper Point photography.

Additionally, you wear it around your shoulders! The Grapevine Wrap is definitely a shawl.

The Big Flat Split Shawl: North Country Ruana

Another project is the North Country Ruana by Joan Forgione, knit in Purl Soho Flax Down yarn. This is a ruana because of the shape; it’s similar to a poncho but instead of being a closed piece of fabric with a hole, it just has an opening that runs down the front sides.

shawl knitting pattern
North Country Ruana by Joan Forgione, Interweave Knits Winter 2020. Photo by Harper Point Photography.

You can lay this ruana flat, it doesn’t have actual holes (the “hole” is just the opening), and it’s the right size to fit the bill. The shape is generally rectangular with a negative space, the weight of this yarn is worsted, and has a unique allover cable pattern. Plus, you can wear this with the right or wrong side out, depending on the fabric effect you prefer.

The Scarf So Wide It’s a Shawl: Marbled Brioche Scarf

The last project in this shawl-adjacent realm is the Marbled Brioche Scarf by Moon Eldridge, knit in Knit Picks Palette yarn. I’d say this is a scarf or a shawl depending upon how you style it. If you scrunch it width-wise and wrap it around your neck, it’s a scarf. If you open it up and wrap it around your shoulders and/or neck, that’s much more shawl-like.

shawl knitting pattern
Marbled Brioche Scarf by Moon Eldridge, Interweave Knits Winter 2020. Photo by Harper Point Photography.

It’s a long rectangle, it has an allover two-color brioche pattern, and it’s knit in fingering-weight yarn, though this shawl knitting pattern could be knit in virtually any weight. This style is also known as a stole, and we have lots more examples!

So, there you have examples of a wrap, a ruana, and a scarf that are essentially shawls. It just goes to show that knitted items can be incredibly versatile, and that you can make many different adjustments to get varied results depending upon need and style.

What does your ideal shawl, wrap, ruana, or scarf look like?

Happy shawl knitting,


Originally published 2/13/2020. Updated 2/18/2020.

Knit these shawls and so many more during shawl month!

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