Le mystère de l’écharpe Shetland

NOTA BENE: Comme ce projet de livre est tout en anglais et qu’une traduction française du livre n’est pas envisagée, j’écris cet article de blog seulement en anglais! Ne m’en voulez pas!

The Vintage Shetland Project is the culmination of several years Susan Crawford has spent researching hand-knitted garments and accessories from the 1920s to 1960s, which are held in the Shetland Museum’s archives. The result is Susan’s upcoming book, a collection of 25 pieces based on artifacts in the Museum – all with their own unique story to tell – which Susan has been developed into comprehensive multi-sized knitting patterns. In order to reproduce the garments, Susan also developed her own yarn, Fenella, a unique 100% British 2 ply yarn that knits up to that elusive vintage ‘3 ply’ tension and reflects the special colours found in the garments.

This ambitious project, that was four years in the making, has been crowd-funded through Pubslush and although the goal was reached within a few days, you can still help and more over, get a chance to get a book before everyone else, just like if you would pre-order the book. To support the project further and give a glimpse of the garments in the book, Susan organized a blog tour which I’m thrilled to be part of. I chose to show you a very intringuing scarf.

I first met Susan at I Knit Day in London back in 2008. We stayed in touch and developed a friendship not just based on our, obviously, common knitting passion but also on how our business slowly evolved from knit design in a special niche (Vintage for Susan, Icelandic for me) to yarn production with the development of a special yarn to fit a specific project. The Vintage Shetland Project is probably not without remembering you my own endless project about the lace dresses of Aðalbjörg Jónsdóttir,  that led to the creation of my boutique yarns Love Story, Grýla and the new comer Gilitrutt (if you are following my Instagram or Facebook, you can get an idea already! And yes, now that the yarn is there, the book is now forthcoming!).

I have known about Susan ‘s endeavors with the Vintage Shetland Project  from the beginning and was really glad earlier this year when I pay her a visit at the farm to see some of the final projects and even happier to help her resolve the Mystery of the Shetland Scarf. The scarf in question is simply beautiful in its apparent simplicity: two bands of colorful stranded knitting running around a long tube of stocking stitch in a neutral shade, flanked with some fringes. The construction however is a bit more challenging. We figured out that the stranded knitting bands must have been knitted separately, then the core of the plain scarf, consisting in four panels, knitted back and forth, one panel at the time. Panel and bands are joined together using a modular knitting technique, picking up stitches along the bands as the panel is worked vertically – a bit like you would knit and attach at the same time vertical bands to a cardigan. The stunning twisting effect is obtained with symmetrically placed decreases and decreases on each side of each panel. Once this was figured out, we then discussed how this could be explained into a comprehensible pattern. Of course, as an Icelandic knitter, I strongly suggested that the bands be knitting in the round then steeked, which Susan knows would make many knitters cringe! We wondered if stitches along the bands had to be picked up on needles before knitting the panels, making for many meters of picked up stitches on possibly extra extra extra long needles, and handling those needles plus two more while knitting the panels. I can’t wait to see what clear instructions Susan came out with!

The scarf also has a matching beret with again a very original and twisted construction which Karie Westermann introduced and Woolly Wormhead discussed further a few days ago as part of  the blog tour. Susan and I made presumptions that the beret was made with pieces, possibly left overs, of the stranded knitting bands used for the scarf. Again, I can’t wait to see if Susan found out more about it and how she managed to write a comprehensible pattern of this amazing beret!

Make sure to check the blog posts of all the other brilliant participants of the blog tour! Next stop is tomorrow at mender extraordinary Tom of Holland. And of course, secure a pre-ordered copy of the book at Pubslush before August 8th, 2015.

Thursday 9th July
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Susan Crawford