Sunday, July 11, 2010

garish birds

My current project is another historic shawl. I found the pattern in a book, written by a head principal from Elsinore. In 1845. You cast on 180 cm of stitches and decrease one stitch at the sides and two in the middle. Every other row. Stitch pattern is garter.
For me the interesting part of working this shawl is the search for the original materials and trying to find stuff similar.
The pattern calls for "4- threads Berliner-Zephyr" and after a serious googling I learned that it is embroidery wool. A merino wool from Gotha, dyed in Berlin. Actually it was extremely popular to work Berlin Wool Work, which was cross stitch on hand painted canvasses. The colors were garish. It was the time chemical dying took over. And the rich middle classes just could not get enough. The Berlin Wool Work were used for chair seats, pillows, bell pulls etc. in the Victorian homes all over. And apparently also for knitting.
It must have been extremely expensive to buy yarn for this shawl. The pattern suggests fringes, as well. The colors are for the border, black alternating with six different shades of purple red. From dark to light. And back.
The bottom is worked in two shades of gray.
I only use DMC embroidery wool for the red colors which means that I bought 6 X 6 skeins at 8 m each. For the black and gray wool I chose Sandnes Smart which is a 4- thread wool, as well.
The embroidery wool is very strong I simply cannot break it. However, the 8 meters run out for every 50 stitches and I simply tie it to the new thread using this knot suggested by Mrs. O.T in her book for knitting, published in 1924.
It is a very fun knit. The changing of the colors makes me go for "just one more row" I imagine the Berlin Roses when I see the colors mingle.
After studying photos of shawls from the late 1800 I am convinced that our wrong side was the right side for them. In that way the colors really mingles and creates thin black stripes.


  1. Wheee! Another historic shawl! I like the colors and also the way of knotting the new strands. Very clever.

  2. Great colors, but I must say, the idea of weaving in all those ends makes me tired. I must try that knot, however. Thanks for another glimpse of textile history.


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