Category Archives: Black Lace Doodle


And more progress on the stole.  As I said before, we’re on the downhill leg of this journey – the challenges are all now put to bed, and things are just sailing along:


Here’s the whole thing, folded on the bed, just to prove that I’m not unraveling from the beginning end.  This is a king-size bed, so you can imagine how long the thing is now!


I anticipate finishing up by the coming weekend, latest.  Blocking however will have to wait.  I’ve got no soft surfaces in this apartment large enough to do it, since pins don’t stick well in bare marble floors.

Next?  Not sure.  I’ve got a lot of stitching I want to do, but before that, I’ve been asked to consider doing up the pattern for the scarf I use as my avatar photo on Nimblestix and Ravelry:


To do that I’d need to roll up my sleeves and figure out what the heck I did.  Also do the graphs.  I adapted this from designs in the Duchrow books, and considerable reinterpretation into modern notation was necessary.  But what I won’t have would be yarn quantities – the scarf is at home on the other side of the world.

So the question – would a pattern without yarn quantities be useful?  Would you be interested in knitting up something like this?


As promised yesterday, pix of the Doodle Scarf – finished and visible on a light-color background:

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The whole thing blocked out to be nine feet long, and point to point, about 17 inches across. I combined lace patterns from the Duchrow series (as described before), one edging and one insertion strip. I mitered the corners on the fly, not bothering to graph them out until after the fact. I am quite pleased with the way it turned out, and will probably keep this one for myself.

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There’s some clear congruity to be seen among patterns in these books. Here are some other things I’ve done from insertions and edgings adapted from these books – another scarf and the big shawl from laceweight, and two baby blankets worked at DK gauge:

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(A couple of the edgings were cribbed from Heirloom Knitting). I seem to have taken my inspiration so far from the family of diamond-based patterns. There’s lots of other stuff in there, including some in-the-round pieces. I think it’s time to branch out and try some of the patterns based other motifs.

Is anyone else out there playing with the Duchrow books? Or combining other older or traditional patterns into original lacy pieces? Or might be interested if I were to issue some or all of these in a leaflet?

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Yet another spate of horrific deadlines has washed past me. I survived (barely), but I haven’t had much time to knit.

I’m still working on that second lace doodle scarf – the one composed from patterns out of the Duchrow books. (Which I wholeheartedly recommend for lace fanatics.) I’ve finished the center panel, and have applied the edging down one long side, around the narrow end, and am now starting back up the second side:


The edging in this case is a bit unusual. It’s predicated on motifs that are somewhat heart-shaped, and sports a very deep dag. I managed to fiddle around with the attachment rate so that I ended up at the corner of the body at the exact narrowest point of the edging repeat. That let me miter the corners using short rows. I wish I’d stopped and taken pictures of that process, but I’ll try to explain it sight-unseen.

To miter the corner on this symmetrical lace, I knit this edge onto my main body piece, either directly calculating the pick-up ratio, or (more likely) fudging the rate of attachment so that I ended with my narrowest row (the valley between two points) at the exact corner stitch of the corner I wish to go around. Sometimes this is easy – if I’m a stitch or two off, those can be made up in the last repeat just before the corner. If I’m more than just a couple of stitches off, I might need to rip back a repeat or two and space the required extra rows or skips (or k2togs) over a larger interval. Obviously, it’s easier to fit an edging with fewer pattern rows into any given arbitrary length than it is to fit a longer one, because there are fewer rows between the widest and narrowest points of the repeat.

Back to actual performance. Arriving at the narrowest point of my edging in concert with reaching the absolute corner of my piece, I’d knit the next right-side row of my edging as usual. BUT on the return journey instead of working all the way back to my attachment point, then purling the last stitch of the edging together with one from the body, I’d wrap that attachment stitch (Row 2, Column A). Then I’d turn the work over and head back on the next right side row, taking care to keep my place in the edging pattern. I’d continue like this, but on each successive wrong-side row, I’d work one fewer stitch, and wrap the next one prior to turning. All of this is complicated of course, by the increases and decreases that form the lace pattern itself. Liberal fudging is usually in order to maintain the pattern as established – or a close to it as is possible.

Eventually I’d reach the row that on a “normal” repeat, would be the longest row – the one that happens in the centerpoint of one of the protruding dags. My actual row worked is much shorter than usual because I’ve been wrapping stitches to form my miter. It’s at this point I go back and begin the second half of my short row sequence, working each row one stitch farther along, waking them up one by one by working them along with the wrap at their base. If I’ve done this correctly, by the time I have reawakened all of the stitches on my row, I’ll also have arrived at the narrowest row of my lace edging repeat, and all of my previously parked short row stitches will have been reincorporated. When that happens, my mitered corner is complete, and I can I begin resume working the edging along the side of my piece.

