Faux Faroese: Gjogv

When I first started knitting lace, Faroese shawls were all the rage. I even found a copy of the legendary Føroysk Bindingarmynstur Bundnaturriklæðið at my local library (in retrospect, it was amazing that no one had stolen it yet). Somehow prior to borrowing it I had managed to trick myself into believing that German would allow me to read Faroese and that summer that year would consist of many happy miles of garter stitch punctuated with some lace. However, to put it mildly, skills in German did not translate into skills in Faroese (and as I have learned, skills in Norwegian do not translate into skills in Faroese either). I laboured to little avail and with too little yarn: for anyone who wants to consider deluding themselves that 100 g of Heilo will stretch to make a Faroese shawl, trust me, it won’t.

Myrna Stahman’s book Shawls and Scarves came to the rescue, with her top-down Faroese shawls. Since then I’ve made many such shawls; Mum does love the shoulder shaping and squishy garter stitch of the traditional ones; but nowadays I mostly eliminate the shoulder shaping, work in stockinette, and call the resultant style with gusset and border “faux Faroese.”

My imagination failed me utterly when asked to dream up a name for this series of 3 shawls. Instead I looked at a map of the Faroe Islands and picked out a few names that 1) sounded somewhat melodious and 2) looked not entirely impossible to spell/pronounce (although I see now that I did so from a Norwegian perspective).

Anyway, it’s nearly the middle of September, which means that winter’s on the way and so it’s time to introduce the first in the series: Gjogv. Knitted on a stockinette ground from the top down, it combines a strong geometric motif, so typical of true Faroese shawls, with Estonian nupps and an attached edging.

The pattern has been tested (twice!) and assumes that you know how to cast on provisionally, read charts, knit nupps, and attach an edging. You’ll need at least 620 m / 680 yards of fingering weight yarn and 4 mm / US 6 needles.

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