Toroni: A Super-Quick Shawl Recipe


Life in Bulgaria has a very seasonal rhythm. Bulgarians love their four distinct seasons, and even in Sofia, there are palpable differences in how people spend their time from one season to the next. Summer is for eating salad and going to the beach.

Last summer, we had a thunderstorm practically every day. It made running errands a real pain, and meant a mediocre year for grapes, tomatoes, and other summer produce. What made the summer even worse is, it was following an unusually mild winter, and many people felt restive and somehow thrown out of balance.

“We used to have four seasons in Bulgaria and it was very nice,” a taxi driver said to me once (Thomas Friedman would be jealous of how many conversations I have with taxi drivers), “Now the climate is changing, so we just have a few months of cold and the rest is warm and wet.”

In the long run, this may bear out to be true. Every snowstorm, every perfect breezy day, every tree full of plums or bush full of rosehips might be our last. This year at least we managed to get our seasons. Winter was respectably cold and snowy, and this summer has been relentless; the days are hot and long. The tomatoes are what Westerners would call “heirloom,” the kind that would raise rents in the surrounding neighborhoods if they were sold in any farmer’s market in the urban USA.

In winter, the question people ask each other is, “What do you heat with?” Answer “electricity,” and you’ll get a groan of sympathy. In Sofia, steam is the most fortunate answer. Everywhere else, it’s wood.

In summer, the question is, “Are you going to the sea?” For two years, I lived within an hour of the Black Sea. There, we never asked each other this question, because everyone was already at the sea. Sofia is several hours inland, though, and trips to the seaside are relished.

summer in Halkidiki
summer in Halkidiki

My husband and I took our beach trip two weeks ago, to a quiet village in Halkidiki, Greece. For this, I needed some instant-gratification knitting. You know the kind. Something small, in a fun yarn. Fingering weight was ideal, because it meant lots of blissfully repetitive stitches. An off-center triangle shawl, started at the narrowest point, requires little shaping and practically no thought at all. The end result shows off hand-dyed and variegated yarns perfectly, without being too busy or overwhelming the rest of your outfit. A project like this is the tomato-soup-and-grilled-cheese-sandwich of knitting.


Here’s my formula.

Toroni Shawl Recipe


materials: 100g fingering-weight yarn (sock yarn works great). I used Republic of Wool Twist Fingering in color Thrasher, which I found at Twisted in Portland not too long ago.

US #6 needle; I like 24″ circular

gauge: doesn’t matter!


KFB: Knit next stitch through front and back. 1 stitch increased.

Using long-tail method, CO 11 stitches

Row 1 (WS): K2, P to 2 stitches before end, KFB, K1
Row 2 (RS): KFB, K to 3 stitches before end, K2tog, K1

Repeat Rows 1 and 2 until you’re almost out of yarn (leave at least 3 yards for bind-off). Bind off stitches using your favorite method. I recommend a stretchy bind-off like EZ’s Sewn Bind-Off (click for link to tutorial), or this pretty lace bind-off (click for excellent youtube video by Laura Nelkin).


Note: Repeating these two rows will give you a stockinette-stitch shawl, which might curl at the ends. You might have also noticed in the photos that my shawl has some little purl ridges on the right side. You can achieve these purl ridges by working the wrong-side like this instead:

Row 1 Version 2 (WS): K to 2 stitches before end, KFB, K1

Super-easy! Knit all the wrong-side rows, and your shawl will be in garter stitch instead of stockinette. I love how stockinette shows off the flecks of color in the yarn, so I mostly did that. Just for fun, every time I picked up the work afresh, I would knit the first wrong side row I worked instead of purling. This added a little planned spontaneity to the shawl, and created a little record of how much I worked at a time (the purl ridges got progressively closer together, as the shawl increased in size).

Once the shawl is finished, weave in the ends and don’t be afraid to block aggressively, especially if you’ve worked mostly in stockinette. I wrung mine out and stretched it on my clothesline.

beach hair, don’t care

Does anyone else have go-to vacation projects? What’s your ideal instant-gratification knitting?

21 thoughts on “Toroni: A Super-Quick Shawl Recipe

  1. meppybn August 13, 2015 / 3:23 am

    What a great pattern! Thanks for the simplicity πŸ™‚ and I see the perfect summer dress is being put to good use!

