SUCCESSFUL LACE KNITTING DESIGNER NOTES SERIES
To wrap up our Summer of Lace blog series, I have two special posts for you. Today’s post features Dorothy Reade’s favorite pattern stitches: her kitty-cat lace motifs. Dorothy Reade adapted this design from a motif she saw in a Peruvian weaving. She loved the cat designs so much, that she used the cat’s head mesh patter as the cover of her book, 25 Original Knitting Designs, which is the basis for Successful Lace Knitting book.
Jean Scorgie, a designer who live near me in Colorado, used all three versions of the Kitty motif from Dorothy Reade’s book in her raglan sweater design.
These kitties face outward to each side just like my kitty Clipper who loves to tuck his head into the crook of my arm when he sits on my lap. Because the lace patterns are easier worked flat rather than in the round, the body with two kitties on the front and the sleeves with kitty faces are knit as separate flat pieces. When the pieces are joined for the raglan yoke, the deep V-neck becomes the new “beginning and end” of another “flat piece”, eliminating raglan seams and allowing one more kitty face to be knit in the center back. Because this yarn is somewhat slippery, I found it much easier to knit on bamboo needles rather than metal needles.
Dorothy also created several different variations of the cat motif, and she made several of her own projects using these motifs. One of her favorite ways to create new lace stitches was to adapt designs from other types of artwork, which is what she did when she created the first design, the Oomingmak knitting co-op in Alaska. She also used this technique in many of her own projects, published and unpublished. I used the design for a scarf in my book, Kitty Knits, too. It was just to irresistible to leave out!, for the
Alice Scherp, who contributed the Trellis and Flowers Stole has been playing with the cat’s head mesh pattern lately, to create a version that will be the same on two ends of a scarf. Here’s what she’s working on and what she has to say about it:
Just for fun…you know the cats head mesh? I clipped and taped and sort of figured out how to reverse the pattern so both ends of the scarf would have the TWO cats heads right side up when worn around the neck. It’s not perfect but seems to work ok. The other is the pic of the scarf with bronze beads to match the merino/silk dyed edging. The beads are on the very outside edge and the bottom.
I am just blocking the scarf with the merino/silk edge. You can see the stainless steel welding rods I use to block my scarves and the one rod down the center shows where the pattern reverses with the empty little diamonds in the center. (The stainless steel rods need to be ground round and smooth at each end so they don’t snag your knits and then just pin down to dry.)
I still think my pattern is not quite “right” (but comes pretty close for my first try). The scarf is 62 inches long and 10 inches wide on #4 circular needles. I don’t know how much it weighs yet. Darn! You can’t see the #12 bronze beads I put on the outside edges where you slip the first stitch, so I took an extra picture with the beads.
I really like what Jean, Alice and I have done here with the same motif, because it shows how so many of the designers in Successful Lace Knitting have started with one of Dorothy Reade’s charts and adapted it for their own design. It’s something my friend Susan Crawford describes this way: “Tradition+Reinterpretation+Progression=Renewal” Isn’t that great?