Successful Lace Knitting Month: Research

All books, at least the kind I like to write, begin with research. Today I’d like to take you back a few years to my first meeting with Dorothy Reade’s daughter, Donna Nixon, in Eugene Oregon.

Visiting Eugene, Oregon
Saturday, August 25, 2007

I’m in Eugene, Oregon enjoying the cool(er than Colorado) weather and rare summer sunshine. I’m here for several reasons, all related to different things I do for work. Work may mean “projects for personal fulfillment” or “projects for money,” and in some lucky cases, work means both of those things at the same time.

Yesterday I spent the day with Donna Reade Nixon, the daughter of Dorothy Reade. Dorothy was a fiber artist, potter, and water color painter (amongst other things), who was instrumental in developing the yarn and product line for the Oomingmak Co-op of Native Alaskan Knitters in the 1960s. On top of that, she did a lot of pioneering work in developing charted knitting and in creating unique knitted art pieces with handspun yarn.

Donna Druchunas and Donna Nixon

Here’s a swatch and a photo of a finished piece that will give you an idea of the type of work she did. The caption on the swatch says,

Lace SwatchMerino. Handspun to approx. 1 mile per ounce. Knit on Jeweler’s wire (35/1000″) dia. Contains 11,220 stitches, about 710 per square inch. Dorothy Reade. Eugene, Ore.

If you look closely, you can see the wires/needles attached to the bottom of the piece, below the caption. (Click on the picture to zoom in.)

This knitted piece shows just one of the original lace stitches that Dorothy designed. I found this one to be quite interesting, especially in the way she juxtaposed the round motifs with the sharp zigzag outline of the larger design.

Circular lace motif

I could write a book about what I learned yesterday. Wait! I am writing a book about Dorothy Reade. It won’t be done until next year, and then it will take some time in editing and production and printing before you’ll find a copy at your local yarn shop. But it will be worth the wait. In addition to what I’ve learned this weekend, it will include charts for 25 of Dorothy Reade’s original lace stitch patterns and projects by about 20 different terrific designers. So (shameless self promotion), check back here from time to time for small sneak previews, including snapshots and sketches of the projects in progress.

You can purchase Successful Lace Knitting here on this website. Donna will sign it personally for you. Read more about Dorothy Reade.

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