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!
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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!

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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

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2129s_2QMII

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

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If you would like to read more about this shawl, check out my blog post on it!  http://spinsjal.blogspot.com/2016/10/danish-tie-shawl-number-one-and-return.html

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. http://spinsjal.blogspot.com/2014/10/skagen-part-one-art-and-knitting-in-art.html

Enjoy your shawl!

Wendy


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 spinsjal.blogspot.com.

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Knit That Sweater: Finishing Techniques 3 with Sandy Huff

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Knit That Sweater, Part 3

A guest blog series on Finishing Techniques

Part 3 of the series featuring the lovely and gracious designer Sandy Huff, someone I am proud to call my friend (and not just because she might block something for me if I'm nice to her...)

If you missed her other posts, click here for Part 1 or Part 2.


Knit That Sweater--Finishing Techniques, Part 3: Blocking and Buttons and more!


Blocking serves several purposes.  Blocking is used to “set” the stitches so that they relax into each other for a more uniform look.  Blocking is also used to open up a lace pattern. Small alterations in size can also be facilitated through blocking.

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There are many ways to block your pieces but generally, you should consult your ball band laundering instructions to determine which blocking method is best for your yarn fiber(s).  ALWAYS test your preferred blocking method on your swatch. The wrong blocking method could ruin all of your hard work. You can consult Deborah Newton’s book “Finishing School” for a comprehensive understanding of blocking methods.

After blocking your buttons and any special details can be added.

When sewing on buttons, use the yarn that was used for the body of the garment.  If the yarn is too thick for sewing buttons then separate the plies. If the plied yarn is not strong enough then twist it together with a matching thread.  Create a little space between the button and knitted fabric by wrapping the yarn around several times. To prevent droopy buttons follow this handy tip:  sandwich your knitted fabric between two buttons.  You’ll have the visible button on top of the fabric and another button hidden underneath making the button more stable.

Finally, finish your piece with special finishings like embroidery, duplicate stitch, cross-stitch, crochet chain, pom-poms, tassels, fringe, braids, or i-cord.  Be creative and make your garment a one-of-a-kind.

Now you are on your way to finishing your garments with a professional and polished look.

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Sandy Huff is a knit and crochet designer from the Atlanta, GA area. Her designs have been featured in Creative Knitting, Interweave Crochet and more.

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Knit That Sweater: Finishing Techniques 2 with Sandy Huff

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The second in a series written by my friend, designer Sandy Huff. Catch part 1 HERE


Knit That Sweater: Finishing Techniques, Vol. 2: SEAMING


Now you have finished the knitting.  You are ready to do the “finishing”. Follow these helpful tips to produce a garment you will be proud to wear.

When it comes to seaming side seams, how do you know that your seams will be even?  My solution to that is to knit the front and back pieces simultaneously using two separate balls of yarn.  There will not be any guesswork as to whether or not your edges are the same length. Do the same with your sleeves and you will have sleeves that are exactly the same length.

Always do seaming with the right side facing you so that you will be able to see how it looks as you go.  

The order in which seaming should occur is:

  1. Shoulders ( the foundation of the garment)

  2. Side seams

  3. Sleeve seams

  4. Work neckline and front edges (usually done as picked up stitches)

  5. Attach buttons, zippers, etc.

  6. Sew in sleeves.  This step is last because adding them earlier will make the garment too heavy and awkward to work with.

 

My least favorite seaming task is the shoulders.  Patterns typically guide you in the direction of a shoulder edge that ladders and is very difficult to seam.  There are several other options for finishing your shoulder seams.

 

A sloped bind off will give you a curved edge rather than a ladder.  On the last row before the BO, sl last st purlwise. On the BO row (sl one purlwise) twice, pass the second stitch over the first to BO the first stitch.  BO the remaining stitches as usual. Continue in this manner until you finish all your BO rows.

You may also use short rows to shape the shoulder in order to finish with live stitches when you can use the kitchener stitch or a 3-needle bind off for a seamless finish.  Knit across the first BO row rather than binding off. On the next row, stop to within the number of stitches you were to BO on the first BO row. Turn your work. Knit the remaining stitches and repeat until you finish all of the BO stitch numbers.  You will be left with live stitches in which to do your kitchener or 3-needle BO.

