Ann talked a little bit about the history of feather-and-fan, and showed photos of hand-knitted Shetland lace shawls in the early 20th century being stretched on frames - knitting lace items for sale was a considerable industry on the Shetlands. She explained that the term feather-and-fan was originally applied to a different stitch pattern than the one it is now usually used for. We knitted a swatch to try out the original feather-and-fan stitch - a 2 row repeat, with 6 increases on every other row, balanced by two 4-into-1 decreases in the same row.
|Two variations on feather-and-fan|
We knitted another swatch during the workshop, trying out a garter stitch feather-and-fan, i.e. knitting every row. And since the workshop, I have done a stocking stitch swatch for comparison, keeping the right side rows the same, but purling the wrong side rows. Both are pretty, but I prefer the stocking stitch variant - the decreases show up better, for one thing. (I think of the arc of increases as being the 'fan' and the decreases as being the 'feather', though I don't know if that's the origin of the name.)
|Three feather-and-fan swatches|
I took along to the workshop some pattern leaflets from the Guild collection that use feather-and-fan. The earliest is a Patons & Baldwins shawl pattern, based on a Shetland original, that was reissued several times between the 1920s and the 1950s.
|Patons Helps to Knitters 56P|
|Robin No. 12 "Pauline"|