I finished this in the autumn and even wore it in November and yet it has got to the middle of January before I have managed to turn the draft of the text into the post! I’ve been distracted by more knitting, the first natural dyeing of the year, warping the loom and life….more of these things later.
I have several fine lace cowls that I wear. I wear them most of the year and I guess they are a signature piece of clothing for me.
I am often asked if I knit them. The answer is yes, I then add that I used the knitting machine and the response then varies. I did design the pattern and knitting something so fine on a knitting machine needs skill! But, and I have to agree myself, the skill of knitting one in a fine lace design by hand is different. Different skills and many more hours.
I have spent a long time thinking about and designing this one. I have used traditional Shetland motifs and chosen ones that have particular meaning to me. The yarn is Jamieson and Smith optic white which I have naturally dyed with golden rod with a copper additive to get this particular green.
In the design I was aware that the lace edgings would be particularly noticeable and added an inset inside these and then a central panel. I was aware that the design would be observed mostly ‘sideways on’ and to me it was important that all the motifs looked good sideways. (I feel this is not always the case with some lace designs which look far better hanging vertical). For a cowl that goes round my neck close to my face I wanted it to be a design that worked well for that purpose.
Loving Shetland and in particular Unst I chose motifs reminding me of my time there:
Lace Edging: Norwich Waves - by Hazel Laurenson (1)
Insertion: It is just called ‘the insertion’ in the Unit Lace Stole - by Sharon Miller (2)
Central Design : Drummie Bees - also by Hazel Laurenson
(there is another Shetland link but I will discuss that later in this article)
I designed the Central Portion to include clusters of Drummie Bees so it was not quite an all over design but there would be plenty of interest however the folds of the cowl went around my neck. I used Stitch Mastery for the first time and learnt a lot about motif placement.
The three sections all had different row repeats so this needed a bit of maths to get the piece to work as a whole piece.
Checking the motifs will work with one another
During the knitting I marked off each row as completed. All in all the knitting took 31 hours making it a virtually priceless piece.
Once I had dressed the finished piece I did a ‘Betsy’ join to form the back of the cowl. (3) Betsy referring to the masterful Shetland Fine Lace Knitter (and spinner) Betsy Williamson.
Summary of some facts:
Yarn: Jamieson and Smith Optic White Cobweb ( 1400 m per 100 g, given as NM 1/14.5) (5)
Mass of yarn used: 22g
Colour: Moss Green - dyed with golden rod with copper additive
Needles used: 2.5 dpns with a knitting belt
Hours of Knitting : 31
It will be worn particularly with my ‘greeny’ Harris Tweed Skirt
Now to design another with a different construction method!
1 Hazel Laurenson designs and knits fine lace scarves and is one of the knitters from Unst Heritage Centre. She has translated many pieces of ‘found ‘lace from Unst into patterns which are sold at the Heritage Centre
2 Both these patterns are available in the booklet Recreating Vintage Shetland Lace obtainable from Unst Heritage Centre
3 Stitch Mastery at Stitchmastery.com enables me to create knitting charts for both lace and fair isle, although I always start with graph paper!
4 Hazel Tindall demonstrates the Betsy join and discusses one way of using this with Elizabeth Johnston in the superb DVD 50 Tips from Shetland Knitters
5 This should then be 1450m!