For vertical seams such as side seams and armhole edges leave a long enough tail when casting on the body or when binding off in order to use the tail for seaming. Use the mattress stitch for Stockinette stitch and reverse stockinette stitch.  

When sewing in in the sleeves, first mark the middle of the top of the sleeve cap where it will match up with the shoulder seam.  Begin seaming at the lower armhole where it meets the side seams and sew up towards the shoulder until your marker is even with the top of the shoulder easing the fit as you go.

When picking up stitches, if you’ve already added edge stitches, use these stitches for a flawless seam.  Work into the backs of stitches to prevent holes if you need to. A pattern will tell you how many stitches to pick up but that may not happen in your knitting.  If you pick up too may just decrease on the first row of knitting. When picking up stitches on a vertical edge the loose rule is to pick up 2 stitches for every 3 rows. On ribbing, pick up at every row or 5 stitches to every 6 rows. Decrease evenly a few stitches on the last row before the BO to prevent flaring.

Next time--Part 3: Blocking and Buttons and more

Sandy Huff is a designer, knitter, crocheter and all-around awesome person. You can find her patterns  here on Ravelry , including some gorgeous brand new ones!

Sandy Huff is a designer, knitter, crocheter and all-around awesome person. You can find her patterns here on Ravelry, including some gorgeous brand new ones!

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Knit That Sweater: Finishing Techniques part 1 with Sandy Huff

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Knit That Sweater: Finishing Techniques, Part 1: Fit

This is the first in a series (which is the first in a series). My pal Sandy Huff, designer extraordinaire, has agreed to be the first in a series of guest bloggers here at KnitOasis.com, and this is the first in her series on Finishing Techniques. There is some good stuff here, so pay attention and be sure to check back soon for the next installment.


You have completed knitting the pieces of your sweater--now what? Most knitting patterns are very vague about how to finish your sweater.  Usually, you will see “Finishing: Sew shoulder seams, sew sides seams, weave in ends”.

For most, the process of finishing knitted pieces can be a unnerving and difficult job because we don’t love what we don’t understand.  But, it doesn’t have to be a daunting task. With a little planning and a little knowledge, finishing can be less daunting.

First things first--FIT!

Finishing actually starts at the beginning.  When you are planning your sweater there are some things you can do to assure a polished and professional look.

Fit is very important!  Why spend all that time knitting something that isn’t even going to fit. Take a look on Ravelry.  Patterns made by others may give you a clue as to whether or not the piece will even look good on you.  If available, find finished projects that are modeled on a body that is similar to your own. Check the schematic against sweaters that you already have in your closet that fit you to find the appropriate size you should knit.

None of us likes to swatch. But, swatching is the key to achieving the right size garment. Make a swatch at least 6”x6” in the stitch pattern that will be used in the garment.  This will give you the most accurate stitch and row count. Most patterns give you gauge direction of a 4”x 4” swatch however, in my experience, the bigger the better.

Search on Ravelry for any errata.  This will save you time and frustration later.

Your choice of cast on can greatly affect the finishing look of your garment.  For a comprehensive book of cast ons I recommend Cast On Bind Off by Leslie Ann Bestor.

For ease in seaming your garments at the end, I suggest doing your increasing and decreasing two stitches from the edge even if the pattern directs you to do inc/dec at the very edge.  This will create a smooth and clean selvedge line for seaming. If your garment is knit in a stitch pattern, I suggest keeping the last two stitches in stockinette stitch , also for a smooth and clean line for seaming later.  If needed, you can add four sts at your cast on (2 extra sts per side) to facilitate the pattern st.

We all know how difficult it is to make picking up stitches look good.  Plan ahead by adding stockinette stitch edges to the armhole, button band, neckline, sleeve caps or wherever you will be picking up stitches. Picking up these neat, clean stitches later will give you a more polished look and make the process easier.

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Next time: Part 2 from Sandy: Seaming!

Sandy Huff is a knit and crochet designer from the Atlanta, GA area. She is also someone for whom other people name patterns...

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