I'm writing this feature with a certain amount of jealousy. …
Ever since I saw a sketch of Elsa Schiaparelli’s beautiful trompe l’oeil bowknot sweater in a 1930s Stitchcraft, I’ve been trying to work out how to recreate it for myself but couldn’t get my head around the unusual looking texture … should’ve known the pattern was already out there. Not only that, you can download it for free from Schoolhouse Press. It was adapted by Lisa Stockebrand from the Philadelphia Museum of Art (prior to an exhibition in 2003) to accommodate a more modern fit, and suggests you use Jamieson & Smith 2-ply.
I like a challenge which is lucky as it doesn’t look easy – La Schiap used a special double layered stitch created by Armenian refugees whereby you hold the main color in your right hand and knit with it as in “American” style knitting, then carry the contrasting color in left hand as in “Continental” style knitting (and that’s only part of it). Inevitably and thankfully there’s a specific Ravelry ‘Schiaparelli Bowknot Group’ to help you through the tough spots.
Italian Schiaparelli was heavily influenced by the surrealist and Dadaist art, counting Cocteau, Dali and Giacometti amongst her collaborators. This sweater, along with her shoe hat, is one of her most influential pieces.
As ever, I want to get started on it immediately. There’s just the small matter of two other jumpers I’ve been extremely close to finishing for a while now, another one I’ve just started and a nasty case of knitter’s elbow to overcome dammit. Still, I’ve waited this long, what’s another couple of weeks/months/years?