Monday, December 29, 2008

Sophie Longstockings

I'm beset by responsibility at the moment and this has paralyzed my own designing. I took Briley's advice and pulled out a 'small' knitting project - the Plimoth Plantation 16th century stockings.


As you can see, I don't have much to do to finish this pair so that a size 12 foot freezing early American re-enactor can warm up his leggings... I want to get them done before the new year and send them off while they are still needed!

I actually love the pattern - one that a lot of research went into to make them authentic. It really brought home to me how current construction for knitted socks was not just for the convenience of the knitter, but for the comfort of the wearer! For instance, the original design has a seamed heel - a 3 needle bind off right across the bottom of the heel so that you are standing and walking on a seam. This could cause serious pain on long walks! But it is absolutely authentic and I love the ancient look of it! The clock on the ankle, the knitted welt to brace the garters, the skin tight shaping over the calf and thigh - these are all very charming touches.

The yarn used for these (provided by the Plimoth costume department) is straightforward 2 ply 100% Shetland from Harrisville Wools. It is scratchy beyond belief and full of lanolin that strips layers of skin from my fingers where the yarn habitually lies. I'd love to try this pattern with a softer yarn - say, Lorna's Laces...

In other news, check out Ysolda's Whimsical Little Knits collection. Is that adorable or what!? I bought my copy today.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

The knitting was hung by the chimney with care....


My final secret holiday knitting project was opened last night by my friend, so I can now reveal it here.

Raven's Wing


This shawl was knit from Blue Moon Fiber Arts lightweight Socks That Rock, 1 skein, in the Raven series Rauen. It is a deep black with flashes of deep red. This yarn is such a pleasure to work with!

I started with a US size 6 circular needle (32 inch) and used a regular neck-down triangle shawl construction from Cosmicpluto's Simple Yet Effective Shawl without the stripes.


After a few inches, I switched to a slightly larger needle - size 7 - because the shawl was becoming very dense and heavy. While I liked this cosiness around the neck, it wasn't the effect I was going for in the body of the shawl. This shawl uses garter stitch so I just knitted on and on and on. It was great take-along knitting and I got a lot done while at Thanksgiving Dinner at my boyfriend's parents' house!

As I got toward the end, I started contemplating a lace edging that would really have the wing-like effect of my imagination. I switched to a size 9 circular needle, and started the edging chart for the Shetland Triangle from Wrap Style (a book I recommend). I started running out of yarn on row 12 of this 14-row edging, and was able to complete a loose bind-off just in time!


Wet blocking had an incredible effect on this shawl. Remember, it was mostly garter stitch, so it was crimped-up and small when just off the needles. I worried about plunging it into a sink full of tepid water - afraid it would bleed or pill - but it came through famously and only looked better and smoother! The shawl blocked out so large that it overflowed the edges of my long dining room table! I used blocking wires for the first time with this shawl.

One of the things that made me most happy, besides the deep, soft yarn and how it looked knit up, was that it really did look like a Raven's Wing - just the effect I wanted.

and my friend liked it.

Now, I am really in a knitting funk and can't figure figure out my next project. Any ideas?

Saturday, December 20, 2008

in the ice hotel....


Shoveling Snow with Buddah

by Billy Collins

In the usual iconography of the temple or the local Wok
you would never see him doing such a thing,
tossing the dry snow over a mountain
of his bare, round shoulder,
his hair tied in a knot,
a model of concentration.

Sitting is more his speed, if that is the word
for what he does, or does not do.

Even the season is wrong for him.
In all his manifestations, is it not warm or slightly humid?
Is this not implied by his serene expression,
that smile so wide it wraps itself around the waist of the universe?

But here we are, working our way down the driveway,
one shovelful at a time.
We toss the light powder into the clear air.
We feel the cold mist on our faces.
And with every heave we disappear
and become lost to each other
in these sudden clouds of our own making,
these fountain-bursts of snow.

This is so much better than a sermon in church,
I say out loud, but Buddha keeps on shoveling.
This is the true religion, the religion of snow,
and sunlight and winter geese barking in the sky,
I say, but he is too busy to hear me.

He has thrown himself into shoveling snow
as if it were the purpose of existence,
as if the sign of a perfect life were a clear driveway
you could back the car down easily
and drive off into the vanities of the world
with a broken heater fan and a song on the radio.

