These Variations Will Spark Your Imagination

The Papillon shawl, designed by Marin Melchior, is legendary, and for good reason. It’s a pattern that creates eye-catching results using simple techniques. But for people who have knitted it so many times that it’s old hat to them (all three of them) or people who just wish the pattern was a little different, the Papillon shawl knitting pattern has many variations.

If you haven’t yet made a Papillon shawl, you can buy a kit right here. And if you’ve knitted the original, or a variation, please contact us! We’d love to see your work – and possibly feature it right on this page!

Before we get into the variations, let’s review the Papillon shawl we all know and love.

The Original Papillon Shawl Knitting Pattern

Papillon Shawl Knitting Pattern
Uneek Fingering in 3012 and Harvest Fingering in Buckthorn

This is the one that started it all. The Papillon shawl became notable for a lot of reasons. The colour “pods” divided by fine lines are visually striking. The pattern itself uses a unique code that is easy to follow once you get the hang of it. It’s designed so that “the average knitter can find success,” and uses a simple garter stitch to create its remarkable patterns. 

But even though it’s just a garter stitch, the Papillon knitting pattern requires enough attention that you can’t knit this one while you’re binge-watching Game of Thrones. It requires counting and precision. You will want a lot of stitch markers for this one!

The original version requires three skeins of yarn in total. Two skeins of Urth Uneek are for the “pods” or main colour (MC). Meanwhile, one skein of Urth Harvest is the contrast colour (CC) that creates the line between the colour pods. Urth Uneek changes colour throughout the skein, which creates the fascinating colour changes in the Papillon shawl.

Colour Variations

Choosing colours is the easiest way to make a Papillon that is unique to you! While Uneek Fingering and Harvest Fingering are the original pairing, there are many colour variations you can choose to create different looks.

For example, just using the delicious merino from Urth Yarns:

  • Use Monokrom for the MC yarn instead of Uneek to create a tonal look to the whole shawl.
  • Use Monokrom for the CC yarn instead of Harvest to have a more subtle colour change between the lines.
  • Swap out the yarn for rows 3 and 4 of the CC in the borders between sections 1 and 2, and 2 and 3, in order to create more colour in between the sections. This is especially effective when it’s done for the eyelet row on the Moth.

If you’re trying to decide on a colourway for your shawl, take a look at our 141 Papillon Shawl Pattern Colourways article for inspiration!

The Moth Shawl Knitting Pattern Variation

the Moth Papillon shawl pinned out and ready to dry

The Moth variation is a free add-on to the base Papillon shawl knitting pattern. You must have the original pattern in order to use this variation, because it is strictly an addition rather than a new pattern. This variation has three specific changes.

  1. The boundary edges between sections 1 and 2, and 2 and 3, include a row of eyelet stitch. This is in contrast to the original pattern, which has six straight rows of CC in those areas.
  2. Near the bottom of the shawl, there are two more shapes that replicate the eye spots on month wings.
  3. The cast off edges use increases to create a series of jagged points for a type of picot cast off that replicates the edges on a moth’s wings.

Moth was written for a kit of mini skeins, but you can still use it with the same colour combinations you use for Papillon original – just skip the instructions about what colour to use in which stripe, and only use the instructions for the stitch variations noted here. 

Stitch Variations

You can customise the Papillon shawl even further! Here are ideas for unique flair that you could bring to your shawl to really make it your own.

  • Use garter stitch for the Main Colour pods, and a stocking stitch for the CC. This makes the CC pop up as ridges between the pods.
  • Use stocking stitch for the whole design for a tight and smooth look.
  • Use a mix of garter stitch for some sections and stocking stitch for others to create more texture in the shawl.
  • Pickup up along the straight edge in your contrast colour and do 1 or 2 rows, to create a frame
  • Use a mix and match of Papillon and Moth components – add the picot cast off only, or add the eyelets only, or the eye spots only, or any other combination you like!

Similar Patterns from Marin Melchior

If you like the idea but want to make something different, Marin Melchior has several other patterns with similar colourwork. The Butterfly Cowl is, you guessed it, a cowl, while the Chromatophore is based on the Papillon and could be either a large shawl or a throw. The Aflutter Poncho is like the Papillon, but it’s a poncho. You can view all of her patterns here.

Do You Have Another Variation?

We love the Papillon shawl, and we love hearing about the variations people have created for the pattern. If you’ve created your own variation, we’d love to see a photo and hear how you did it!

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