Friday, 29 June 2012

Against the odds

Docking station for Bees
I love foxgloves for the eccentricity of their structure and the random pattern of their spots.  I love the way the bees go right into the flower and buzz loudly and impatiently to capture all the goodness.  A garden with foxgloves is not a silent garden.

In spite of the rain and the construction work, some things have survived.  The theme today is strong pink.
Rosebuds in the rain
And the open flower - an old rose in next door's hedge
Back to my garden - Sweet Williams with Love in A Mist

Wednesday, 27 June 2012

How to Handle it

The Finishing Touch
I like making bags and I like to design them myself.  Quite often I sit with paper and pencil and work out all the detail and never actually start knitting. This time I just picked up the needles and problem solved as I went along.  

The thing with bags is - handles.  There was much experimentation with wire and strips of plastic.  In the end I crocheted a cord and covered it.

Cable Fabric

The stitch is called cable fabric and comes from my old Arco Guide to Knitting Stitches.  Just for once, it's not a slip stitch. 
I was aiming for a vintage look
It wasn't my original intention to have the lining as a cuff at the top, but it sort of went that way.  I usually line my knitted bags, although I always make a very firm knitted fabric by using a much smaller needle size than would usually be used for the yarn so that lining isn't absolutely necessary.  

When I have run bag-making workshops I've found people like long shoulder straps.  I really much prefer a little handbag and it definitely has a more vintage look.  This one is a prototype.  There are things I would do differently next time, but I now have a pattern written down for further testing.  

I'm still learning to write things down properly.  Had awful difficulty getting the second side to work the same as the first.  And I really have to learn to light  my photographs properly.  

Friday, 22 June 2012

'There's good news and there's bad news...'

Child's puzzle blocks bought at a jumble sale
I am surrounded by devastation.  The house is covered in tarpaulin which flaps all night in the wind.  All the windows have been blanked out with black polythene to prevent splashes of plaster on the glass so it's even more dark inside than usual and positively medieval.

It keeps raining so that wet chalk is spreading everywhere, the garden is a mass of trampled vegetation and I have never known so few people get through so much coffee and sugar.  Particularly sugar.  I wonder if they are using it as a building material.

Conversations start with 'There's good news and there's bad news...'.    They've gone away for a week now leaving instructions that we should spray the whole exterior of the house twice each day with a fine mist.  I'm on leave for a couple of weeks now and that's what I'll be doing.  Up a scaffold, wearing a sou'wester and  lugging a hosepipe.  Mind you, there's so much rain coming down at the moment that it doesn't really seem necessary.

On the upside, they have uncovered a traditional farmhouse half timbered gable dating from the early eighteenth century.  They were extremely excited about that and a bit disappointed that it had been very thoroughly chewed by a nineteenth century worm.  An 'honest repair' is in progress.

Not sure what age of child it's intended for, but I found it quite difficult

Wot they learned that time

The Edsel - late 1950s
Seen at a vintage car show recently.  A pink Edsel.  I love it, but the Edsel was Ford's greatest disaster, the wrong car at the wrong time and a marketing failure.  Ford promised innovation and all new ideas.  It turned out to be much the same as a Lincoln Mercury with a weird grille stuck on the front.  'Edsel' became a metaphor for 'big mistake'.

Among the many reasons cited for its failure was that people thought the front grill resembled a certain part of female anatomy.  Now, I don't know if some car geek with no life thought that up after the event and it has become part of the legend, or if it really was an idea in circulation at the time, but if it was, I can't really imagine any 1950s All American male wanting to drive around in it and once the idea got out there, the damage would be done.

Shame. I would drive it if it wasn't for the fuel consumption which was considered a bit high, even back then when we weren't paying £1.34 a litre.

Wednesday, 20 June 2012

Variation on Garter Slip Stitch

Garter Slip Stitch Variation
 I like this one very much.  Gives a very firm texture and a pleasing appearance.  I'm not really a fan of garter stitch - always looks a bit home made, but when you get the little 'V' shapes in the slip, it adds some life.

It really starts to sing when you add another colour.  The Contrast colour (the purple) looks a little like beading and I wonder what the effect would be if the Contrast was done in a glittery yarn.  Very party girl I think.

A Tweedy Effect for Sophistication
Multiple of 2+1
1st row : (right side) Knit
2nd row : Knit
3rd row : K1, *sl 1 purlwise, k1; rep from * to end.
4th row : K1, *yf, sl1 purlwise, yb, k1; rep from * to end.

For the colour variation, work rows 1 and 2 in Main colour and rows 3 and 4 in Contrast.

Sunday, 17 June 2012

Garter Slip Stitch

Garter Slip Stitch
This one is perhaps the simplest slip stitch of all.Garter Slip Stitch. It gives quite a dense, firm stitch unlike ordinary garter.  If you like the texture of garter stitch, but want less of the stretch, then this is really useful. A little boring in a single colour, it takes on a little life when you use two colours and here I tried two shades of green.  I could see it on pocket flaps and cuffs, on hats.  Possibly not very exciting made up into a bag,  but it would do a nice firmly structured jacket.

