Lace in Legend

Editors' Note: We invited Anne Merrow, editor of Yarn and Specialty Fiber eMags, to tell us what's new in the world of eMags.

This photograph captivated a group of knitters to re-create the pattern—which they named the Queen Susan Shawl—without ever seeing the original shawl or even meeting each other. Photograph courtesty of Shetland Museum and Archives.

When it comes to traditions of knitted lace, there are few more storied than Shetland lace shawls. The intricate patterns, the motifs passed down through generations of knitters, the pieces fine enough to draw through a wedding-ring—it sounds as though Shetland shawls come from a knitting wonderland off the coast of Scotland.


In LaceKnits, Interweave’s brand-new eMag, Franklin Habit explores two very different legends about the origins of an icon, one as fanciful as the lace shawls themselves and one decidedly practical. Whatever the source, Habit traces the knitterly spirit of innovation up to contemporary applications: a group of knitters, besotted by a photo in the collection of the Shetland Museum & Archives, came together through the Internet to replicate the shawl’s pattern, without ever meeting each other or seeing the original shawl. The pattern for the Queen Susan Shawl can be found on Ravelry's Heirloom Knitting forum.


Rebecca Blair's Madder Stockings, inspired by an antique Shetland bridal veil. Photo by Harper Point Photography.

Where Shetland shawls might have been adapted from patterns on stockings, Rebecca Blair’s Madder Stockings are inspired by an antique shawl. Created to showcase the beauty of Shetland lace at London’s 1851 Great Exhibition, the Ivory and Madder Bridal Veil featured strips of dyed and natural lace fabric. Blair says, “The veil featured a wide scalloped edging with a zigzagging insertion, which was charted by Sharon Miller for her beautiful book Heirloom Knitting. I split the veil's edging in half for these socks: the scalloped edge became the cuff treatment and the zigzagging insertion travels down the front of the leg and the instep. The mesh pattern on the back of the leg is another Shetland pattern that Miller calls Shetland Bead. The unusual yarn is fine and tightly twisted, yielding a lace fabric that stretches and clings comfortably, and like some of the yarn used to knit the original veil, it was dyed with madder.”



A sampling of unique edgings and inserts from Weldon's Practical Needlework.


Knitted lace—and knitting in general—is a story of innovation and imitation, of finding gems in the work of other knitters and incorporating them into an entirely new design. LaceKnits ends with a sampling of previously unavailable lace-knitting patterns—sweet edgings, dramatic borders, and geometric inserts—presented for the first time in easy-to-follow charts. These designs from the needlework archives are ready to make a splash in your next lace-knitting design.


Happy knitting,