Stripes, yarn overs, texture, stockinette all make this shawl is easy to knit and wonderful to wear. The majority of the knitting is stockinette, broken up just as it starts to get boring with garter stripes and textural waves.
Clarina Irene is worked from the top down with increases along the outer edges and at two points in the body of the shawl creating a shape somewhere between a crescent and a half-circle. The waves are created using multiple yo’s which are dropped on the next row. The edging is knit on at the end finishing the shawl with no tightly bound off edge. You can favorite and queue this shawl on Ravelry.
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Clarina Howard Nichols was a truly remarkable Vermonter. She successfully escaped an abusive marriage in an age when men were legally entitled to keep their wives as chattel. She developed a career, ran a business, and campaigned across the country for the rights of women, and for abolition. And through it all, she knit.
Born in 1810, Clarina was a top student at Timothy Cressy’s Select School. She taught school until she married Justin Carpenter and moved to upstate New York. Sadly, Justin proved unsuccessful in business and over time became verbally if not physically abusive. Clarina did fancy sewing and took in boarders to support the family while raising their 3 babies. Eventually, she placed her children with friends while she taught school in Connecticut, only to discover that her husband had taken and hidden them. Finally she was able (with the help of his sympathetic family) to recover her children and returned home to her parents. She began to write for local newspapers and met George Nichols, editor of the Windham County Democrat, whom she married in 1843. George fill ill shortly after their marriage, and by 1845 she was editing the paper. Her articles in support of women’s rights led to the passage of legislation granting married Vermont women the right to own (and inherit) property.
In 1851 Clarina spoke at the Second Annual Women’s Rights Convention in Worcester, Mass, reportedly electrifying the crowded room. In 1852 she addressed the Vermont legislature in support of a bill that would have given women the right to vote in school district elections. Two years later, George and Clarina closed the paper and Clarina began to campaign full-time for the causes they supported. They moved to Kansas with the Free State Movement in 1855, where Clarina hid escaping slaves in a dry cistern in her home in Quindaro.
In 1856 Clarina was asked to become a full-time speaker and organizer of the suffrage movement in New York, but she declined, saying she needed a better-paying position in order to support her family. (George had died just a few months after they moved to Kansas.) Clarina recommended her friend, Susan B. Anthony, for the job.
Wherever she went, Clarina was known for her knitting. Newspapers noted that whether sitting in the gallery as an observer or on the dais as a speaker, she always had her knitting in hand. Fans sent her skeins of yarn to show their support. One biographer has suggested that the knitting was a clever ploy to demonstrate that despite her radical politics, she was still a proper, domestic woman. Could be, but we like to celebrate her as a fellow obsessive knitter.
Biographical information from my mom – Sally Wilkins. For more about Clarina Howard Nichols, and about other famous women check out America’s Notable Women, a series of books by the Write Sisters.