b r o o k l y n t w e e d
  The Pi Shawl (Blanket)
I know I said that I would be sharing small, Christmas knits with you first... but I finished this last week and have been too excited to keep it under wraps any longer. Of all my knitting projects, this one has got to be up there in my all-time favorites (despite it being my own personal Everest for the last three months). So good in fact, it's keeping me warm while I write - it's cold out there!

Pi Shawl Blanket (by b r o o k l y n t w e e d)

Pattern: The Pi Shawl by Elizabeth Zimmermann (on ravelry)
Source: Knitter's Almanac (July)
Materials: Ístex Plötulopi Unspun Icelandic Wool; just uner 6 wheels (1800 yards)*
Needles: 36-Inch US 8/5.0 mm Addi Turbo Circulars
Dimensions: 78" diameter after blocking; 64" diameter unblocked
*See bottom of post for additional details on yarn and blocking

Start Date: 19 October 2007
Finish Date: 9 January 2008

Pi Shawl Blanket (by b r o o k l y n t w e e d)

Notes on the pattern: Of all the many genius ideas of Elizabeth's, to me, the Pi Shawl is one of the most mind-blowing. If you aren't familiar with the pattern I urge you to read it, for the pure enjoyment of how clever it is in all its glorious simplicity. Worked from the center out, the entire piece has no more than 6 (or 7 in my case) increase rounds total - meaning 99% of this shawl is straight knitting (save whatever lacey embellishments you'd like to incorporate) which gets major points in my book.

The other beautiful thing about the Pi Shawl is its endless potential for individuality. Spend a little time trolling the web for completed Pi Shawls (there are hundreds) and you'll see what I mean. The beauty of the pattern is it's blank-canvas-like nature - consecutive rings of set stitch counts (144, 288, 576, etc.) which just beg you to plug in any old lace motif that's giving you an itch.

Pi Shawl Blanket (by b r o o k l y n t w e e d)

If you aren't feeling all that creative, or have your heart set on one of the versions EZ suggests (like I did) - that's just fine too. There are two beauties already laid out for you in both Knitter's Almanac and Knitting Workshop. I have always loved the straight forward and classic beauty of the 'consecutive YO ring' version and knew that I wanted to give it a go. This is basically a stockinette circular shawl with a *YO, k2tog* round thrown in every 6th row. I love how these "sham rows" completely camouflage the actual organic increase rounds. The shaping is invisible in the entourage of lace rings. So great!

Pi Shawl Blanket (by b r o o k l y n t w e e d)

Elizabeth talks about how there is never a need to increase beyond the 576 stitch section, as the shawl will already be nice and big (she says something about not having a need to cover a football field?). I had a lot of yarn though, and really wanted to see how far I could push this, with the ultimate goal of having a big blanket for the couch. My calculations showed that I would have enough wool for about 22 rows into the 1152 stitch section (oh the horror), plus an attached (9-stitch) garter side-to-side edging.

Pi Shawl Blanket (by b r o o k l y n t w e e d)

The most miraculous part of the whole process is probably that I was able to keep a treacherous number of stitches on a 36" circular needle. It got a little rough on my hands towards the end, but when that frantic finishing fever comes over you just about nothing can stand in your way, right? Having a huge round of knitting on a circular needle also makes it impossible to predict just how big the piece will be. Before working the edging, you have nothing more than a big rumpled sack of holey wool sitting in your lap that looks more like an oversized rasta cap than a lace blanket. Some days it took all my control to keep from bucking my calculations and indulging in the bind-off, just to be able to free the lace from the needles.

Pi Shawl Blanket (by b r o o k l y n t w e e d)

The edging of the shawl is the only section that got a little bit of fancy lace (not that fancy, but relatively). I think a little hint of laciness around the edge makes the simpler ring pattern really shine. After my final increase round I switched into a gull stitch pattern and worked 5 vertical repeats around before starting the attached garter stitch edging aaaaall the way around.

Pi Shawl Blanket (by b r o o k l y n t w e e d)

Some notes on yarn: Unspun Icelandic is a wonderful, wonderful thing. If you're a fan of wooly things, you must get your hands on some (I received mine as a gift from a friend in Iceland, but you can purchase it online through Schoolhouse Press). Don't get me wrong, this isn't a yarn you're gonna want around your neck - it's a far cry from merino - but it has its own unique qualities that I could go on and on about. First of all, because it's an unspun, long-stapled wool, it's as light as air and very warm. Even in a thin piece of lace full of holes, it works surprisingly well at trapping warmth. The blanket is huge and light and toasty -exactly the combination I was looking for. The other benefit is the yardage. Each wheel seems to go on and on and on - I made a blanket that covers a queen sized bed with less than 6 wheels of the stuff (it's about 300 yards to 3.5 oz) on a US 8.

