Friday, November 30, 2007

Dog-Walking Mitts

A very quick Christmas gift - finished over the past 3 days: the Garter Stitch Mitts, by Ysolda (who's website is on my "Inspire" list, left). This is a brilliant short-row pattern on the order of the Grackle Grackle hat that I made last month (or, as its more commonly known, the ZeeBee...).

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I used less than one skein of Garnstudio's sock yarn, Fabel, on size 6 straight needles. These mitts are for my sweetheart who needs fingerless gloves for when he walks his dogs. I put the suede palms on them so the dog lead wouldn't rub against the yarn directly.

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The pattern was written up perfectly - it went so easily! I used the large size, and added one 8-row repeat to make sure they'd fit my sweetheart's fairly large hands.

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For the second mitt, the author suggests knitting as given and turning inside out to get the thumb on the other side. Instead, I followed the directions backwards because, with this yarn and its distinctive colour patterns, it didn't look the same on the back side as the front side. It turned out just right!

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I hope I'll be able to save these until Christmas! We have a snowstorm coming on Sunday and I know I'll be tempted to whip them out and say, "See what I made you!"

Monday, November 26, 2007


Time away from work is good for the soul....good for the mental health...and good for the knitting. I enjoyed all three over the long Thansgiving holiday break. Luckily, the past five days didn't include anything earth-shattering except a flat tire on Thanksgiving morning (what can I say? my car is an adult - 21 years old - and that means I can now run it on cheap beer instread of expensive gasoline, so I can't complain about any other shenanigans it gets up to). So, I knit knit knit through Project Runway and America's Next Top Model marathons, and sappy Christmas movies that all had similar themes - woman gets divorced and moves back to home town, hooks up with former sweetheart, hates him, there is a snowstorm, she is rescued by or trapped with him, loves him, marries him and rescues (runaway, abandoned, or ophaned) kid(s) along the way.

This surfeit of schmaltz resulted in: Argyley

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Argyley is a simple K2P2 scarf but the yarn makes all the difference. It's Seacoast handpainted sock yarn in their limited edition Halloween 2007 colourway - gourd orange, black, and soft grey. I'm using size 4 (3.5 mm) needles. The random colours are creating an almost argyle-looking pattern on the scarf - better than anything I could have created with careful planning and a whole bottle of Red Truck Cabernet. Must get some more of this yarn. and some for friends. Oddly, I was the only one who bought this colourway. The LYS still has the other 3 skeins left.

I also picked up one skein of the new Manos silk & merino in a mix of these two colurs (heavy on the grey/green and very light on rose pink).
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I'm going to use it for a neck warmer or fingerless gloves, and pair it with this Plymouth Baby Alpaca Grande for a hat:
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Saturday, November 24, 2007

1865 Baby Bumpers

I had more good luck in the charity shops yesterday. A Raveler had been traveling in my state and came across a bucket of antique knitting magazines. He PM'ed me and told me where they were. I poured through them for 2.5 hours before deciding on the ones I wanted. They span late 1800's through 1940's and are full of treasures! I spent the grocery money on them, but WTH - its worth it for your creative passion, no? And the good news is that the prices were so low, I picked up some that were dupllicates of what I already have so I could give them away to Ravelers who are as crazy about vintage knit and crochet as I am! I don't know who these recipients are yet or how to identify them as the ones to receive these great pattern booklets, so any ideas are appreciated... One of my duplicates is from 1921; others are original WWII pamplets for charity knits put out by the Red Cross!

Here is a pattern that looks kind of cute for someone who has a baby or toddler...

As with many early patterns, the directions are very 'sketchy' and require lots of expereince to translate them into something actually understandable and do-able. My adaptations are italicized in brackets after sections that I thought might be confusing. After I actually try knnitting this pattern, Ill post the original pattern first and then my modern adaptation second, so that re-enactors can use the original pattern as is, without my interruptions.

1865 Baby Bumpers

There aren't any babies in my life at the moment, but if there were, this is what I'd make them: knitted "drawers" from the 1865 Peterson's Magazine...

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Materials: One oz double zephyr [sport or DK weight]; pair wooden needles, about one quarter of an inch thick [size 9 or 10 US]; pair No. 10 steel needles [I believe this means a set of 4 #10 sock needles].

