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Do you recognise this pattern? Did you knit it or do you know someone who did? You may know it as Patons 893, or 1085, or H283, or simply as the tree of life pattern (under which name it is still being sold today on eBay). Did you knit it, or receive it in its finished form, for a baby? How did you knit it? (that is – did you follow the centre-out construction of the pattern, or did you adapt it to be worked edging and borders inward?) What became of it after you’d knit it?

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One of the chapters in my book focuses on this pattern, whose story has an awful lot to say about the evolution of Shetland haps and shawls and which raises many interesting issues about the methods and purposes of knitting, as well as the way that commercial patterns are adapted and written, used or ignored. From its beginnings in Unst, this pattern has played a role in the lives of countless knitters and their families in many different contexts, all over the world. If you are one of those people, please do let me know!

You can contact me at haps@katedaviesdesigns.com

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Thankyou

85 thoughts on “Have you knit this pattern?

  1. My mum knitted this for my son in 1983. I used it constantly for my 3 children, then my niece fell in love with it and asked if she could use it for her children. It is a classic shawls and I am now going to knit it for my 1st grandchild and take it to Australia

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  2. Inspired by Nancy Bush’s book on Estonian shawls, I became interested in different shawl designs and found the pattern you mention online at: sold as Square Baby Shawl Knitting Pattern, sadly uncharted. I am in the final stretch of knitting a similar shawl to be a family Christening blanket, made with Jamieson & Smith 2ply lace. It is just delicious!!! Perhaps I will be able to ask for your new book for Christmas.

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  3. Hello

    I’m currently knitting the 1085 pattern for my baby boy who is due on May 21st 2016. I found the pattern’s chart on ravelry. I knit it with fingering yarn, superwash merino wool, 4 mm needles, knitting in the round. It is beautiful!

    Léonie

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  4. Kate, my MIL knitted this for my eldest son 18 years ago. I still have the shawl, original pattern (Patons 8009) and also her notes. It looks like she followed the original pattern. I believe that it is knitted in Patons Fairytale 3 ply, as per the pattern. I used it as the coming home from hospital shawl for both of my sons.

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  5. I knitted it for my daughter when she was born in 1990. I’d just found the pattern for it today as I’m coming to Shetland wool week and wanted to do some research. How spooky. The shawl is still in good condition. It was made in patons pure wool 3 ply . The pattern is Patons dated 1988 and is called ‘ a royal collection for your baby’ !!! I made it as per instructions ie centre, borders then edging.

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  6. We have both pattern leaflets in the Knitting & Crochet Guild collection and what we believe is the original shawl from Shetland. It came into the collection in an archive of pieces owned by Patons/Coats, which we think was put together by James Norbury (chief designer for Patons in the 1950s)..
    Angharad Thomas and Barbara Smith

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  7. Hi Kate I was christened in this shawl and my Mum is knitting one at the moment for my daughter who is inly 12 but Mum is aware that she may not be able to knit it in the future for my granchild. She has knitted the centre and is now knitting the border which she will sew on. Sorry to have missed you at eyf. I was there helping Lilith !

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  8. We had a shawl of this design. It was given to me when my first daughter was a baby. It was much used and admired. It was used with a second daughter. Then it was passed on to a brother and then a cousin. Last I heard it was still going strong. It was knit from the middle and then 4 separate sections with the lace edge added finally. I know this because the aunt ran out of yarn and the last quadrant and the lace edge were not an exact match. Only you had to really look to know.

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  9. I have not knitted this pattern although I have knitted other shawls. This pattern is so lovely that before I read all of the comments and noted that several very kind souls posted a link to the pattern, I asked many of the ladies in my knitting group if they had a copy. I also sent A text to my Mum and asked if she had a copy or knew someone who did. Since then I have gone to the link that somebody graciously posted and downloaded the pattern. Thank you! Kate I am looking forward to your new book. A friend of mine recently introduced me to your blog . Your posts are wonderful as are your photographs. It’s like taking a mini vacation! Thank you for a lovely blog and posts!

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  10. The Golden Hands one was very similar. That one is knitted in pieces – 3 borders then the option to leave one border live while you knit the 4th border then continue to the centre. Then the live stitches from the centre are grated to the live stitches from the border. Then the remaining borders were stitched on. I knitted it in 2 ply for my daughter, then my grandchildren then for sundry friends (Unfortunately the original didn’t survive being lent to someone who chucked it I the washing machine and it got ripped to shreds!). The Patons one was knitted in 3 ply for my daughter (yes she had 2!) by a friend. I think it was knitted exactly as pattern.

