Faroese Shawls

Faroese Shawls…the very name sounds exotic, bringing to mind images of delicate, spidery lace worn by fancy society ladies. The truth is that real Faroese Shawls are anything but fancy. Originally designed by hard-working women of the Faroese Isles about a hundred years ago, these shawls were devised to be a working woman’s garment, allowing freedom of movement while providing warmth in a very chilly seaside environment. The originals are no-nonsense affairs, knitted out of strong wools in plain dark colors, with built-in shoulder “darts” that sit on the shoulders and stay there.
My shawl, drying in my kitchen

This is the thing about Faroese shawls that got me hooked on them in the first place: They stay put. Really. Move, dance, walk, wave your arms around, and the shawl stays where you put it. No lie. I’m wearing one right now, and I’m an arm-waver. The shawl hasn’t budged an inch.

Now, that’s my kind of knitted shawl. With regular shawls, usually I end up arm-wrestling with the darn thing, struggling against the pull of gravity to keep it gracefully draped around me—the end result, of course, looking more slapstick than graceful. A shawl that stays in place, no wrangling required—when I first read about them, I was instantly intrigued.

I decided I had to have one. The Summer Lace Shawlette, my staff project for Interweave Knits Summer 2006, was the result.

I know, I could have just knitted one of the shawls in our vast library of projects. There are plenty of pretty ones there. But I wanted to design my own Faroese Shawl, as a way of figuring out how they worked.

I had no idea what I was getting myself into. Imagine trying to design a sock pattern without ever having knit one. Yeah. I know. I plead Temporary Knitting Insanity.

It’s a testament to the loveliness of the Jade Sapphire Cashmere yarn I was using that the shawl ever made it off the needles as a finished object. I had to finish, I had to keep going.

You’re knitters, you’ll understand: The yarn made me do it.

Sandi Wiseheart 

Sandi Wiseheart is the founding editor of Knitting Daily.


Other Things You May Like to Check Out:


Knitting Daily Blog

21 thoughts on “Faroese Shawls

  1. I was looking for a photo that would show the front of the Summer Shawlette. Now, I see it in the photo of yours as it is drying. It is indeed lovely. Maybe you could add this other photo to the downloadable .pdf file.

  2. I was also looking for a photo that would show the front! The back and sides are absolutely lovely and I would be really interested in what the front looks like, and whether it should be “finished” with a nice big button like the Chanson En Crochet (which I would really like to try making!) I was also wondering whether the Summer Shawlette had a different type of “closure” at the front or ?? Also .. thanks for this site, which I just found. I will be a regular visitor! Bev C

  3. Last night I finished the shawlette, to great acclaim (from me). I made it from exactly one (310-yrd) ball of (I kid you not) Red Heart Symphony in light blue, and I want to tell you, it is PERFECT!! It truly does fit on my shoulders, no slipping, and it feels light and warm and elegant. Question: Why decrease one stitch (from 189 to 188) before the bottom edge seed stitch border? Leaving the stitches an uneven number would mean a balance on both ends of the row. As it is, you begin with a knit stich and end with a purl stitch. Why? Thanks. Mary

  4. I love the Comfort Shawl pattern variation. I dived in and finished it in 3 evenings, using an acrylic/mohair blend in the stash. My shoulder shaping is a bit off, but the next version will be better. A great item for my charity group’s holiday boutique.

  5. Hi the Sandi,
    I am currently swatching the cashmere yarn for this pattern. My question is – the pattern says that there are 155 yards in the skein and the actual skein says that there are 200. I have 2 skeins and I need to make sure that I have enough yarn for this project. How many yars does the shawl actually need?


  6. This is so cute but I find that short shawls/capelets drive me nuts. If one were to just keep going in pattern for another 60 rows or so to take it down to hip level do you think it would work out? As it’s getting bigger around as it gets longer what do you think, about 800 yards of fingering weight? I’m thinking about 200g of something like KnitPicks Palette

  7. Yeah, bring on more lace. I just finished Annie Modesitt’s Silk Ribbed Lace Corset and added my own touches to it (Knit in Berroco Bonsai Bamboo). Now I’m working on the lace tank in Vogueknitting’s Spring/Summer Issue. I finally feel comfortable doing it.

  8. RE: Summer Shawlette, I started in the last few days and managed to do the nicest stich pickup I’ve ever done after the neckband. However, problems have arisen after completing row 3 of the back and side panels. I’m supposed to have a total of 55 stiches after all the middle section k1,yo’s. However, I am about 10 stiches short. Was I just supposed to do all yo’s? Thank you in advance for any hard earned advice.

  9. Hi Sandy, please help! I have the verrry luscious mongolian cashmere yarn but I can not understand the directions even at the very beginning! I have workied the set up row and the 2nd row (sl1 purlwise etc) . then I cannot figure out what to do. Can you please clarify how I knit the 40 rows? I seens that you are not knitting othe other side iof the piece. Any help would be greatly appreciated, even a diagram of what I am syupposed to be doing. thanks dale z.

  10. I have been looking for information on this pattern. The shawlette is lovely, but I also do not understand the directions after the first 2 rows. Please help!

  11. I don’t know if you’ve gotten help with the pattern, it’s already been 2 months since you asked but I thought I’d write something anyways…

    After the set up row, you work [sl1, (k1, p1) twice, k2] 40 times. You should end up with a narrow “ribbon” of knitting. You then rotate it sideways, keeping the live stitches on your right. Pick up 20 stitches along the selvage edge you made by slipping the first stitch of every row.

    Do not turn work.

    Undo the provisional cast on and put those 7 sts on your left needle. Work those stitches k2, p1, k1, p1, k2. All your stitches should now be on your right needle.

    Begin body of shawl. ^_^

    Hope that helps!

  12. I can’t stop knitting these lovely shawls, 3 so far ! But instead of that very tricky starting chain, I do a short neck rib and work from there.

  13. Kanga-ruby,

    I like the sound of that… PLEASE tell me more! How many stitches did you cast on and how many rows did you rib? 2×2 rib?

    The description of not turning and working at a 90 degree angle is making me dizzy!