How to Knit a Pashmina

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Knit a pashmina-style shawl using cashmere lace weight yarn.
Knit a pashmina-style shawl using cashmere lace weight yarn. (Image: sunset image by Andrejs Pidjass from Fotolia.com)

Pashmina originally referred to a type of cashmere that is made from the hairs of an Asian goat. According to the “Knitter’s Book of Yarn,” the word is now used to describe any soft yarns or fabrics, including silk and “the word 'pashmina' is no longer a legally recognized labeling term.” However, major cities have ubiquitous pashmina shawl stands and these shawls have proven popular in recent years. Commercially made pashminas are generally woven, although it is easy to knit a pashmina-style shawl.

Things You'll Need

  • Lace weight cashmere yarn
  • Knitting needles
  • Scissors
  • Tapestry needle

Use a cashmere or cashmere-blend yarn. Other fibers in lace weight can be used; however they won’t give you the loft, drape and softness of cashmere. Lace weight yarn will give you a light weight shawl that closely resembles that of woven pashminas. Heavier weight yarns will create a different fabric type.

Knit a gauge swatch. To make this shawl light and airy, you will likely need to use a knitting needle that is several sizes larger than what the yarn’s ball band calls for. Consider using a needle as large as a US 6 (4 mm) to produce an open stitch. Smaller needles will create a denser fabric that does not drape as fluidly. Your gauge swatch will also tell you how many stitches you will need to cast on.

Cast on for a shawl between 24 and 36 inches wide. Calculate the number of stitches to cast on from your gauge swatch. For instance, if your gauge is 10 stitches per inch, you will need to cast on between 240 and 360 stitches for your shawl. Cast on loosely to prevent bunching. Knit in stockinette stitch, which is knitting one row and purling the next. Slip the first stitch of each row to create a smooth edge.

Knit until you have reached your desired length. To create a shawl that can be comfortably wrapped or tied around your shoulders, knit for at least 72 inches. Bind off loosely and block your shawl. If you wet block the shawl, make sure that you take care not to stretch it out when removing it from the water. Most shawls will require only a steam or spray blocking to hold their shape. Because the shawl is knit in stockinette, the edges will likely curl unless you block the shawl.

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