Wednesday, 30 March 2011

Inspiration for lace and cables, bobbles and edging.

There's inspiration in the oddest places. 

A while ago the family visited the SS. Great Britain, Brunel's huge ship in dry dock in Bristol.  Just outside was the ironwork for a Victorian urinal.  Odd place for it to be and there seemed to be no particular reason for it being there.  I had to photograph it for the wonderful patterns.

Sunday, 27 March 2011

The Construction of the Glove

I'm studying the construction of the glove.  Mary Thomas has a lot to say about it in 'Mary Thomas's Knitting Book' first published in 1938 and most of the text below is based on hers with other bits of research thrown in.  If you can follow the principles (and I'm struggling), it starts to give you some idea about the construction of the Straight Thumb style of glove where thumb and fingers all lie flat.  The style is very much of the time with a close fitting, snug wristed glove.  These days I think we tend towards a slightly looser fit.

I drew round my hand to get the diagram below.  It was only then that I really understood what was going on.  I've still to get to the bottom of the style where the thumb gusset is worked from the palm - The Palm Thumb.

Measure your hand across the knuckles at (A) and do a tension swatch in your chosen yarn/stitch
Cast on and rib the number of stitches that you need for that measurement to create cuff. 
The wrist should be about 1" straight knitting in your chosen stitch between the ribbing and the beginning of the thumb shaping.
The base of the thumb is knitted with the palm until the thumb separation is reached.  The increase for the thumb (C) - (B) will be calculated on the difference between the measurement across the hand at (A) and the measurement across the hand at (B).
When the thumb increases are complete the thumb separation can start.  There may be 3 rows knitted before starting depending on best fit. 
The thumb is knitted before you start the palm.  The measurement (B) - (D) and (B) - (C) should be about the same.
The area between the mid palm (B) and the base of the fingers is knitted without shaping until the base of the fingers is reached. 
Each finger is worked separately in order.  The measurement (F) - (A) will be roughly the same as (A) - (C).

So, there you have it.

Saturday, 26 March 2011

Primroses and Dog Violets

When I eventually retire I shall regularly serve tea with home made cakes.  I shall use this teaset and a table cloth embroidered by my own hand.  Simple things.

And - the Primroses and Dog Violets are out.  How much better does it get?

Thursday, 24 March 2011

Garter Stitch hat

I have to admit here and now that I don't have a load of experience of babies, but I do have this idea for a simple garter stitch hat.  This doll's head is 14 and a half inches (37cm) round just above the ears.  According to various size charts I have seen this equates to about 6 months (or quite a sizable baby doll). 

Garter stitch is very stretchy and when I place a ruler across the front of the hat as it lies on the desk it measures only about 15 cm wide (about 30cm unworn, unstretched circumference).

If you are are a beginner and thinking of having a go, read this post right through and then you'll understand what you are aiming for.

Cast on  35 stitches in DK on  3.75mm  needles
Knit 4 rows
Change to a different colour and 4mm needles.  This means that the first few rows are slightly tighter and hold the hat in place. 

Knit garter stitch straight until the whole thing measures 11cm.  This is the front.

Change to a lighter colour yarn as the back of the hat is a different colour and knit down the back.
As it gets longer try folding it widthways at the point of the colour change so you can see how far to go before you reach the colour change at the bottom of the front. 
When you get to the colour change you need to change back to 3.75 needles and knit 4 rows so that when it is folded in half widthways back and front are the same length.

Cast off, fold it in half widthways (at the colour change) and sew it up the sides.
Wrap some spare yarn very tightly round the corners to make 'ears'.

Really important thing to remember is that if you decide to decorate the hat, make sure that everything is sewn on really firmly so baby can't pull it off and swallow it and make sure the yarn is really soft and not at all scratchy.

This idea could be adapted to any size doll by reducing the number of stitches cast on and the length.  In another post I'll have a go at adjusting the size for a different doll and let you know how I did it.

Remembering that garter stitch is very stretchy and that babies move about a lot I shall experiment casting on with 3.25mm needles to see if a tighter fit at the bottom is better.  I've still got to locate a baby to test it on.

Tuesday, 22 March 2011

Vintage Buttons

Vintage Buttons - another of my favourite things.  When things are getting me down I just need to look at a few old buttons (or a few old knitting patterns). 

Loads of inspiration in buttons for pattern, shapes and colours.

Sunday, 20 March 2011

Knitting and Card making

I've never really done any card making, but a work colleague has invited me to her wedding reception in June so I decided to have a go at making an invitation acceptance card.  She picked up her sample bouquet from the florists and showed it to us.  It had wonderful dark red roses in it, picked out with some soft lavendar flowers, hebe I think.  I spotted these little dark red paper roses in our local craft shop and that was it. 