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  11. This was my baby shawl! I’m guessing my grandmother made for my christening. I was born in 1952 in the UK, so I imagine mine must be one of the oldest shawls mentioned. My Mum brought it to Australia with us, but sadly it got badly mothed. I work on it every now and then, but I fear it’s a lost cause – to my shame and sorrow. The wool is a cream with a shiny strand in it that gives it a pretty glow.
    I still wear it at home sometimes, especially when I want to feel loved.

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  12. I knitted this in 3 ply wool for my first baby in 1990 – followed the pattern knitting it in 6 pieces. Thought I was happily on schedule to get it blocked and sewn together but my new daughter had other ideas and came a month early! My lovely mum took over and sewed up for me to bring the baby home. Used it again for my son 3 years later and was sad to have to put it away. I pulled it out of storage 3 months ago when we moved house and although no holes has yellowed with age – anybody have advice on how to treat this? I had ideas of making another one so each of my kids would have one to pass on – would love to adapt it to one or two piece construction but I’m not that clever!
    Just love such timeless patterns – thanks for the memories.

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  13. My granny and my mum knitted the top shawl in the pattern for two.
    I knitted it for my grandchildren, only I knitted the garter stitch centre, feather and fan and then the border all in 3 ply wool.
    Anne

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  14. I have two versions of this shawl. One in cream wool (feels like Shetland?) which was the baby shawl (including christening I think) for me then my sister in 1963 and ’64 respectively. I’m not sure who knitted it – chances are it was my maternal grandmother. Another in white acrylic knitted for my younger brother by my father’s secretary’s mother in 1969. Both look like the were knitted in six pieces (edging, four borders and centre) and sewn together. Both shawls are now safely stored with me, though there are a few holes in the wool one which need repair if I can match the colour. The acrylic is showing that it is NOT bio-degradable , but is really nasty to the touch. But quite interesting that in 6 years baby stuff went from “wool for warmth” with assumptions that laundry wouldn’t be a problem, to “easy care” and less interest in keeping babies warm.

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  15. My grandmother and mother knitted a very simplified version of this for me in Australia in 1959. One knitted the centre and the other did the border (sewn on and with no trees). I think they made a matching dress and matinee jacket – the set described as a layette. There may even have been a bonnet and booties! The shawl was used for all the family christenings. When I had a student job work at an 1850’s period historical park I found the shawl and wore with my costume in cold weather. It made an appropriate period touch. The shawl came with me when I left home.
    This type of shawl had been known to me just as a christening or baby shawl. Only when I became interested in lace knitting did I make the connection to Shetland shawls and haps. My shawl was the inspiration for me to knit christening shawls for the first babies of each of my brothers and sisters. Each shawl is different, the design chosen to connect to different families. Each shawl was given with the story of why I made it. I like the idea of these shawls and their stories eventually leaving home with another generation, to keep them cosy and connected with aunts and grandmothers and great-grandmothers. My shawl is now safely stored although it’s yellowed and has a few holes (carefully tethered) – the evidence of its life and use.

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  16. Dear Kate,
    Every day I look for your posts in my email! I am so delighted when you have blogged to us!
    Many Thanks
    Maureen Mino, Listowel, On. Canada

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      1. I have got a photo copy from Sue west 25Beverly hills park . Amens bury, Wiltshire, SP47LH. Tele . 01980625486. The copy is lovely thick paper and clear print. . And came the very next day I ordered pattern no . 1085 patrons which has both shawls . Hope that helps. I couldn’t be more pleased with my copy . Also she has a huge selection of vintage patterns. Hope you get one. Ann Shuardson

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  17. I had one of these , I bought it from a charity shop for £1 when I was pregnant with my second son, in 1995. It was knitted on a 4-ply yarn in a slightly rough cream wool yarn and was nearly big enough for the top of a single bed. It had a few holes and a mend so I mended the holes and it became a sofa snuggle blanket for the boys. Over the years it got dragged around the house and to campsites because it was very cosy, it picked up a few more holes and stains but it was well loved. My younger son is 19 now and I’m struggling to remember what happened to the shawl/blankie. It might be in a trunk in the attic, I will look for it next time I’m up there. I always wondered who had knitted it, I suppose it ended up in the charity shop because of the holes and wear. I liked it though, I don’t knit lace much so it was nice to have such a big hand knitted thing with no effort on my part!

