The Danish Tie Shawl: by Guest Blogger Wendy Avery

I first met Wendy when she came to one of my Indigo Dye workshops several years ago. We connected on social media like the good Knit Bloggers we are and even met up at SAFF once or twice. Her adventures with knitting and dyeing and more take her all over the world.

Her “recipe” for the Danish Tie Shawl here will be familiar to my students who have taken my Vintage Winter Shawl class, which uses a pattern first published in Godey’s Lady’s Book in 1864. How fun that it is a globally appealing design! And how fun that she agreed to share her about it here! Thank you, Wendy!

Why do knitters like creating shawls so much? Speaking for myself, knitting a flat shawl provides opportunity…I can explore color, drape, pattern, gauge and different fiber types without fear of creating a garment that won’t fit!  If it is too small to fully cover my shoulders and torso, I can use it as a beautiful scarf. If I am less than fond of the end product, I can “gift” it so someone who will appreciate its handmade goodness, and perhaps the color would look better on someone other than myself!

I am also intrigued by the history of the shawl, particularly those worn by working women, and the basic wooly warmth that they provided.  Shawls and wraps come in various shapes, however the one that I keep returning to is the triangular shawl. This shawl is wrapped around the body and the ends tied in back, leaving the arms free for work and no loose fabric in the front to get in one’s way.

For some reason, these have become known in the knitting world as “Danish Tie Shawls” although from my reading and explorations, these shawls appear in many different cultures in Northern Europe and elsewhere.

In Copenhagen, there is a famous statue (in addition to the Little Mermaid!), that is of the Fishwife from Skovshoved, a fishing village north of Copenhagen. The fish market used to be located on a windy cold harbor and sellers would really bundle up.  The Fishwife would be outside all day selling, after walking or taking a cart to the market, and then get home, all out of doors. You can see her tie shawl keeping her warm in this photo. I do wonder whether the origin of the shawl’s name comes from this statue!


A basic triangular shawl is very easy to create, and great for beginner knitters.  It should be noted that it is not a triangle per se, due to the increases the hypotenuse of the triangle curves up. Here is one that I knit for a doll.

These shawls can be knit small or large. You may wish to knit a small one to use as a scarf or neck warmer, or a full sized one to wear in the traditional way. You may use any yarn in any fiber and gauge that gives you the drape that you want.  Stripes are easily incorporated into the pattern. Yardage depends on the size and your gauge.

If you are doing a full sized Tie Shawl in a dk weight you will probably need 700 yards at 5 stitches per inch.   You will want to have a generous amount of yarn on hand. OR be spontaneous….if you wish, you can just start knitting with the yarn that you like and see how far you get!

The pattern is easy; this is a “top down” shawl, traditionally done in garter stitch.  You may wish to knit a small one to use as a scarf or neck warmer, or a full sized one to wear in the traditional way.   The only special technique that you need is to “increase one” which I do with a yarn over, although if you are a beginning knitter the tab cast on is a bit fussy.   

I usually start a shawl with a tab although you don’t need to:

Cast on 3 stitches,  Knit 8 rows. Keeping work on your needle, turn it and pickup 4 stitches between the ridges. Turn the work again, and pick up 3 stitches from the beginning of the tab. You have 10 stitches on your needle.

Here is an excellent video from youtube showing how

Alternatively, you can cast on 9 stitches, although it makes the top back of the shawl a bit tight.

Now, knit one row. Turn the work and you are on the right side. You may want to mark the right side with a marker. So, for the first pattern row:

Row 1:  Knit 3, yarn over (yo), *k2, yo*  three times, k 3.

Row 2: Knit.

Row 3: K3, yo, K3, yo, k2 (these 2 are  the “spine” stitches, the center of the shawl back)

Row 4: Knit.

Repeat rows 3 and 4. This “recipe” gives you three stitches on the edge for a border and 2 for the spine, although you can alter that. Keep going until the shawl is as small or large as you wish.  If you wish to, a good “rule of thumb” from a Danish shawl knitter is to make one of the “arms” (the equal sides opposite the hypotenuse) of the triangle almost as long as your “wingspan” from fingertip to fingertip, including any border. (I.e., stretch your arms out and measure tip to tip). Yes, it’s a big project!

Once you have knit as long as you wish, you will bind off. Here is one option for a sort of picot lace treatment that is done with the bind off.  It makes a loose picot edge that won’t be tight as you wrap it around yourself.

Binding off:  starting on the right side, *knit two stitches. Slip the 1st stitch over the 2nd.  Place the stitch on the right hand needle back onto the left. Repeat from * until you come to the last stitch, cut the yarn, pull the end through and weave the end in.