I found the knitted lace pattern in Barbara Walker's Treasury of Knitting Patterns.  It's called Drooping Elm Leaf, but I have used it upside down for the card - I wanted it to look more perky than droopy.  It's knitted on 2.25mm needles with (I think) a no. 10 crochet cotton (lost the ball band).  Another time I would try a finer cotton.

The pattern is a multiple of 15 stitches plus 1 and although I only cast on 31 stitches I unpicked it 4 times before I could get the pattern right - and I still think there is something wrong with one of those leaves. 
I haven't done any lace for a while and I think you do get a feel for it if you practice.

Learned a lot from the card making.  Sticking double sided tape to the wrong bit of card, getting the wrong things stuck to the desk, stuck to me, stuck to pretty much everything.   I think that another time I would definitely go for a higher quality, heavier weight card.  I had some, but the size of the aperture was wrong.

Considering the amount of handling it had before I got it right, the card doesn't look too mangled.  I made some extra leaves for the bottom out of some green paper to balance it a bit and backed the lace with dark green card. Lots more could be done, perhaps, but I feel I should stop here before I do something that messes it all up.

Friday, 18 March 2011

Colour knitting the two hand method

Decided to teach myself to knit with colour using both hands and DPNs to get myself ready for taking up fairisle.  I've done little swatches of it, but never large pieces and never on DPNs.   I really enjoyed myself just going round and round.  Didn't use a pattern, just let the colours go where I felt like putting them.  Eventually got quite dextrous.  This was last year and I've forgotten it all now. 

So, I ended up with a large tube of random coloured knitting and turned it into a bag with a knitted circle for a base (again on DPNs).  I got really carried away with the base and it's rather larger than needed, so the bag has an odd shape at the bottom.  And I made a fat I-cord handle for the top.   The whole thing looks like one of those old leather water buckets you might see in history books.  And it's actually rather useful, so Yah, Boo to those of my family who laugh when they see it.

Knitting on DPNs is addictive.  Once I start, I can't stop.

Wednesday, 16 March 2011

Everything is greening up

Everything is Greening up
Our bit of the world is greening up.  The euphorbia is really opening out.  I opened the back door this morning to hear the birds singing their hearts out.  A beautiful early spring morning and there is definitely something in the air.  It's still raining.

17th Century Metaphysical poet Andrew Marvell wrote his long poem The Garden with lots of deep and complex layers and meanings, but I love this verse because I choose to let it describe for me the way I can lose myself in the garden.

"Meanwhile the mind, from pleasure less,
Withdraws into its happiness :
The mind, that ocean where each kind
Does straight its own resemblance find ;
Yet it creates, transcending these,
Far other worlds, and other seas ;
Annihilating all that's made
To a green thought in a green shade".

From 'The Garden' by Andrew Marvell

Monday, 14 March 2011

General Electric Handbook - late 1940s

This picture is from a General Electric Handbook.  I'm afraid I never approach a cooker with this eager anticipation.  I wonder just what she intends to do with that saucepan.

My sister found me lots of vintage cookery books and manuals while she was living in America.   This one was printed in the late 1940s.  The booklet is called  'How to Enjoy Speed Cooking'
The booklet lists all the models in the range.  They are called :
The Liberator
The Stratoliner
The Airliner
The Stewardess
The Leader

There's material right there for a thesis on Women in the Home and Early Post War American Culture.

Saturday, 12 March 2011

Experiment with Brioche Stitch

Do you find that your mouse arm gets cold on the desk?  I can feel the pulses in my wrist getting cold and they send chilliness all round my body.

I had a couple of balls of something with no ball bands and decided to make chunky arm warmers in Brioche Stitch.   I wanted to have a go at making up my own design and although it still needs modifying, I'm quite pleased.  I found that K3,P3 rib went rather well with the Brioche stitch and it all combined for a 'slouchy' effect.  They go right up to my elbow and in a cold snap right now, that's very acceptable.

The buttons are hand made by McAnaraks and I bought them at Knit Nation 2010.  What a wonderful day that was.

The picture had to be of the left one.  With my camera it proved impossible to photograph my own right arm.  As you can see I ran out of yarn on the second one, so used several strands of finer yarns knitted together to finish off.  That's the slightly more blue section.   The warmers are 'handed' so at least I'll  be able to tell easily which is which.  There's always an up-side.

Wednesday, 9 March 2011

Never Felt This Way Before

I've never done any felting (well, not deliberately).  We had this old handknit pullover hanging about - a work of art that didn't fit anyone.  I put it in a big linen bag in the washing machine with a pair of old jeans and turned on a 60 degree wash.  Something I would never otherwise do.

