I had the honor of being invited to speak to Toronto's Downtown Knit Collective last week, and one could not have asked for a more gracious and delightful audience. (Thank you, DKC knitters!) One of the highlights for me was an elderly woman in the front row, whose nimble fingers worked on a knitted lace shawl–and a rather intricate lace shawl at that–throughout the entire meeting. She was listening closely to everything, but she was somehow still able to keep the precise rhythm of those countless lacy yarnovers going without pause. (She's my new hero. I can't imagine having a hundred other people around me as I try to remember if I'm supposed to be doing an ssk or a k2tog.)
Watching her knit–and knit so effortlessly…and did I mention she wasn't using a printed pattern?–I was reminded of all the women who have gone before us, needles clicking in the creation of gorgeous knitted lace shawls that history has often relegated to a footnote–or worse, to a stereotyped, nondescript garment for old women to wear.
So when we get to pull an actual lace shawl out of history, and have a modern knitter write up the pattern for us, and publish it for everyone to enjoy…that gives me a deep sense of joy and pride. Joy, that not all the creations of women are lost to time and footnotes; pride, that I got to have even a tiny, teensy part in helping bring these patterns to you.
The Story of the Icelandic Lace Shawl
Called the Thórdís shawl, the original of this traditional Icelandic lace shawl is part of the Icelandic Craft Council’s collection of textiles. It is thought to have been knitted by Thórdís Egilsdóttir, a resident of a small fishing village on the west coast of Iceland who was well known for her craftsmanship and skill with handspun yarns.
I asked Jeane Hutchins, the editor-in-chief of PieceWork magazine, if she would like to write up a little piece about how the shawl came to Knitting Daily:
I am so pleased that the Icelandic Shawl from PieceWork’s out-of-print July/August 1996 issue has become a part of Knitting Daily. The list of people responsible for bringing this to fruition is lengthy and begins with PieceWork’s first editor, Veronica Patterson, who assigned the project, followed by Carol Noble who adapted the design and wrote the instructions. Next comes the member of the knitalong who let Amy Sapp, a member of our customer support staff, know that there were people who wanted to make this shawl. Amy forwarded the e-mail about the knitalong to me, and I talked to several people to see how best to get this material into the hands of those who wanted it: Knitting Daily would be the perfect venue. So next on the list is our fabulous technical editor, Lori Gayle. And then there’s Sandi, Kat, and the rest of the web team who made it all happen. So there you have it! My personal thanks to each of one on my list. To those of you who will knit the shawl—enjoy!
Enjoy, indeed–from all of us at Interweave Press.
Get full instructions and charts for the Icelandic Lace Shawl in our free lace knitting ebook—Knitting Lace: Knitting Daily Presents 7 Free Knitted Lace Patterns.
Sandi Wiseheart is the founding editor of Knitting Daily. She is now the author of the popular Knitting Daily blog: What's on Sandi's Needles.
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