Knitting Counterpanes

Filed in Uncategorized by on June 17, 2013 1 Comment

I love knitting books, so I’m today I’m using the latest addition to my library as the inspiration for my post. This is something Gwen and I will do periodically, and we like to call it Pick a Page.

Knitting Counterpanes by Mary Walker Phillips was recently reissued by Dover, and I’ve really been looking forward to this one. Gwen has a particular connection with this book and used it to good effect in a really wonderful design you can see here.

I myself have strong memories of reading and enjoying this book, but either I never actually owned it and only looked at it regularly when I worked at a yarn shop with a fantastic book collection, or I did own it and have lost it somehow.

In any case, I have it again in my grateful hands. I’ve decided, without looking at the book at all since I received it on Friday, to turn to page 73 and write about whatever I find there. Stand by…

Okay, I’m back. Here is what I found–instructions for something called Corinthian Border:

Now, stand by again while I study it.

*      *      *      *      *      *      *      *      *
You’re being very patient, by the way.
The first thing I notice are knitting abbreviations which are unfamiliar to me so I’ll have to actually study the glossary and other instructional material before I dive in. Score! I like it when a book or technique forces me to learn new things or even just look at things from a different perspective. 
The next thing I notice is that the border I’m looking at is a variant of the square pattern on the facing page (oops, is that cheating?) Hmm. I am intrigued. Reworking one idea into something else is a great way of shifting one’s focus and coming up with new ideas, so I’m inspired already. 
Lastly, I feel a sense of incomplete understanding. Questions are coming to mind which will hopefully be answered by reading the history and instruction at the beginning, or by simply casting on to knit. The pattern on the page is for a “border,” so does that mean a counterpane edging? A vertical panel? Anything I want? The pattern at the top in the photo has a very deep embossed or fluted look and I can’t quite tell from the photo what it’s like. It appears from the instructions that pleats or flutes are created from rapid increases that are never decreased out again. See the wavy top edge?. I just sample-knit a project with pleats at the hem and sleeves, but this is a different technique altogether. Would just the top section work for a pleated-look skirt or maybe some fun girly shaping in a peplum? Holy Cow, it’s one page and suddenly my mind is racing with possibilities
Indications are good from page 73 that I am going to love this book. Even if it takes me a long time to actually make something from within its pages, I am already wanting to sit down with it and really soak it all in. I’m itching to grab yarn and needles and “read” with my hands. That’s when all the pieces will come together and I’ll be able to internalize the ideas and then utilize them in my creative life. 
Thanks to Dover for bringing back to life so many out of print treasures. And of course thanks to visionary artist Mary Walker Phillips for turning her creative eye onto a traditional form of knitting that might have been ignored to tragic effect. 
It makes my heart happy to finally be able to have this particular book in my personal library. 

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