Bustle – a free knit pattern

Bustle - a free knit pattern

Today I have fun knit pattern for you to try and I can claim it as my own by only the slimmest of pretexts. Truthfully, this is a very simple knit based on a shawl shape that has been in use for centuries. The oldest example I could find is the “Bosom Friend” published in Godey’s Lady’s Book and Magazine in 1860.

But I’m quite sure that ladies were making cross-over shawls like this before the 1860’s. It is the working lady’s shawl. Those delicate little confections that drape artfully over one’s shoulders may look stylish as you sit in Mrs. Snootypant’s drawing room with your ankles pressed together sipping tea, but they ain’t much good for when you need to get things done. If you have to cook breakfast, change a diaper, stoke up the wood burning stove and toss some feed out to the chickens in the kitchen garden then you better have a shawl that won’t fall off. This is the shawl for the lady that has to hustle and bustle all day.

Its manages that by having long curving sides.

Bustle - a free knit pattern

You can take those sides and wear them criss-cross like a pistolero’s gun belt.

Or you can tie them up like a knotted scarf.

Bustle free knit pattern

Either way its a very handy shape for a shawl. But I feel I should disclose that it has a point in the back. Yeah, it has the point-right-at-your-butt thing going on. The last free shawl pattern (Something Blue) I published did not and I found out, quite by accident, that many knitters don’t like the point-right-at-your-butt shape. And this one has it.

Bustle - a free knit shawl pattern


But, aside from point at one’s butt, I think this is a nifty little pattern. While I made mine in bulky weight on US size 11 needles, it is the kind of pattern that you could make in any kind of yarn and to any size you like. Just keep working the repeats until your shawl is long enough. I put a little eyelet border on the bottom edge of mine but that is strictly decorative and optional.

Bustle – a free knit pattern

The yarn I used

I used three skeins of Juniper Moon Farm Yearling. Its a bulky weight that gives you 109 yards per 100g. So I had a total of 327 yds of yarn for this project.

Sadly this particular yarn has been discontinued. No wonder I found it in the sale bin. But as I mentioned above this is a very forgiving pattern and I’m sure that any bulky weight yarn would work as well.

The needles I used

I used US size 11 (8mm) needles with a 32-inch long cord. That cord was a bit short for this project and things were quite scrunched up by the time I reached the final rows. A 60-inch long cord would have been more comfortable.

Other stuff I used

One stitch marker. It helps to mark out that center stitch, the one that forms the “spine” (and points down at your butt). If you don’t have a stitch marker, a loop of yarn in a contrast color will work too.


  • k – knit
  • p – purl
  • YO – yarn over (an increase)
  • k2tog – knit next 2 stitches together (a decrease)
  • ssk – slip a stitch knit-wise, slip another stitch knit-wise, insert the left tip into the front of the two slipped stitches and knit them together (a decrease)
  • SM – slip the marker

The pattern

Cast on 9 stitches.

Work a set up rows as follows: knit 5, place a marker, knit 4

Pattern Repeat

Row 1, 3, 5, 7, 9, & 11: k1, YO, k1, YO, k to marker, YO, SM, k1, YO, k until 2 sts left, YO, k1, YO, k1

Row 2 & 4: k

Row 6, 8, 10 & 12: k2, p until 2 sts left, k2

That’s it! Note that by knitting for rows 2 & 4 you give yourself two ridges of garter stitch. By (mostly) purling for rows 6, 8, 10 & 12, you make a stockinette section. You could certainly work the whole shawl in garter, work longer sections of stockinette, etc. Feel free to play around with this and make it your own!

For my shawl I worked a total of 5 repeats for a total of 60 rows and then added a little border (more on that later). For the color stripes I worked the following:

  • With Main Color cast on, work the Set Up Row, work 10 rows of the pattern.
  • With Contrast Color work next ten rows.
  • With Main Color work next 24 rows.
  • With Contrast Color work next ten rows.
  • With Main Color work next 6 rows.

The border

Continuing with the main color 

Row 1: k1, YO, k1, YO, k to marker, YO, SM, k1, YO, k until 2 sts left, YO, k1, YO, k1

Row 2: k

Row 3: k1, YO, k1, YO, *k2tog, YO, k1, YO, k2tog* to marker, YO, SM, k1, YO, *ssk, YO, k1, YO, ssk* until 2 sts left, YO, k1, YO, k1

Row 4: k2, p until 2 sts left, k2 (and remove the stitch marker as you come to it)

Bind off loosely. Then wrap it around yourself and get on with the hustle and bustle of your life!




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18 Comments on "Bustle – a free knit pattern"

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Thank you! This looks easy enough for anyone. Wouldn’t have thought of that way to wrap it around, but it sure would make it easier to get something done. Easier to knit than a sweater, too.

Jean B

Very pretty and practical! I love that you knit it up in your signature purple and red. I’ve got some skeins of bulky yarns that would make a bright and cheery bustle shawl!


Already favorited! Thank you for this pattern, it’s a style I’ve been wanting to try


Thanks for the Bustle shawl pattern. I saw this way to wear a shawl in an old Western movie (you know, with guns and horses). Always wondered how to knit one. Also, I was going through some yarn that was donated and thought I need s shawl pattern … and here you are looking so sweet in your new wrap! Thanks again.


All that early stitches stuff is really on trend right now: homestead knits, colonial lace (your decorative edging), practical features like the tie-in-back style.