A Shawl for Aunt Harriet by Donna Druchunas & Ava Coleman

A Shawl for Aunt Harriet

September 2015
Lace ?
18 stitches and 24 rows = 4 inches
in Shell Pattern
US 2 - 2.75 mm
2700 yards (2469 m)
Center: 40" x 40" / 102 cm x 102 cm, Border: 8" / 20 cm wide
Flag of English English

What can we know about a woman born into slavery who died over a hundred years ago? Like scattered records in old newspapers, random photos in an old album, or the practice stitches in a lace sampler left behind by an expert knitter, a few vignettes are all we have. What can we make out of these swatches of life? A legend, a myth, a story. A story that can be told through shawls… read more in Stories In Stitches 5.

In 1897, the Queen of England sent a beautiful silk lace shawl to an ex-slave in New York State. The Queen’s name was Victoria and the New Yorker’s name was Harriet Tubman. In 2010, this shawl, along with other belongings of the famous conductor of the Underground Railroad, was donated to the Smithsonian Museum in Washington, DC. Harriet Tubman’s silk shawl was not knitted. This is my attempt to replicate the design in lace stitches from the period.