Monday 26 April 2010

Starting out

Today's Knitting and Crochet Blog Week topic is "Starting out":
How and when did you begin knitting/crocheting?

OK.... I learnt to knit in the 1950s, when I was about seven or eight, I think.  I had a doll's dress (or maybe it was my sister's) that was probably crocheted, in a green kind of silky thread, and it had hole in it, and I asked my mother to teach me to knit so that I could mend it.  Of course, I never did manage to mend it by knitting, but instead of explaining that it wouldn't work, she cunningly taught me to knit first.   I think that I made a hat out of a rectangle of garter stitch that was then folded in half and then sewn up down the sides.  I sort of remember that it was red.   The blurry photo shows me wearing a similar hat, though I'm not sure if it was one I knitted.

I don't remember knitting anything much after that until I was a teenager, when my sister and I both started knitting jumpers for ourselves - until then my mother did a lot of knitting for both of us.  In the sixties, knitting started to get exciting,  with designers such as Kaffe Fassett and Susan Duckworth starting out and publishing patterns.  I plan to write about  one of the jumpers we knitted then, later in the week. 

Knitting and Crochet Blog Week

After several days of nothing happening, we got our flight to the US rearranged for yesterday. So we're now in Oregon staying with our daughter and looking forward to a great holiday.

Knitting and Crochet Blog Week starts tomorrow, with a suggested topic for each day.  I planned to take part, if we didn't manage to get a flight, and I have some pieces already more or less written, so will post them on the appropriate day, or as soon afterwards as I can get internet access.    


Tuesday 20 April 2010

Knitting stick

We are supposed to be on a flight to the US, from Manchester via Amsterdam, at this very moment, but because of the  Eyjafjallaj√∂kull eruption in Iceland, Manchester airport is still closed so we are still here.  I'm feeling thoroughly miserable - the purpose of the trip was primarily to visit our daughter whom we haven't seen since September.  I have no idea when or if we shall be able to rearrange the flights, so I'm blogging instead.

Earlier this month, John went to the Newark Antiques Fair with some friends.  It is supposed to be the largest antiques fair in the country, and he had a great time there and bought lots of things.  (Mostly very cheap, he claims.)

He gave me a knitting stick that he bought at the fair - a lovely gift (even if partly intended to salve his conscience).    It's a simple turned shape, with nothing to show who it was made for, or when or where, but I imagine that it's 19th century and maybe from the north of England.

The end of the stick is hollowed out, with a brass knurled ring set into it, and an ivory or bone (?) ring set into that, to hold the end of the knitting needle.

The stick is intended to be  tucked into a belt or waistband, so that it can hold the right needle steady.  It allowed knitters to knit outdoors, while they were walking.  An article by Kate Davies on Knitting Outdoors, in Rowan Knitting and Crochet Magazine 47, discusses how knitting sticks and similar gadgets were used to facilitate knitting while on the move and doing other things at the same time.  She also has a blog post with photos of plain and fancy knitting sticks.  

It would be interesting to try knitting with my knitting stick, with double-pointed needles, although the bone ring doesn't seem to be very firmly fixed so maybe not.  Knitting with a stick ought to be similar to knitting with the right needle fixed under your arm, which is what I do,  so maybe it would make it easier for me to knit in the round.

Saturday 10 April 2010

Updating a Classic

I have had a copy of Marion Foale's Classic Knitwear for years (though I think that strictly speaking it is my sister's and I have it on long loan).  It was published in 1985, when I was not knitting, so I have never made any of the jumpers in the book (although I did persuade my mother to knit one for me).   Since I started knitting again, I have had it in mind to knit one of them some time. 

The jumpers and cardigans in the book are quite simple designs, and the stitches are not complicated.  They are all knitted in one colour, too. But they are all, I thought, very wearable - classics, in fact.

However, when I came to look at the patterns in detail, with a serious intention to knit one, I saw that they won't do.  The shapes are wrong for today - they are mostly very loose-fitting, in the body and the sleeves, and they all have dropped shoulders, which makes for bagginess around the armholes. Many of the jumpers have a close fitting rib, followed by an increase in the number of stitches, as well as a change to a larger needle.  That means that the waist is much wider than the hips - nowadays we make jumpers much more close-fitting.     

The jumper I wanted to knit, Badminton, is actually described as "a long slender shape", though to a modern eye it looks very roomy, especially around the waist and armholes. The waist is 6 inches bigger than the waist size it is intended for, and the tops of the sleeves are very wide too. 

But it still is basically a very appealing jumper, I think.  I love the  vertical lines (each is a single stitch in moss stitch (aka seed stitch)), and the square neckline, also in moss stitch.  So I am attempting to knit a slimmer version with set-in sleeves. I am using a straightforward modern pattern for DK yarn, and morphing that into Badminton

 The yarn I am using is Wendy Supreme mercerised cotton (DK weight)  - thicker than the yarn originally  intended.   The colour is a sort of blue-green (teal?). I'll report progress later.

Sunday 4 April 2010

And Another Scarf

The scarf in Regia sock yarn that I wrote about previously is now finished.  It is about 140 cm. by 25 cm. (The fabric is rather stretchy, so the measurements are  approximate.)  Who would have thought that the yarn to make one pair of socks (two 50g. balls) would make a scarf that big?

I have been wearing it in the house this week because the weather turned cold again - it looks very  good with a lavender coloured top.

I should stop knitting scarves now and knit other things - at least until next winter.  On the other hand, I have been musing about a scarf in double knitting (the technique, not the yarn weight) - a two-sided reversible scarf in two colours, with the colours switched from one side to the other.   I have never tried double knitting and possibilities are intriguing, although it also sounds very fiddly and slow - not sure I have the patience.  (I can do slow, as long as it's straightforward enough to do something else at the same time.)  I found some tutorial material on the web that suggested starting with something small - a pot-holder.   But what's the point of knitting a pot-holder in a fancy two-colour pattern?  Either you never use it (wrong),  or you do use it and it gets burnt and covered with food stains (very wrong).   (I feel that I am about to start reminiscing about knitted dishcloths, so I had better shut up for now.)
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