Tuesday, 16 August 2016

Knitting Sampler Squares

I wrote here in January about a hugely long sampler that we have in the Guild collection, made by a knitter called Gladys.  There are about 940 stitch patterns in it.  Gladys intended to reach 1,000 but had to give it up because of arthritis in her hands - she never cast it off, though, and when it was given to the Guild after she died, it was still on the needles, so perhaps she had hoped to finish it.

The London branch of the Guild has been studying the sampler and is planning a couple  of projects based around it.  One is to add another 60 or so stitch patterns, to reach Gladys' target.  Another, which is under way, is to re-knit some of the most interesting stitch patterns and maybe publish them.  I volunteered to knit two of the patterns, and have just finished and posted them.  We were asked to knit 20cm. squares, with a garter stitch border. They are all in the same wool - 4-ply merino in cream.

My first square, pattern no. 491, is a very pretty pattern of cables separated by open-work panels.

The other (pattern 370) is not as successful, I think.  It has bands of reverse stocking stitch, knitted on size 10 (3.25mm.) needles, separated by two rows of a more open stitch knitted on size 7 (4.5mm.)  needles. But the two fancy rows don't show up as much as I think they should, partly because of the tendency of the stocking stitch to curl - even after I stretched the swatch quite a lot.  All you get is a general impression of horizontal channels between the bands of reverse stocking stitch, punctuated by little holes.  It seems to have looked better in Gladys's original, so perhaps it doesn't work well in this yarn.  

Imagine knitting swatches of over 900 different stitches! Would you be able to remember them all, even if you could find that many in the first place?

Saturday, 13 August 2016

Bra Recycling

The local Women's Institute (Marsh, Huddersfield - aka Cupcakes & Cocktails)  have been making planting 'braskets' out of bras.  They have made a display of the results alongside the main road through Marsh, outside the Junction pub - very eye-catching.

It's all to encourage recycling of old clothes, allegedly.  Though this particular approach works best with larger sizes - the less well-endowed will have to find some other use for old bras.


Tuesday, 9 August 2016


Today I was sorting some magazines in the Knitting & Crochet Guild collection and separating out surplus copies.  One of them was a Woolworth Knitting Magazine from 1976, and I was idly looking through it to see if there was anything of interest in it.  At that time, Woolworth's sold knitting yarns under their Winfield brand, as well as pattern leaflets, an annual knitting magazine, and  knitting needles, crochet hooks, buttons and other haberdashery.

The patterns in this magazine weren't very exciting, but an ad about metrication of knitting needles caught my eye.  Evidently, the old imperial sizes were just changing over to metric sizes at the time.

It essentially gives a conversion chart, with the old imperial sizes alongside the new metric sizes.  I doubt that the reassurance that "Tensions won't be affected, so you won't have to learn to knit again" was really necessary - changing needle sizes was very straightforward compared to the conversion of weights and measures that was happening at the same time.

Knitting yarn was already being sold in metric quantities, and I had forgotten that balls of yarn used to be much smaller than they are now.  From the quantities given in the patterns, Winfield yarns were sold in 20g and 25g balls, except for Aran wool, which was in 50g balls.  So a short-sleeved smock top took 22 balls of DK for the 36 in./91 cm. bust size.  I suppose that meant that you should have less than 25g left over when you had finished knitting, whereas I'm often left with most of a 100g. ball when I've finished a project.  But think of dealing with all those ends!    

Monday, 8 August 2016

Crafternoon Tea

Yesterday, I went with a friend for the monthly Crafternoon Tea at Ribbon Circus, the yarn shop in Hebden Bridge.  A knit-and-natter with tea/coffee and lots of very good cake on offer - a lovely way to spend a Sunday afternoon.

And I bought some yarn - Juniper Moon's Herriot, for a scarf for my sister.  It's mostly alpaca with some nylon (she can't wear wool), and is very, very soft.  The colour is Travertine - a silver-grey. It will make a delightful warm scarf.  


