Wealhtheow Wrap by Karen Robinson
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Wealhtheow Wrap

Knitting
April 2016
Fingering (14 wpi) ?
28 stitches and 32 rows = 4 inches
in stockinette, blocked
US 6 - 4.0 mm
800 - 850 yards (732 - 777 m)
one size but length can be customized
This pattern is available for $5.00 USD buy it now

This rhomboid shawl contains a rectangular center that can be customized to your desired size with each end narrowing to a point. You can wear this as a wrap around your shoulders or as a scarf around your neck.

Yarn
Round Table Yarns Guenevere (100% superwash Merino, 425 yds/389 m per 100 g); 2 skeins; sample uses colorway Dindrane; or approximately 850 yds/778 m of another fingering weight yarn

Materials
US 6 (4.0 mm) 32” (80 cm) circular needle, or size needed to obtain gauge (note: the designer is a tight knitter)
2 stitch markers
Tapestry needle

Gauge
28 stitches and 32 rows over 4” (10 cm) in stockinette, blocked

Finished Measurements
86” (218.4 cm) on long edge; 31” (78.7 cm) on short edge; 13” (33 cm) wide (see schematic)

Skill Level: Advanced Beginner
Skills needed: Working yarn overs and decreases (k2tog, ssk, k3tog, sssk, and sl1-k2tog-psso)

Thank You
Thank you to my test knitters (Jaxdrisc, acsparky89, rhiannonmrl, CraftMouse, dambird, and megknitsalot) who provided valuable feedback. And thank you to the women of Stitch Definition, who provided photography (Anne Podlesak), tech editing (Maureen Hannon), and graphic design/layout (Elizabeth Green).

About the Pattern Name
In the Old English story of Beowulf, the Danish king Hrothgar’s hall has been terrorized by Grendel, who comes at night to kill Hrothgar’s men. Wealhtheow is Hrothgar’s wife and queen. Although she is not a major character in the poem, her importance is reflected in what goes on behind the scenes and between the lines of the poem.

One of the main themes and occurrences in Old English literature that shows up in this poem is the feud: various groups fight amongst one another, with the fight going on across generations. Often, a fragile peace can be created for a time by a marriage between two feuding clans, and the women who are sent in marriage are referred to as “peaceweavers.” Based upon Wealhtheow’s background, she serves as a peaceweaver between the Danes and her original clan, the Helmings.

Wealhtheow’s name also solidifies this connection as a peaceweaver. Many of the names in Beowulf are kennings, which is like a mini riddle. The kenning is usually made of two words, and the trick is to figure out what it really means. For example, a well-known Old English kenning is the “whale road”—or the sea (the road whales travel upon). Beowulf’s name is a kenning: a bee wolf is a bear. For Wealhtheow, the first part of her name, wealh, is the word for foreigner; the second part of her name, theow, means servant or slave. So Wealhtheow is a foreign servant/slave (slave is not quite the same sense that we think of it today): someone who has come from another land to function as a subservient. (Theow is also used in Beowulf’s father’s name, Edgtheow. Edg means sword, so Edgtheow is a servant to the sword, or a warrior.)

As queen, Wealhtheow’s role is as a hostess, and we see her in this function when she welcomes Beowulf and his men by passing around a cup for them to drink from. Even between two groups of men who are friendly toward one another, Wealhtheow serves as a peaceweaver, joining the two groups in this greeting ritual.