Cast on 60 stitches
1st row - knit plain
2nd row - purl
3rd row - knit plain
4th row – purl; repeat this until you have knitted 24 rows. [meaning stockinette stitch over 24 rows]
25th row - take off the first stitch without knitting, then bring the thread forward and knit one [meaning slip 1, YO, K1; this increases your stitches to 120 total] Repeat this to the end of the needle.
26th row - knit plain
27th row - purl
28th row - knit plain
29th row - purl. repeat until you have 12 rows.

Put 15 stitches plain for each side of the front,[meaning put 15 st on a holder] and knit the center stitches of the back in blocks of 4 stitches each, that is, knit 4 stitches plain. then 4 stitches purl, (allowing 13 stitches purled for the center of the back). Repeat this until you have 3 rows knit.

The 15 stitches for the fronts are not to be knitted in the three rows just described; the back only to be knit, in order to make the back 3 rows longer than the fronts. [meaning make short rows for the back seat… it doesn’t say to, but I would suggest wrapping the ends of rows with a simple *sl 1, bring yarn front or back (whichever it isn’t), turn, sl 1, proceed w directions as written* to prevent a flap that you will have to gather or overlap. Of course, if you want to make a seat flap that buttons closed, and can be opened, you can omit the end-row wraps and create an overlapping square on top and bottom of the back seat.]

Seam or purl 1 row between every block. [meaning, after knitting in pattern across the back, knitting the center 13 st plain, wrap and turn, then purl back. Repeat these two rows two more times for a total of six rows – 3 pattern rows and 3 purl rows.]

Make two blocks in this way for the back, and knit to the end of the needle in the seam. [meaning, repeat these 6 rows once more, ending with a WS purl row that purls the 15 stitches of one front side off the holder].

NOTE: As in the illustration, the ‘blocks’ are meant to alternate over each other, so the first section of 6 rows is K4, P4, purling every other row. The second set of 6 rows will be P4, K4, purling every other row.

Then knit in blocks all the way out, [meaning, knit in pattern, remembering to knit the first 15 stitches on the front, and the center 13 stitches on the back, and then after knitting in pattern again, knit the last 15 stitches off their holder] (observing to make the blocks come out evenly one over the other,) picking up 4 stitches on each side where you have knit the back longer. [This pick-up will make a somewhat lumpy back, hence the suggested short rows earlier. However, it will make the back pouch out a little bit if you want to go ahead and use the authentic 1865 directions as written.]

Continue these blocks until you have 13 ribs or rows of blocks [26 rows total because the pattern row & purl back row = 1 rib or row.]

In the middle of the back, in the block that has the 13 stitches, narrow 1 stitch in every other block, so that when you have the 13 rows of blacks completed, you will have but 6 stitches in the middle block, which at the beginning had 13 stitches.

Now change the needles, using the steel ones, divide the stitches in half and close the leg by using 4 needles. Knit 4 rows of blocks without narrowing ,[meaning 24 rows total, a pattern and a purl row x 3 equaling 1 “row of blocks”. If you are now knitting in the round on 4 needles, it will be a pattern row and a knit row to equal 1 block row and 3 of these equal 1 block.] then knit 12 rows of blocks, narrowing 1 stitch in every row of blocks in the inside of the leg, then knit 4 rows of blocks without narrowing.

Then take the 12 center stitches for the top of the foot and knit 3 rows of blocks, pick up all the stitches around the foot and knit plain 1 row, purl 1 row, knit plain 1 row, purl 1 row. Bind off. Do the other leg in the same manner.

Then pick up all the stitches (on the right side of the work) in front on both sides and knit 6 rows purl and 6 rows plain alternately. [you are making the front button plackets in stockinette. Obviously, it would be easier to create the buttonholes while knitting one of the sides, than going back and making sewn buttonholes as described below]. Bind off. Hem the right side down and sew 4 large porcelain buttons on it. In the 4th row of the left side you must make 4 buttonholes, and hem the half of the 8 rows down so as to meet the buttonholes.

Hem down the top (at the waist) to the row of holes, and finish with a cord and tassels.

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Thursday, November 22, 2007

Riding hats and Swing skirts

I had a wonderful find this weekend while doing a little pre-Christmas shopping. I was searching an antique store for a jewelry gift for a friend's birthday, when I came across a stack of vintage and antique knitting and needlecraft booklets. Many that I left there were U8F (ultimate 80's fugliness) but the ones I took home were increadible and beautfiul. Each was between $2 and $5 a piece - pricey but it all added up to less than a modern hardcover knitting book.

