An ongoing research project
This Lace Sampler is a work-in-progress, just as many samplers-of-old were throughout a needle artist's lifetime. Even in its unfinished state, it is beautiful, educational, and a good reference for lace structure and stitch pattern design.
You might recognize the picture from the photo banner for my Primer on Knitted Lace article in the Summer 2006 issue of Interweave Knits (beginning on page 68 just in case you want to look it up).
My sampler is based on the stitch patterns in Knitting Lace: A Workshop with Patterns and Projects by Susannah E. Lewis. Compared to the original sampler in the Brooklyn Museum that Lewis studied and reproduced instructions for, I've taken liberty to work my sampler in heavier thread, larger needles, add a knit-as-you-go border, and alter stitch pattern multiples and repeats as I deem pleasing.
I am basically using this sampler as a "research" piece. I wanted the stitches large enough for normal people like me to see. Although I can knit on much tinier tiny needles quite easily, it is only if I don't have to see what I am doing except an occasional time when the jeweler's visor goes on my head to magnify my work. I definitely don't want to have to be wearing the visor thing all the time, and I really do want to get full value from this sampler exercise to understand what the stitches are doing.
I chose a mercerized 6/2 pima cotton (i.e. a bit finer than fingering weight) in a light neutral color and size US 2 (2.25mm) needles. This thread has soft hand, yet a sheen and enough crispness to emphasize the stitches and texture of the lacy structures. I purchased the pima cottton on a cone from Robin and Russ ages ago (and since Robin and Russ closed business quite some time ago, you know that this thread is well-aged, lol).
Unfortunately, Lewis's book Knitting Lace has long been out of print and commands a high price even if you can find a copy that is up for sale. You can believe that I am hanging onto my book. I won't even lend it out, lol. Lewis's discussion on lace structure, lace design, etc. is excellent. I think that a lot of people get sidetracked that it is only a stitch pattern book, but it is so much more. And the story behind the sampler and the making of the book is really interesting, too.
Update: Back in print from Schoolhouse Press as of October 2009.