Saturday, 6 August 2016

Not Mistake Rib

Not long after I wrote the post on Mistake Rib, I was looking in another stitch dictionary and saw something that looked very like Mistake Rib, but called Mock Fisherman's Rib.  The dictionary was in Creative Knitting, a part work published in the 1970s or 1980s.

Here's a swatch of Mock Fisherman's Rib.

And for comparison, here is my Mistake Rib swatch on the same background:

I thought at first that Mock Fisherman's Rib was just another name for Mistake Rib, until I read the instructions.   Both are worked over a multiple of 4 stitches, plus 1, but Mistake Rib is K2, P2 on every row.  Mock Fisherman's Rib is K3, P1 on every row.  Who would have thought that two such different sequences would give such similar results?

Of course, if you look closely, the differences show up.  In Mock Fisherman' s Rib, the purl bumps either side of the knit ribs are in the same row, and in Mistake Rib they are in alternate rows.  The charts below make the differences very clear, but also show the knit ribs and purl ribs which are the strongest feature of both. (As before, a blank square means knit on odd rows, purl on even rows; ● means purl on odd  rows, knit on even rows.) 

But in the large, the two stitch patterns are pretty much interchangeable, it seems to me.  On the other hand, worked over a multiple of 4 stitches, K3, P1 would look nothing at all like K2, P2.  Knitting is fascinating!

Monday, 25 July 2016

1970s Guernseys

I mentioned that in the collection of pattern leaflets and other publications that we were given a couple of weeks ago there were a lot of Aran patterns. The woman who collected them was evidently interested in Guernseys, too - she had a surprising number of Guernsey patterns from the 1970s, published by some of the big yarn spinners and all intended for special 5-ply Guernsey yarn.  I was knitting in the 1970s, but wasn't aware of this fashion for knitting Guernseys at the time.

Emu 4728

There were more than a dozen traditional Guernsey patterns published by Emu - this one is described as "using Scottish Fleet and Mallaig stitches".  Some of the other Emu patterns, though still specifying 5-ply yarn, have raglan sleeves, polo necks, or stitches that appear to be based on Arans rather than traditional Guernseys.

But from a quick read, all the other patterns in the 5-ply Guernsey yarn are constructed as I think a proper traditional Guernsey should be, with underarm and shoulder gussets and the back and front identical.

Wendy 2018
Each of the spinners also published a pattern for a plain Guernsey in stocking stitch, like this Wendy pattern.
Poppleton 1711

This Poppleton pattern is for a "Vale Guernsey (Parish design)" - it's a traditional Guernsey from the island of Guernsey.

Marriner 1796
And the Marriner pattern is a "Guernsey style sweater in traditional Patrington and Withernsea stitches".

I wonder how many of these Guernseys were knitted in the 1970s.  The point of a Guernsey is that it's very hard wearing, so they might still survive, still being worn.   Do let me know if you have one.

Tuesday, 19 July 2016

A Feather in your Cap

In yesterday's post, I said that although most of the patterns in the collection just donated are from the 1970s or later, there are a few much older ones.  The oldest is a Patons & Baldwins leaflet from the 1930s for three knitted hats and a scarf, in very good condition.  The designs are called Nina, Norma and Nesta - P&B liked to stick to the same initials for the designs in a leaflet.
Patons & Baldwins Helps to Knitters 3157

The hats are all very simple knits, on two needles.  The 'Nina' beret, which has the most complicated shaping, is in garter stitch, 'Norma' (on the cover) is in fisherman's rib, or something like that, and 'Nesta' is in moss stitch.  (The scarf in the 'Nesta' design is in a loose lacy stitch.)  The most complicated part is folding the Norma and Nesta hats so that they look like the illustrations, and the leaflet gives instructions for that, and for placing the feather in all three.   Evidently, P&B wanted to show, or to claim at least, that even in a simple woolly hat you could look smart and fashionable if you were sufficiently well-groomed and made up, and wore your hat with panache.  (I had a vague feeling that "with panache" literally means something like "with a feather". And I was right, so there you are.  Just stick a feather in your hat, pluck your eyebrows severely, and you too might look like a 1930s lady.)