I've read somewhere that old jeans provide the right friction to felt the fibres.  I used the linen bag (wisely as it turned out), to contain any fibres that came away so they didn't coat the inside of my machine.  I think the 60 degrees was probably excessive, but I'm learning. 

This pullover may be Jacobs wool, not sure.  I had heard that Jacob sheep wool doesn't felt well.  This may not be as densely felted as it should be, but it has definitely shrunk.  It's gone from an approximate 38" chest to a 32"

Next step, cut the sleeves off.  Can you see what it is yet?

Tuesday, 8 March 2011

Pancake Day

It's pancake day. Pretty difficult to do anything meaningful with a knitted pancake, so I focused on the lemons. Who would have thought it would be so difficult to photograph a lemon?  I spent a lot of Sunday afternoon lying on my stomach on the landing where the light is best trying to photograph lemons.  It's only just occurred to me that I could have sliced some - it might have made it easier.  I used to have a lovely plate for setting out lemon slices, but a jackdaw came down the chimney and broke it.

Below is a pattern for the leaves. Knitted in perle cotton on 3.25mm needles.

Cast on 3 sts.
Row 1: Knit
Row 2: K1, p1, k1
Row 3: K1, *yon, k1 rep from *. (5 sts)
Row 4: K1, p3, k1
Row 5: K2, yon, k1, yon, k2. (7sts)
Row 6: K1, p5, k1
Row 7: K3, yon, k1, yon, k3. (9sts)
Row 8: K1, p7, k1
Row 9: knit
Row 10: K1, p7, k1
Row 11: K2, sl1, k1, psso, k1, k2 tog, k2
Row 12: K1, p5, k1
Row 13: K1, sl1, k1, psso, k1, k2 tog, k1
Row 14: K1, p3, k1
Row 11: sl1, K1, psso, k1, k2tog
Row 12: K1, p1, k1
Row 13: Sl1, k2tog, psso.
Cut yarn and pull through final stitch.

If you knit through the front of yarn over from the row below, you get a more solid effect (like the one below). If you knit through the back, you get a bit more of an eyelet effect.

Sunday, 6 March 2011

Simple flowers and leaves for beginners

Lots of sunshine today, making everyone chirpy.  I decided to knit some small flowers so that I have a collection by me ready for when I may want to decorate something.  Adding a simple flower (or lots) to a bag, or scarf can make all the difference.  Here is a very easy pattern for a flower that will be about 1" (2.5cm) across.  You can embroider the centre, or add a bead.  (The instructions for the bit of crochet will have to come another day as I can't remember how I did it).

Cast on 3 stitches
Knit a strip 6cm long and cast off
Secure a length of yarn to one corner
Sew a running stitch all along one edge and pull it tight into a circle
Sew the ends of the strip together.

To make a very simple leaf which would go with this small flower, knit a small square.
Using DK and 3.75mm needles,  cast of 4 stitches and knit 5 rows. 
Cast off
Place it at an angle to the flower.

Saturday, 5 March 2011

When they really knew how to recycle and improvise

This 'snowdrop' necklace comes from the days when they really knew how to recycle and improvise.
The Feb-March issue of Stitchcraft in 1945 showed readers how to make this necklace from the small petrol tubes that you got from the tobacconist when you wanted to refill your cigarette lighter.  The tube was cut in two and then the petals were cut from the two halves.  Then the halves were threaded with beads.  The drawing below shows how it was done.

Nifty heh?

Friday, 4 March 2011

Casting off

Picture above shows a bit of garter stitch knitting being cast off.
It's March and cold, but the primroses are out.  In the Language of Flowers they mean 'Hope'.

If you have cast on and knitted some rows, then casting off is a piece of cake.  Just need to make sure you don't do it too tightly so that your knitting pulls in along the cast-off row.  Some knitters use a size larger needle in the right hand to ensure a nice even cast-off.

The video below is one of the best I have seen for casting off which in America is called 'binding off'.

Tuesday, 1 March 2011

Funny Thing about Brioche Stitch

I know there are different kinds of Brioche Stitch, but even the basic instructions seem to vary.  I gather that it's not unusual for people to  have a bit of bother with it and so it's probably  not one for beginners.  After creating a lot of very weird looking effects by using instructions in books I found some demos on You Tube and actually created something that looked right.  I'm not entirely convinced it's the Brioche Stitch the books were telling me about, but hey - it worked.

Use a multiple of 3 stitches
*With Yarn in front, slip1 purlwise, K2tog with the yarn still at the front*  repeat to end of row
After every K2tog you have to bring the yarn back to the front again.

Just keep repeating this row.

This sample is in a vintage aran yarn - Patons Capstan which was all the rage in the late 70's. 
It gives a comparison with K1,P1 rib (at the top of the picture).  Interesting from the point of view of construction.