From Paris With Lace, pt 4: The Sierpinski Gasket Shawl

Original photo of Miss Julia Sett wearing her shawl

Greetings my colleagues!  I hope you enjoyed our little side trip last week to share the amazing photos in the works for our book!   Things are really coming along now, and I can’t wait to show more teasers along the way.  Though those patterns are under wraps for now, as promised I have a special treat for you today!  One of our collaborative designers Amanda Williams has worked her magic yet again to re-create Miss Julia Sett’s lace shawl.  I’ll let her describe the project in her own words, and leave you to enjoy the wonderful finished product!  I’m sure Julia would be proud to know her cunning and creative design has reached a far larger audience than her original letters to Miss Alyssa.

Dear Archivist,

Thank you for the opportunity to recreate another of the Ladies items from the trunk. I enjoyed the Lace Gear last year, and this shawl was as much of a treat. Using Miss Julia’s notes and letters was a big help, as was having the original shawl itself. It was interesting to see she had issues running out of yarn; she wanted to create a true interpretation of the Sierpinski gasket which, with our charting, would look like this (click for full size view):

I did some calculations for that. It appears she would have needed at least 2100 yds of laceweight yarn to complete her shawl. Instead she created this variant, which is just as lovely and appears to use approximately 1100 yds.

When I wrote up the pattern, I charted the first section of triangles only, and provided a diagram and directions for the placement of that chart within the larger pattern. I thought that many of your readers would prefer a quicker, snuggly knit as we head into winter and gift giving season, and this smaller size works up beautifully in a soft, bulky yarn.

For your readers looking for a classic, elegant lace weight shawl they can substitute either of the full diagrams above in place of the one in the pattern.  The yarn in Julia’s original shawl is a spot-on match for Silk Hand Dyed Knitting Yarn – Lace Weight from Sunnyside Ellen (3 1/2 oz (100g), 1100yds (990m) 100% Silk in lace weight), which I would highly recommend for this project.  You can use 1 skein for the smaller version or 2 skeins for the large version.

Thank you again for the opportunity to bring a little history to life – I can’t wait to see what you find next!
Enjoy!
-Amanda

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From Paris With Lace, pt 3

Good day to you, my colleagues.  I have for you today the third installment of our latest adventure: In Part 1 Miss Alyssa Rynne found some artistic inspiration in Paris, along with some gorgeous lace yarn to send to Miss Julia Sett.  In Part 2 Julia replied with her plans for a most ingenious shawl, if she could get her knitting machine to cooporate.  Now let us continue the tale with a journal entry of Julia’s, where she is puzzling over that very thing.

From the Journal of Julia Sett:

I have been most fortunate with the operational guidance of the automated knitting machine. It was a bit tricky to begin with – the hooks were not moving smoothly and some would not engage at all. It turns out a moth had gotten into the mechanism and caused the issue. Once I had tracked down the bug and removed it, everything worked much better. I must say I’m not sorry to see that moth meet its demise; they are vile wool-eating creatures.
While the instructions did not work correctly at the first go I was quite pleased to be able to adjust and have it work from then out. I am using a method similar to what I use myself, whereby the machine “reads” the previous row to determine what operations to perform next.
I have finished several iterations of the triangular repeat. It feels about half done and yet I know I will need three times the yarn already used if I do another full iteration. Though I believe I might instead be able to repeat a smaller iteration alternated with two solid triangles for a total of five in that row. Much as the last row contained three triangles, one of which was solid.  We shall adjust our figures tomorrow to be sure.

Ah, the mind of a knitting mathematician is interesting place, that’s for certain.  However, this isn’t the first time I’ve tried to follow along as my knitter friends explained their on-the-fly pattern rewrites and clever solutions when faced with too little yarn.  We know that won’t stop Julia for long, and I’ll have the final exciting installment for you shortly.  You won’t want to miss it!

From Paris With Lace, pt 2

Hello my colleagues!  Time to continue with Part 2 of our most interesting exchange between Miss Alyssa Rynne and Miss Julia Sett.  The lovely silk yarn Alyssa sent off (in last weeks installment) made it safely to Julia and served as some ingenious inspiration.  Fortunately, her letter was in excellent condition and able to be scanned, so you can enjoy it in its original format.

As you recall, Miss Sett has been pursuing the idea of automated knitting for some time, so I find it quite exciting to read about her progress; even if it happened over 100 years ago, it feels as though I’m along for the journey!  As I admitted before, I had a hard time following a few of her concepts, but on seeing this lovely little sketch, the idea of “self-similar, self-referential figures” suddenly clicked (sometimes even us brainy folks need a picture).  We’ll see what continued progress Julia made with her wonderful shawl pattern next week!

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