Cast On an Esjan Shawl with us!

by Sharyn Anhalt February 04, 2015

Our February KnitAlong project is the Esjan Shawl by Stephen Westa simple yet dramatic top down shawl. Starting with easy garter stitch, two contrasting colors are added along with a giant holey lace pattern. The fabric is knit loosely with a worsted weight yarn resulting in a large shawl that knits up quickly!

Before casting on, we should discuss a couple subjects - yarn quantity and color selection. If using the selected yarn, Schoppel Wolle Alpaka Queen or In-Silk, the pattern indicates that you'll need 2 hanks of color B - this is the color for the "curvy stripes" that border the lacey holes. You will use very little of the second hank, so we'd like to suggest a modification if you want to avoid purchasing an extra hank. But don't forget, you could always make a hat or some mitts with the rest of that second hank!

If you have just one hank of color B, you should knit just 4 rows of garter stitch between the lacey hole sections, instead of the 6 rows called for in the pattern. Your stripes will be narrower, but symmetrical - which is better than running out of yarn in the last stripe and having just one narrow stripe!

Color selection - of course this is a personal choice, but the original design uses 3 neutral colors, two of which are very close in value. The lacey hole section is a lighter value which makes it stand out from the other colors.

I chose to knit my Esjan with the lighter value color as the curvy border section, which makes that part of the shawl dominant.


If in doubt on how your colors will work, try doing a quick sketch with colored pencils or crayons. For me, this is part of the fun of planning a knitting project! We are always here with plenty of opinions too, so feel free to ask us.

Now that you've chosen colors and planned for the right amount of yarn, it's time to cast on! Esjan is knit from the top down, starting with a garter stitch tab. This is a very common method for starting a top down shawl, so it's a good technique to learn. If you've never done one, the KnitPurlHunter website has a great video. The first section of the shawl is simple garter stitch (knit every row) with regular increases to create the crescent shape at the top. You'll use just about your entire first hank in this section.

If you'd like to Knit Along in the shop, our groups meet every Thursday 4-6pm and Saturday mornings at 9am. You don't have to be knitting our select project of the month; just bring any project and join in!

Sharyn Anhalt
Sharyn Anhalt


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