knitted lace pictureKnitted Lace – A Forgotten Art?

I’ve been interested in crochet-lace for many years an interest, I think, I inherited from my aunt, an expert needlewomen, who gave me a beautiful crochet-lace tablecloth as a wedding present.
Quite by chance, while looking through a general Encyclopaedia of Knitting and Crochet for Irish crochet patterns, I came across a pattern for a knitted-lace table centre in crochet cotton. Now I had often used lacy stitches to knit jumpers and shawls in fine wool but had never seen this particular technique before. I gave it a try and, although it took quite a bit of concentration, I was very pleased with the results; so much so that I decided to look a little further into the subject.
My local public library had a copy of Marianne Kinzel’s First book of Modern Lace Knitting and from this I discovered that the art of lace knitting had been very popular in many European countries during the 18th and 19th centuries. Fine lace thread and wire-like needles were used to make both garments and accessories in open lace patterns – examples of which were seen by members of the Lace Society on a visit to the V&A in June 2007. However the work was slow and laborious and it gradually went out of fashion.
In the 1920s and 1930s though the art re-appeared, especially in Germany and Austria, and new patterns began to be published using crochet cotton and fine knitting needles, nos 12 or 13. I have come across books and pamphlets from the 1930s to 1980s with instructions which range from edgings and insertions to dollies, table centres, tablecloths, curtains and bedcovers.
By the 1990s the technique again seemed to have largely fallen from fashion. Wool and craft shops these days have never heard of it and my only source of new patterns has been the Lace Society’s library.
However, it is interesting to note that, while on holiday in Switzerland last year, I did manage to buy a booklet of knitted-lace patterns entitled STRICKDECKCHEN which was dated 2008. In spite of the instructions being in German, I have been able to knit a couple of the patterns with the aid of the accompanying charts and hopefully, with patterns still being published on the continent, I will be able to follow my aunt’s tradition of giving not crochet but knitted-lace wedding presents.
I would be interested to know if there is anyone else out there with a similar interest!
Aneirwen Wellerd