Wednesday 25 November 2015

Flame Knit

At the "Chanel to Westwood" exhibition in Barnsley, there was a wonderful shawl in a fine silky knit,  worn over a dress with Art Nouveau-style embroidery, in a display of garments from the 1910s.

The label said this about the shawl:
"The shawl in fine knit rayon is knitted in a 'flame knit' pattern which is a traditional design.  This stole is the oldest example we have of this pattern but the flame knit remains popular up to the present day having a particular association with the Italian knitwear company Missoni where it became one of their signature designs." 
It was hard to see the stitch pattern on the shawl very well - the close-up below is the best I could do.

I would love to know how the stitch is done - I assume that at that date, it would have to be hand-knitted.  There were knitting machine in the 1910s, but not I think sophisticated enough to knit such a complex stitch pattern.  So if it's traditional hand-knitting stitch pattern, you would think it would be documented in stitch dictionaries - but I haven't been able to find it.

The nearest thing to a flame-like stitch pattern that I could find, searching on Ravelry, were some patterns by Xandy Peters - she has a pattern called the Petal Cowl, which you can buy through Ravelry.  (The image is taken from her blog post about it.)  I have bought the pattern and have started knitting - I'll write about it later.  It's quite a tricky knit, though doable.  She has an even more complicated-looking pattern called Fox Paws, which looks wonderful and more like the shawl, but she says it's "recommended for the adventurous" and slightly more complex than the Petal Cowl, so I'll leave that one for later.  But these stitches are her own invention, so not the 'traditional design' used in the rayon shawl.

If anyone can put me on the trail of the traditional 'flame knit' pattern, I should be very grateful.


  1. My suspicion is that the flame knit is in fact machine made - it looks very fine form the photo - and possibly some sort of knit/weave hybrid structure. The most usual one is called Raschel lace. See the Wikipedia entry for some further details:

    1. That would explain why I can't find it as a hand-knitting stitch pattern.....

  2. The exact oattern - infact, I think the same swatch - on Ravelry. It's hand knit.

    1. Yes, I've subsequently knitted Xandy Peters' Petal Cowl. But it's not quite the same as the pattern in the Art Nouveau shawl I saw at the exhibition.


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