Monday, October 17, 2011

The Danish Work Shawl

In August, I test knit the pattern for Marilla's Very Practical Shawl by Rachel Henry. The shawl is named after a character in Anne of the Green Gables, Anne's practical friend, Marilla. (As always, click on any photo to enlarge.)

This was my first ever attempt at a Danish work shawl. Although I liked the shawl, as a design engineer, I found the method of construction (which I was told was traditional) extremely inefficient. Since I can easily think of several other, much simpler ways to knit this shawl, I won't be knitting any more traditionally constructed Danish work shawls.

The bottom edging of the shawl was knit first. (The photo below shows the corner of the edging, which became the bottom tip of the shawl.) Then, with a lap full of edging, you knit the thirteen stitches at the bottom center and worked your way up the sides, increasing a couple stitches each row.

The lap-full of edging was a constant problem, with the two ends flapping in the breeze, so to speak, while the body of the shawl was knit.

Once the body of the shawl was knit, the top edging was knit on, then the final tail of the shawl was knit.

The shawl was BIG! The final dimensions were:
shawl body (excluding ties): 72 by 47 inches;
shawl including ties: 140 by 47 inches.

To help you better appreciate the shawl's size, the model in the photo is just under six feet tall, with junoesque proportions, and the shawl fit her with room to spare.

I knit this shawl with Dream in Color Classy in the Dusky Aurora colorway. My shawl used 1038 yards (4.15 skeins). I started the shawl on 03 August and finished it on 26 August.

As an engineer and a designer, if I were to create a shawl like this, I would knit the body of the shawl from the top down, then knit on the edging (neck  edging and bottom edging) and the ties. It would look the same---and use the same stitch patterns---but it would be far less awkward to construct.

It is not my intent to malign Danish work shawls, traditional methods of construction, or knitters who enjoy both. I do not know the history and traditions behind Danish work shawls. I don't know the reasons for the traditional method of construction. All I am saying is that this particular method of shawl construction did not appeal to me.


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