The past two days’ posts aside, I have been making progress on bothmy lacy scarf andmy fulled pillow. Knitting on the pillow is almost done. I’ve got maybe one more evening of garter stitch left. This weekend I intend on fulling it when I do laundry. I’m rushing a bit on it because I want to be sure to be able to full it completely before I have to leave this washing machine behind (it was a negotiated sacrifice in my house sale). I’m afraid the older hand-me-down machine at the new house might not be up to the challenge.

On the lacy scarf, I’ve finished re-graphing the patterns I intend on trying out. I’m working on modifying them a bit so that they play off each other better. I’m also narrowing the edging by either messing with or eliminating the double column of faggotting shown in the pattern original.

For those new to the term, faggotting is a true lace knitting stitch, in whichincreases and decreases occuron every row (as opposed to a lacy knitting stitch, in which rowscontaining increases and decreases alternate with plain knitted or purled rows). One common form of this effect when worked in the flat takes only two stitches and two rows for the entire repeat. Row 1 would be an endless repeat of the (YO, SSK) unit. The accompanying Row 2 would be an endless repeat of (YO P2tog).

So? Why is it called "faggotting" anyway? [Warning. This is a Kim-theory, so go chip yourself an enormous grain of salt before reading on.]

It’s not immediately evident why the name stuck to this particular knitting texture stitch.In historical usage, faggots are bundles of sticks – especially twiggy sticks used as kindling or cheap firewood. Nothing much looks bundledif you examine justknitted pieces. But if you look at those pieces in in the context of other needlework contemporary to the Great Whitework Cotton Knitting Craze of the mid to late 1800s the reasoning is pretty clear.

Withdrawn thread embroidery was one of those contemporaryneedlework styles. Commonly used for hemming or decorative insertions, it can range from the pretty simple to the amazingly complex. The sampler below shows several withdrawn thread patterns spanning several different substyles (the lacy white-on-white bits). Disclaimer and attribution: this sampler isn’t my own work, it’s a piece in the collection of the National Academy of Needle Artsthat I found doing a Google image search. I didn’t find a more exact attribution on their website for it. Great work though!

The topthree little bands on the sampler are the most widely known and used forms of the technique. The others, while nifty aren’t as often seen. The two most common names for this substyle that includes the top three are "Italian Hemstitching" and "Faggotting." The multicolor bands are double running stitch (aka Holbein Stitch or Spanish Stitch).

You can see in the openwork bandsthat the horizontal threads of the linen groundweresnipped at the left and right, then teased out. The cut ends were secured with stitches, usually before any cutting took place. The remaining vertical threads were bundled tightly with tiny hemming stitches that tie the fabric threads together like little bunches of sticks. In the more complex forms on this sampler, these bundleswere further embellished with threads woven in among them, orwere subdivided and/or twisted by additional stitching.

The second strip of the sampler with it’s running VVVVVs is the most interesting one for knitters. Compare the zig-zag pattern of one often-seen type ofknitted faggotting:

The zig-zags produced by faggotting in knitting mimic thegroups of verticalscreatedin withdrawn thread hemstitching. That’s where the bundle idea came in, andfrom where I believe the knitting stitchborrowed its name. This snippet is excerpted from Lewis’ Knitting Lace, p. 146 (Yow! I just saw the used bookprice. Ineed to update my insuranceto cover my library!)

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