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. . . Elsa Schiaparelli's Bowknot Sweater. . .


Knitter's choice:


Armenian Knitting $24


Shetland Jumperweight Wool


Elsa Schiaparelli's Bowknot Sweater


Bowknot Sweater courtesy of Phila museum

(photo courtesy of Philadelphia Museum of Art: Gift of Vera White, 1952)


Elsa Schiaparelli's famous trompe l'oile Bowknot Sweater was part of her November 1927 collection. The sweater was knit using a fascinating technique which gave the sweater, in Elsa's words, a "steady look". Schiaparelli had seen a sweater knit in this unusual way and tracked down the knitter, an Armenian woman, who knit the first sweaters for Schiaparelli. As Schiaparelli sold more garments, other Armenian women in Paris familiar with this method were called upon to knit them. It is from these knitters we call the technique "Armenian".

The Philadelphia Museum of Art's Costume and Textile Department, of which Lisa Stockebrand is part, staged "Shocking ! The Art and Fashion of Elsa Schiaparelli" -a comprehensive retrospective exhibit of Schiaparelli's work- from September 28 2003- January 4 2004. Prior to the exhibit, Lisa wrote an updated Bowknot Sweater pattern based on the sweater in the museum's collection using a larger gauge and making slight accommodations for a more modern fit. Eliciting the editing advice of Joyce Williams and yarn advice from Meg Swansen, Lisa put together a kit in two color ways using Jamieson and Smith Shetland Wool to be sold in the museum shop. No longer available through the museum, we are pleased to offer Lisa's Bowknot Sweater pattern (free and downloadable) below. The pattern calls for Shetland Jumperweight; but we'll replace with Jamieson Shetland as the Shetland Jumperweight has dropped colors and is in flux. The kit is in Black (Jamieson 999) and Cream (Jamieson 104) or any other colors you wish; Shocking Pink? The museum kit was also sold in pink (52) and purple (20). There is a knit along page on Ravelry on which you can both find and share advice with other knitters while you knit the sweater. Further description of the technique can be found in the book Armenian Knitting by Meg Swansen and Joyce Williams, including three different ways of achieving Armenian Knitting, along with their new circular designs.

Elsa Schiaparelli's Bowknot Sweater: Instructions and Charts


Bowknot Sweater Kit