    • Huelo August 13, 2015 / 11:10 am

      Thank you!! And, yes, the dress has become my uniform! πŸ™‚

  2. Lois August 29, 2015 / 3:12 am

    Love this pattern! Thanks for sharing. Were you able to make this with just one skein of yarn?

    • Huelo August 29, 2015 / 5:16 am

      Yep! I bound off when I only had a few yards left. πŸ™‚

  3. Liosa October 11, 2015 / 3:17 pm

    Hello– Love your blog! Can you tell me where you can buy yarn in Sophia?

    • Huelo October 11, 2015 / 3:46 pm

      Thank you so much! If you prefer natural wool, the zhenski pazar has a nice little shop, in the center area where they sell handicrafts. The best selection I’ve found is in a shop on Tsar Boris, near the Krasno Selo tram stop. There is also a very nice little store on Alabin St.
      The yarn I used for this project, I bought in the States. I get yarn from all over the place!

  4. Cathy Ham October 12, 2015 / 4:39 pm

    Hello from Greece! I too am a rather obsessed knitter, and I’ve really enjoyed your blog. Is there some way to email you? Thanks! Cathy

  5. Susan B. November 11, 2015 / 8:26 pm

    Thank you very much. A great simple pattern and I have perfect yarn for this shawl in my stash. πŸ™‚ Do you have a blog or site? I simply enjoyed your style of writing a lot.

  6. Jodi Palmer August 27, 2017 / 2:58 pm

    I love this pattern so much. Easy well written. And amazing color. Thank you so much for sharing πŸ’–

  7. Patrice Kistenmacher May 21, 2018 / 11:25 pm

    I can’t tell you how many times I’ve used this pattern as a starting point for scarves…and passed it on to many other knitters. My favorite is to do a variation of your starting the day’s knitting on it with a purl row; I have used a gradient yarn, and switched to garter when the color changed to the next hue. The first one was just alternating stockinette with garter. My most recent became a “sampler” of stockinette, garter, seed and linen, using a cotton yarn (for Texas!).

    Thanks for the great simplicity and versatility!


    • Huelo May 23, 2018 / 4:18 am

      Hi Patrice,
      Thank you so much for the kind words! That’s really gratifying to hear. You made my day! -Huelo

  8. courtney preuss September 3, 2018 / 4:00 am

    Hi! So version two: it says (WS): K to end, KFB, K1

    does this mean K to the last stitch KFB and then K1? I’m not understanding or is it K to like the last two stitches than KFB and K1?

    • Huelo September 3, 2018 / 10:29 pm

      Hi Courtney! You’re totally right to be confused. It should read “K to last 2 stitches, KFB, K1.” Thanks for catching that! I will correct the pattern in the post.

      • courtney preuss September 4, 2018 / 12:07 am

        Awesome! Thank you for responding!

  9. Judy September 26, 2018 / 12:13 am

    Hi…I want to make your Toroni shawl…can you tell me how many yards it take…I have some fingering that is 420 yds. Will that work?

    • Huelo September 26, 2018 / 4:10 am

      Hi Judy! The pattern calls for about 400 yards of fingering weight, so yes, your yarn will absolutely be enough. Thanks for writing, good luck with your Toroni!

  10. Hope Holubowicz January 31, 2019 / 10:23 pm

    What would the pattern be if I don’t want it to curl? Would I just vary the stockinette and garter stitch? I’m not sure if that would help. I don’t want all garter stitch because like you I love the speckle in stockinette so I’m torn

    • Huelo February 4, 2019 / 9:44 pm

      Hi Hope! Thanks for the great question! I’ve had minimal curling by working a “garter” row (purl bumps on the right side) every so often (say, every 10-20 rows), and working the selvedge stitches in garter. I also suggest working at a loose enough gauge for some drape, and blocking the finished shawl *very* aggressively. Another thing you can try is to work the first 2-3 inches and then the last 1-2 inches of the shawl in garter stitch as well. That way most of the shawl will still be in stockinette, but with minimal curling.
      I hope this helps!

      • Hope Holubowicz February 11, 2019 / 2:02 am

        Thank you so much! Casting on tonight!

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