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  18. I made this in 1999 for my first-born son. It is stored away and will hopefully be used by his children someday. I followed the pattern as written. Fascinated to hear that there is history behind this pattern…

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  19. I was christened in the top shawl knitted forme by my maternal grandmother in 1950 and my brother in 1954. The shawl was used everyday for my brother who was premature and layswaddled in it in a wooden crib by the open fire. In 1975, my mother in law knitted the same shawl for my daughter in 2ply Patons wool-it’s a lovely cream colour. She wore it in 1980 when she was a bridesmaid and again in 1992 to her school prom. It is now safely rolled in a white pillowcase and I wash it once a year on a day when I know I can lay it on clean towels on our decking and block it to it’s full size. I have knitted it many times for friends butsadly always in synthetic yarn as no one wanted the trouble of a pure wool shawl.

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  20. This pattern also appeared in a 1972 Patons leaflet called Cover-ups. I travelled down memory lane searching for it in a box of old patterns! I didn’t ever knit the design though.

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  21. Knitted the first many times, in fact when one granddaughter was born I was knitting the last bit Of the border while the new baby was ready to be wrapped in it! Love haps and shawls, so snuggly and comforting.
    Y

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  22. No history of lace shawls in my family, sadly, but gosh, isn’t it heart-warmingly fabulous to read all these comments and the experiences (and love, so much love!!) that one old pattern brought to so many women?! I’m literally gob-smacked, it’s brilliant.

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  23. Yes – for my son in 1998. Patons Canada reprinted the Beehive for Bairns book as part of the Nostalgic Baby Collection. Back cover says “these well-loved Beehive patterns have been reproduced exactly as they were originally printed in the late 1930’s to 1950’s.” Let me know if you want any images from the book – happy to send along!

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  24. I’ve got Patons PBN C 300 (I think, the pattern is rather tatty) which has the plainer of the two shawls on your pattern, with the options to knit it as a square or a circular shawl. My godmother gave the pattern to me: it is her go to pattern for people with new babies. I knitted the round one about 15 years ago for a friend. She had suffered a still birth, so came empty-armed to our wedding, where she was to have introduced her first child to the world. When she fell pregnant again I wanted to knit something extra special…although the times being what they were I’m afraid I used100% acrylic, which doesn’t block (or dress, as this pattern calls it) well. My friend says she still treasures it! Patons describe the shawl as having been in their range for nearly 100 years: they describe it as “traditional” rather than Shetland. My tatty (photocopy, I’m afraid) can’t be that old as yarn weight is given in grammes rather than ounces (suggested yarn is Fairytale Courtelle/Bri-Nylon!) I would have followed the pattern to the letter. (A quick google suggests mine is C8008, updated in 1985…)

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  25. I have knitted a later version from a Patons baby book, it was 25 years ago and before I knew anything about Shetland knitting and Shetland yarn for anything other than ‘Fairisle’ knitting. It was deconstructed from the traditional so it could be knitted on straight needles I suppose. The inner border was knitted in 4 separate pieces and seamed, it was really tricky to get the mitres sewn and flat. The outer border was also knit in 4 pieces but I chickened out of that and crocheted an edge. I used Patons 4ply baby wool in white. It was for my first child.

    The pattern is in storage but if it is of interest if you would like to see to see how a traditional pattern is ‘dumbed down’ in much the same way as Elizabeth Zimmerman’s first pattern was cannibalised by a magazine to make it a flat knit.

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  26. My mother knitted this for our first child back in 1967. She used quite a heavy yarn (ivory) and thought it was too large and heavy for the baby so knitted another one in a finer yarn. However, I still use the heavy one as a chair cover and it is beautiful and as good as the day it was knit. Makes a lovely afghan.

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  27. I have that shawl knitted by my 84 year old grandmother in 1974 for my first daughter. Granny was a champion spinner and knitter winning top prizes at the Royal Highland Show. She bred the sheep, spun the fleece and turned the wool into a beautiful shawl. As it turned out, it was also the last piece she was able to do, making it even more soecial

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  28. I knitted a similar shawl to this in 2008 for my niece’s new baby. The pattern is 700 Baby Sunbeam 3 ply shawl. It was knitted centre first and then knit 4 borders separately then an applied border. Instead of knitting the borders one at a time, I knitted them together, working out the mitres as I went. There is a picture on my Ravelry page Jackie06

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  29. I knit this during my first pregnancy 22 years ago. Used the shawl for both my boys and it has been loaned out for a couple of family christenings. My Granny gave the pattern (which I still have), and I still have the shawl looking like it was made yesterday. This was the first time I had attempted lace knitting and I didn’t modify the pattern.

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  30. My mum’s best friend knitted this shawl in cream wool for my mum on the birth of my eldest brother in 1961 when they were both around 22. It was well used for wrapping up my two brothers and me and my mum handed it on to me when my first son was born nine years ago. It has been much darned over the years and needs some more mending now but it holds a lot of meaning for my mum, especially since the sad and early death of her friend.

