Saturday, January 19, 2008

So, here we are, Nevada. I got a personal email from Michelle Obama yesterday.

And some more interesting post. A friend in California (small world dep’t) sent me this link about a day conference on the social history of knitting in Scotland, to be held here in Edinburgh in March. I think I’ll have to go. It will surely be the one conference where it will be perfectly all right to take one’s knitting. Anyone else?

And someone wrote from New Zealand asking about this pattern:

It's an old Patons pattern, designed by Mrs Hunter of Unst. The writer inherited it from her sister-in-law, along with a half-finished shawl and the wool. She had nearly finished it when she was burgled, losing the pattern, parts of the shawl, and the wool. Clearly burglars in New Zealand have different priorities from any I have had to deal with.

Not only will I copy the pattern and send it to her – despite my strict upbringing on the Knitlist – but I am actually saying so out loud here. The pattern must be 50 years old, because I knit it for Rachel before she was born, and she’ll be 50 in June. It is certainly unobtainable anywhere, so no one is being deprived of any revenue.

She says she is going to knit another one when this is finished, for her other child. I encouraged her to look to Amedro and/or Miller, and knit the next in one piece. This pattern asks you to knit six separate pieces and spend quite a lot of time sewing them carefully together.

It is exactly the sort of thing knitting editors did in those days, like knitting Fair Isle flat. EZ’s early career was a titanic struggle against that sort of thinking, and we are all the beneficiaries.

The pattern itself, which seemed to me the dernier cri of lacy complication in 1958, now looks embarrassingly banal.

The gansey now 16 1/4" long. I was aiming at 17", cast-on-to-underarm, but I think I’ll split it today, after a couple more rounds. I still remain very slightly concerned about excess girth, and would like to have a bit less length when it comes to the blocking stage, so that length can be achieved at the expense of girth.

I find that when I take the trouble to think and to write down my calculations before I start, I then tend to follow my own scribbles as slavishly as those of any world-famous designer. The instinct to be a Blind Follower is born with us.


  1. It seems to me that if the person in NZ once owned the pattern and you are simply providing her with a copy to replace the one that was burgled, then it should fall easily under the rubric of fair use. It should be a very easy design to to as a single piece, too. The Shetland shawl in Cheryl Oberle's Folk Shawls also has good instructions as to how to go about this. A bit banal, perhaps - certainly very basic traditional motifs - but still a pretty piece of finished work.

  2. ok you guys (Jean and Mel) -- the shawl is lovely, and don't scare beginners! I keep wondering how people finish their shawls ... I have an Orenburg shawl in the Works in slow progress mode for ..... 2 years. I am pathetic and have to concentrate on the patterns. So maybe you all mean this shawl is "simple?" Anyway, I'm in awe of people that just seem to churn shawls out. Or maybe I should start watching TV.... (meaning finding the time to sit and knit more)Maryjo

  3. Anonymous3:02 PM

    Regarding the Textile Conference, Liz Lovick from Orkney posted a link to the site yesterday on the Traditional Knitting Yahoo list and KBTH. I'm pretty sure she's planning on being there. I thought of you, if you hadn't posted about it I was going to send you the link. I think you and Liz would enjoy each other's company...I'd love to be there, of course, but I don't think I can make it. LOL

  4. Curses...Hubby is giving a paper in Brussels that weekend, so I'll have the kids to look after. They're not quite old enough to spend the afternoon in the museum solo, alas.
    Looks interesting though. I might see if I can call in a babysitting favour or two....

  5. Anonymous12:27 AM

    I would also say traditional rather than banal. I see it as a landscape. The trees fit nicely into the mitered corner and the outermost edging makes nice waves around the pebbled beach (cairns?), the wooded area, and the field in the middle.

    I wonder whether it could be done from the outside in, picking up the stitches from each side of the edges as you knitted the central square. Would that be more or less of a nuisance than knitting the final edging on?

  6. Anonymous6:48 AM

    Hi, This shawl pattern is often available through e-bay from UK. I found another lovely shawl on ebay which was all done by picking up stitches with only a very short seam to join up the borders - YAY! It was not too boring but easy to 'read' so not too much frogging and didn't even need stitch markers. I see it resonably often on ebay - Baby SUNBEAM number 700. The pattern says 3ply but I used a Shepherd baby 2ply (NZ yarn) Judith, Canberra, Australia

  7. Anonymous8:50 PM

    oh! thanks for posting that link - I fancy going along to that. It's possible I'm missing it, but I don't see a time. I suppose I could phone and ask.
    Have you read Anne L MacDonald's "No Idle Hands: A Social History of American Knitting"? I might re-read parts of it in the intervening weeks.

  8. Not Having ever really done an Eastern or Central winter before but I'm thinking that any extra girth will be padded out with all the extra clothing layers needed in that climate. True or not true?