Category Archives: Cashmere Lace Shawl

INCHING ALONG

Incremental progress on two fronts here at String. First, demolition is now complete. Evil Upstairs Bathroom having been stripped to the studs now finds itself at the very beginnings of build-out. The new larger shower stall has been roughed in, and the electrical work has commenced.

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You can see the back side of the lath and plaster hallway walls on the outside of the old wall studs. 1912 was deep in the pre-drywall and wallboard era.

And on the lace shawl, I’m over the half-way mark in constructing the center square. I’ve got only one or two repeats left before my proportions are correct.

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I’ve also tinkered a bit with the base pattern, translating it to modern notation and changing the directionality of some of the decreases to sharpen the lines. Since I have changed it somewhat and recharted it, I present the result. Click on the thumbnail below to load a full-size image

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The original lacy knitting pattern from The Knitted Lace Patterns of Christine Duchrow, Vol. 1 was presented as part of two complex garment designs – a blouse and a baby bonnet. There are a couple of complementary simple band patterns for cuffs and trim on those projects. Except for the introduction (which provides a helpful translation key for the symbols and some historical German knitting terms), the entire book is in the original German. From what little knitting German I’ve picked up I can tell that even the written parts aren’t quite modern German knitting prose. Like English knitting instruction writing, the conventions in German have changed over time. While I can work from the chart to make my own whatever, it would be an extreme challenge to knit up the blouse as described.

As the editors of this book report, Duchrow was among the first to try to present knitting instructions in graphical rather than prose format. Her graphs are idiosyncratic by modern standards and use letters and symbols rather than visual representations to represent the various stitches, but with a bit of practice her graphs are not difficult to knit from. Even though I can’t read a word of the accompanying text in Vol. I, I’ve ordered a couple more books in the same Duchrow reprint series. If you’re a lace and lacy knitting fiend, you’ll probably have as much fun with Duchrow patterns as I am.

I feel confident I can share the design because I have redacted it into modern symbols, included corrections, and made changes in the pattern as presented. While my graph is recognizable as a variant of the historical one, there are subtle differences. For example, the original graph for this pattern treats all double decreases identically, rather than using directional variants to reinforce the framing diagonals. It also didn’t continue the pattern into the edge areas as uniformly. It also didn’t show the even numbered row. But for all of that, the pattern works up quite nicely even in the original presentation. I share my redaction/correction as tribute to the original author and the editors of this work, to help other knitters bridge from modern instructions to historical ones, and to encourage others to seek out these patterns and knit them without fear.

Interesting conjecture – from the style of the blouse, it would not be a stretch to say that it was current around the time my house was built. For all I know, the original owner may have sat in the library 95 years ago, knitting the same lace patterns I am working from today.


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BACK FROM SAVANNAH

Back from the conference and trying to catch up, I show off my airplane knitting – the beginnings of the lace shawl I mentioned in my last post.

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I’ve pinned it out somewhat so you can see the detail. The lace texture pattern is from Knitted Lace Patterns of Christine Duchrow (Vol. 1). It’s the last one in the book, and is shown as a bodice and a cap. The book itself is in German, with an idiosyncratic (but charted) notation system. Judy Gibson has posted a nice set of hints for working from Duchrow charts for people like me who don’t read German. As far as difficulty, the 34 stitch repeat – though large – is pretty easy to memorize. Once it’s established, the progression is very logical. My piece contains four full repeats plus about 14 edge stitches.

My plan is to work a square of this basketweave pattern, then pick up around the edges and work one or two tiers of patterns outward, mitered at the corner; then finish the entire thing with a knitted on edging. I haven’t chosen the next set of framing patterns yet. By the time I get there, I’ll have figured it out.

As far as the proposal conference went, it was valuable from a couple of viewpoints. First, it turns out that I know more about my subject than I thought. Second, the state of the art has moved on in the last dozen years since I went to official proposal training. I did pick up quite a bit. The next challenge will be to impose the improved structures and tools in the workplace.

In other news – my upstream No Sheep swap partner sent me some wonderful goodies (more on this in the next post), but I have not heard from my downstream receiving partner yet. If I don’t hear tell of her preferences by mid week, I’ll have to pick something out with no guidance on yarn weight or color type. I hope I guess correctly.

And finally, I celebrate another birthday that came and went while I was away at the conference. I was treated to an excellent dinner at Savannah’s Olde Pink House by a dear friend, but also to celebrate, I just ordered myself three more books on lace knitting. Happy birthday, me!

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