Debussy by Dee O'Keefe


January 2019
DK (11 wpi) ?
4.25 stitches = 1 inch
in garter
US 6 - 4.0 mm
US 8 - 5.0 mm
490 - 775 yards (448 - 709 m)
Medium 58" x 26" / Large 73" x 33" but easily customizable
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Debussy is a contemporary, deeply textured lace shawl, featuring an Art Nouveau-inspired lace panel flanked by a body composed of impressionistic bamboo stalks on a garter background. The asymmetrical shaping begins with just a few stitches which then flow into a wide panel filled with a fascinating lace pattern of sinuous, organic lines punctuated by reverse stockinette. Depending on where you look, the motifs may resemble bellflowers, tulips, rosebuds or even little baskets. The clean, vertical lines of the bamboo stalks—a motif often used in Art Nouveau furniture design—paired with classic garter stitch provide a visual and textural contrast to the intricate lace of the panel.

Debussy is fast and fun to knit in DK weight yarn. The panel lace, although patterned on both sides (knits and purls only on the wrong side) is deceptively easy to knit and has a nice rhythm to it. You’ll enjoy seeing the texture emerge as the panel begins, and when the bamboo and garter body kicks in, you’ll have a nice respite from the panel lace. The combination of the two patterns as you work along the ever-increasing rows will keep you interested through to the very end!

The Debussy pattern includes both charts and full written out instructions for those of you who prefer not to use charts.

While dimensions and yardage are provided for DK weight, Debussy could effectively be worked in worsted or sport weight as well. A solid or tonal yarn is highly recommended to showcase the intricacy of the panel design. The shawl is offered in two sizes--medium (pictured in the light-colored yarn) and large (pictured in blue); instructions are included should you wish to further customize the size. The pattern includes detailed blocking instructions.

SIZE AND YARDAGE: My medium-size sample shawl pictured used about 510 yards of Hazel Knits Lively DK yarn (Silica colorway) and measures 58” x 26”. My large-size shawl used about 775 yards of Hazel Knits Lively DK yarn (Aquarius colorway) and measures 73” x 33”. Yardage ranges quoted on the pattern are as follows: Medium size 490-540 yards; large size 725-775 yards. Note that these ranges are calculated by averaging test knitter yardage data.

NEEDLES: I used US 6/4.0mm needles for the main part of the shawl, then bound off with US 8 / 5.0mm for the bind off. I choose one size smaller needles than I usually would for a DK weight shawl to keep a crisp definition between the stockinette and reverse stockinette in the lace panel and to show off the texture of the lace pattern. If working the medium size, a 24” cable is plenty long enough, but if working the large size, you may wish to use the longer 32” cable length. I worked most of the large size on a 24” cable, but decided to switch to the longer cable towards the end of the last couple repeats of Chart 5.

I named the shawl after Claude Debussy, one of my favorite composers and a contemporary of the Art Nouveau designers. Debussy is quoted as saying “Music is the silence between the notes.” I think this idea applies to lace knitting as well, since lace is formed by the negative space in between the solid knitted fabric. Here is a link to over an hour of Debussy’s solo piano music., which I’ve also included on the pattern.