Wednesday, April 2, 2008

A stitch (back) in time

Recently, I completed a two-Saturday workshop at Wethersfield’s Webb-Deane-Stevens Museum. We were taught to make an 1830s shawl based on a pattern from the 19th-century sewing manual, “The Workwoman’s Guide.”
The pattern takes a little getting used to, as even the most experience of our group had to make adjustments as she went along.
It uses the Victorian Crow’s-foot-Stitch, a dense pattern that provides substantial warmth.
The instructions are: Set up any number of stitches divisible by three, with one over. After having knitted one plain row, begin the pattern as follows: Knit the first stitch, * make a stitch, slip a stitch, knit two plain stitches, pass the slipped stitch over the two plain ones, repeat from *. Purl the whole of the next row, increasing once at the beginning and the end.
Increasing on the purl side is awkward at first, however we discovered that if you do the increases in one or two stitches, it makes a nice border.
Historian and museum staff member Linda Pagliuco led the workshop and tours of the museum’s textile collection, including spinning wheels and looms in the attic. She says the museum offers the workshop every March in honor of Women’s History Month, with additional events. See for information.
The photo above is my first attempt — with a size 6 needle in Farmhouse Yarns sock yarn. Once I worked it to about 6 inches, I realized it was a little too scratchy to be a comfortable shawl.
My current attempt is done in a milk chocolate-brown cotton-poly Italian yarn with a size 9 needle. However, I’ve put my shawl aside for a time to work on the Classic Elite Silk Top Down Sweater in Butter.
As any knitter knows, working on two or even three projects at the same time is all-too-common.

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