A Knit Shawl: The Pi Shawl Demystified

Orangery knit shawl

The Orangery Knit Shawl by Carol Feller. Get the kit!

A pi shawl is simply a circular knit shawl that is worked from the center out and based on the geometry of pi, which shows us the relationship between a circle’s radius and its circumference.

The venerable Elizabeth Zimmermann figured out that this geometry, when applied to a circular shawl, requires only six shaping rows in the entire shawl—every so often, you simply work an increase row, doubling your stitch count. This formula lends itself to simple garter-stitch shawls or more intricate lace knit shawls. Whatever floats your boat!

Because Elizabeth has the best knitting quotes out there, I have to share what she said about knitting a pi shawl: “Towards the end, by the time your state of mind has become more and more frayed, and your need of mindless comfort greater and greater, your knitting will be nothing but almost endless rounds of hundreds of stitches with no thinking required at all.” (From The Knitter’s Almanac, Dover Publications.)

No thinking . . . sounds good to me. It’s like a little mental vacation.

Orangery knit shawl

Orangery Shawl, back view

The Orangery Knit Shawl is a variation on the pi shawl; it’s a circular shawl that opens in the front to comfortably settle around your shoulders. The colors are blended together with a welted garter edge so they blend beautifully from one to the next.

Orangery is started with just three stitches, if you can believe that. Here’s how it works:

With color A, CO 3 sts. Knit 6 rows, slip first st of every row; do not turn after last row. Rotate work and pick up and knit 3 sts down selvedge (1 st in each sl st), then 3 sts along CO edge—9 sts.

Yarn for Orangery Knit Shawl

Gorgeous greens and blues!

After you turn the work and pick up and knit around the first 6 rows of three stitches, you work your first increase row. There are really only six increase rows in this shawl. It’s amazing.

We love this project so much, we created a kit for it. Our Orangery Shawl Kit contains the pattern and six skeins of SweetGeorgia Yarns Tough Love Sock, one full skein for the main color, plus five mini skeins for the contrasting colors.

This knit shawl is just gorgeous, and we only have a limited number of kits—order yours now so you don’t miss out!


P.S. Have you knit a pi shawl? Leave a comment below and share your experience!

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