Monday, March 09, 2009

Sharon has a new pattern ready! I take it as a sign. I decided at Mass yesterday – I find that religious observance often sets the mind free with productive results – that the solution to my problem is to knit another wedding veil, when I finish my Princess. I’ve got 12 living grandchildren. There’s no need to restrict them to one veil.

That rules out gold and red as colours, alas (unless the Miles boys of Loch Fyne have Hindu weddings, as their parents did), but otherwise opens the door. I ordered the new pattern, and another ball of gossamer merino while I was at it. I’m still not sure I’ve got enough yarn to finish the Princess, and now I can stop worrying. The obvious place to join in a slightly-different shade, if it proves necessary, will be at the beginning of the top edging.

I think Sharon and her husband Mike do the whole thing as a cottage industry. She said in the message to the Heirloom Knitting Yahoo group yesterday, “I'm really proud of it and I can say that the new printer is making a wonderful job on the pages, so Mike's really happy too….We've now got to print it in the office - only two completed as I type.”

I got the new “SlipKnot” last week, the journal of the Knitting and Crochet Guild. I learn from it that someone has secured £50,000 from the Heritage Lottery Fund for the Moray Firth Gansey Project. (Admittedly, part of the objective is to “use gansey knitting as a way to get people of all ages and backgrounds more interested and involved in their local coastal and fishing heritage.” That sounds good on a grant application.)

I wonder if Sharon has ever seen £50,000 in one place in her life. But she is single-handed carrying out an utterly astonishing “Shetland Lace Project”, with meticulous scholarship. As well as working in libraries, she has a collection of her own Shetland shawls and of early printed material. She can study a piece of lace and deduce a good deal about the working methods of the knitter. And she has published her remarkable patterns, making Shetland lace knitting of the very highest standard available to ambitious modern knitters.

The original Princess shawl was duplicated at the time (the 1860’s) by a copy, presented to Miss Mary Campbell of Jura. That one is on display in the National Museum of Scotland. I wondered whether Sharon had worked from it, or from the original in the Royal Collection, when she was devising the pattern for her Princess, and put that question last week to the Yahoo group. The answer is, she used the Museum piece.

There’s a thumbnail picture of it here. I think we’ve had this before, but it is interesting for me to see it again so near the end of my own shawl. As I knit the centre, it feels like a triangle. But in the picture it is closer to a half-oval (squashed half-circle).

I’m on row 36 of the 12th pattern repeat – rattling along. I made another mistake, offsetting a couple of rows. The result is a bit odd if you peer at it, but so symmetrical and consistent that I don’t think it will attract attention. The secret, which I won’t forget again, is to start every row – especially the easy ones, where I think I don’t need to look – by examining the chart to see what role the central stitch plays. It’s clearly marked, and whatever it is meant to do in a given row will be the same at all the points where my many markers are. It’s that easy.

Maybe I’ll leave it there for today. Saturday’s yarn purchase and my current thoughts about knitting a child’s cardigan promised for tomorrow.


  1. Anonymous10:03 AM

    Oh, you temptress.

    I already e-mailed my knitting buddy to order us 2 patterns. I am not allowed to access my Paypal account when I'm in Egypt, so I have to depend on my friend to do my Heirloom shopping and keep the pattern safe until July. What an incentive to finish Princess, and how perfectly timed.

    Now it's time to go shopping for yarn.

    Re: the center panel. If Sharon had only added 2 more rows to the pattern repeat,(48 rows instead of 46) the sides would have been consistent, and we could have followed the pattern as written, with no confusion. As it is, every row is a decision, as you know.

    Think of the fun we'll have with the next project.


  2. Thank you for the link to the Heirloom site. I might never brave such fine knitting, but I can enjoy the pictures!!

  3. Anonymous12:16 PM

    What a stunning pattern. I dream of being a good enough lace knitter to make it! In the meantime, I'll enjoy your progress on Princess vicariously!

  4. Anonymous4:11 PM

    I was out-of-town since Friday, so didn't have a chance to add my voice regarding the blog. I would hate to see you give it up! Ravelry while a great resource for some things, is not the same as enjoying one writer's voice, which is part of what I come here for.

    I admire you and others who find time to blog. I'll keep on trying to be supportive by commenting every so often.

    Thanks for the information and interesting posts!

  5. Anonymous3:10 AM

    Oh Golly! That is a SHAWL!

    Really Jean, your pick for the next project is something. A stunner.