Alpine lace knitting, especially Austria and Bavaria, has a long lived tradition manifesting mostly in socks, not necessarily shawls. Asking about Swiss lace knitting traditions in various knitting groups online (on Ravelry, for instance) and offline unveiled that there is not much of a lace knitting tradition in Switzerland.
This post is part of the Complete Guide to Lace Knitting.
Alpine knitting is rich in tradition and has been done for a very long time, but let’s be honest, lace knitting – especially lace shawl knitting – is not really a part that plays a major role in it. Alpine people needed knitted things to keep them warm first, and looking pretty came second.
When we look at Alpine lace knitting traditions the first thing we notice is that most of its patterns is stitch patterns with yarn overs and decreases paired directly: If there is a yarn over (a “hole” in lace knitting) the associated decrease (a k2tog or ssk) is right next to it.
Let’s have a look at some examples.
Paired yarn overs and decreases have the yarn overs right next to their increases like shown below.
Unpaired decreases are not necessarily right next to the yarn over but might be located a few stitches apart as shown below.
In Alpine knitting, lace knitting is mostly done as paired stitches (as shown in the first example above). Unpaired stitches are very rare.
The Alpine knitting traditions are rich in lace stitch patterns when it comes to paired stitches. The most common elements are vertical stripes and motifs featuring leaves.
There are some special stitches in Alpine lace knitting: Kleeblatt (clover), Eulenköpfchen(owl heads), Pfauenauge (peacock butterfly) and variations. They all feature dropped stitches, knitting stitches from lower rows (like three or five) below and eventually wrapped stitches.
Another main feature is the combination of lace with cables.
As the traditional Alpine lace knitting combines cables, twisted stitches and lace only in sock knitting patterns I thought it’s time to change that and create some shawls playing with Alpine knitting traditions. The result are some very nice lace shawl knitting patterns (see below for some examples) and an upcoming book about Alpine lace shawls (publication date: June 2018).