Cathay Williams Shawl


The Cathay Williams Shawl is a crescent shaped shawl knit flat with sections of mesh and texture.  It uses two skeins of sock yarn to create a cozy shaped shawl that is perfect for chilly nights. The pattern instructions are written out and the shawl length (depth) can be adjusted for the amount of yarn you have on hand.


The pattern is available for sale on Ravelry for $5 (you don’t have to be a member).

See this project knit by other Ravelers.

In addition to a background on the name of the pattern, details regarding gauge, yarn, needles and measurements are listed below, with several photos.



In a time when U.S. Army regulations forbade the enlistment of women, Cathay Williams enlisted under the name William Cathay on November 15, 1866.  She told the recruiting officer that she was a 22-year-old cook.  An Army Surgeon examined her and determined she was fit for duty.  Cathay Williams then became the first documented black woman to enlist in the Army.  She was assigned to the 38th U.S. Infantry and traveled throughout the West with her unit.  She was discharged in October 1868 when an Army surgeon found out she was a woman.  She is the only known female Buffalo Solider.


Supplies Needed:

  • Yarn
    • Approximately 825 yards/ 754 meters fingering weight yarn. Shown in Fresh From the Cauldron Schoodic Sock (75% superwash merino, 25% nylon, 460 yards, 3.53oz/100g) in the colorway Poe’s Absinthe Induced Dream.  Other suggested yarns include Destination Yarn Postcard, Sockenwolle 80/20 Twin, Cascade Heritage Paints, SweetGeorgia Yarns Tough Love Sock, and Knitted Wit Victory Sock.
  • Needles
    • Size US 4 (3.5mm) circular needle in a length of 32″/81 cm, or size needed to obtain gauge.
  • Other Materials
    • 2 stitch markers
    •  Tapestry needle
    •  Blocking pins


Other Pattern Information:

  • Finished Measurements
    • After Blocking
      • 32″ wide
      • 44″ height (or depth)
  • Gauge (4”/10cm) for Center Texture Pattern
    • 30 stitches and 36 rows

The shawl is blocked aggressively. Meeting exact gauge is not crucial but may affect the final dimensions. Gauge is provided to assist with determining an appropriate needle size for you.