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  31. I have knitted a few of these, the first one I kept for my daughter for when she had my first grandchild, I have just given her this as she is due in august

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  32. I made it in 1992 for one of my twins – the other having another design passed down from my other children. Used at their christening, and now I wish that I hadn’t put it away as the dreaded m**hs got it. Maybe I should have attempted repair but… Still have some nice photos. I would have done it exactly as written. So heartwarming to see how popular the pattern has been,the way that it has travelled the world, and also this lovely revival of hap knitting. Can’t wait for the book!

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  33. my grannie knitted this for my arrival 50 years ago, i have bought the pattern and done one each for my 3 children, think they still have them, and again 2 years ago for my grand daughter. i love shetland lace and do many of sharron millars shawls ie queens, ring etc. i do perfer starting in the middle to starting with the border.

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  34. No, I’ve not knitted that one, but I did knit the other one in the two-pattern leaflet. About thirty five years ago, using two ply wool in a mid blue. Always felt it was a bit small, since I didn’t understand lace-blocking. Of course i made it to the pattern’s scheme – I knew no better, and hadn’t encountered EZ to make me think. I think the m**h got it.

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  35. I own a similar shawl which was knit by my French Canadian grandmother in Montreal, Canada. She knit it in 1953 for my baptism. The pattern is called Marigold and is in Patons #55, Shawls by Beehive. I was thrilled to have found the pattern for it, at a used book sale, about fifty years after it was knit. My shawl has a solid center, and wide borders which appear to have been knit separately and sewn together.

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  36. I knitted the Feather and Fan Shawl last Spring for my youngest Granddaughter, whose other Grandmother was born in Scotland. Knitted it in off white Regia Silk . I am in Vancouver, Canada

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  37. I knitted this as a commission for a friend when I was just 19, in readiness for the arrival of her first grandchild. It was knitted centre out following the instructions and I seem to remember that the outside border took forever to knit to the required length. I still have the original pattern in my file. As far as I am aware from conversation approx 4/5 years ago it ened up in Canada. I visited Ally Paly seveal years ago for a Knit n Stitch fair and there was a completed shawl in ivory up on the wall of stand and the lady I spoke to said that lots of people passing has commented that they themselves had made the pattern in the past.

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  38. Hi
    I’m currently knitting this one in Debbie bliss Rialto lace in a pleasant blue/green shade for my first grandchild who is due in September. I’m knitting it as written, doing the centre panel first, because I really liked the idea that the shawl would be fully reversible. I’m not generally a fan of garter stitch but am pleasantly surprised with the results so far ( I’m 5 repeats in). I’m also not keen on centre knit square shawls where the radiating corner lines are obvious, although I would rather there were no joins so I may graft the edges instead of sewing them on, I’ll see when I get to it. So far it is light as air and sqooshy.

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  39. I knitted this shawl for my mum for Christmas 2015 and she loves it. I loved knitting it and it replaced an old threadbare one she had.

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  40. My Gran knitted this shawl for me as her first grandchild and it became the Family Christening Shawl. It’s now 50 years old and I have it stored safely, ready for when anyone in the family wishes to use it. It’s been used for many Christenings and is well loved. It’s likely to have been constructed according to the instructions. I’ve recently knitted the other pattern of the pair (P&B 1085) as a coloured hap, but modified the construction so that it was knit in the round after picking up the stitches round the edge of the central square. I would try the same mods if I was knitting the fancier shawl.

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  41. I knitted the top shawl for my first grand-daughter in washable white baby wool. My mum knitted it many, many times over the years and I inherited the pattern. I knitted the pattern as written,and found it very easy. Elsie is now 6, and it is still her (not so white) “Blankie”. It was my first hap. My second hap was your Northmavine pattern which I love and wear often.

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  42. It’s beautiful! I’ve not knitted it myself (I’ll definitely file it in my head as a “one day, hopefully”) – but I noticed it seems to appear on Ravelry under a different name as well – the “Cloud Drift Baby Shawl Pattern” with even more Patons leaflet numbers, several Ravelry projects and a link to an online pattern transcription. All beautiful. I’m very much looking forward to your new book having seen your posts so far on these beautiful works.

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    1. I just saw that, as well. I got curious about what was happening with it over on Rav.