I got:

An old, old "Boye circular Knitting Pin" size 2 and 11 inches long! It says "specially designed for boucle work" and is enclosed by a pink and yellow deco looking paper envelope. Inside with the needle was a newspaper clipping. It didnt have a date, but on one side were illustrations and directions for many embroidery stitches, and on the other was a news story about a crowd watching the test explosions of the original atom bombs, showing them watching them through dark glasses from a few miles away... wonder what happened to those people.... anyway, this gives an idea of the age of this knitting needle

Tatting Craft My Book No. 3 "A Real Sampler" over 100 designs, by Anna Valeire - I think it says 1911

Tatting Designs with Instructions Book No. 5 ,by Adeline Cordet - 1916

Tatting Book No. 13 by Anne Orr - 1913

The tatting books have nightgown and corset-cover yokes, bonnets, candy and hairpin baskets, and lacey edgings.

Clark's Designs for 100 edgings and insertions - 1920

Star Needlework Journal - 1925 Vol 10 No 1, this has "One of the New Knitted Bead Bags" among other things

Star Needlework Journal - 1925 Vol 10 No 2; this booklet has "Just the right knits for Romp and Play" and knitted laces for fine and heavy thread, and the hilariously titled "Tatting for the Less Ambitious"

Sports Attire - 1940 Just some of the patterns in this very tattered booklet: "a Good Habit - To Knit Your Riding Togs" with one of my favorite patterns, the knitted riding hat;
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"Cruise Wear" with a sailer hat, a bolero, and a sports jacket; The Swing Skirt
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and golf sweater; "Tennis Togs" with shorts, halter top, open skirt, calot, and anklets; One-piece Bathing suit with wrap-around skirt that can be worn as a (rather hot, I would imagine) sun cape;
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Skating things, including a knitted muff, two different embroidered mittens, and some really nice knee socks as well as a flippy skirt, "Fruity Sweater Jacket", and little calot cap; Skiing with knitted pants and hoodie; It also has a chart showing needle and hook sizes and a size chart that lists a size 12 as having a 30" bust

America Men's Sweaters at Work and Play; "Take Your Place in Civilian Defense" - 1942; lots of pullovers, cardigans and vests with WWII type names like "Victory Vest" and "Defense Worker".

Modern Knitting Designed for You and Yours - 1948; this booklet has 80 pages and the cover shows a bright yellow one-piece knitted bathing suit; full of dresses, blouses, sweaters, boleros, coats, hats, and baby and child wear!

What a find! I hope to try out and post some of these patterns eventually...

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

land o' snow

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It's snowing! The first snow of the year and Mr. Newsy on TV said it may reach 3 or 4 inches today. But it will be gone by morning because its 50 degrees here.

I'm glad the streets will clear because my kitty is at the Vet's today for surgery on her oddly swollen mouth. She probably cut herself on some odd bit around the house and became infected. She is a cat with a mental disorder. She has Pica - the eating of non-edible things. Infants, Toddlers, and Animals get this disorder when they've gone through periods of starvation. Catherine was a feral cat and no matter how plump and secure she becomes in our cosy home she can't stop chewing on odd table legs and lapping up dust.

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I'm anxiously awaiting a call from the Veterinary to find out how badly off she is/was and when I can bring her home. The good news is that I've put in to take tomorrow off and the next two days are Thanksgiving Holiday, and the next two are the weekend so I can stay home for five days to keep an eye on her and......knit!

Recently a knitting package came for me from another snowy land.... Norway! We had a tea and yarn secret swap on my Tea and Knitting group on Ravelry (Cup 'a Tea) and the marvelous Ziarah sent me this package:

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Do you see what is there? Yes - its potatoes! Potatoes are my favorite food and I happened to make a joke of this on the swap questionaire, so Ziarah went to the local farmer's market and bought me some of the special Norwegian potatoes that are served for holidays, especially Christmas. They were small, and smooth and yellow and when cooked up they tasted so buttery! (yes I had them for supper with cottage cheese the very afternoon they arrived - I was so excited!) I would like to taste potatoes from all over the world! Wouldn't that be fun? Why doesn't anyone want to have a potato and yarn swap???

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Give joy - The Chocolate Capelet

A Vintage Crochet Capelet of my own design:

Here's the capelet; its called "Chocolate".

Tonight I've been reading Buddhist texts and finishing up a capelet for the
Silver-Apples Fall Collection. The pattern is now available on Ravelry:

Here's the Buddhist part of my evening...

