The Ragnar Blanket

We love Vikings.  We love their literature, their art, their stories and legends.  We love that they came and settled in our part of Ireland (Fingal means ‘blond strangers’ and lots of the town names have echoes of Old Norse and Icelandic in them).  So when Vikings became a TV thing, we loved that too.  Naturally, my heart went out to Floki, the poetic and demented ship-builder.  But Karl was all for Ragnar.  Because Ragnar kicks ass.  And, before he kicks ass, he wraps himself up in a snuggly blanket and thinks about just how much he wants to kick ass.


Once Karl saw the blanket, he knew he had to have one.  And I knew I had to knit it.

Sadly, we never get another good look at Ragnar’s blanket.  By squinting at my screen I deduced that it had textured bits and cabled bits.  I drew up a sort of pattern that included a couple of small cables and a big central cable.

The finished product looks like this:

Then I went searching for some authenticish Viking-type yarn.  I wasn’t about to fork out for Lopi for something as big as the blanket (4 foot by 6 foot if you please) so I went looking for undyed yarns.  I found this undyed Jacob’s yarn.  It’s scratchy and full of VM and weird bits that I’m pretty sure came from other sheep that the Jacob attacked and murdered.  It stinks of sheep.  But it’s a great colour. And there’s half a kilometer of yarn in each cone.  My blanket used nearly two kilometers of yarn.


Charts One and Three are worked over 8 rows and so will be repeated twice for every one repeat of the central cable pattern.

The central cable pattern I used is modified from the wonderful Viking Bag pattern on Ravelry.  There are many examples of this woven cable but this is by far the best example. The designer, Karen, kindly put the pattern up online for free here.  I used the big cable from the bag (28 stitches) and then added a purl stitch either side to make an even 30 to allow for a little more space between the cable and the slip-stitch pattern panels.  You could use any large cable pattern that you fancy though – just remember to adjust the total number of stitches if you do!

Slipped Stitch pattern:

  • Right side: Slip 1, K1, YO, PSSO
  • Wrong side: Purl all stitches


Cast on 196 stitches and work one row as follows – knit 2, purl 11, place marker, knit 70, place marker, purl 30, place marker, Knit 70, place marker, purl 11, knit 2

This establishes the blocks for your cables and for slip-stitch sections

Work one row, knitting the knits and purling the purls and turn work ready to begin charts.

Work Chart One over first 13 stitches

chart one

Work Slip-Stitch Block one:  *Slip one, Knit One, YO, PSSO* repeat to next marker

Slip marker, Work Central Cable pattern over next 30 Stitches, Slip marker,

Work Slip-Stitch Block Two: *Slip one, Knit One, YO, PSSO* repeat to next marker

Work Chart Three over remaining 13 stitches

chart Three

Now, it’s a matter of working these 16 rows until you run out of yarn or patience or both.

Finally, work your rune-chart.   Runes are important.  The Old Norse speakers of Medieval Iceland and Scandinavia loved marking things with runes.    Including insult-poles or níðstöng.   Obviously, when Winters last for months and months, tensions can build up. Rather than go and murder your neighbour straight away, it’s best to egg him into attacking you by making a níðstöng and setting it up in his front garden. I think of this as medieval equivalent of ringing someone’s bell and then hiding in the bushes giggling when the answer the door.[1]  Other uses of runes include graffiticommemorative stones and generally telling people who owns what.[2]

For me, it’s not enough to write something in modern English using runes – that’s just silly – so I called in the troops (Thanks, Kyle) and got this: Jóna gerði þessa fyrir Karli inni Kráku or“Jane made this for Karl the Crow”.

Each of my runes was 10 stitches high and between 1 and 8 stitches wide.  I made a pattern on some graph paper. I just managed to squeeze all the characters I wanted into the 196 stitches on a row.  I’m not mad on the result as it is a little…subtle.  I will stitch over the runes in red.

Here are the rune-staves from the Furthark – my attempts at charting them are below!


Edit: here are the Futhark Charts as promised!

[1] I know that I shouldn’t think of Vikings as a bunch of bold children but I can’t help it. I found out they wore mittens.  I can’t shake the image of then dangling on strings out the bottom of their sleeves.  I bet their mothers made them bring hankies when they went raiding and everything.

[2] I bet their mammies wrote their names on the inside of their jackets too.