The two shades of green look good in real life, but don't come across well on the screen.  I'll have to look for colours that 'pop' more.  Something I have learned - think about the medium.
Always worth taking a look at the wrong side.  Rather a nice effect.  
Multiple of 2 + 1
Cast on in Main colour
1st row : (right side) using Main colour, knit
2nd row  : Knit
3rd row : Using Contrast colour, k1, *sl 1 purlwise, k1; rep from * to end.
4th row : Using Contrast, knit.
Rep. these 4 rows

Friday, 15 June 2012

Brian the Builder is here

Granny's Bonnet
My garden has become a disaster area.  The builders have definitely arrived. Scaffolding plonked on borders. Honeysuckle chopped down - I had just managed to get it to grow over the garden wall and down the other side.

They are dealing with a chalk wall and since it has rained for nearly a week now, there is a grey trail of trodden in chalk pretty much everywhere. Bless their hearts, they are trying so hard to minimise the mess.  And hey, it can all be cleaned up and re-planted.  Right now I'm trying to focus on the survivors.  Granny's bonnet.  Doesn't come up true from seed, so you don't know what you'll get.

A while ago I had a try at replicating it in knit.  Strange, but interesting.

Wednesday, 13 June 2012

Stitch Dictionaries

Published by Arco in New York, 1985

I love Mary Thomas and Barbara Walker, but perhaps my favourite stitch dictionary is one that I bought at a car boot sale for 50p.  No dust jacket and a bit scuffed and marked here and there The Arco Guide to Knitting Stitches is a treasure.  It's A4 size but not very fat and inside it's unfussy.  Just lots of stitches with pictures of beautiful swatches and the directions for making them, no commentary, just picture and pattern.  Of course, I spend most time studying and trying out the slip stitches - my favourites.

The builders have started work and the garden is being trampled, so I have begun to swatch obsessively to take my mind off it.  I'm working my way through the Arco Guide.

Sunday, 10 June 2012

I Love 1952

Vogue Knitting 1952

I have a copy of the Vogue Knitting Book from 1952 (Number 40).  The Spring issue. It's full of little knitted blouses and most of them go up to bust size 38, if not 40.  Makes you feel good to be alive.

The caption here reads,
'The new tiny jacket, short sleeved, small waisted and with a high band collar of ribbon.  Make it in a shade exactly matching your skirt.'

The size 38 requires 16 buttons

I'm still having a bit of trouble finding the enthusiasm for knitting.  Very odd.  Maybe there is just too much going on at the moment.  I have lots of ideas.  Just can't start them off.  So I got out all  my old knitting magazines and am having lots of fun.  

Friday, 8 June 2012

A Bit Wild and Woolly

Can't see the path
The garden has gone mad due to loads of rain and short bursts of sun.  We have here Forget-Me-Nots, just going over, Poppies just coming out, (orange - I wanted pink, Hey-ho) and a big clump of Wall Germander at the front still green.  This will soon be covered in small pink flowers.  There is also lots of thyme and the lavender is on its way.

The red thing on the right comes out in enormous clumps and I can never remember the name of it.  There are also pink Geraniums, and the yellow patch upper right is Woad.  I finally got it to grow.

Since I took these photos a couple of weeks ago, everything really bloused out and became much more colourful and now we have wind and rain to batter it all down.

London Pride, Geranium and the red thing I can't remember the name of

Wednesday, 6 June 2012

Here we Go!

A Little Light Weeding
The builders start work on my old chalk house today.  Six weeks of scaffolding.  I've cleared my plants away from the bases of the walls.  And the little hawthorn tree I cherished had to come out.  It flowered for the first time this year.  The Man Who Can does not go in for gardening and if required to do it usually employs mechanical means.  He did try to dig out the tree and save it, but in the end a forklift was needed to pull it out.  Very sad.

They will take the modern render off all the outside walls and replace it with traditional lime render (3 layers).  A chalk house is a breathing house, drawing in moisture and allowing it to evaporate.  Modern render stops that natural process and gradually damp, or dryness take their toll.

I am more nervous about this whole exercise than you can ever imagine. Paths will come up because they have been built up too high and the walls can't drain properly and the thick layer of cement and black pitch that everyone put at the base of their chalk walls in the 1950s will be removed.  The old chalk garden wall will be renovated as well.

I'm suppose I'm a bit worried about what they will find when they start taking the render off.  The story goes that a tank from the garrison ran into one corner of the house just after the war and judging by other makeshift repairs that have been done here, I'm not too confident that the damage will have been properly dealt with.  But that's no reason to avoid the issue, so at last we are going to sort it all out.

Sunday, 3 June 2012

Something to Aspire to in 1950

From Needlework Illustrated
Reading this ad, I can't help feeling that Joyce might have been a bit perfect and a bit annoying.

Friday, 1 June 2012

Jolly Good Show

A Souvenir Sampler to cross stitch
From Needlewoman and Needlecraft Magazine
April 1953

Celebrating the Diamond Jubilee this weekend.  We Brits still like our bit of pageantry.