I’ve taken the liberty of translating the historical pattern from Duchrow into modern notation. She doesn’t present a mitered corner for this edging, but I’ve noted where the short row shaping should take place so you can see (more or less) what I am writing about. Click on the image below for a full size pattern. Apologies for the file size.


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You know your life is chaos when you look at a two-hour school opening delay due to snow and say “Great! I finally have a chance to update the blog!”

Life here has been subsumed to work, right through the Thanksgiving holiday. We managed to cook and serve a great meal, and enjoy the company of old friends, but after that it was back to what my grandmother would call “hocken shteiner” (Yiddish for breaking stones ). I’m weeks behind in holiday shopping. We haven’t a candle or a potato in the house for Hanukkah, and my annual cookie fest hasn’t even hit the planning stage yet.

But for all of that, little bits of knitting have happened. Not any of the gift socks I’ve promised this year though. I will most certainly be visited by Franklin’s Ghost of Christmas Knitting this year. But I can report some small progress.

First, on specific request, I’ve begun Knitty’s Kyoto for Elder Daughter. But I’m working it in a DK weight tweeded alpaca. I’m using Grignasco Top Print in color #29974 – a ragg type mix of soft antique pink, pale turquoise, lavender, apricot, pale brown, ecru, and sea green. The “distance read” on it is sort of fallen cherry blossom, somewhat pink/lavender with a touch of pale brown, with the natural streaks imparted by the ever changing tweed.


Gauge is hard to get with this stuff (I agree with the review posted in the yarn review collection, above). The label reads 30st x 38 rows = 4 inches/10cm on #3.5-4mm. I’m getting 19 x27 with #5. The pattern gauge is 20×27, so I’m making some small adjustments. Also, this is the most incestuous yarn I’ve ever used. It comes in evil mushroom puffball style 50g balls. The yarn is so soft and supple that it falls off that put-up at the slightest provocation, and so surface fuzzy that it twines around itself and sticks given any opportunity at all. With that level of fraternization in the bag, I’m surprised that reproduction hasn’t occurred and that I still have only 14 balls.

The other bit I’m working on is a second doodle scarf, using two more stitch patterns from the Duchrow series. That’s done in some of the leftover from my big woven diamonds shawl. It’s not exactly zipping along, given the complexity of the pattern and my limited knitting time, but it is progressing. I’ve finished the center strip, picked up all the way around the outside, and I’m on adding the edging.


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My doodle scarf is done. Blocked and everything. It ended up being about 16 inches across and just under nine feet long. I ended up using a variant of the double YO “Dewdrops” edging (found in Sharon Miller’s fantastic Heirloom Knitting) instead of the item that prompted the last two posts:


I also played with the main diamond motif – alternating ones with the full pierced centers with ones that filled in the center-most four diamonds. I chose the edging because the structure replicated the mesh in the pierced diamonds. I also took the lazy way out on the corners. Rather than calculate the miter, I just went around the edges, doubling up on my rate of attachment to make enough fullness to ease around the 90-degree angle. Elder Daughter has poached this one for her very own. But (to quote someone I ran into in the airport while I was working on this last week). “You’re a sneaky parent. How much of a Goth air can it provide when the wearer has to ‘fess up that “My mom knit it for me” whenever she’s asked?”

I’m thinking of doing matching fingerless mittens – something relatively long, perhaps between matinee and elbow length (that works out to mid-forearm, for those of you too young to remember formal gloves), with the pierced diamond motif on the back of the hand. I’m pretty sure that Elder Daughter would swoon for those. Especially if I can get them finished before Halloween.

In a somewhat related topic – yesterday’s post brought a comment from Lace Goddess Nurhanne, she of Yarn Over. She’s got the original book that the edging I’ve been posting about is from, AND she can read German. She says that I did miss something in the accompanying text. Her comment read “I don’t have the Lacis book, but an original 1921 copy in which the accompanying text instructs you to work even rows 2-16: yo, k to end with k1p1 in double yo. Even rows 18-32: k2tog, k to end with k1p1 in double yo.”

I had posited the “make it up on the wrong side” method back when I began experimenting. It looks like the original pattern took that approach. I need to experiment though to see if adding/subtracting those stitches at the leftmost edge (the beginning of the row for even numbered/wrong side rows) works. But I am a bit leery of that approach. I think that putting adds/deletes there will interfere with the patterned repeat, but I’m willing to try it out. I’m tickled to have another opportunity to learn something new. Especially if I’m sitting chela at the feet of someone who really knows this stuff.