And if you fear knitting with something so "delicate", you can get rid of that idea straight away. The wool staple is longer than the distance between your needle and your fingers, so while knitting it feels just like any other yarn, and if it does break coming out of the skein (rarely happened, unaided by dogs or human feet) it's no problem. The yarn sticks to itself like velcro - so to join a break just overlap about 2 inches on each end and knit right past it. That's the other bonus - no ends to weave in, and no spit splicing necessary. It's like knitting an 1800 yard cone - carefree and seamless. And to dispell any rumours, the knitted fabric is just as strong as any other yarn out there on the market.

Pi Shawl Blanket (by b r o o k l y n t w e e d)

I guess this counts as my first official finished knit of 2008. It's already taken some serious self-control to keep myself from purchasing more of this wool (the natural colors are amazing) and cast on for another. It became an immediate crowd-pleaser in my home, so another one might not be such a bad idea.

Edited to Add: The following information has been added to the post in response to questions I've received via e-mail about this project. I hope they are helpful.

First, more specifics about the color of the wool. I received this yarn as a gift from a friend in Iceland. She purchased the yarn there in person. Schoolhouse Press does sell this yarn, but in a limited palette - which I should have mentioned earlier - and does not currently carry the color that I used.

The color of my wool is titled Sea Green Heather and listed as product #1422 on the Istex official color card - viewable here. You'll notice they have a lot of wonderful colors! Don't say I didn't warn you.

In researching, we think that the best bet for possibly acquiring this yarn by mail order would be the Handknitting Association of Iceland, but can't say for sure. All of their contact information is available behind the link. NOTE: it seems that the colorcard listed on their site is an older version and sites Sea Green Heather as #9736.

Blocking: Yes, blocking was quite a challenge in our hardwood-floored, tiny apartment. I was hoping to be able to block the shawl on the queen-sized bed but realized very soon that this would not be possible. After some creative brainstorming, we tried a rather unconventional but nonetheless effective way of blocking - involving the box spring. The picture says it all.

And finally - a few of you asked if I worked with the unspun Icelandic wool single stranded or held it double stranded. I worked single stranded.

I'm hankering to start a Pi shawl, but should finish some things up first, right????? You're wearing me down. I feel the pull.

It's beautiful!

Gorgeous! You've awoken the shawl knitting beast that lives behind my couch! It's been sweaters and mittens galore before Christmas, but I might need to start something different now...

I have some unspun finnwool yarn in my stash, and it's absolutely amazing. It's not as rough as you describe, but I guess the Icelandic wool is a bit different.

It's gorgeous! I admire your fortitude in keeping it going for so long. I would not have been able to resist binding it off sooner, so I'm quite jealous of your stick-to-it-ness. And what a reward you got in sticking to it!

Beautiful! As usual, you have a knack for making something I wouldn't have thought of suddenly irresistible. How do you do that???!!

Le Sigh - Beautiful pics, nice tactile description. I'm in love with pie.

That is beautiful! I love the color.

oh my goodness, it is exquisite! I love the simplicity of it, it makes it so incredibly elegant. I really envy you your knitting skills + talent (and patience) - every single stitch looks so neat and symmetrical and PERFECT.

(I so far have only mastered stockinette, garter, and rib....with difficulty. Not deft enough, plus wrists hurt very easily. Woe. I wish I could make this piece!!)

- Vasu

great project. but i don't agree with not being able to wear this kind of wool next to skin. i wouldn't have survived pre global warming winters without it. and it is amazing that it doesn't break. i want to knit something with it again. it is all over the stores here. as is your koolhaas (saw it in a fuchsia tweed in a shop) and the cobblestone is the latest craze on danish knitting blogs. even i feminine and baby versions. that must be great and wouldn't have happened in the 90es. a positive thing about the global village.
happy knitting.

This is absolutely beautiful!

You take my breath away! Another stunner off your needles. I'm sitting here in my koolhaas trying to stick to my own list of to-do's and not go to schoolhouse and purchase the yarn and cast-on. Soon...
Terri J

This has got to be the loveliest Pi Shawl I have ever seen. I never would have guessed that it would be so beautiful in a non-solid color.

absolutely stunning, love it!

