(Pattern below the rant on what inspired me)
Originally published in Black Purl, Summer 2006
Minerva magazine, bearing the subtitle “a biweekly publication for the woman of color” was published in Cuba from 1888-1889. It was created to offer a forum for recently emancipated (1886) women of color to express their opinions, develop their professional writing skills and promote the education of black women.
Between 1868-78 the Ten Years War for independence from Spain caused many people including enslaved and free black women to flee the island and find refuge in the United States and other countries in the Americas. Many of these people retained strong ties to Cuba and the nationalist cause which would not be realized until 1898. Minerva’s contributors and supporters hailed from as far away as Kingston, Tampa and New York.
The contributors to Minerva were far more concerned with expanding black women’s rights and opportunities than in swapping recipes or patterns, and to my knowledge none were included in the magazine. However, I could not help but be inspired by the beautiful photos of Minerva’s proud collaborators with beautiful lacy yokes and collars adorning their Victorian dresses.
Wear this lacy scarf folded in half and secured with a pin across your bosom, or extend it across your table and use it as a lacy runner, either way will evoke the lavish use of lace of the Victorian era. An era which should after all, not only be remembered for its oppressive fashions and limited idealized view of women’s roles, but also for the outspoken women who constantly struggled to expand the horizons of possibility for their sisters and daughters. Women like: Queen Victoria herself, Amelia Bloomer, Harriet Tubman, Sojourner Truth…the list, of course, could (and does) go on and on…
To learn more about Minerva magazine read: “Minerva: A Magazine for Women and (Men) of Color” by Carmen Montejo Arrechea in Between Race and Empire: African-Americans and Cubans before the Cuban Revolution edited by Lisa Brock and Digna Castañeda Fuentes, Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1998.
Minerva Pattern (charted pattern below):
1 set of straight size 8 US (5mm) needles.
Less than 100 gms of lace weight yarn (use natural fibers so that it will block properly).
Gauge: 22 sts x 23 rows= 4 x 4” (10 x10 cm)
(after Nazanin S Faird’s shawl pattern in Knitting Digest, March 2000):
Cast on 39 stitches. The pattern is worked in a multiple of 6 stitches plus 3.
Row 1 and all subsequent odd rows: purl
Row 2, 4 and 6: k2 *yo, ssk, k1, k2tog, yo, k1, k2tog, yo, k1, rep from* end k1
Row 8: k3 *yo, sl1, k2tog, psso, yo, k3, rep from*
Row 10: k2, *k2tog, yo, k1, yo, ssk, k1, rep from* end k1
Row 12: k1, k2tog ,*yo, k3, yo, sl1, k2tog, psso, rep from* end final repeat yo, k3, yo, ssk, k1.
Repeat rows 1-12 to desired length.
Bind off. Block lightly.
Cast on 11 stitches.
Row 1 and all subsequent odd rows: purl.
Row 2: sl1, k1, yo, k2tog, k1, yo, ssk, yo, k2
Row 4: sl1, k1, yo, k2tog, k2, yo, ssk, yo, k2
Row 6: sl1, k1, yo, k2tog, k3, yo, ssk, yo, k2
Row 8: sl1, k1, yo, k2tog, k4, yo, ssk, yo, k2
Row 10: sl1, k1, yo, k2tog, k5, yo, ssk, yo, k2
Row12: sl1, k1, yo, k2tog, k6, yo, ssk, yo, k2
Row 14: sl1, k1, yo, k2tog, k7, yo, ssk, yo, k2
Row 16: sl1, k1, yo, k2tog, k5, k2tog, yo, k2tog, yo, k2tog, k1
Row 18: sl1, k1, yo, k2tog, k4, k2tog, yo, k2tog, yo, k2tog, k1
Row 20: sl1, k1, yo, k2tog, k3, k2tog, yo, k2tog, yo, k2tog, k1
Row 22: sl1, k1, yo, k2tog, k2, k2tog, yo, k2tog, yo, k2tog, k1
Row 24: sl1, k1, yo, k2tog, k1, k2tog, yo, k2tog, yo, k2tog, k1
Row 26: sl1, k1, yo, k2tog, k2tog, yo, k2tog, yo, k2tog, k1
Repeat rows 1-16 seven times, or number of triangle points required to equal one long edge of your lacy rectangle, then work corner rows as follows:
Corner row 1 and all odd rows: purl across
Corner row 2: sl1,k1, yo, sl1, k2tog, psso, yo, k1, sl1, k2tog, psso, k1
Corner row 4: sl1, k1, yo, k2tog, k1, yo, k1, yo, k2
Work two triangles repeats to span the short edge of the lacy center and then repeat the corner rows. Continue in this way around. Bind off. Block lightly and sew the edging to the center taking special care to line up your corners. Once assembled and your loose ends have been hidden, block the entire piece again.