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First, let me reassure everyone that it’s not my intent to supplant the need for the books I’ve been using lately. I strongly recommend that people interested in lacy knitting buy them, and have as much fun learning to knit from them as I am having. But I also realize that it’s very daunting for many people to think of picking up a book in a language they don’t read, that uses an unfamiliar symbol set, and that can be full of unexpected differences from modern knitting logic (to the point that would be thought errors in modern books.) Mining these older works for usable ideas is a form of Extreme Knitting* – one that I want to encourage more people to try. I hope these posts help bridge some folk over to beginning their own explorations.

For example, here’s another lace redaction problem that turned into a paddle in the lace design pool.

I intended to finish out my black lace doodle scarf with an edging appearing in the same book as the insertion strip I modified for that scarf’s body. But the graph of the original isn’t quite logical, especially when compared to the engraving of the finished item. The edging I originally intended to use is on page 12 of Knitted Lace (Kunst Stricken) by M. Niedner anf G. von Reden (edited by the Kliots).


If I flat transcribe each of their chart symbols into modern notation, I get the chart in the diagram below (click on it to make it bigger).


Although the chart looks good, it’s not knittable. Not if you want to make an edging that looks like the one in the engraving. Why? Look at each graphed row. If you count up the increases (the YOs) and the decreases (ssks) you quickly find that there is an equal number of both in each row. That’s perfect if you’re doing a straight insertion with parallel sides, but this is supposed to be a dagged edge that grows and shrinks to make triangular points. In order to achieve the ragged left edge indicated the stitch count should increase or decrease each row. But you say – it does! The little points are being formed. MY point is that there is no indicated origin for those extra stitches. For Row #3 to have one more stitch on it than Row #1 as shown, there should have been an increase without an accompanying decrease on Row #1. Otherwise that stitch just appears **poof** without a logical point of origin.

Now, if we want to knit this edging, we need to add that missing stitch. In fact, if you look at each and every line of the pattern you’ll see that there’s either a missing increase or decrease on each illustrated row. We need to put them in.

There are several ways to make those corrections. The simplest is to leave out one strategically placed decrease somewhere on the “growing” rows (working the two stitches involved as plain knits); and to introduce one somewhere on the “shrinking” rows (working two stitches shown as being knit as a decrease). Another fix would be to make up the differences on the interstitial even numbered rows. A third method would be the most noticeable – incorporating the corrections as visible additions to the pattern, in effect, editing the pattern to introduce new eyelets or decreases to form a new design element.

Now. Where to put them? Again looking at the original graph, you’ll see that the only area that changes is the part I marked in blue on the original chart (the original didn’t differentiate these stitches in any way). Other than growth/shrinkage in that triangle area, the pattern is stable, alternating between two design rows – the unshaded area shown on Row #1 (repeated on 5, 9, 13, 17, 21, 25, and 29) and the unshaded area shown on Row #2 (repeated on 7, 11, 15, 19, 23, 27, and 31). Obviously all of our edits will have to take place within the blue shaded area. Even with those edits, the heavy reliance on only two pattern rows means this will be an easy pattern to memorize once we’ve noodled out the missing bits.


I began experimenting, although I fizzled out along the way, having lost enthusiasm for using this particular trim. But I did produce a workable solution. It relied heavily on the original chart, modifying some of the decreases on the growing rows and adding some on the shrinking rows:


As you can see, while my yarn choice for this swatch isn’t optimal (something lighter would conform better and shape itself more fluidly up and over the triangle’s point, it did work. It also looks pretty close to the original. But not spot on (more on that below).

I tried mightily to make the mods on the off-side rows piece work. In theory it sounded feasible. It would have worked, had there not been the flower-like quad eyelet structure in the point of the base triangle. Adding/subtracting stitches at the right edge (the straight edge) perturbed the placement of the eyelets and lost the symmetry of the feature. Putting those additions/decreases elsewhere by adding/subtracting stitches along the pointed edge of the base triangle produced a clunkier, more clumsy finished product than did working them in on the right-side row.

I have to admit, I didn’t bother with the increases as a decorative element step. To do that I’d have had to widen the pattern as a whole, and introduce a YO after the slipped stitch on each odd numbered row. On rows 19-31 I’d have had to follow that YO with a double decrease (removing one stitch to compensate for adding the YO, plus the one stitch needed to shrink the base triangle . Contemplating the result of the second scenario above made me think that this arrangement would also run afoul of that quad eyelet flower. Between that and realizing that this pattern wouldn’t be a good compliment for the design of my scarf’s body – I ran out of enthusiasm to keep fiddling with it.

