Monday, December 22, 2008
Just an odd suspicion that it could be fibre related, although why just the one hand is the mystery.
My last pair of Newfoundland Mittens, in Jamieson and Smith scraps of Autumnal colours. Running out of one dark earth colour, I combine two strands of a brown and a deep mauve. I am amazed to see that it blends in right away. All these pairs have now been gifted.
Next up was the invisible knitting: black cashmere and merino linings for my red Komi mittens. A thin wind blew straight through these on the Lorton walk last year, so the lining is essential. Let's hope the weather allows for airy but not damp walking.
Then, a project I have been putting off: Fingerless gloves for a 10 year old. Short fingered gloves actually, and very fiddly to make. What's more to the point, no child's hand to check out the fit. But, with the body in two by two rib, these are very forgiving, and seem to have passed the cool test. Bit too cool for me in mid-winter. Now I only need to knit a pair for the 8 year old, the 6 year old and the 5 year old.
Sunday, November 30, 2008
What would the collective noun be for mittens? A clutch? A handful? These are Newfoundland Mittens,the beauty of which is that they are knit in one colour at a time, the slip stitches suggesting otherwise. And they use hardly any of each yarn, so the remnants from sock knitting or that odd skein bought some time ago, turn out to be perfectly adequate. Add to this a quick turnaround, with a finished item always in view and they form the ideal winter project.
Summer, however, usually finds me searching for that elusive textile treasure. Having once picked up a stunning white quilt in France for under twenty pounds, I remain convinced that neglected gems are still out there and find myself incapable of passing a Brocante without checking it out. The quilt, it turned out, was English, seventeenth century, and not unlike one in the Burrell collection.
Here, we have a sampler, found in the scruffiest of village vide-greniers in the Auvergne. It was filthy, stained, crumpled. Gradually, I noticed that the same three letters are repeated in different styles. Who was this girl, and why did she stop where she did, when the letters are so very ambitious and the stitching so very regular? After a little pre-testing of a thread end, I boiled it in Persil, not without trepidation, and it was transformed.
Sunday, November 16, 2008
Then, what about pumpkin pie? Trawling the Net for a recipe proved how many variations there might be on this theme. My local shop was out of some key ingredients, such as maple syrup, and pastry is something I've never mastered. Instead, I believe I have invented a completely new dessert here. Most of a pack of Hobnobs with about two ounces of butter to make a crust. Two eggs beaten with milk, brown sugar and cinnamon to bind it all and roasted pumpkin as the filling. Baked for forty-five minutes, by which time the biscuit of the crust has assimilated with the egg mixture to form a kind of parkin around the pumpkin pieces. I could see us having this again, or maybe something else completely unexpected, dependent on the store cupboard.
Monday, October 13, 2008
Sunday, October 05, 2008
The slippers are of interesting construction: DK, starting with an 8 stitch strip for the heel . This is knit for abour four inches, then stitches picked up on each side, probably on two separate needles. After about four inches of Garter, this is joined and a stocking stitch Fair Isle section begins. The decreases for the toe are on every round, at the top and bottom of the foot, so as to create a pointed toe. The final section is Kitchenered, so there is no seaming involved. The top edge is then finished with a row of crochet. I could see these being travel slipers, as they are flat to pack.
On the mitten front: I was pleased that the mittens finally arrived in Rochester, after more than two months travel. It had seemed silly to send them air-mail when it was still summer, but I wasn't expecting it to take this long.
Meanwhile, Helena has named me as a "Blog she likes to read", which makes me feel a fraud as I post so rarely. I have enjoyed seeing new blog titles mentioned on this scheme, however. I always read Jean Miles, as she posts daily and always has something of interest to say. I also love Knitting on Impulse and Little Cotton Rabbit. Both of these are the work of artists in colour and design, very different in style but very beautiful to look at.
Sunday, September 07, 2008
Sunday, August 10, 2008
So, now, who knew that Sweden is a hot country? Who could have guessed that we'd be grateful for air-conditioning in the alarmingly luxurious spa hotel where we found ourselves in Gothenburg? Who knew that the city was hosting a gig by Iron Maiden whose fans would arrive in their thousands just as we did?
We explored the Bohuslan coast and the museum at Uddevalla, hoping for inspirational examples of Bohus knitting. In fact, the kits in the gift-shop were strikingly more alive than the exhibits. Commmercial hand-knitting with very fine yarn - 3-ply, it looked like, is definitely a thing of the past.
On to Gotland, an island where the sheep features heavily. In Visby, a walled Hanseatic town, a brilliant museum full of Viking picture stones and silver hoards - one find per year still on Gotland, so rich they were, from trade in Baltic beeswax, apparently.
In the town centre, a shop full of pared down linen clothes and wool and linen yarn- Yllet - they have a website. And a different shop with this simple style:
Gotland itself is dry and gritty, at least in August. We saw many wonderful church interiors; there are 92 built prior to 1361. And more of the picture stones, some in the church-yards, some in the open-air museum at Bunge.
At Orebro, a spectacular Slott and very civilised public gardens full of sculpture leading to Wadkoping, a collection of wooden houses and craftworkshops.
Then, finally, to Stockholm, where the wonders of Internet booking found us on a motor-yacht, once, briefly the property of Barbara Hutton, given to her as an 18th birthday present by her father, just as WW2 broke out, it seems. Moored alongside Riddarholmen in Lake Mallaren, the equivalent of the Thames just by the House of Lords, it was ideally located. The restaurant, as the sun set, offered this spectacular view, of what is apparently City Hall, built 1915. Probably better not to know that.
