What you need to know about penannular shawl pins

You’ve seen this video below, right?  It seems like every few months I see it making its rounds on Facebook.  It’s got over 35 MILLION views on YouTube for a reason.  There’s just genius simplicity in draping a rectangle of fabric around your body in so many ways.  There’s also something primal about it.  For so much of human history, that’s really all clothes were:  Woven rectangles draped and pinned around the body in different ways.  Just think about the toga, the sari, the sarong….



And what could be simpler to knit or crochet than a rectangle? If you keep it simple,  there’s no increasing or decreasing.  They can be fun simple design projects where you just focus on your stitch pattern and your yarn choice.  Even the most basic rectangular scarf or shawl can have a huge impact based on how you wear it.  

And that’s where the shawl pin comes in.  It’s about getting more mileage out of the projects that you make. You don’t need a shawl pin to wear your shawl or scarf in a ton of different ways. But using one (or more!) shawl pins definitely expands your options.  And my favorite shawl pins are penannular ones.  

Reasons to love penannular shawl pins

Here's why I love penannular shawl pins:

1) No fiddly parts that get snagged in your stitches.

2) The pin part is attached: It’s never going to fall out and get lost.

3) They come in a range of sizes and weights.  The smallest are best for securing even the most ethereal lace. The big ones make a statement with heavy, chunky fabrics.

4) They are absolutely timeless and will never go out of style. The basic design is a metal ring with an attached pin (Although you can get ornate ones).  It looks primitive yet modern at the same time.

I’m excited about the newest shawl pins we’re offering on the site.  We’ve got them in a range of sizes and styles, and they are hand forged and cast in the US out of brass or stainless steel.

According to Wikipedia, penannulars were invented in the Iron Age. They were worn by the Romans, the Celts, the Vikings, and continue to be worn today in the traditional dress of the Berber people in North Africa.  There was even an Irish law about how to wear them. It stated that if you injured someone else with your pin, you weren't at fault if the pin was worn pointing up and didn't project too far out beyond the ring.

Jamie Frasier wearing penannular shawl pin

I'm always on the lookout for penannular pins in costume design. Do you watch Outlander?  You may have noticed that Jamie wears penannulars, as do most of his compatriots….  (You haven’t noticed?!  Aren’t you looking at his costume design?!)  Looks like he's in violation of that old Irish law.

Penannular Shawl Pin in Game of Thrones

Another show with a ton of penannulars is Game of Thrones.  Take a look this outfit of Catelyn Stark with its magnificent Fish penannular.  (Westeros must have similar rules to the ancient Irish, the pin is politely pointed upward!)

Here’s a short handy video I made that shows you how to wear one if you’re not familiar with their wear.

Want some inspiration on how to wear penannulars in a more modern way? Here are a few designs I've done that rely heavily on shawl pins for their versatility.  Only the last one doesn't feature penannulars, and that's only because I hadn't fallen in love with them yet at the time the design was published.

Andalusia worn upside down as top

Andalusia is a hairpin lace wrap garment I designed that can be worn a ton of different ways.  When worn "upside down" with 2 tiny penannulars at the shoulders, the wrap can be worn as a batwing top.

Asymmetric Redux

The Asymmetric Redux was my first Tunisian crochet design, published way back when I started Stitch Diva Studios.  Originally designed as a poncho, I did a sized redesign a few years back without sewing the seam and showed different ways to wear the garment just by using one or more shawl pins.  Great project for a Tunisian Crochet newbie.  Take a look at the pattern page for more wear ideas.

Baroque Jacket


The Baroque Jacket, or any cardi for that matter, works great with either a statement closure or a simple one.

Convertible Hairpin Lace Wrap


The Convertible Wrap is a free Hairpin Lace pattern. (Excellent for beginners).  Just a square of hairpin lace fabric that you can get very creative with.  This is just one of the different wear ideas I show in the pattern photos with penannulars.  Most useful with this design is a pair of smaller penannulars.

Endless Cardi Shawls


Endless Cardi Shawls - I designed are series of this basic shape cardi shawl in knit, crochet and broomstick lace.  The pattern photography on each design features about 10 different ways to wear each, some with belts, some just draped and some with shawl pins. 



Check out all the Penannular Shawl Pins at Stitch Diva Studios.