Sunday, February 27, 2011


A weekend should be full of knitting and creativity and socializing and fun. Isn't that so? But lately, weekends in this New England town have been dominated by a bad tempered weather pattern that keeps grabbing us by the ankles and trying its hardest to pull us down. My time has been spent moving snow from one place to another instead of multiplying stitches with warm and vibrant wool. That fence in the background is 6 feet tall... yes, that one that now shows just 2 feet above the snow.


But in the hours when the two storms were raging or spitting their white flakes over us, here at the end of February - which should be preparing the earth for Spring flowers in stead of covering them for weeks more of cold sleep - and it was too soon to shovel, I did start and finish a winter hat for myself.

This is Leaves (I made two of these for friends last year) and is a fast and easy knit in Nashua Creative Focus Chunky and size 13 needles:


Appropriately, the colourway is named Storm.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Sherlock Sighs... SPOILERS below

This post contains SPOILERS for the Victorian Writers Knitting Club. Don't scroll down if you don't want your surprise spoiled!

In a few short weeks I am going to be here:


(Excited, excited!)

This is a city I've never visited before, so it holds a special interest for me. I love travel. And I most love exploring new cities. The purpose of my visit is to present on work stuff and to hear others' presentations, but I've arranged some free time and I was so, so happy to find out that this shop, The Lamb Shoppe, was open until 9 PM on the nights I'll be there!

Oh, Lamb Shoppe, please be full of beautiful local yarns and don't be too alarmed if I bring them all home with me!

In other news, I am a member of the Victorian Writer's Knitting Club. This month, our focus is Sherlock Holmes and our kit contained a beautiful yarn called Hound of the Baskervilles from Zen Yarn Garden. This is Serenity Sock, and contains 10% cashmere. It is a distinct pleasure to hold and to knit, and the result is a super soft pair of socks that would make even the discriminating Holmes sigh with delight.


The pattern by Anne Hanson is a tweedy sock with a subtle diamond design, called The Sign of the Four. I'm enjoying this knit so, so much. The pattern sequence is only 8 rows but the embossed diamonds are just so subtle and pretty!

The kit also contained several other special gifts, including a little box which I have filled with my happy colourful stitch-markers:


A very satisfying package all around.

Next month, our kit will be themed around Little Women - one of my favorite vintage books! All movie versions of this story included such intriguing period knits, too. This is a very fun club! I listen to the free LibriVox versions of the books while knitting, after reading the free download copies on my Kindle. :) So many books! So much knitting! I need at least 3 lifetimes for this.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Sunday, February 13, 2011

You Suit me to a Tea, Valentine


Yesterday, my sweetheart and I traveled to the coast to spend the day together celebrating Valentine's Day, which comes on Monday this year. In years past, we've gone away for the weekend. But this year the pressures of work have shortened our Valentine's weekend, so we stole just this one day, early, and pretended it was the 14th of February.

We started the morning at Popovers on the Square with tea and popovers, and as the morning changed from from a chill winter grey to a bright mid-February spring with sun like sticky honey, the square filled with colourful, happy, bustling people. Our goals were simple: to find a knitted vest for him, to find a pair of antique gold earrings for me, have a fun lunch, and visit a bookstore for both of us.

The bookstore next door - one of my favorites - had only one Valentine's offering, a book about Great Philosophers who Failed at Love. Apparently, Nietzsche said: "Ah, women. They make the highs higher, and the lows more frequent!" Sadly, this attitude must have made him unattractive to his female acquaintances, as his one love relationship failed.


We ate at a British pub, The Coat of Arms, which was incredibly busy for a Saturday afternoon and went completely British, drinking Old Thumper and sharing Sticky Toffee Pudding with custard for afters. My sweetheart regretted later that he hadn't chosen the deep-fried bangers with mash instead of the special pot pie, just for the experience, but he did order mushy peas. We spent a long time talking and got deeply involved in the Tottenham British Football(Soccer) match on the wide-screen TV over the bar.

Though we searched, we never did find a vest for him or earrings for me, and ran out of time to visit the yarn shop. But sometimes the search is as fun as the finding, and our day by the ocean left us feeling happy and tired and not at all deprived.

