Not gonna lie..I love to knit shawls. Fortunately, I also love to wear shawls. I love how they add a pop of color and interest as an unusual accessory and I really love how they keep my shoulders and neck warm (especially in air conditioning). What I don’t love about shawls is that they flop around and slip off and seem to need constant readjustment. Well..Shawl pins to the rescue! They can anchor your suave and sophisticated shawl arrangement and be a focal point as well. Shawl pins can be as simple as a carved wooden stick or as complex as a celtic penannular brooch. Shawl pins work with the nature of wool–wool textiles have some give and stretch to them and so a smooth pointed rod gently poked through them does no lasting damage.
(A word of warning: don’t just haul out a regular pin or brooch. The standard needle fastening mechanism is not advised: the yarn fibers get hung up in the hinge mechanism and possibly get ripped out which does do permanent damage.)
Let’s start our Shawl Pin Fashion Show with my very first shawl pin: a celtic penannular pin. The pin freely slides around on the semi-circular portion. To attach, one rotates the pin so that the tip is at the opening, then stabs through the fabric, and then rotates the circle so that the pin tip is away from the opening. This is an ancient design going back as far as 700 AD in several parts of the world, but especially famous in Celtic finds. I purchased mine from a craftsperson at a renaissance fair (sorry, I no longer have their name) and it’s made out of solid brass. That makes it rather heavy and so I can only wear it with a denser knit such as my Arizona Sunset Sky Wrap pictured.
Here’s a much lighter weight option. This shawl pin consists of an ornate leather piece and is fastened with a wooden pin. The larger holes in the open lace of this wrap easily accommodate the wooden pin. I love how rustic it looks. This pin was made as a prototype by the artisans at Dawn Over Palms on Etsy. Currently, they do not have any of these in their shop, but I’m sure they’d be willing to consider a special order if you emailed them. The shawl pictured is my take on the classic tumbling blocks pattern called Torqued Blocks Wrap.
Here’s another wooden beauty, this time made out of bird’s eye maple made by “Things by Jeanne”. I received this elegant shawl pin in an eBay purchase as one of a lot of shawl pins. Unfortunately, I have been unable to find out any further information about the creator. I can only guess that Jeanne was a local craftsperson who supplied a LYS who then sold their stock on eBay. Nevertheless, I love it–very elegant.
Shawl pins also work as just simple stick pins–here’s a lovely one made by Jul Designs, (an older design of a llama that is no longer available but check out their many current designs!). All of their designs are handmade and Fair Trade in Indonesia and are made of white brass. Its slim design counteracts the potential weight of a metal pin so I don’t find it heavy and clunky at all. I love that this has a bit of a squiggle in the length of the pin–that helps it stay in and not wiggle out if you bend over. I had to pick this llama to go with my Aztec Reveries Shawl because, well, it’s a llama and pairs with my other Aztec motifs in the shawl perfectly.
Here’s another Jul Designs shawl stick pin–an even longer one. This is their Twig Shawl Pin and it is still available (as of this writing in Sept., 2020). They also have their own Etsy shop so you can buy direct. When I first got this one, I felt it was a bit on the long side: it measures a little over 6.5 inches. But it has since grown on me. I especially like wearing it around Halloween–it feels kind of witchy to me. I’m showing it here on my Rip Tide Shawl and it anchors like a champ.
Here’s a lovely spiral, hand-carved stick pin I also received in that eBay lot with no known maker. Its rather small and light weight, but because of the spiral it is quite secure. I’m showing it on the Starry Night Shawl by Dani Gherardi, a lovely pattern for variegated yarn.
When I like a particular shawl pattern, I usually end up making more than one, so here’s another version of the Starry Night Shawl by Dani Gherardi. The colors are perfect for another prototype stick pin by the artisans over at Dawn Over Palms on Etsy. This one is a hand carved thistle flower and it’s definitely a strong stand alone piece.
This gorgeous wooden stick pin came from a seller on eBay: knoepie2511 who also has an Etsy store called SandraMel. Either way, beautiful hand carved pins are shipped from Irvine, CA and are exquisite. The smooth finish, squiggle middle and unusual design makes this one of my current favorites. And it was quite affordable, too! I’m showing this one on my most recently completed shawl: Meringue Sprinkles Shawl.
If you have a darker shawl, a wooden pin is going to get lost and be invisible. Here’s the perfect solution. This shawl pin is made out of a ring of mother of pearl and features an ebony stick. It stands out against the dark gray yarn beautifully. Again, another pin from my eBay lot so I can’t link to the artisan.
This is the only bone shawl stick pin in my collection and it, too, is light and decorative (and came in that anonymous eBay lot). The natural surface of the bone provides a nice friction that holds it in place, despite its completely straight design. And the light color is attractive on the darker background of this version of my RipTide Shawl. I think it has a little witchy feel or even some Baba Yaga vibes to it (seeing as how it’s a bone, after all). But in a subtle way.
A straight stick pin works in wood also. The grain of the wood provides a little grab and prevents it from dropping out. Here’s another one from SandraMel. A bit more restrained in design. I thought the leaf motif at the top went well with my Faerie Ivy Leaf Shawl since I designed that shawl with 7 different sizes of leaves. (With this pin and shawl I’m totally ready the next time we have a LOTR movie marathon, let me tell you, lol).
Well, there you have it! I hope I’ve convinced you that you need to go shopping for some lovely and unusual shawl pins to accent your favorite shawl or to give as gifts. Etsy and eBay are both good place to get started or click through and check out some of the makers I’ve mentioned here.