22 thoughts on “The Ragnar Blanket

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  2. The link to the central cable goes to a blog, not a specific post. I looked back through the posts but couldn’t find the pattern for the central cable 😦

  3. I’m so happy I stumbled across this pattern. I’m excited working on it. It is so stunning. I have a question about the slip stitch block. It isn’t suppose to decrease correct? I tried it and that space between the markers decreased to 54. I’m still kind of new to knitting. So I was wondering. Thanks for any help

    • Hello Kim! Hmm…the slip-stitch block should remain the same from beginning to end as you increase with a yarn over to compensate for every time you decrease by passing the slipped stitch over (over the K1 and the YO). It can be a little fiddly especially if your yarn is very hairy (as mine was). It might help to put markers inside the block (at every 10 stitches for example) just while you’re starting off so you can see at a glance that you have the right number of stitches coming into and out of the section. I find it helps me track down where mistakes happen so I don’t have to go back over the whole section.

      • Thank you so much for getting back to me. I think after starting it almost 7 times I finally got it right. Lol practice makes perfect right? I can’t wait to finish it and surprise my parents. Thank you again for your ‘recipe’ 🙂

  4. Hi. I found this pattern on Craftsy and love it! I’d like to modify it a little to turn it into a baby blanket for some friends.
    One question though: The pattern calls for knitting needles in 7mm (which doesn’t seem to exist, at least here in the US). The Viking bag pattern you linked to calls for US 7 (4.5mm) needles. Is that the correct needle size? – US 7?
    I’m still somewhat new to knitting but I’m guessing long, circular needles would be best…? I think. LOL.

    • Hello! The needle size really depends on the yarn weight you’re using. I use a 7mm for aran weight yarn but you could got down a needle size for a tighter fabric or up one for a looser fabric. The main thing is to use the needle that gets you the right gauge. The Viking Bag is made with a finer yarn than my blanket so it uses a needle about half the size of the ones I used for my blanket. Very long circulars are the best tool for the job, I think as it means you can distribute the weight of the blanket more evenly when you work and you won’t end up with the whole weight of the blanket supported on one needle (and one wrist!)

      • Ok. Thank you!
        I guess I’ll just have to experiment with the gauge a little. I’m in the US and we don’t have 7mm needles, at least no where I’ve been able to find (ours go strait from 6.5mm to 8mm). I finally found a couple conversion charts for metric to various other systems and under 7mm for the US it has either nothing or, “NA.”
        The yarn I picked is worsted, so slightly heavier and the tension on the samples I’ve done with a 4.5mm needle on a similar yarn is ok, I think it will be just about perfect on the heavier worsted. Although, I may just go up a size for sake of speed. I’m still definitely not a speed-knitter so knitting with small yarn/needles tends to take me forever and a day! 😀
        I’ve been working on a variation of the Lion Brand Twin Trees baby blanket since the beginning of June and I’m just now finishing the last set of trees before I start the border. Although, that is my first real cabling project so it was sort of, “learning on the fly.” 🙂

      • The Twin Trees blanket is gorgeous, isn’t it? It’s on my list of ‘things that I would like to knit one day’. I think learning on the fly is the best kind of learning – you can up-skill pretty fast when there’s something you really want to make or a pattern you really want to master. At least that’s how I always learned. Thanks also for the info about US needle sizes – I didn’t know that the 7mm needle was a European beastie! I must keep that in mind the next time I try to design something! 🙂

  5. For knitters new to Celtic knotwork, Ravelry has a free pattern called Celtic Dish Cloth that spells out the pattern better than the Viking Bag does. Once I figured out how the pattern is done, the Viking Bag chart is fine, but it condenses 6 different crosses into 3. That was VERY confusing to me when trying to learn!

  6. I love this Blanket.. I finally found my project!
    One thing though, the lay out of the instructions is very confusing. I don’t understand why a 123 order was not used when writing them. Also leaving out how to form the central cable makes this pattern almost useless. So I did some digging and found a scarf that looks identical to this blanket all one would have to do is cast on 208 rather then the 198 and make some adjustments. Maybe this will help others if needed..
    I plan on rewriting the instructions while I am making this blanket, so that anyone can do it , without frustration.
    Thanks for the guide…

    • Thanks for the feedback Kara. It’s my first time writing up notes for a pattern. I know it’s not perfect which is why I’ve offered it for free. It’s much more of a recipe than a pattern. Sorry you found it almost useless!

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  8. I love this pattern. I’m close to finishing my blanket but would like to include some rune letters. If anyone has a sample would you be willing to share? I’m not sure how to do it or what stitch to use. Any help is appreciated.

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