Introducing the Lamassu Shawl

Iran 2007 081 Persepolis Gate of all Nations

What is a Lamassu?

  1. A winged, human headed bull frequently seen in ancient Mesopotamian (modern Iraq & Syria) myth and art - most frequently as looming sentinels at the gates of major cities.
  2. My latest shawl design for Quince & Co. yarns

How does one morph into the other? Where that's where the fun of designing comes in!

Back when I was in college, I was a Theatre major and the midst of my Senior year, I decided to swap my English minor for one in Classical Studies, following my increasing interest in the topic. I had an excellent Latin professor (Ortwin Knorr), who got me interested in the subject beyond the language and introduced me to Roman Cookery and the Archaeological Institute of America (of which there are sadly, no Maine chapters).

I had taken a lot of Latin courses, but to complete my minor I took two additional classes: Introduction to the Old Testament/Hebrew Bible and Introduction to Ancient and Medieval Art History.

My textbook for the Art History class is the only one I regret selling back, but it was the Old Testament course that has had one of the longest lasting impacts of any of my school courses. Taught by professor and archaeologist David W. McCreery, this 100-level course was the hardest course I took in my college career. But, as they say, nothing worthwhile is easy.

One day while discussing Noah's flood in Genesis, Professor McCreery mentioned that there was an much earlier, but very similar, version of a Great Flood story that appeared in the Epic of Gilgamesh (c. 2100–2000 BCE). Following class that day, I stayed late to express my interest in the Gilgamesh tale, but as the professor was busy with another student at the time, I merely stated my interest and left conversation for another time.  It was to my surprise then, when at the next class session, he handed me one of his personal copies of the tale (Herbert Mason's verse narrative), with the following inscription:

October 2004 Dear Leah There is a lot to learn from this "oldest story ever told." Enjoy! Dave McCreery

I fell in love with the Gilgamesh story, particularly his adventures with the wild-man Enkidu, so much so that I wrote and produced a play about it. It's a story that's stuck with me ever since. So when I was talking to Quince about doing a new shawl design, it was Gilgamesh, and his Mesopotamian brethren that sprung to mind.

As is the way nowadays, I started collecting some images on Pinterest and I kept coming back to two things, the lamassu and king's beards. There was a distinct texture and style of the beards that the more I looked at it, the more knitterly they seemed. A stitch dictionary provided the trinity stitch that mirrored the curly portion of the beard by the mouth, and some time with swatches and graph paper yielded the banded columns and feathery bits I call Gilgamesh's Beard and Lamassu Feathers.

Since Mesopotamia was part of the fertile crescent, a gentle crescent shape  for the shawl seemed only natural and of course, when given the option to pick my yarn, I had to go with that ancient near-eastern fiber: linen.


And that is a long story behind a fairly simple shawl.

If you'd like to knit one for yourself, the pattern is available now in the shop or you can queue it up on Ravelry.

And to make the long stretches of trinity stitch go faster, I suggest you listen to the following while you knit (I did!).

Photo Credits:

  1. Quince & Co.
  2. Lamassu  by Jasmine Ramig
  3. Quince & Co.
  4. Iran 2007 Persepolis Gate of all Nations by David Holt
  5. Quince & Co.
  6. Untitled by E.N.K
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The Dr. Faye Lady Suit

I'm a big Mad Men fan, but don't tell me anything about the current season, because I only get to watch it when the dvds come out, so we can chat about it in 4 months or so. In that vein, this post is appropriately a bit overdue. Back in Season 4, I grew very fond of the Dr. Faye character and I also fell in love with this skirted suit from the "Hand and Knees" episode.

In some ways it seems more Banana Republic than 1960s, but then I found Simplicity 2154, a 1960's reproduction pattern and though, it's both!

Recently finding myself in need of a warm-weather appropriate suit for my DC trip, I pulled out the pattern and several yards of heavyweight linen from Z Fabrics and put this together over a weekend.


The coat is a fairly boxy design, which I decided was maybe not the most flattering on me, so it's belted in all these photos. Even if it's not the best cut for me, I believe the fit is spot on. If you wanted to slim it up some, I recommend narrowing the side gusset over choosing an allover smaller size.


The jacket has a fun construction, with the  front/back body and sleeve cut in a single piece, and an underarm gusset panel. Not counting the facings, the pattern in a total of 6 pieces. Attaching the top of the gusset to the underarm of the sleeve was a bit fiddly, but otherwise the jacket was very easy to sew. I actually had more issues with the pencil skirt (fitting ugh!).


Because the jacket is unlined, I finished all the seams with either purchased bias tape (about 2 packages) or by self-hemming after I ran out of bias tape for the facings and underarm.


I don't often need to wear a suit, but with a lady suit like this in my wardrobe, I might find a few more excuses!




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School House Tunic #3

This is the last one of these for a while, as I've finally run through all the fabric I purchased to make School House Tunics, so I'll be moving onto other patterns in the near future, I promise!

For this take on the School House Tunic, I added 4 inches to the tunic-length to make it dress-length for me; added a series of three pintucks to each side of yoke; and made it short-sleeved, because I ran out of fabric.

The fabric itself is a cotton/linen blend in a color Bristol will want to steal from me, that I picked up at Z Fabrics.

I think this version will get a ton of wear in the warmer months, but for now I'm pairing it up with some tights, boots and a long-sleeved tee.

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Because I can't do anything the easy way

When I got the the summer dress code at my current job last I could have sworn it was written in 1962.  Along with khakis and polo shirts, acceptable "business casual" wear includes: jumpers and culottes. Jumpers and culottes!

When was the last time anybody wore culottes, or even knew what they were? Now granted my portion of the office is generally casual-casual, because I have no air conditioning and Chicago gets rather hot and humid this time or year, so really I can wear pretty much anything within reason. 

But for those days when I feel like following the code, I could always pull out this jumper I made a few weeks back.


Jumpers always make me feel a little like I'm five. Hence the theme of this particular bunch of photos.  Also, I'm running out of things to do in front of a blank white wall, so I'm up for any suggestions.

90-95-100 Ready or Not Here I Come!

This particular project had been sitting on a back burner for about 3 months, largely because I planned to make it out of this beautiful blue linen and I was afraid to cut into it. More to the point though, I wanted to change up the top a bit, and had little-to-no experience with pattern alteration.

The original pattern (McCalls 5577) looked like this:

Yes, I copied the color exactly. Not so creative I know. I loved the skirt of the thing, but the top seemed a little low, even if I was going to wear a shirt under it, and I didn't quite get the v-shaped piece on the upper back. So I pulled out my ruler from my college scenic design class and wrapping paper and started drawing. I added about 2 inches (plus seam allowance) to the top lines of the top piece blending it in with the existing straps and leaving the bottom bit the same so it'd line up as per the original. Then I transferred it to muslin and sewed the top up.

I quickly discovered that I'd need some darts, which I also had no clue how to do and didn't look up how to do until my next project. So I guessed and basted and ripped and guessed and basted until I came up with something that seemed to work. Of course, without the skirt bit attached I wasn't sure how it would all hang, and sure enough when I made the actual jumper I totally had to move the darts and I'm still not sure they're in the right place, but ah well it works.


For the back straps, I took the existing lower straps and lengthened them to about 23". Because of where they fell on the back of the jumper, I eschewed buttonholes and tacked the straps straight unto the dress, as well as securing them to the top of the back of the jumper. 


All in all, it came out fairly well, though definitely not perfect. But to those seeking perfection, I say this:


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