Become a master lace knitter
Making a beautiful knit shawl like Margaret Stove’s 1939 Christening Shawl (at right) is my Everest.
This shawl is so dreamy. I love everything about it, from the border pattern to the color. I can’t imagine knitting this, but as I said last week, anything is possible in knitting. I really believe that—if I can create a sweater out of sticks and string, surely I can make a lace shawl, right?
We are so lucky here at Interweave to work with several master lace knitters, including Galina Khmeleva, Nancy Bush, and Margaret Stove.
Here’s the story of Margaret’s beautiful christening shawl.
In Search of an Heirloom
This shawl is based on one my mother and grandmother knitted for me as a baby.
My christening shawl was used again when my sister was born five years later, but my first real memory of it dates from when I was ten, and it was brought out for the layette for my youngest sister. Even at the age of ten, my interest in and practice of knitting was well established, which is probably why I have such a good memory of that shawl. I can see
clearly in my mind’s eye the lace diamond center and the garter-stitch pattern. I also remember the border lace and its depth in relation to the shawl.
Unfortunately, moths had damaged it. The center was in good condition and was salvaged as a wrap and bassinet blanket, but the beautiful lacy border was beyond repair and it was discarded.I
Later, when I was grown and had become a lace knitter myself, I searched old knitting patterns in the hope I showed some to my mother, but she agreed that none looked right. Next I searched old photographs and found several taken at my christening, including one shown opposite. My godmother was wearing dark clothing, so although the shawl was rather blurred and out of focus, I could see most of the pattern except for the corners. Still, enough showed for me to work out the lace patterns with some improvisations.
When my new version of the shawl was completed, a friend recognized it. She showed me an incomplete copy of the pattern from her collection, including a picture that showed the corners clearly. Besides my improvised corners, the only appreciable differences between the two patterns are the fact that I had knitted my version seamlessly and it has one fewer repeat of the edging pattern along each side, making my version of the shawl smaller.
While working on this project, I realized that recreating this shawl drew on discoveries made at every step of my Journey as a lace knitter, from my first knitting lessons to teaching myself to design complex lace motifs.
—Margaret Stove, Wrapped In Lace, Master Class: Old-World Lace Collection
Not only is this story touching to a knitters’ heart, but it’s also the gateway to a wonderful lesson in creating lace shawls from design ideas to finished project.
If you need to build your knitted lace skills before tackling your Everest, we have the ultimate lace resource for you, the Master Class: Old-World Lace Collection, which includes Margaret’s Wrapped in Lace as well as patterns and video workshops from two more master lace knitters, Galina Khmeleva and Nancy Bush.
This is an amazing resource, whether you’re just staring out knitting lace, or you’re an experienced lace knitter who wants to move on to designing lace projects.