This morning I searched through my collection of vintage knitting books to find something uniquely Valentine's to share. I searched from the 1930s back through the 1800s and although each one referenced Valentine's Day when February rolled around, none turned it into the major holiday that it is today. Here is a little tour of my search:


The 1934 Book of Good Needlework from England and Australia gives patterns for heart-shaped nightgown cases and handkerchief cases and scented sachets in the February chapter. These gifts seem more suited to an exchange between friends than sweethearts, and this is pretty typical of this period. The hand-drawn illustrations show a group of "college chums" sitting around a fire, drinking hot cocoa and exchanging little practical Valentine remembrances.


This pattern for a lavender sachet is made from strips of silk and lace ribbon, gathered and layered, and then sewn onto a cloth backing. It's stuffed with cotton wool and lavender scent and flower buds.

The Needle Art Magazine from 1926 has only one Valentine reference in the February issue:


The heart graph, meant for filet crochet, could also be used on knitting in duplicate stitch or intarsia.

But in 1917, Plain and Fancy Needlework Vol II, February - a magazine devoted to Needlework, Dressmaking, Millinery, Decoration, and other Household Interests (at 35 cents a year!) - sports a true Valentine's cover, and a full page article: "The Little Remembrances for February".


This article gives patterns for "the valentines that grown-ups give" including little 3.5 inch silk heart-shaped sachets, a silk crocheted necklace "to be worn on the outside of the neck ruff or to outline any waist [blouse] that has the V opening", a crocheted nut bowl stiffened into shape with a solution of sugar and water, and dainty sachets of crochet "to be slipped into the letters you send on Valentine's day".

In 1875, Peterson's Magazine for February of that year, Valentine's Day is referenced only by a short story, titled: Alice Stanley's Valentine. In this story, a young woman named Alice Stanley loves a local doctor, who loves her but considers her too far above him in status, so he is waiting for the time when his practice is more successful and he "can afford a wife". When Alice Stanley asks him to recommend a book on drawing, and his little cousin, who is also named Alice, asks him to send her a Valentine on February 14th the busy, harried young doctor gets their addresses mixed up and the older Alice receives the Valentine card, which of course professes love intended for the little 3-year-old cousin. Coincidentally, Alice Stanley's younger sister has a cough that must be attended to and the doctor is called. When Doctor Harry and Alice Stanley meet, the missent Valentine is revealed and mutual confessions of secret love are exchanged and all ends happily with a kiss. "At first Alice was rather shocked, when she found out that it was only by mistake..." but "they had a hearty laugh over their mutual explanations..."

So there it is - a modest Valentine's Day journey at the end of a cold season. Have a happy day on Monday, dear friends, and here's to warmer days ahead!


Here is a vintage Valentine Spinner for you! On some monitors, the right edge looks cut off, but if you right click and copy and paste it to card-stock paper, you will get the full image. I wanted it to stay big enough to actually use:


Sunday, February 6, 2011

Sorry I Can't Go Out with You


Around here, today is a big "sit in front of the Superbowl Football pre-game shows and eat and knit" day. The weather has finally heaved a sigh and settled down from it's uncontrollable tantruming. We have sun. We have melting. We have a town full of people exhausted from snow shoveling and worrying about their roofs collapsing. In short, people all around me are looking forward to a day that is a bit of a break from the struggle that was Winter 2010-11.

I say "was" because I believe that winter has breathed its last. Perhaps that's optimistic. There has been snow in Februaries past. But I can almost feel it - the worst of winter is over, and from today life will get a little easier.

Today is such a relief with it's Lyle's Golden Syrup sky, that I feel like beginning all new knitting projects. I have so much unfinished on the needles already though:

1. The bright blue "Oh Handsome" sweater for the little guy

2. A Black Tweed cardigan for myself (which stalled last weekend when the delicate gathered wrists I'd been envisioning turned into something horrifyingly resembling Leg-O-Mutton sleeves from the 1800's!)

3. The beautiful Miss Marple's Shawl, looking gorgeous in the lightest green Marine Silk

Focus! I need focus!

Or perhaps I just need a long quiet day or two to finish these projects up so - like Spring - I can start new, pretty soon.


Thursday, February 3, 2011


I'm de-stashing a big list of my vintage knitting books from my personal collection on Ravelry. I prefer to do sales through Ravelry as the communication options are so clear. Take a look if you're interested! and Thanks in advance!