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Stunning Sunflower Lace Stole

September 2013
Lace / 2 ply ?
26 stitches and 37 rows = 4 inches in in pattern, after blocking
US 2 - 2.75 mm
9.0 mm (M/N)
1240 yards (1134 m)
17.75" wide and 72.75" long, excluding fringe

I came late to the party… the Downton Abbey party, that is. While the rest of America became obsessed with the elegantly produced PBS drama set in the early part of the twentieth century in the oh-so-proper aristocratic English countryside, I was busy watching re-runs of The Big Bang Theory!

Then, wondering what all the fuss was about, I watched my first episode of Downton Abbey. I was completely mesmerized. The fascinating period settings, especially the attire, brought back thoughts of what the clothing might have been like that my babushka (grandmother) Anna Nikiforovna Sedova, a seamstress in pre-Revolutionary St. Petersburg, Russia, fashioned for the wealthy, aristocratic family--relatives of Sir Alfred Nobel (the inventor of dynamite)--for whom she worked.

At that time in Russia, handknitted garments were really more the provenance of working/peasant-class women. Orenburg handknitted lace was the rare exception, often favored by the well-to-do. With these historically accurate facts in mind, I set out to create a wrap that fit my vision of what might look natural on the shoulders of one of Downton Abbey’s ladies. Four different basic elments of Orenburg-style knitting--Diagonals, Honeycomb, Mouseprint, and Accordion--seemed most appropriate to fit this image of grace and elegance. The Honeycomb element created the symbolic image of a sunflower (podsolnukhi in Russia). At both the beginning and the end of the stole, combinations of yarnovers and knit two-togethers create scalloped edges, which result in a very dramatic finished look. Finally, tassels seemed to bring my interpretation to life.