Sunday, October 28, 2007

Armenian Knitting

A treat was waiting for me when I got home. Some of you may remember Elsa Schiaparelli's famous bow sweater. I didn't remember that I had seen it decades ago till I saw the photo of it.
Joyce Williams and Meg Swansen of Schoolhouse Press were contacted as part of an exhibit of her work a few years ago. They were intrigued by the technique which was called Armenian Knitting even though no real evidence exists of it originating in Armenia. The current working hypothesis is that Elsa had a knitter from Armenia who executed her designs using this technique. Like stranded knitting, it is worked with two colors all the time. It is not intarsia, which is what one first considers when seeing these designs. Instead, the design is worked by stranding, working each st in the appropriate color. The novel part of the technique is in the large single color sections. The unused color is carried throughout the fabric, woven in periodically with the working color, so that it peeks out and gives a tweedy effect to the right side.

Schoolhouse Press has published a new book on the subject. The front and back covers feature a child's vest with a flower on it by Meg and Joyce's stunning Lily jacket.

This is the back of the jacket.

All the designs are done in J&S Shetland jumper-weight. As with anything from Meg and Joyce, the book also includes innovative garment shaping and use of techniques.
The front of the jacket continues the Lily design. The inside shows the unused color that is 'trapped' . You can see the color changes that form the lily stem and flower.

Joyce is also the designer behind the Olive Branch sweater (front above and back below).
Joyce's whimsical vision extends to this Knit-Purl sweater. The front features a magnified image of a knit fabric, the back has the same image of a purl fabric. Great for knitting teachers!

Additionally, she combines the two into a garter stitch underarm section (seen at left). All you ever need to know about the structure of a knitted fabric is on this sweater.

The remaining designs are Meg's. There are two butterfly sweaters. The Monarch one (below) is what caught my attention. I love the asymmetry and the colors. Black and red is my favorite color combination.
Meg couldn't resist adding the date of knitting on the sleeve. As she said, it is very hard not to create a design with the contrast color when you are carrying it along.

All the designs are charted. The charts are large, but easy to read, creating the details that make these designs so engaging.

I also fell in love with the Cossack vest. This is a photo of the vest that I took at Camp this year. Last, but not least, there are patterns for three hats, two of which you can see in the photo above.


Nancy said...

My copy should be here next week 'cause it wasn't mailed out till Friday, probably. Can hardly, did you cast on for the Monarch yet?!

Jaya said...

Hi Nancy,
I wish! I have so many other things to knit.

Some day!


Janis said...

I have that Bow Tie sweater kit from some museum. A friend gave it to me. I forgot I had it until I just read your blog entry :-)

Anonymous said...

Interesting. Do you have any sources which you can cite to support the statement, "even though no real evidence exists of it originating in Armenia" ?

deja vu said...

Armenian grandmas used to knit colorful socks with this technique, no other "real evidence" is needed for me, I had my socks knitted by my great grandma :)