All morning long we work side by side,
me with my commentary
and he inside his generous pocket of silence,
until the hour is nearly noon
and the snow is piled high all around us;
then, I hear him speak.

After this, he asks,
can we go inside and play cards?

Certainly, I reply, and I will heat some milk
and bring cups of hot chocolate to the table
while you shuffle the deck.
and our boots stand dripping by the door.

Aaah, says the Buddha, lifting his eyes
and leaning for a moment on his shovel
before he drives the thin blade again
deep into the glittering white snow.

Yes, this is me in the frozen north, outdoors with my winter coat thrown over my nightgown and my bare feet stuffed into my Bean boots, wielding the implements of snow removal! My goal is somehow find daylight and downtown, and search out a Parcheesi game for my niece.

And, if you too are under this multiple-day winter storm, you might find relief in a little colourful needle stashing... Grafton Fibers is having a sale on their gorgeous hand-crafted wooden sock needles - a really good sale. I have couple pairs of these and find them fabulous, great quality, and really perfect for vintage knitting. I can't wait for my new order to arrive!
(disclaimer: no affiliation, I just love this company)

Hope you are all staying warm and crafty!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

A Stitch in Time - the Official version

I had a nice message today with permission to post the official photographs of the knitting I did for A Stitch in Time, courtesy of Arbour House Publishing in the UK.

Here is "Accessory for your Spring Suit"


and here is "Can You Crochet a Toque?"


Soooo much better in the professional photographs!

Sunday, December 7, 2008

The Vintage in me....

Do you remember when I was doing sample knitting for the new publication of the vintage book A Stitch in Time? I wasn't allowed to show you what I was working on (standard practice in publication), but now the book is published and photos of the projects are going up in Ravelry!

Here is one of the patterns that I knit - the cloche! ( link) I got to choose the yarn and colour myself, as the time to the photography shoot was too short for the editor to send me another packet of yarn from England. I think it worked out beautifully and this pattern from the book currently is the "most favorited" of the Stitch in Time patterns on Ravelry!

For those of you not on Ravelry, I'm trying to get permission from the editor to post the official photo on my blog.

for is a very poor photo of me modeling the sample model in my mirror....(believe me - it looks so much better on the professional model!)


I also knit a beautiful cabled blouse for the photography, but don't know if it made it into the book because there was problem with the post getting the supplies to me, so the editor and I cut it very close with the blouse finishing. I wish I could have done more of the knitting and crocheting, but the timeline for completion was so short and it took 3 weeks to get the packages back and forth from England to here!

Check out all the patterns on Ravelry - there are many sweaters, jumpers, and blouses, a bathing suit, underthings, hats, scarves, and on and on! I think there are about 60 patterns in the book...I'm supposed to be receiving a copy of the book for the sample knitting, and I just cannot wait! This book is my dream Vintage pattern book!

Edited to add: Oh My Bob!!
I just saw that the blouse I knitted was included in the book and has been posted to Ravelry! HERE it is for Ravelry users. And here it is, carefully waiting to be finished and sent to the publisher...


Wednesday, December 3, 2008

running, running...

I feel a bit like Alice in Wonderland, running through the Red Queen's garden, trying to avoid having her head de-necked. Time is moving so quickly forward, and all that I have left undone is catching up to me, with the swift sword of guilt brandished over my head.

My holiday knitting plans are actually quite modest compared to recent years - only four projects. Well, there should be five, but I've had to give the 5th one up before it was even started because... well,... it's December 3rd and I have to get these things in the post.


Most of my projects I won't be able to show in my blog, but this one is for my boyfriend's mom and I don't believe she owns a computer at all.

This is Rivolo, from Knitspot, in Jojoland 100% natural cashmere laceweight. It took frackin ForEver to make long enough because the yarn is so fine, but I'm rather happy with the results now that its over. It blocked perfectly.


I don't think his mom will actually like this scarf/stole at all. Now that I've met her, I don't think that this is something she would wear. But it's what I've got for her, so she's going to get this. Maybe she'll gift it forward. I love it when people do that with the things I make that they don't like. I tell my little sister that if she doesn't like the hats and scarves I make her, to just leave them casually on the bus and let someone else have their turn with them!

Wouldn't you love to find an abandoned cashmere scarf on the bus?