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It Started with a Sketch: Sign of the Sun

This shawl design was inspired by Jessie Burton’s The Miniaturist, a novel of love, marriage, and betrayal in the 17th-century Amsterdam.

The book's main character Nella is an 18-year-old country girl who is married off to an older man, a rich spice trader from Amsterdam. Living by the canals in the winter is cold and the house draughty, and Nella wears a reading shawl in bed at night. I got to thinking what kind of a shawl a high-society wife would've worn in the 17th century...

Something with traditional lace and a shape that sits nicely on your shoulders when you're reading in bed. The yarn must have been handspun fine lambswool, undyed of course, perhaps with a bit of the exotic like camel or cashmere in the mix. Shilasdair Luxury 4ply (40% angora, 40% merino, 10% cashmere, 10% baby camel) was the perfect choice for the design: soft, rustic, yet luxurious — and dyed with natural dyes. To bring the design to today I decided to add a bright contrasting color and a contemporary crescent shape.

Sign of the Sun is worked from the top down as a hybrid between a semi-circle and a crescent. Interspersed with sections of stockinette and lace in the main color are sets of elongated stitches worked in a contrasting color. The pattern is written with both metric and US terminology. Both written and charted instructions are provided for the stitch patterns.

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Susanna Winter is a knitwear designer, creating timeless and elegant pieces with clean lines. She has been knitting for over 20 years, knit blogging since 2007, and designing knitting patterns professionally since 2016.

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