      I have never knitted it and never had it knit for me. My baptism photo shows a white blanket, most likely acrylic. Despite this, my beautiful mom looks happy. ;-)

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  43. Not this one but bought “braid hills” on Sunday at the SECC show only to discover that the pattern has been rewritten!!!! I don’t want to pay for the new version…. I have already paid for the “old” one. Who can help? My thanks in advance

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  44. My mum knitted this shawl for my eldest daughter’s christening; not only the shawl, but she knitted a christening gown with a feather and fan skirt. Sadly, the shawl was well used for all three of my children, and spent its last days as a blanket for my youngest granddaughter’s dolls. I do still have the gown though! it has been used for so many christenings and each time we put a new ribbon in the neck and wrists – blue for a boy and pink or white for the girls.

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  45. My mother knitted this shawl for me ( in Australia) in 1957. I still have it. My mother, almost 86, taught my sister and I both to knit when we were small children. We both knit everyday

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  46. If you remember your baby shawl made by grandma was knitted in 4 ply using the central pattern -edged in a border of plain knit

    Maybe this had been appropriated by Women’s Weekly ?

    Afterwards it was used for Helen when she was born and then I used it as a fashion accessory as illustrated in the family photo taken at Dominic’s wedding – then it became a leg warmer / warming shawl

    -I can’t remember which one of you have it now but interesting by this stage it had metamorphosed into a smaller but very modern item for it had felted after so many washes

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  47. I knitted one for my best friend’s baby in 1985 in Paton’s 2-ply baby wool – we were both 21, I think. (The pattern also features in one of the later Golden Hands partwork magazines c. 1974.) I’m pretty sure it was knitted centre first, then the 4 borders, and I have a feeling you made all the parts separately and sewed them together in that version. I wasn’t experienced enough to experiment with the construction at that point…

    The last time I saw the shawl, it was being used as a bathroom curtain and had a huge hole in one corner… :-(

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  48. I knitted this in 1985, when I was hoping to start a family. The family didn’t come along until 1990, but at least I’d finished the shawl. I knitted it as per instructions, not being confident enough to adapt in those days. I put a couple of pics on Instagram for you, Kate.

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    1. My husband and I bought a handmade rocking chair when we were hoping to have a baby! We did have a baby boy. Later I bought some pink/purple yarn to knit a ruffly diaper cover for a baby girl, but I had another boy. (Lucky me—he’s a treasure.) Now I have matching mittens and scarf in pink/purple for myself. ;-)

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  49. I made this pattern when I did my D of E gold award. I then used it for my children (now aged 40 and 37). Still have it and the pattern. I didn’t adapt the pattern.

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  50. Oh! I don’t recognise that as a Patons pattern, but I think that I knitted one VERY similar to that when I was a student. It may have a minor variation in the four part border and in the edging. I’m pretty sure that it came out of “The Art of Shetland Lace” by Sarah Don. There was a good haberdashers/yarn shop in Frederick Street, Edinburgh (think it was called John Smith Wools) that sold Shetland yarn, probably Jamieson and Smith’s.

    Presume that you were watching, if not attending, the “Authenticity in Culturally-based Knitting” Study Day broadcast from Shetland on Saturday.

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  51. A friend knitted it for my son when he was born and I used it again for my daughter. I think I passed it on to one of my friends for their baby.

    I loved my wee babies wrapped in a shawl all tucked in and secure. Awww,
    memories……..

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  52. Oh my goodness! I just saw your post and I thought “That’s my christening shawl!”. Rummaged under the spare room bed and it IS! It was knitted for me in 1955 by my grandmother. I treasure it. My daughter used it as a blanket for my elder granddaughter (never Christened!) and when she returned it I noticed a small HOLE in the centre, which I have always intended to get repaired. Now I shall go back and read your post properly!

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    1. I repair knits and would caution you to be sure that whoever you have work on it has a LOT of experience with vintage knits and has the right fiber to do it. Good luck. What a treasure!

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      1. Thank you Anne. Do you think it’s better just to leave the holes? I have no idea who I could approach to repair it and no idea of the wool used. Since spreading it out I notice there are actually two holes! I have also noticed that one of the trees has been repaired but you have to look very carefully to notice it. Presumably this would have been done by my grandmother.

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  53. Yes, I started to knit it for my daughter (1968) but ran out of time and a friend of my mum finished it. Knitted from the centre out. Used next for my son and three grandchildren but so worn and loved that it has passed on! I have photos.

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  54. My mum knitted this pattern for four of my children and I knitted the shawl for my fifth child. I still have the pattern and every time I look at it i have lots of fond memories. My eldest child is now 43yrs.

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  55. Kate – I have never knitted it, but I do have a copy of the pattern, handed onto me by a friend, and amongst a bundle of patterns she rescued from her aunts house after she died.

    I think Jean Miles has mentioned the pattern on her blog – so make sure to ask her!!

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