When I received my copy of Holiday 2017 Vogue Knitting Magazine
, I was immediately drawn to Meg Swansen's "Danish Sontag Shawl." There were a few changes I wanted to make, but I was confident that I would love it. The only thing holding me back was the cast-on.
I like to read directions over and be able to picture them in my head before I knit, but with this cast-on, I could not picture what it would look like. I couldn't find anyone talking about it online, so I had to figure it out on my own. I hope this will be helpful to someone else who might be hesitant about getting started.
One thing that was tripping me up was that I couldn't figure out which end the shawl started at. I didn't have much experience with triangular shawls back then, but I know much more now. After I knitted for a few rows, I realized that the cast-on edge runs along the entire bottom of this shawl. It is a perfect match for the shaping that is done along the sides as you knit. The CDD (centered double decrease) is what creates the point of the triangle. This shawl includes ties to keep it on, which is pretty clever. The ties are one long piece with the cast-on. First you make the tie for one side, then you continue with the cast-on, and then you make the tie for the other side. When this step is finished, you have one really long skinny piece. Once I jumped in and got started, I quickly saw how it was going to be accomplished. I used clip-on stitch markers to help count my stitches.
This lace cast-on is pretty genius. It uses purl stitches instead of knits because YOs done in purl stitch are a little larger than YOs done in knit stitch. If you would much rather be knitting, just persevere with the purling. I promise it will be worth it.
After this is finished, the next step is to pick up stitches in the YOs, but only from the center section, not the ties. Ignore the ties while you knit the body of the shawl.
Meg Swansen gives a recommended range of length for the ties. At the time, I wished she would have given more guidance on deciding which length to choose. After my shawl was finished, I ended up shortening the ties, which wasn't difficult to do. They ended up being the shortest length in the range she gives. (I am a small adult.)
I also made some changes to the main body of the shawl. I did the CDD (centered double decrease) in garter stitch instead of stockinette stitch. I didn't like how the CDD in the pattern picture stood out so much down the back, and I wanted to make it more subtle. This also made the triangle slightly less pointy.
The other change I made was to add a few more eyelet sections. I loved the way the eyelet section looked, and I felt like the rest of the shawl would be too plain-looking for me. I did four eyelet sections total. Each of my eyelet sections contains three YO stripes; there are two garter ridges between stripes; and there are six plain ridges between eyelet sections.
Another thing about the pattern that I felt was too vague was at the end. When the shawl finishes at the upper back, there are only a few stitches left. The pattern simply says to weave them together, but it doesn't give any guidance on how to do that. I looked up how to weave in garter stitch (basically, the garter version of Kitchener stitch). That finishing made it look really polished.
I hadn't gotten very far on the shawl when I got a concussion. I couldn't read or look at computer screens for two months because they made me dizzy, so I spent my time working on this shawl while listening to classical music. It was the perfect relaxing project for a time when I was low on brain power. I now think of it fondly as my concussion shawl.
I still need to take pictures of my shawl off the blocking boards. Those are coming soon.
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