That is incredibly beautiful!


This is so beautiful! The pictures of your FOs make me want to knit whatever you knit! This is totally going into my que!

A beautiful project that I've been meaning to knit for a very long time. Speaking of EZ, my friend just lent me the Knitting Workshop DVD, which I will watch this weekend, snug and cozy on the couch with my knitting.

Thanks for being a constant source of inspiration.

What a way to start the new year! This is a work of art. Another one to add to the list. :)

beautiful! it has such a nice organic quality to both the color and pattern!

Truly beautiful. I find that we get so caught up in admiring intricately knit items that we forget how gorgeous simple lace can really be.

The colors of the yarn are amazing. The whole thing is amazing.

Stunning! Can't say much else. Except that I've never really been motivated to know a round shawl until now.

Bad Jared! You're making me want to do a pi shawl when I need to be concentrating on my wedding vest!

My heart is going pit-a-pat as i gaze at the pi-beauty. I adore your addition around the edges, it gives the whole thing a truly 'finished' look. GORGEOUS!

That blanket is so beautiful it's making my head hurt. I am always so inspired by your projects! Now excuse me, I have to go sit down. Oh wait, I already am. Ow.

My question is, how did you block that huge thing???

It's gorgeous!

a thing of beauty...


You never fail to impress and inspire me. Again, I am utterly in awe. Totally, totally gorgeous.

Thank you for continuing to stoke the fires of an EZ revolution. She was a genius, indeed, and a whole lot more people are aware of that now because of your work (both knitwise and photography-wise). Kudos again, Jared. And thank you.

Very nice. I'm going to have to break down and use those greys and that mauve in my stash...

I am purchasing the yarn for this RIGHT now...gorgeous. One question, did you knit a single strand of the unspun wool?

Your Pie Blanket is amazing! It's decided...the next knitting book I purchase will be an EZ book.

That's amazing! I'd like to hear more about your attached garter side-to-side edging. I'm looking for something like that for a blanket, but haven't found any instructions, maybe what you did is what I'm looking for.

That's so beautiful. Want to make one for my home? I'll trade socks...

Wow! That is breathtaking.

A friend introduced me to your blog last month and I've been a fan ever since. Thank you so much for sharing your gorgeous creations with us, and being so informative about the materials you use and modifications. I love your enthusiasm, the photos are awesome, and I wish I had more time so I could try my hand at everything I see here! I believe a Pi shawl is in my knitting future. Thanks!

In your hands, a simple design and a rough yarn are coaxed into a thing of art and beauty.

thanks for the inspiration, Jared - I predict you'll start another revolution... anything you talk about seems to turn into knitting "gold" - I like to think of you as the "Oprah" of knitting - anything you seem to mention gets major attention! :)

Did you say 1153 stitches? It is awesome, gorgeous, amazing...and I will never make one! But what an accomplishment. Just beautiful.

STUN-ningly beautiful. Museum quality-- what I wouldn't give to be able to see this.

words, pictures, yarn, shawl...all stunning as usual, the talented Mr Jared strikes again! Now I want to make one of these too!

Absolutely beautiful.

This is just flat out gorgeous.

Stunning! EZ's patterns puzzle me. I am an A-Z person, but I need every letter detailed between the two. This shawl is the most gorgeous work, ever. I want to make it. See what you've done?!!

beautiful, but how on earth did you block it?

I have a few more questions: What colorway is that? I went right to the site to buy some yarn, and I didn't see the color! Also, someone about asked if you used one strand? Oh, and yes, the blocking! How on earth, did you do that? Thanks!

Just beautiful.

wonderful, as usual - but PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE give your "recipe" for Big Blue - I've got two men clamouring for it, I've got the Beaverslide Yarn, I've got the EZ pithy instructions, but I NEED things written out - how can I BEG PLEAD AND IMPLORE you to write it out for some of us "less mentally endowed" knitters?

thanks big time,

Wow! That is so cool. A friend brought me some unspun wool from Estonia (Evila--I don't know that it's exactly the same thing), and I spun the whole wheel up right away. Not having to draft was wonderful, but now I'm not so sure that was a good idea...

that's so beautiful!!

Glorious. As always. :)

Now I have to get me some of that unspun Icelandic of course. Thank you very much for adding to my want list, signor Brooklyntweed!

Beautiful! Thanks for sharing this.

