Wednesday, April 13, 2016


Sharon Miller's Princess Shawl
Note: this isn't MY shawl or my picture, but a good detail photo I found online.
In October of 2012 I introduced you to my beautiful Princess Shawl.  It's a project that I dreamt of for almost five years before I took the plunge....and once I did it was a 350 hour/3 year labor of love that both tested my abilities and made my heart sing.  It was my mountaintop, and will hopefully be a family heirloom for decades to come.
Unfortunately, it lives in a box tucked away in my closet for safety.  There just aren't any formal events of the sort that would require me to wear something this special.  (My hope is that one day one of my girls will want it for her wedding....slim hope given how wildly different their taste is from mine, but hope springs eternal.)  Once in a while I take my Princess out and admire her great beauty, her delicate yarn, the gazillion stitches, the perfectly combined patterns, and her amazing drape.

Friends, it's time to knit another.  I'm ready to take up wee yarn and tiny needles again to knit another great masterpiece.
I need the challenge.

I need to be surrounded by that much beauty.
I spent Monday morning going through my options.  I have Miller's pattern for The Queen Ring Shawl as well as her books for the Love Darg Shawl and the Lerwick Lace Shawl.  They are all gorgeous, and I absolutely love the detailed patterns and books that Miller has created.
Then there is the gorgeous Queen Susan:
(Also a picture I found online...this is the one that is printed with the pattern.)
Which appeals to me in part because of the fact that the pattern was developed through the collaborative efforts of a group of dedicated lace knitters who'd fallen in love with a picture of an antique shawl at the Shetland Museum and had set out to recreate it for modern knitters.  I love that story of connection between the past and the present.
Plus, it's gorgeous.
But really, part of what triggered this need for more Shetland lace - although it's been building for a while - was the fact that last week I sat down to watch Outlander on Starz while it was free.  In two bedroom scenes Clair is wearing an absolutely gorgeous (and highly anachronistic) Shetland Shawl.  I lost my marbles over it, and spent an entire afternoon trying to find more information.  I was ultimately rewarded when I found the blog, A Passion For Lace
(photo from A Passion For Lace)
As it would turn out, Monique B. was also inspired by the tv show to recreate that shawl.  After studying screen shots, she contacted Terry Dresbach, the costume designer for Outlander, who sent her a picture of the antique shawl that was used in the show.  As of now, Monique B. has published The Shetland Star, which is a rectangular version, and is working on the pattern for the full-sized square.
Guess which one I want to do?
Yes, I'll wait for that square pattern.
So I have some pattern options.
I also am a fairly intelligent knitter and could probably come up with my own design if I'd get my act together - but that's another story altogether.
I also have some yarn options from a couple of fantastic sources.
One question remains.  What color should I use?
I've always had in mind that I wanted two heirloom quality Shetland shawls so that I could leave one to each daughter someday. (or they could each have a different one for their weddings....wishful thinking again!)  In order to do that, it would need to be another natural white.  Truthfully, I love white lace!  It just feels right.

I would LOVE to have a black Shetland shawl to actually use for myself.  I can actually imagine wearing black.  I've been dreaming about that for a long while.  Big plus, it would be a formal piece that I could wear to the (few and far between) formal events I go to, or church, or whatever!  It could actually also be more casual for wear with jeans and a sweater....not that I'm likely to do that, though.  I have other shawls for that.  The one problem I can see with this idea is that I would very likely go blind working on it.  Black is notoriously awful to knit with, and it has given me problems in the past.
One of the cool things that the collective behind the Queen Susan did was to put a gallery of pictures in the pattern in which the shawl is photo shopped in different colors, and it's kind of are the many pictures of Shetland Shawls done in colors that I've seen on Ravelry.  I will admit, though, that I have a hard time imagining living with a single color for as long as it takes to knit something like this, and I'm afraid it would ultimately limit it's usefulness in the future.  Plus, my color preferences shift a lot. 
So I'm dreaming, dreaming, dreaming...and hopefully by the end of the summer there will be something new on my needles!


Optimistic Existentialist said...

A very beautiful shawl indeed!!

Elka said...

Hey just an FYI I belong to the Heirloom Knitting group that is for people knitting Sharon Miller's patterns and a wee little bird {aka SM herself} is putting out a new pattern for a, I believe, rectangular piece. I personally am a stole lover so am excited about that.

I remember reading many many moons ago that white was "best" for lace because you could see the stitchwork more clearly. Plus it stood out from across the room. This might have been a wool festival show type of hint but I always think of white as the ultimate lace color. Although I tend to knit mine in gray as a happy medium.

THO I do not believe I have ever knit an heirloom quality piece. I find the idea of the time and concentration for them mildly crippling. Pretty much what you are speaking about: which one? & what color?