Belle Greene Shawl by Nina Machlin Dayton
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Belle Greene Shawl

Knitting
June 2013
Fingering (14 wpi) ?
17 stitches and 25 rows = 4 inches
in Stockinette Stitch
US 6 - 4.0 mm
800 yards (732 m)
This pattern is available for $6.00 USD buy it now

She knows more about rare books than any other American.… She wears her hair long and does not use glasses, runs to Europe on secret missions, and is the terror of continental collectors’ agents. Her name is Belle Greene.
—Chicago Tribune, August 11, 1912

Born in 1879, daughter of the first African-American man to graduate from Harvard, Belle da Costa Greene never received a formal degree herself. Nonetheless, her first job was at the Princeton University library, where she developed a fascination for medieval books.

In 1905, J. Pierpont Morgan, one of the wealthiest men in the world, hired her to catalog his growing collection of rare manuscripts. Witty, flirtatious, and always well dressed, Belle was perfectly at home in the world of wealth and glamour. She quickly earned her employer’s trust, and was soon making regular trips to Europe where she negotiated on Morgan’s behalf, dodged forgeries and tariff collectors, and developed professional, social, and romantic relationships with some of the most influential people of her time. She served as director of The Pierpont Morgan Library (now The Morgan Library & Museum) from 1924 until her retirement in 1948, and was instrumental in creating one of the world’s most important collections of artistic, literary, and musical works.

The Belle Greene shawl incorporates two lace patterns that were popular during the Gilded Age in which Belle began her remarkable career. Easily made larger or smaller, the shawl can be customized to fit the needs of the individual knitter. It has beads—the always stylish Belle would have appreciated a bit of sparkle—and provides just enough warmth to keep the chill off the shoulders of any librarian, or library patron, browsing in the stacks.

This pattern is also available in the book Stitching in the Stacks, which is available in both print and digital format via Cooperative Press (the digital edition is also available here on Ravelry).