Mindblowing! Really, I've been meaning to thank you for sharing your incredible FOs and your self-critiques. That and your photos are truly invaluable to knitters.

Absolutely gorgeous. I have some of the softest charcoal grey alpaca known to man. I'm thinking this is it's destiny. Gorgeous.

That is really pretty :-) I love it!!

Stupendous!! One of your most intriguing yet...

Beautiful! Your interpretations of EZ's patterns are always breathtaking.

Great googly moogly! I've seen a lot of Pi's before,but I think yours is the nicest! The colours are stunning,and the "sham" rows are the absolute perfect touch! Well done!!!

Wicked, wicked, WICKED!

And so inspiring, Jared. Thank you. Your posts are most useful and just beautiful. Not to mention inspiring. A wonderful soul.

I love the colours in this wool, would make a striking painting.

wow, EZ would be proud. it looks wonderful. Thank for the review on the yarn too!

What they said! And also, I wonder if the incredible yardage comes from the fact that you're drafting it slight when you pull it and knit it, making each wheel 300+ yards?

Juste magnifique !

Holy Moly. I am stunned.

Very beautiful, just as all your EZ interpretations are. Thanks so much for the inspiration, and for showcasing the beauty in this simple pattern.

EZ, as far as I'm concerned was the master of de-mystifying knitting. I'm going to embark on knitting the Pi Are Squared shawl with the Unspun Icelandic yarn soon.

Beautiful work!

Nice nod to another EZ classic with the gull wing edge (didn't she like gull wing for the 2 needle baby sweater?). It must have felt incredible to cast off and release all of those stitches - something not to be started late of an evening because how could one stop?


Wow Jared, gorgeous work (knitting and photography) again! And I haven't even gotten to the Hemlock Ring blanket! :) May I just add my request to the lot pleading for "Big Blue" in written form? My husband just decided that's what he wants next. He doesn't voice many preferences, so when he does, I try to accommodate. ;)

Absolutely stunning - the simple elements all come together to make such a beautiful finished object! Congratulations.

its gorgeous - you did an amazing job. your patience is impressive!

Oh, you have mad, envious skills...

An heirloom forever.

First time poster here. I just had to comment on your shawl... gorgeous! I'm working on my own version of EZ's Pi shawl, using a swedish unspun lace weight yarn. It truly is a miraculous design, isn't it?

Again, absoulutely beautiful... and fantastic photography, too!

I'm a long time lurker on your site, but have to add kudos to all your work. I keep looking at shawls and admiring the "stick-to-it" that is required, but I think I could do this one!
WHERE did you get the yarn? Thnx. Maryjo

What they all said. Most inspiring and lovely.

You have done the impossible: beautifully photograph a Pi. Your eye, mind, and hands are a wonderful contribution to knitting.

I love it! And the photographs are really beautiful (as always!)

Beautiful! I also love that you make use of shawl patterns by creating blankets. It's such a great idea.

Beautiful. And love the gull wing edge/garter edge. What a great idea. And thanks for answering all of my unasked questions about unspun Icelandic. Great post and the pictures are awesome as always. I'm also wondering how you blocked that puppy!

This looks great! Your blog is an inspiration for me.

You've been nominated for a "You Make My Day" blogging award at Vortex of Chaos. Stop by for details!

Your designs and your photography are just exquisite. No problem if you don't play the meme game. I just wanted anyone who hasn't seen your blog to look at it.

What a stunningly beautiful piece. As per usual!

It's absolutely amazing!

That is just unreasonably beautiful. You've outdone yourself again!

This is totally gorgeous!

I have to second poethead: how does one block such a large piece of lace? Perhaps THAT's where the football field comes into play? (though not in Brooklyn in January).

It would make a gorgous counterpane.

I love your work and this is no exception.

It's posts like these that make your blog the most inspiring break when I need a breather at work. Thank you :)

Maybe it's time to try spinning some yarn like this! The blanket is beautiful! I just got my copy of the almanac and am already brainstorming ideas. I love how you conceptualize EZ. Thanks for sharing!

Thats so gorgeous. You're definitely doing EZ justice!

(By the way, you've been awarded :)

That is just beautiful!

Wow. Just, wow. The yarn is a delight (I wonder how much shipping to the UK is...) and your photography as ever is exquisite. Every time I read your blog I get photoenvy and decide I really must take better pictures. One question though - how in the name of all that is holy did you block this monster shawl???

OH - MY - LORD!! This is absolutely gorgeous!!! I had never seen anything like this and my jaw is on my lap right now. Fantastic work.

