|The 1891 knitted sampler of lace stitches|
The sampler has accumulated several small stains since it was made, including a particularly nasty one at one end (which I am not going to show you). It has an edging that was intended to be frilly, but has settled into folds over the years. Altogether, it is hard to avoid it looking like a crumpled old bandage, but I hope that we have achieved that.
It is much easier to see the quality of the work if you focus on the detail. Many of the stitch patterns are lovely and the evenness of the knitting on this tiny scale is remarkable. One of the patterns is similar to Old Shale, and I noticed that one immediately because it seems familiar.
But there are other stitches that you have to examine very closely to appreciate their complexity - it feels almost like exploring a hidden microscopic world. Some stitches combine eyelets with cables - sometimes they look very dynamic, with the stitches moving to and fro.
Others are more open and lacy, sometimes with motifs resembling leaves or seeds.
And finally, in the last square of the sampler, the knitter worked her initials and the date 1891 in eyelets. (I assume that it was made by a woman.)
I wonder how she felt when she finished it? Maybe she then went on to use the stitches in lots of other knitted articles - certainly seeing the sampler now, you get the urge to try out the patterns and make something with them. And her efforts have had lasting value - her sampler is still inspiring other knitters more than a hundred years later.