Unravelling a Nineteenth Century Lace Pattern

In my internet travels for the Tell Them of Us film, I came across this shawl:


The lace pattern is also in one of my old Weldon’s leaflets, and seems to be known as Rose Leaf Lace.

Here is the pattern as given:

PhotoELF Edits:2014:04:15 --- Save - Overwrite --- crop; resize

So now I have to chart it. When doing this I always start by charting exactly what the pattern says, even if I think there might be errors. The pattern starts with 20 sts, but the first row decreases this to 18, and stays at 18 until the 7th row.

So the first chart is:

bl 01

And knitted up is:

try 1

It is clear that the yarn overs make straight lines, so the next thing is to adjust the chart to allow for this:

bl 02

Which when tidied further becomes this:

bl 03

Here it is easier to see where the mistakes in the pattern are. The yo, k2togtbl, yo in the 7th row should be over the ones in the 5th row:

bl 04

Now it is possible to look at the odd purl bumps dotted about! Looking at the original knitted sample, the odd bumps on the left definitely need to go, and the sets of 3 on the right need looking at:

try 1 marked

So the second sample is:

try 2

Looking at this, the sets of 3 purl bumps on the right shouldn’t be there…..

try 2 marked

…..so the chart is now:

bl 05Getting there!! But the chart isn’t quite right. The 3 separate purl bumps on the left don’t do anything, so they need to go, and the ‘no stitch’ stitch needs to move to the other side of the line of yarn overs:

bl final

And the third sample, knitted from this chart gives:

try 3

Here the purl bumps left in the middle of the leaves do serve a purpose, making the central ‘veins’ more prominent.

try 3 marked

So now I have the modern translation, ready to be written up and knitted into a wrap for the film!


13 thoughts on “Unravelling a Nineteenth Century Lace Pattern

  1. Isn’t charting fun? Love it, love it, love it. Ever since Barbara Walker’s third treasury came out with charts, I’ve been enraptured with the visual and logical delights. Thanks for sharing this!

  2. That’s really interesting. I’m wondering if whoever edited/published the original pattern didn’t test it first or maybe wasn’t a knitter.

  3. Oh my gosh ! it’s wonderful to see the process you had to go through to get there. Thank you for sharing.
    I love it. Look forward to seeing the finished shawl.

  4. Superb. Thank you again for sharing. I always feel that the charted and the written pattern go hand in hand, both useful, both necessary. Again, possibly the original pattern was taken down from an actual piece, and inaccuracies occurred which were perhaps compounded later! So well done to you!

  5. Wonderful! What a lot of work you have engaged in. I hope you publish your version of the shawl pattern. I have long wanted to knit Rose Leaf Lace, but found the unequal pattern rows confusing, and have not been able to chart it out myself because of my confusion.

  6. Wow! This is a very cool thing to see. Way beyond my skills, I enjoyed trying charts, and I like it now, so I am eager to sit down and try a swatch to see what you have accomplished.You brought something back to the living knitting world. Few people would be able to work that out without tossing their needles up in the air in frustration.

    It is a lovely patten made up like that shawl. I hope you get to keep the finished one. You’d surely deserve it!

  7. Thank you, Liz! Many, many years ago, I used this (or a very similar) pattern to knit the front of an evening shell. I went through a long spell of no knitting, accompanied by far too many house moves (the Army disposes) and had lost the pattern. It is so nice to have it again!

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