You got an award on my blog.

I do hope you'll do a follow-up post with more details. For example, was this done with one ply or did you double up?

Absolutely stunning! I must try this. May I ask what shade of Icelandic wool you used? I love the threads of color in this one - the greenish cast. I also love your photography. Everything seems to glow with inner warmth. Really beautiful.

I have one on the go already (in some random yarn I had in the cupboard), but when I reach this pattern in my "Ravelry knit through the Knitters' Almanac" then this is exactly how I want to finish it. Now I can't wait!
Well done you - beautiful execution; and you take fantastic pictures too!

Wow. That is stunning. I think I saw this pattern revisited in the latest Vogue Knitting (I must double check when I get home).

Your Pi Shawl look great! I am working on the BSJ myself and am nearly finished, so close, I can taste it. (denim and cream) But I ran out of blue yarn with only a couple rows to go...I'll have to wait 'til Friday to buy more as I am out of money. I have plenty of cream, but I just don't think It'd be right to finish it off with wonky stripes. I'm not crazy to wait 3 days for blue yarn,though, am I...?

Spectacular, Jared. The blanket is absolutely beautiful and you should be so proud of yourself. Nice selection of wool too. Congrats on such a gorgeous project completion.

I love icelandic sheep. Have you seen the Tongue River Farms sock kits? I think they would so be something you would love.

Thanks so much for your great blog! Would you PLEASE share your blocking technique for such a large item? I'm sooo curious!

I’ve given you a small award on my blog (http://birgittestrikker.blogspot.com/2008/01/award-time.html).
I realise that you may have got several of these, but I just wanted to leave a comment here in order to stick to the “rules” that comes with the award.

Looking forward to seeing you knits of 2008,


All I can say is,



wow-it's been worth the wait.

EZ would be proud!!! wow! Gorgeous!!

it's beautiful!

Stunning in its simplicity! You really make me want to knit one!

I have given you an award because I enjoy your blog so much. Come and see: http://tinyurl.com/2hm75u

Very beautiful! I am now very tempted to make one!

ooo beautiful. Lovely photography as well!

i'd love to see how you plan to use this shawl/blanket. If it won't block on a queen size bed . . .

I lived in Iceland for a couple months and got some good tips on unspun yarn when I was there. They told me that winding it into a ball naturally puts some spin in the yarn. So they said wind it into a ball two or three times if you want to make something that needs to be a little stronger.

It also felts wonderfully!

ahhh, inspiration overload!
I have enough to do already, will just have to be happy with your amazing photography for now.

This Pi-shawl is sensationell! It's going to be the successor of the Hemlock blanket, which was wonderful too. Congratulations on another fantastic project completed! :o)

I am in awe. Beautiful. You have such a knack for choosing yarns.

I would love to know how you blocked it - in sections maybe? folded? it's a mystery!

Amazingly beautiful!

BTW, you've received an award--visit http://knitflix.blogspot.com/2008/01/you-make-my-day.html for more info. Have a great day!

gorgeous. as usual.

You make my day! I've passed along the Make My Day award to you. Thank you for sharing your wonderful creations and incredible photography!

Hi Jared, you made my day!
See here!

Is it possible to find out what books / magazines your patterns and designs are going to be featured in? I would purchase anyone of them; you are truly a talent.

This is so beautiful. You almost outshine your knitting with your photography...what kind of camera do you use? I absolutely love this blanket/shawl. I have been dying to make the flower patterned version with the unspun icelandic - thanks for the description of the yarn, I was curious. Once again, you've created something stunning!

absolutey stunning.

Your pi shawl is amazing. I'm a little embarrassed to admit I've never opened an EZ book - must fix that!

Stunning in its simplicity! I really do admire your patience particularly for the sideways edging. Those things always drive me around the bend when I'm about halfway through - no matter how may shawls or tablecloths I knit.

Regs, Susan

You have such patience and vision!

I'm late to the party, but I could just kiss you for including info about that beautiful roving! I found it on Schoolhouse, but was so disappointed that they didn't have that gorgeous color! Can't wait to see if I can get some shipped overseas! Thanks!!

It is just gorgeous!
I on the other hand can (and do) wear Lopi around my neck. Heck, I could wear a bikini out of it if I wanted (might be a good idea for the Icelandic 'beach' hah!)

Anyway, just wanted to tell you that I love your work!

absolutely gorgeous. have had a hankering to do this shawl.
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