Thursday, July 24, 2008
This is what 400 gm of Aran yarn looks like translated into 11 pairs of mittens. I got to six and considered moving on, but then I thought I would just see how many pairs I could get out of the ball. That's £2.50 worth of yarn.
Why was this project so compelling? Well, the pattern by Elizabeth Durand was both convincing and easy to memorise. I converted it to two needles as I don't have four needles that size.
Then, it was really quick to complete a pair - one pair I knocked up while chatting to a friend as she got ready to leave after a short stay. I was also intrigued at the idea of school age children who would actually wear hand-knitted items. The average Braintree child would freeze to death rather than wear something not made by Nike.
This is my piece de resistance, the only pair which demanded any thought. Basically it's a motif from Alice St*rmore's book "Fishermen's Swe*ters", just placed on the back of the mitt, and fancy cabled ribs. I can't decide whether the effect is unbalanced and clumsy, or unusual and appealing. It was certainly a clever technique for closing the motif at the top.
Saturday, July 19, 2008
Thursday, July 17, 2008
Sunday, July 13, 2008
This little cardigan is from Sasha Kagan's book, "The Sasha Kagan Sweater Book" published in 1984. It was fun to knit because it had white mohair bands and silver lurex stripes behind the flowers.
I was amazed to find that my friend, who is modelling it here, had kept it stored over several house moves. I don't think I would still fit into items I wore in 1984. Only the pleated sleeve caps really reveal its vintage, and the mohair bands have felted a little. However, the colours retain their freshness and the Jand S jumper weight yarn has held up very well.
Thursday, July 10, 2008
Wednesday, July 02, 2008
It's a lovely colour: periwinkle, my favourite after a deep peacock green. What's more, the project specified easy care yarn, and this is 100% acrylic at £1 per 100 grams.
The pattern is Matilda, free on Kate Blackburn's site. Very easy to knit, once I had got over a major misreading of the first line and decided to fare forward hopefully, essentially knitting half a shawl, upside down. I don't think you would be able to tell.
Sunday, June 15, 2008
First, some of the fifteen hats, sweet as slices of Battenburg, knitted for the Save the children appeal publicised in "Woman's Weekly", that ancient home of the knitter. The premise is that new-borns lose heat rapidly so hats will save lives. Let's hope it is so. I was less convinced by the injunction to attach a label to each one berating Gordon Brown for his failings. In some world weary corner of my mind,I wonder if that, rather than the knitting, was the point of the campaign.
Sunday, March 23, 2008
This lively jacket demonstrates the inventiveness of Kaffe Fassett at his best, in "Glorious Knitting."
It is shown again in "Kaffe at the Vand A", and really demonstrates how a simple stripe pattern comes alive with fluctuating colour ranges. I knit this for my sister many years ago, largely from the leftovers of the dark version of the Pompeii Jacket. I like Rowan yarns, but not the price of them , so this is entirely knit in oddments from a yarn shop in Tiptree - single balls of unusual eveningy yarns. And I do believe that there is enough still leftover to knit another whole jumper.
I do agree with whoever it was recently who called their stash a resource, rather than seeing it as a burden. Unless you don't feel able to buy new yarn until you have used up what is in store, I think stocks of yarn should be an inspiration.
A close-up of the toothed stripe waistcoat I was wearing for the Kaffe event. It was knit in Shetland wools from Jamieson and Smith, at least twenty years ago as a gift for my mother. What gives it life is not only the movement created by the flickering teeth, which are knit randomly, but also the addition of occasional bright blues and purples alongside the browns and greens.
I do think his new book, "Kaffe Knits Again", is a pale reflection of former glory. The sheer inventiveness of "Glorious Knitting" and the wonderful aesthetic feast of the V and A book really point this up. He may be right that throws and scarves are more likely to appeal, but surely the use of more subtle palettes would make the cardigans and jumpers more timeless and less obviously 80s.
Saturday, March 15, 2008
Sunday, March 09, 2008
The first for my husband, in Jaeger Luxury Spun, an e-bay buy of a discontinued yarn. We had gone up to London on a rare visit, on a bitterly cold day, and stood outside Liberty's waiting for my sister who was delayed. With half an hour to kill, we browsed Lberty's menswear dept, checking out scarves since it was so cold. We were astonished to see one, with a designer name, but also a price tage of almost two hundred pounds. It was knit on one side and silk-lined on the other, a very appealing item.
We bought a navy lambswool scarf for fifteen pounds, but the idea stayed with me. This one is in a diagonal rib, lined with silk from the silk mill in Sudbury, just up the road. The silk makes it smooth against the skin, instead of itchy.
Secondly, a feather and fan scarf in Colinette four-ply, bought at Allie Pallie, one of those buys which has to wait years for its hour to come.
Both are being worn by the wall fruit trees in our garden: the espaliered pear just coming into bud.
Sunday, March 02, 2008
I like things a little more finished.
A treat just before Christmas: a card from the Innocent Smoothie organiser commenting on the hat in Sanquhar knitting. Then, some days later, this.
Now, nothing on the site reveals that there were rosettes - how many, for what? My design was not chosen as Hat of the Week. But I was really gratified to have this rosette, the first I've ever been awarded, even if thousands of others also received them.
Next some mittens with a tale behind them. For some while I read Blogdogblog, finding the links from there intriguing. There, I first saw Sanquhar gloves and a Japanese rendering of them. Sanquhar is less than a hundred miles from my birthplace, but I'd never heard of it until then.
I also saw knitted braids there too for the first time. These mittens are a mixture of Komi patterns from Charlene Schurch's book "Knitting Marvellous Mittens".
These were knit on two needles in Shetland 2ply wool. I thought they would be interesting but unwearable but, in fact, they've been in constant winter use.