For shawl finishing, I usually soak it for an hour in wool wash, rinse and  lay it out flat. To get it perfectly even you can use blocking wires but this is optional.    

Here is a shawl that I completed using naturally dyed yarns purchased in Denmark; the gauge is 4 stitches per inch


If you would like to read more about this shawl, check out my blog post on it!

I was lucky to travel to Denmark several years ago; if you would like some inspiration for Danish Tie Shawls derived from Danish artists, check out this post.

Enjoy your shawl!


Wendy Avery is a knitter, spinner, triloom weaver, dyer, and fiber traveller. She lives in Bluffton SC and is a devoted member of the Fiber Guild of the Savannahs. She blogs at


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Summer Knitting: Drop Stitch Garter 2

Everyone loves this technique. I can't take credit for it--it's just a way of knitting an easy bit of lace into whatever garter stitch your making--but everyone who tries it with this pattern loves it. 

I wrote this down years ago. In fact, it might be the first one I wrote down and distributed because I couldn't find one already written and my students wanted it. This adds a sense of nostalgia which I only increased by using a very avocado green cotton yarn to knit a new one for my kitchen. 

This version of my Drop Stitch Garter dishcloth uses a larger needle size and smaller cast on and I'm very happy with the way it turned out. Try it and let me know if you love it, too. Find the pattern here on Ravelry.

Oh, and this pic from my custom-made (by my awesome daughter) apron is what I use as color inspiration for my kitchen. The walls are a very pale blue and I have some red accent pieces. I love it!

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Summer Knitting: Framed Nine-Patch

It's hot here in the Summer.

I know, that sounds obvious. And no, it's not as hot as it is out in Phoenix where my aunt and uncle live and it's supposed to be 120 degrees next week. But it gets pretty sticky here in Charleston when 88 is both the temperature AND the humidity. 

The thing about Summer is that you just have to adjust things somewhat during those months. Take your walks early in the day before the sun gets hot. Drink gallons of iced tea. Keep the ceiling fans going 24/7. Knit with less wool and more cotton.

Summer is a good time to re-tool, reboot and review, too. 

If you're looking for a way to keep cool and keep knitting, I am retooling and rebooting a few of my dishcloth patterns for Summer. They are versatile (made out of cotton: dishcloth or washcloth; made out of wool or acrylic: afghan blocks; made longer: scarves), the patterns are free and it's what I'm knitting this Summer (in addition to the ever-present sock project and some Brioche for classes I'm teaching, but that's another blog post). 

First up: The Framed Nine-Patch

What's new: smaller needle size for a tidier knit, a larger cast-on to give you more of a square finished shape.

What I love: Quilts and the fact that this looks just enough like a patchwork monchromatic quilt to make me feel connected to my ancestral quilt makers. 

Click on the pic for a link to the free pdf download of The Framed Nine-Patch Dishcloth Reboot

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Swirls and Stripes Mosaic Bag (Free Pattern Friday!)

Swirls and Stripes bag prototype.

Swirls and Stripes bag prototype.

Once upon a time, I learned about Mosaic knitting, a way to include color in your work that doesn't involve nearly the skill or training that Intarsia or Fair Isle do. I liked how it looked, how it knit up fairly quickly and was fun to do (always a plus!). So, me being me, I wrote a pattern to showcase this technique so I could have the pleasure of teaching Mosaic to other knitters.

This is the story of that pattern.

Tamara, wearing the Tamara Wrap. Pattern by Melissa Leapman.

Tamara, wearing the Tamara Wrap. Pattern by Melissa Leapman.

The first prototype of the Swirls and Stripes bag was knit with KnitPicks Wool of the Andes. I made the bag small to accommodate the yarn-on-hand, leftovers from the enormous undertaking that was the Tamara Wrap (a pattern by Melissa Leapman, not actually named for yours truly, but...). 

I taught this Mosaic bag pattern a few times, always thinking in the back of my head I would one day try to pitch it to KnitPicks and never getting around to it. 

Last year, as I was emailing Red Heart about a project they had asked me to do, I thought I'd just ask and see if they could put my bag pattern to use as well. And they said YES! 

Being a smart bunch at Red Heart, they asked me to adjust the pattern so it would be more of a tote--you know, a useable bag! Also, I love the colors they chose for it. So very striking! 

The pattern was made available this week on the Red Heart website and I hope you'll download your own free copy and give it a try. Be sure to let me know what you think--I love seeing finished products of my patterns! Here's a link to the pattern page on Ravelry, where you can show off how yours turns out. You can also post in our KnitOasis Ravelry group!

Swirls and Stripes Bag as published by Red Heart. The roomy size makes it a great tote!

Swirls and Stripes Bag as published by Red Heart. The roomy size makes it a great tote!

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