Practice Love, Give Joy, and Protection

Arouse your will, supreme and great,
Practice love, give joy and protection;
Let your giving be like space,
Without discrimination or limitation.

Do good things, not for your own sake
But for all the beings in the universe;
Save and make free everyone you encounter,
Help them attain the wisdom of the way.


Sunday, November 11, 2007

The Dark House

Ever since Kim Hargreaves left Rowan as a designer, I've been devouring her knitting website. Her knitting designs are always elegant with deceptively simple lines and they drape beautifully. I've coveted her patterns since her site went up and even wrote to ask her if she would sell the patterns without the kits. At that time she replied that she only had plans to sell the kits, including instructions, yarn, and buttons together - a very expensive proposition when ordering from the US!

But she recently put out a book of patterns, Heartfelt, the Darkhouse Collection and it's as brilliant as I hoped. For this - 21 patterns - I bit the bullet and got out the credit card! And, in the spirit of "in for penny, in for a pound", I also ordered a sweater kit. I can't tell you about that because its part of my Christmas knitting (just begun today - Yikes! only one month or so to knit!?!?!), but I have pictures of the very precious package and some of its contents that wended its way from England to me this week....

Photo essay on Darkhouse:

The package arrived on my doorstep wrapped in shiny brown craft paper with exotic British labels. The custom slip was on the back, as descrete as could be, in case this was a gift... (it was - a gift for Me!)
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The contents were wrapped in black tissue and black grosgrain ribbon (Catherine was *very* interested in the ribbon!) inside a white box... perfect for gifting the finished object. It arrives with a gift card and a Kim Hargreaces label to sew inside the design...
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At the bottom of the package was the much anticipated prize: The Darkhouse Collection! It looks slim, but when it's a book whose patterns you want to knit from cover to cover, it's well worth it!
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The patterns - there were so many I could have shown you, but I have to be a bit descrete, don't I? I wouldn't want my gift recipients this Christmas to say, Oh, I knew all along!" hee hee
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This is a perfect day for knitting...a Project Runway marathon is on TV this afternoon! I don't know how I'll post photos once the Christmas knitting begins {sigh....}

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Tea with Lenore

If you squirm at the Conqueror Worm,
This is no place for thee.
Or if you fright at the mere sight
Of the corpse of my Annabel Lee.
If you fear there's something you hear,
A heart beating under the floor.
Still your heart, there's no need to start
It's just me having tea with Lenore.
~Tea with Lenore

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Well, not tea with Lenore exactly - Lenore is only available to those who signed up for the Blue Moon Fiber Arts Sock Club....but there is more, much more, that is on offer for the knitting hoi poloi like myself.

Yes, I'm talking about yarn! Specifically, the Socks That Rock yarn in the beautiful Raven series of colourways! This yarn went on sale last night at about 8:15 pm EST and by 8:35 I was the proud but breathless owner of 5 skeins... I bought Pallas Athena, Haida, Rauen, Ravenscroft and Thraven, and in STR lightweight. Others of braver tincture bought these shades in "laci," the $50 a skein lace-weight beauty... But I am going to stick with the safer dark kisses of obsessive sock knitting rather than venturing in the full-blown lust of lace knitting, at least for now...and while the credit card is recovering.

and still, I can't wait until the year is up and I can have the Lenore yarn, too. How crazy is that???

Thursday, November 1, 2007

The Road to Lothlorien Socks

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O Lórien! The Winter comes, the bare and leafless Day;
The leaves are falling in the stream, the River flows away.
O Lórien! Too long I have dwelt upon this Hither Shore
And in a fading crown have twined the golden elanor."
– Galadriel, Farewell to Lórien

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Lothlorien was considered on of the most beautiful and "elvish" places in Middle-earth. Evil was not allowed to penetrate it, and it was filled with Light and Life. By the power of the Elven Ring, the trees did not die.

For these elvish socks, I chose a leafy lace pattern, the Dropping Elm Leaf from Barbara Walker's Treasury of Knitting Patterns. Ribs on either side represent the hidden path through the forest that leads to Lothlorien, the Land of the Gold Blossom, and on the back ankle, is a panel, hidden by the wearer's cuffs, where initials are inscribed with intarsia or duplicate stitch, showing that the wearer has been enrolled into the lists of the Elvish.

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They are similar in their lace panel to the beautiful Orchid Socks, although her leaf lace came from the Rebecca magazine and mine from the BW book, but I owe her a debt of inspiration. The other design elements described above are my original ideas...

Pattern coming soon!