Thursday, 5 September 2013

The Ties that Bind Off

Today's post was originally intended to be a post about ties and waistcoats for my series on knitting for weddings. But when I researched tie designs, I soon realized that they deserved a post of their own. So although this post may certainly used as a resource for knitting ties for weddings, I've tried to write a fairly comprehensive post on ties for all occasions.

Knitting a tie that looks right can be a bit of a challenge. Many of those I looked at looked too limp, too thick, had rough-looking or uneven edges, were twisted, or just didn't hang right. They looked homemade as opposed to handmade, and I'm sure you all know the difference between those two looks. It's so important that an item that is worn front and centre with a suit in a professional or formal setting looks doesn't look "loving hands at home". And achieving that seems to be a matter of getting the shape, proportions, and weight just right.

The best and most classic width for a tie is 3.25 inches, although any measurement from 2.75 to 3.5 inches is fine. The successful patterns I looked at all recommended fingering weight/4 ply yarn, and though silk was often used, a wool/nylon blend will also work, or a cotton yarn for summer wear. It seems to me that no knitter will ever need a lot of tie patterns, but should just select one good pattern for each shape desired (standard, straight, and/or skinny) and keep using it, changing the colourway and patterns as desired.

The Preppy Tie depicted above was probably the best example of the standard tie that I found. The fact that it is knit on the bias is probably the key to its success, as the usual three or sixfold woven tie that men wear is cut on the bias. It might be a little difficult to get a hold of this pattern, as it was originally published in the January/February 2011 issue of Knitting Today!

Here's another bias knit tie from Interweave Knits. It's very similar to the one above, but this time the pattern is readily accessible as a $4.50(USD) download. It is too short on the model. Make sure the length is right when the tie is on: just touching the waistband of the wearer's trousers. It always looks a little...Freudian...when men get their tie length wrong.

This pattern for Traditional Neckties, also from Interweave Knits, again looks very similar to the two above, but might provide some pattern variations, and is available as a $5(USD) download. I really like the pattern of the tie in the top right-hand picture.

If you'd like to make a straight tie, this basic seed stitch tie pattern from Benyamen Conn might serve you well. It's a free pattern.

The Ed's Tie design, by Sally Melville, has a good texture and seems to hang well. It appears in The Knitting Experience: Book 3: Color.

The Angelus Knit Tie is another straight tie with a great texture and bit of stripe. It's a free pattern.

Here's a striped tie, designed by Christy Pyles for Knitter's Magazine.

This New School Tie is from Knit 2 Together: Patterns and Stories for Serious Knitting Fun.

If you'd like to make a skinny tie, the Rustic Elegant Tie is a good textured skinny tie pattern. It appears in Knitting Classic Style: 35 Modern Designs Inspired by Fashion's Archives.

If you like a more sporty skinny tie, the Tsubaki Cotton Necktie might be the design for you. It's a free pattern.

And of course, I can't leave out the bow tie. Here's a pretty good one, the linen stitch Gestrikt design, by Malia Mather, as modelled by Stephen West. It's a free pattern.


  1. This is great but I was hoping for an awesome bow tie pattern. I promised a coworker i'd knit him a bow tie before I return to work from my mat leave.

  2. Very worthy additions to this collection would be Alasdair Post-Quinn's double knit ties: and Fabulous designs that look like they would hang very well!

  3. No, sorry, knitted ties are just wrong! IMHO of course ;-)

  4. My friend just gifted me some yarn (a 30/70 Cormo-mohair blend) and my husband lit up when he saw it and asked me to make him a tie with it. I'm flabbergasted, but I just cast on for a seed stitch tie and thought to see if you'd written anything about knitted ties. It is with great relief that I measured my tie and see that it's exactly 3.25 inches wide.