Designing a Tie

finished seed stitch tie

The man in my life loves wearing ties, and has a large collection of them from his travels. He asked me if I could make him a hand knit tie. The following is the process I went through to designing a tie that he would be proud to wear.

Finding the right idea

The design process begins with an inspiring thought or idea. There are innumerable means of acquiring design ideas, and often times it doesn’t involve reinventing the wheel. For my tie project, I began by exploring hand knit ties by other designers; then reworked their patterns to make what I wanted. My first version didn’t turn out, so I had to unravel the work, and start over. Designing is not always smooth sailing, mistakes will happen.

Steps to designing and making the tie

  1. If you’ve looked at a tie, its structure is fairly simple – wider at one end, which is the side shown when worn; the other end is narrower, achieved by gradually decreasing from the neck section. I chose the length at 60 inches; the length of most of the other ties in his closet. Adding a length of ribbon or grosgrain, hand stitched to the back of the narrow neck section of the tie, makes it easier to knot.
  2. A sock or fingering weight yarn worked on 2.75mm needles created the right thickness. Seed stitch pattern is one of the best patterns for a tie, because it doesn’t roll, and adds texture. I didn’t make a swatch, because I had a rough idea of the stitch gauge for the yarn (I know it goes against what I alway say – that swatches are the key to designing knit projects). In this case, gauge isn’t that critical, unless you are publishing the pattern.
  3. For the first version, I faced the back of the tie, by working 1/2 of the number of stitches for the tie on either end, separating the center, main tie by a vertical line of slipped stitches on either side. When finished knitting, the idea was to fold the edges over along the slipped stitches, and seam the edges together down the center back. This made the tie too thick, and difficult to make the knot. I ripped it out, and modified my instructions to make a better tie.

My Tie Pattern

Finished Measurements – 60in(150cm); Widest point is approximately 2 1/4in(5.6cm); narrow section is approximately 1.5in(3.75cm) after shaping

Materials – 1 hank of Madeline Tosh Sock (395yd/361m); 2.75mm needles; 18in(45cm) length of smooth ribbon

Gauge – approximately 30 stitches over 2.75mm needles in seed stitch equals 4in(10cm) (7.5 stitches/inch)

Tie – With 2.75mm needles cast on 17 sts. Row 1(RS): (k1, p1) to end. Repeat this row for seed stitch pattern. Work until tie measures 19in(47.5cm) in length from beg. Shaping: Next row: (k1, p1)3 times, k1, p2tog, k2tog, (p1, k1)3 times. 15 stitches on needle. Work 17 more rows in pat. Next row: (k1, p1)twice, k1, p2tog, k2tog, (p1, k1)3 times. 13 stitches on needle. Work 17 more rows in pat. Next row: (k1, p1)twice, k1, p2tog, k2tog, (p1, k1)twice. 11 stitches on needle. Continue in seed stitch as set until tie measures 60in(150cm) from beginning. Cast off. Weave in yarn ends.

Attaching the ribbon – Knot the tie on the wearer, and place pins or markers on each side (wide and narrow end) of the neck section (near the knot). Make a 1/4in rolled hem at each end of ribbon, and stitch in place. Lay the ribbon with right side facing up on the back or wrong side of the tie. Pin the ribbon in the center of the marked area of the neck. Hem in place. Wash tie and dry flat to block.

finished seed stitch tie I designed
Finished Tie

attached ribbon to neck section of knit tie

I’m pleased with the results, and so is the wearer. This gives you the basics of designing a tie, and make any adjustments to knit the right tie for you – wider, shorter, different pattern stitch – maybe Fair Isle, mosaic? or self-striping yarn.