Oh. The final straw? Examining the pattern chart, the engraving of the pattern and my knit sample, and realizing that the chart as shown (and that I knit – more or less) wasn’t the same as the engraving. That clearly shows four courses of eyelets, not three, plus two rows of crocheted picots. The picots I can forgive, especially since I can noodle out just enough of the blackletter-style German text to determine that instructions for it were included in the prose. Here’s the chart for my successful result, plus a posited modification to produce the four-course pattern shown in the book’s original engraving. I haven’t actually knit up the lower chart yet, but it should work.


I’ve run into these problems several times in these older pattern collections – both the lack of correspondence between chart and illustration of the final product; and basic charting that doesn’t produce the desired result. I’ve found it’s always a good idea to proof the rows in a pattern – especially one from a historical source – before sitting down to knit, and if knitting from an unproven vintage source, to always swatch up a repeat or two before committing oneself to a full project in any given stitch pattern.

Oh. What did I end up using on my doodle scarf? More on that another day.

*Extreme Knitting – A mythical book I long for instead of what’s on the shelves now. A compendium of highly challenging patterns in lace, colorwork, garment shaping and tailoring, tiny gauges, historical recreation/redaction – whatever, so long as each project is as magnificent and as timeless to wear as it was an inspiration and learning experience to knit. I hereby reserve this title, but will surrender it to any author who can prove his/her work meets these conditions.

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O.K. Where have I been? Here, but totally snowed under at work. In the corners of time between deadlines, some progress on the home front was made.

After a series of two steps forward/one step back mishaps involving subcontractors (all made good by the general contractor at no cost besides delay time, and the extra effort of a bit more repainting than we planned), the bathroom renovation is now 90% done. All of the fixtures and tiling is complete and the room is functional. I’m particularly pleased with way things have turned out, in spite of the delays.

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All that remains is finishing the woodwork and painting the upper part of the walls. We’re doing those things ourselves, including stripping paint from our door and stained glass window (both missing in the photos above), staining both to match the rest of the room’s wood. At this point, we’ve finished staining and finishing the in-place part of the cabinetry, plus the window frame and the frame around our mirror. We’ve done the first pass stripping on the door. The window is stripped and sanded, and has been stained. The upper cabinet’s doors and shelves have been stained and are awaiting finishing, and we’re in the middle of staining the doors and shelves in the lower cabinet.

On the knitting front, I’ve got a ton of things I need to block. I finished the baby blanket, am almost done with the gray/brown lace shawl, and finished a small lacy doodle. I also have quite a few projects from earlier this year to pin out and/or block. Here’s proof that the baby blanket is done, although not yet blocked or mailed.


On the lace shawl, as predicted, I ran out of yarn. But Friend Dena has graciously offered up a some more to complete. As you can (sort of) see below, all I need to do is finish the final edging.


The doodle was to try out a pattern in one of the lace books I gave myself for my birthday – Old World Treasures by

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I am not a big fan of prose directions, but although unorthodox these are pretty clear. However I did note that the photograph of the piece that accompanies the pattern I tried is not a literal representation of the pattern as written. The photograph clearly shows a much deeper section of the final petaled shapes, involving at least four more repeats of the design as written, with some sort of accompanying increase to account for the ever increasing diameter of the piece. Although my unblocked lace doodle is difficult to make out, you can see that the final petals between the two orange lines appear to be less tall than same area in the book’s photo. Obviously blocking is in order here, too.

I’m now doodling with some black Skacel Merino Lace, trying out some of the patterns from the German Language Kunst-Stricken (Knitted Lace). In this case, the patterns are graphed, using a block and triangle system that’s not standard, but not difficult to read. I find them easier than the typography based system used in the Duchrow books. Duchrow’s numeral 1s and German lower case letter ls are particularly confusing to me.) The charts in Knitted Lace however are particularly tiny. The visually challenged might like to either regraph or use photo enlargement. I chose to regraph.


Here’s my progress from last night. I’ve chosen an insertion pattern (shown in the book as dual insertions meant for use on a decorative linen pillowcase), and a simple zig-zag lace edging used in the book as a handkerchief embellishment. Needless to say, I just started with the insertion, but I’ve played with the pattern somewhat. I changed the side to side framing, and I chose to tinker with the diamond centers. Rather than doing all in the heavily eyeleted lower style, I’ll either alternate that with the one above, or figure out a bunch more variants as I progress. My goal is to make a scarf about 8 inches wide and about five feet long, or as long as I can get out of my one 1375 yard skein of Merino Lace.

I’m not entirely sure I’ll keep this intact. I’m leaning towards reworking the thing on a larger size needle to make it a bit more lacy.

Oh. My advice on knitting lace from black thread-weight yarn?


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