Friday 26 August 2016

Swatching for a Scarf

I have been trying out stitch patterns for a scarf I'm planning to knit for my sister.   I bought the yarn at Ribbon Circus in Hebden Bridge, at the Crafternoon Tea at the beginning off this month.  And I knitted a swatch of a possible pattern, Different Breezesome time ago - the first thing I knitted when I was able to hold knitting needles again after breaking my wrists.  But although it's a very pretty lace pattern, there are no easy rows - you need to concentrate on every one.  It's going  to be a long scarf,  and so I'd like some rows in every pattern repeat where I can knit without thinking.

For other possibilities, I've swatched a couple of stitch patterns from Barbara Walker's Treasury of Knitting Patterns.  The first is Lace Rib.  It meets my criterion - every other row is a repeat of p3, k2, so doesn't need much thought.

Lace Rib

So that was a strong candidate.  But being based on rib, it naturally concertinas inward - the swatch has been pressed to flatten it out, and even then it is perhaps not as drapy as I would like.

I have also knitted a swatch of Dewdrop Pattern.  It's an 8 row pattern with 6 rows of k3, p3.  The lacy increases and decreases all happen on the 4th and 8th rows.  So it will be quite fast to knit, I think.  

Dewdrop Pattern

(By the way, if you look at Dewdrop Pattern in A Treasury of Knitting Patterns, you'll see that my swatch doesn't look very like Barbara Walker's.  Hers seems a bit more stretched out, vertically.)  

On the 4th and 8th rows of the pattern, you do a three-into-one decrease, which according to the instructions should be done as slip one, knit 2 together, pass slipped stitch over.  But I found that the slipped stitch gets quite stretched when is passed over, and that stitch becomes a prominent part of the pattern, so that it isn't symmetrical.  You might be able to see that in the bottom half of the swatch. (Again, Barbara Walker's doesn't seem to look like that.)

So I tried a different 3-into-1 decrease, where the centre stitch is on top.  That's also easy to do.  First, slip the first two stitches together, knitwise,   That puts them on the right needle in reverse order.  Then knit the 3rd stitch, and pass the first two stitches over it, either one at a time or both together.  The result is that the 2nd stitch, i.e. the middle one of the three, ends up on top, with the other two tucked underneath it.   I've done that in the top half of the swatch.

So I think dewdrop stitch will be my choice for the scarf.   It's easy to knit, it lies flat, it drapes nicely, it's pretty.  And another plus: although the pattern isn't reversible, and the wrong side looks completely different to the right side, it's quite presentable.

Dewdrop Pattern, reverse

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.) 

Chart; knitting stitch; mistake rib; mock fisherman's rib

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!

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