Same but Different

While ago I read a great paper by Elizabeth Lovick "The Same, but Different. Shetland Lace in a European Context".
The big surprise for me was a realization that traditional lace patterns, developed in areas separated by thousands of miles look very similar. In some cases they even have the same name. On the sampler below, there are 3 traditional patterns. Bottom one comes from Shetland (Scotland), middle - from Orenburgh (Russia), top one - from Haapsalu (Estonia).

In Shetland they call it "Cat Paws", so they did in Estonia; but Russian knitters saw a "strawberry" in this combination of yarn overs and decreases. Isn't it interesting?
At the first glace - all three are the same, but if you look closer ( or if you look at the chart below), you can notice slight variations in center. Another big difference is a base stitch: Shetland and Orenburgh knitters preferred the garter stitch, that made the fabric reversible, while Estonian ones used stockinette stitch.

Here is how the "Strawberry" Pattern is used in modern Orenburgh Shawl ( they are put together in a chain).

and here is an Estonian Paws in a scarf:

It is fascinating to me how humans (miles and miles away from each other) can think along the same lines...

Happy Knitting everyone!


  1. I have wondered the same. Thank you for the post, it was informative. I immediately recognized the Estonian version.

  2. Hi Anna,
    can you think of other examples like that one?

  3. It's such a simple design, it's not surprising. I "invented" this pattern myself one day travelling without a book or internet and made a scarf out of it. Then had to figure out what it was called.