Tritonian Minerva had listened to every word, and approved of the Aonian Muses’s song, and their justified indignation. Then she said, to herself, ‘To give praise is not enough, let me be praised as well, and not allow my divine powers to be scorned without inflicting punishment.’ Her thoughts turned to Arachne, of Maeonia, whom she had heard would not give her due credit, in the art of spinning. The girl was not known for her place of birth, or family, but for her skill. Her father, Idmon of Colophon, dyed the absorbent wool purple, with Phocaean murex. Her mother was dead. She too had been of humble birth, and the father the same. Nevertheless, though she lived in a modest home, in little Hypaepa, Arachne had gained a name for artistry, throughout the cities of Lydia.
Often the nymphs of Mount Tmolus deserted their vine-covered slopes, and the nymphs of the River Pactolus deserted their waves, to examine her wonderful workmanship. It was not only a joy to see the finished cloths, but also to watch them made: so much beauty added to art. Whether at first she was winding the rough yarn into a new ball, or working the stuff with her fingers, teasing out the clouds of wool, repeatedly, drawing them into long equal threads, twirling the slender spindle with practised thumb, or embroidering with her needle, you could see she was taught by Pallas. Yet she denied it, and took offense at the idea of such a teacher. ‘Contend with me’ she said ‘I will not disagree at all if I am beaten’. (Ovid’s Metamorphoses, tr. Anthony S. Kline)
A lace project is always a challenge, especially if you are working on an old pattern. The pattern I worked is from a booklet called Traditional Shetland Scarves & Shawls, published by the Amalgamated Press Ltd., The Fleetly House, Farringdon Street, London EC4 in the early 1940’s or 1950’s. It is the Spiderweb Lace Scarf by Miss Julia Sutherland. Reprints are available from Jamieson & Smith.
The scarf itself is described as “the glorious lace scarf… was designed in traditional stitches by Miss Julia Sutherland. The Sutherland family are famous for their fine lace knitting, and have on many occasions hat the honour of making scarves, knitted samplers or shawls for presentation to members of the Royal Family. The centre piece of this scarf has a repeat pattern of daisies, dewdrops and a wheel pattern known as the “Puzzle,” which is said to have been copied by knitters in Unst from spiders-webs.
All patterns in this booklet are written patterns and so I first charted the different parts of this pattern for understanding the lace and easier knitting.
This scarf itself is constructed in three pieces. The first piece consists of the border pattern and the centre pattern. The second piece is only the border pattern and the third piece is the border, which is knitted separately.
The first two pieces are grafted together, whereas the border is sewn to the outer edges of the main part, raising it on the round the corners.
I decided to change this pattern a little bit because I didn’t wanted to sew on the border. Therefore I did a provisional cast-on first and knitted the first piece, adding 2 stitches as selvage stitches to the given pattern. I also used a provisional cast-on for the second piece and also added 2 selvage stitches.
Then I joined the border directly to the main part. After a provisional cast-on I used double and triple joins to ease the border around the corners and grafted the ends of the border together.
It is always a little metamorphosis going on when you are knitting lace. First the garment doesn’t looks like a garment at all and after a bath and a dressing it is unveiling its real beauty. It is amazing every single time.
I usually soak my lace for a minimum of 15 minutes in lukewarm water.
After soaking the lace for a while I added stark to the water. And after carefully removing excess water using a towel I blocked the scarf until it was completely dry using blocking wires.
The original patter is calling for a cobweb yarn and 3mm knitting needles. I used 3 balls of Rowan Fine Lace in shade Vintage 926 and 3,5mm knitting needles.