Lace Knitting Historical

From the Textile Museum of Canada collection, these are a variety of knitted laceworks I took photos of several years ago for an online display.

Special thanks to Roxane Shaughnessy, (Curator, Collections & Access, the Textile Museum of Canada) for the links to the items in the museums’ collection, given below two of the items. There are more details about the piece at the museum site, plus the exciting bonus of being able to zoom in for a close up look to see the stitch details.

Enjoy! Marsha

Irish Bedspread
Counterpane Ireland This bedcover, or counterpane, is worked in a traditional pattern called Star Tidy (the octagonal pattern), which has been traced by Mary Walker Phillips ( in her book “Knitting Counterpanes” – pg 50) back to an 1845 publication called Manual of Needlework, by Cornelia Mee. The square pattern is a ‘honeycomb’ type pattern and was also found by Mary Walker Philips to have been very popular in 19th century needlework publications.

Detail of Irish Bedspread, fine white cotton, cira 1890, brought from County Fermanaghin to Canada in 1926, 208 cm x 173 cm – 82″ x 68″

Lace Sampler
Austrian Lace SamplerTraditionally, in order to both learn and record lace patterns, knitters made samplers. For both the learner and the experienced knitter, this permanent record was the reference they used when designing other lace articles.
For further reference, see Knitting Lace, by Susanna Lewis, in which the author documents the patterns of a mid-19th century lace sampler.

Detail of a Lace Sampler, fine white cotton, late 19th century, made in Austria
Textile Museum of Canada details

Russian Lace Shawl
Lace Shawl RussiaThis beautiful shawl is so light, it literally feels like air. It is made of very finely spun wool, with diamond patterns which repeat in the overall design and in individual lace motifs. While in its airy nature and lacy design, it is similar to Shetland Lace, it has very distinctive patterning. For futher reading on Russian Lace shawls, refer to Piecework Magazine, May/June 1995 issue, “Cobwebs from the Steppes – Russian Lace-Knitted Shawls”, by Melanie Falick – pg 42

Detail of a Russian Lace Shawl, fine white wool, cira 1880, made in an Orenburg Prison for women.

Lace Tablecover
Eastern European Lace tableclothThis lovely tablecover has some interesting contrasts between textures and design shapes. The octagonal doilies are in a delicate lace cotton, while the joining squares are done in a heavier cotton, using a solid looking rib pattern. The spinning stars of the doilies have smaller lace motifs within and overall infer a sense of motion, while the joining rib squares provide a solid place for the lace to attach to.
After browsing through several lace books, the pattern for the tablecover was found in ‘The Knitted Lace Patterns of Christine Duchrow – Vol II’, edited by Jules & Kaethe Kliot, pg 9.

Section of Lace Tablecover,
Knitted Lace octagonal doilies, in a fine white cotton, attached by squares in a rib pattern, using a heavier thread.
241 cm x 223 cm – 95″ x 88″
Textile Museum of Canada details