Friday, 7 February 2014

The Queen Susan Shawl


There are many, many reasons for us knitters to love Ravelry, but I think there's one story that is my favourite illustration of just how wonderful Ravelry is. This story began in October 2009, when a Ravelry user posted the above picture of a Shetland lace shawl to the heirloom knitting section of the Ravelry forums, and asked if anyone recognized the border pattern on it.

Little did she know what she'd begun. The Ravelry Heirloom Knitting Forum took up the knitted gauntlet she didn't even know she'd thrown down, and after over a month of cyclical stages of research, charting, swatching, knitting, writing, editing, and proofreading, they recreated the pattern for this shawl, with just one modernization. The shawl shown here was knitted in pieces and sewn together, while in the Ravelry version the shawl is seamless. The centre section is knitted and then the stitches for the border are picked up from the edge of the centre piece and knitted on a circular needle.

The story of the process is told in more detail on Ravelry user Fleegle's blog. The 30 or so people who created the pattern as a collaborative effort decided to name their pattern the Queen Susan Shawl, because several of the ringleaders of the project were named Susan and others had special associations with the name because they had close relatives named Susan. They also decided their pattern should be available for free to all who wanted it.

The Queen Susan Shawl project page is here and the pattern itself is available here. When I knit antique patterns, I often feel like my work is a tribute and a link to the past, but if I were ever to knit this one I think it would feel like a tribute to Ravelry itself.

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