Monday, December 26, 2005

Queen of Denmark Shawl

Time to reveal secret Christmas knitting projects!

I was talking to my aunt a while ago about knitting shawls, when she mentioned that she would like to knit something called the "Queen's Shawl" for herself. A-ha, I thought to myself - gift knitting!, so obviously I pretended not to pay attention, thinking I'll find it in the LYS or on the internet and surprise her.

All I knew about it was that it had something to do with the Queen of Denmark, and that it was a natural colour. But there was no information to find in any yarn shop, and no hits when I googled. I posted a question on a Norwegian knitting forum, but nobody knew it, and I decided to forget the whole thing and knit my aunt a Birch for her birthday instead.

But then, four months later, I got an e-mail from a knitter living in the Faroe Islands, asking if I was still interested in the Queen's shawl. You bet! She told me that it was made for Queen Margrethe in 1992, as a gift for her silver wedding, and asked if I would like a copy of the pattern. Yes! I would!

I was having second thoughts, however, when I received a photo of page ripped from a magazine, and it was almost illegible. This is what it looked like:

I ran it through photoshop, and e-mailed the Faroese knitter , who was really helpful, and eventually I managed to make sense of it.

The next challenge was finding the yarn. The pattern calls for a lightweight and non-fuzzy 75% mohair and 25% merino blend from a producer called Danish Mohair. E-mailed them but they didn't answer. Googled again and found out that apparently the Danish mohair goats are quite special, and there are several producers that make similar yarns, but most seemed to ship only to Danish customers.

Decided to forget it for now and maybe try again if we go to Denmark next summer (I want to take my two year old to Legoland).

Weeks later I was surfing web yarn shops I have bookmarked (and then forgot ) to see if any could be deleted, when I stumbled across the tiniest little Norwegian web shop, called Bunadmakeriet. It specialises in Norwegian national costumes (called bunad , which have nothing to do with knitting). Much to my surprise they offered a small range of Danish mohair yarn, which I ordered immediately, and the yarn arrived within two days and half of the skeins were wound to save me the work. I highly recommend this shop.

The beginning of the shawl is 9 stitches at the neck, and you increase with 4 stitches on every RS row until appr. 500 stitches. How this turns into a triangular shawl is beyond my geometrical comprehension, but it did. It was a slow knit, because the yarn is light and the shawl is huge. It has a pattern of little bobbles or "flowers" which are made by knitting and purling three stitches together three times while keeping them on the needles. The "flowers" and the thin yarn made it impossible for me to knit with even stitches, and when I cast off it was just a crumpled heap of mohair. But it blocked nicely, and hopefully the stitches will even out more with wear and wash. The result is a big, light, warm and cosy shawl.


Daisy said...

Wow, the shawl looks lovely and I admire your persistence (and patience!) in tracking the pattern and yarn down! Do you have any close-up shots of the shawl?

Janette said...

Tari, that's just beautiful and a good lot of detective work to find the pattern too. Congratulations, what a wonderful gift.


karen said...

It is really truly beautiful! And I am so impressed by the whole story of how you tracked down the pattern and then the yarn! I had never heard about that yarnstore before - time to explore! I bet you made your aunt very, very happy!

Elisabeth said...

beautiful shawl!
you should join the yahoo group "webstrik" which is a Danish knitting group, with members from Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Germany, England, USA and other places I can't remember right now :) We sometimes have requests from members, who would like to buy yarn from fx. Norway or Denmark, but who can't buy it over the internet... and then someone is helpful and buy it for them and send it... :)
other than that, it's a really nice group, with a lot of inspiration and knit-talk ;)

castoncastoff said...

What a fantastic journey you've had with this shawl and a wonderful gift to be treasured for years to come. x

Julie said...

It looks gorgeous! And how wonderful that you did all this research to find out how to make it!

Emma said...

What a gorgeous shawl ! I'm sure your aunt was really thrilled with such a beautiful and thoughtful gift.

Kate said...

Lovely! Is there a close-up? (So we can see the pattern - you know me and lace!) It's stunning and well done for the detective work, Sherlock.

KnitYoga said...

The shawl is lovely, Tari, and the way things turned out with the sudden appearance of the pattern and the finding of the yarn, it seems as if it was just meant to be!

Claire said...

see here:

it's the same schawl???

here an tutorial:

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