Saturday 30 December 2017

Christmas Presents

I don't usually knit Christmas presents - I know from past experience that it's just creating an extra source of stress in getting them finished in time.  And I have not been much of a sock knitter, either, though for Christmas 2011 I did knit 3 pairs (of which 2 and a half were finished in time).   But this year, I needed a small portable project and decided to try sock knitting again, and to knit a pair for my daughter for Christmas - knitting one pair of socks seemed perfectly manageable.   I bought a skein of lovely Lichen and Lace sock yarn from my friend Sarah Alderson, and her sock pattern, The Chain.   (Sarah designed the thrummed slippers pattern that featured in my previous post.) 

The socks were finished well before Christmas.  They have turned out very well, and the yarn is beautifully soft. 

But meanwhile, my daughter said that what she really needed was a replacement for a scarf that she had lost i.e. she wanted me to knit a plum-coloured infinity scarf, as soon as possible. So I decided that the scarf would have to be for Christmas, too.

It took a while to find some wool of the right colour - King Cole Merino Blend 4-ply in Damson. By this time it was well into December, and we decided that the scarf had to be about 46 in. (117 cm.) in circumference, and quite deep.   I did get it done - I finished it at 11 p.m. on Christmas Eve (knitted, ends sewn in, and pressed).  Cutting it a bit fine, I know, but on Christmas Day it was all wrapped up, under the Christmas tree. 

It's designed to loop around the neck twice.   I don't have a photo of my daughter wearing it, but here it is on our newel post. 

I knitted it in the round, with a chevron pattern of eyelets and decreases in the middle and garter stitch borders top and bottom. Basically, a very wide, short tube.

It turned out that she hadn't lost the original scarf after all, but as it's cotton jersey, a hand-knitted wool scarf is much nicer, and much warmer for the winter.  She's very pleased with both the socks and the scarf.  And I'm going to knit more socks - this time for me.  And maybe a Moebius scarf too.

Saturday 23 December 2017

Fluffier on the inside

On Thursday evening, we had the December meeting of the Huddersfield Knitting & Crochet Guild branch.  Our theme for 2017 has been Yarn, in all sorts of forms.  To finish the year we had a workshop from one of our members, Sarah Alderson of Aldersign Designs.  The workshop was on thrumming - a traditional technique from Canada for making very warm mittens and such like by knitting extra bits of unspun wool into them to make a fleecy lining.  (Search for 'thrummed mittens' to find some YouTube videos and articles - here's one by the Yarn Harlot.)

Sarah provided us with undyed wool tops to make the thrums - short lengths of roving folded into figure-of-eight loops.  And she had designed a pattern for thrummed slippers / bootees - the design is called 'Fluffier on the Inside'.   The sole of the slipper is thrummed, and there is another band of thrumming around the ankle.  Sarah's prototype was in dark blue, and looks a little bit like Doctor Who's Tardis (which of course is bigger on the inside).

We started with a slipper sole, and I finished mine on Thursday evening.  The photos show the outside, with a neat pattern like the lice in Norwegian knitting:

and the inside, which looks like an explosion in a wool warehouse:

Sarah says that after the slippers have been worn for a while, the thrums felt together into an even, very warm layer.

The next step in making the slippers is to pick up stitches around the edge of the sole to knit the upper (which isn't thrummed).   Before doing that, I think I should knit the sole again - the size needs some adjustment.  And before that,  I need to finish off some Christmas knitting - there's not much time left, but it may just be done by Christmas morning.  But I shall definitely finish the slippers - they will be so cosy.

Tuesday 12 December 2017

Shetland Knitting Patterns

A recent donation of knitting patterns to the Knitting & Crochet Guild collection included a pattern for an "All-over Fair Isle Jumper and Beret", which looks to me like a 1930s pattern.

It was by a company called T.P.G. who produced "Pure Shetland Wool" for knitting.  Presumably, the company was based on Shetland, but there is no address on the leaflet.  And I can't guess what "T.P.G." stands for.   

It's good to see an authentic Fair Isle pattern from the 1930s (if that is what it is).  Here's what the design looks like, very approximately - I've chosen the colours based only on their names in the pattern, so they may be a long way from accurate.

I read the instructions to see if the jumper is to be knitted in the round.  It is - but only up to the armholes.  Then the back and front are knitted flat.  The stitches for the sleeves are picked up around the armholes (after the shoulders have been grafted), and the sleeves are knitted in the round. So - no steeks.

I knew that I had seen other T.P.G.patterns in the collection, and today I found them.  The girl's cardigan below is knitted in fawn and dark blue, with peach, white, pale blue, moorit and yellow.

The materials required include a set of four long needles (15 inch), but I'm not sure how they are to be used.  The instructions imply that the back and front are knitted flat in one piece up to the armholes, and you begin by casting on 235 stitches onto two size 10 (3.25 mm.) needles.  But probably four long needles are needed to knit such a wide piece flat - the instructions don't say.  (Now we would use a circular needle.)  Again, the back and fronts are knitted separately from the armholes upwards, and the sleeves are knitted in the round, working downwards from the armholes. 

Another T.P.G. leaflet is in a different Shetland knitting tradition - it has panels of a pretty lace stitch on a cardigan and jumper. (Click on the image below to enlarge it.)

I found these T.P.G. patterns alongside some other knitting patterns from Shetland.  I think these are later - maybe late 1940s?

1940s vintage knitting pattern

The leaflets leave no doubt that these are Shetland patterns "Designed in Shetland by Shetland Knitters" -  the company is called "Shetland Wools", with an address in Lerwick.  Both the lady's jumper and the gent's slipover are knitted flat - back and front separately.  Even the sleeves of the jumper are knitted flat, from the cuff upwards - the only knitting in the round is for the yoke.   And the ribs around the neck and armholes of the slipover are knitted flat, too, with seams in the rib, under the arms and on the shoulders.  (I find that rather shocking).  The company must have decided that knitters outside Shetland just couldn't cope with knitting in the round.

It would be nice to know more about these two companies, and in particular what T.P.G. stands for.  So if you have any information. please let me know. 

P.S. In January, someone emailed me to say that she thought the T.P.G. was the firm of T.P. Gordon (Perth) Ltd.,  who were listed in the Edinburgh Gazette as 'Shetland Goods Specialists' in the 1930s.  They were also, she said, mentioned as the publishers of TPG leaflets in a Broraspun leaflet in the 1970s. I was able to add a bit more information - T.P. Gordon was Thomas Patrick Gordon, who died in 1942 aged 88.  The notice of his death named the business as the Shetland Warehouse in Perth.  So, Perth rather than Shetland, though I suppose the patterns might have been designed there.  
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