Saturday, 23 October 2010

New Yarn Shop in Town


Today was the Grand Opening of a new yarn shop in Huddersfield town centre, in the Byram Arcade.  The owner is Lydia, who set up the Huddersfield knitters group that meets on Tuesday evenings in the bar of the George Hotel (home of Rugby League). 













The shop is called Spun and (of course)  has hand-knitted shop signs.

It is a lovely shop - spacious and light, with a gorgeous array of yarns.  There is a separate room for demonstrations and workshops - today there was a spinning demonstration. I'm looking forward to the workshops - there is one planned for November on dyeing, though I am trying to convince myself that I'm quite busy enough knitting ready-made yarn without taking up spinning and dyeing as well. 
 
There is a table and chairs by the window in the main shop, looking down onto Westgate (the shop is on the 2nd floor).  I sat there with my knitting, chatting to other knitters and shoppers - it will be a handy place to drop in while I'm in town.   It was good to see so many people there today.  


Byram Arcade is a Victorian building with shops on three floors. There are other interesting independent shops in the arcade, including a delicatessen and cafe on the ground floor, and a very nice restaurant on the first floor of the Cook and Bakeware Company shop (my sister's favourite).  

Lydia stocks some wonderful yarns, including Artesano and Manos del Uruguay.  She is specialising in British yarn as well - there is a range of Blue-faced Leicester yarn in some gorgeous colours, for instance.  She has a selection of KnitPro needles, too, that might convert me to knitting on circular needles, if anything can.   Lots of temptation.  I shall have to hurry up and finish my current projects so that I have a reason to buy more yarn. 

Monday, 18 October 2010

An Autumn Jacket

My textured jacket from Classic Knits for Real Women has been finished for a while.  I have worn it several times and before that it was hanging around (literally) for a week or so, waiting for me to sew it together. So I should write about it.  It's proved quite difficult to get good photos of it that show its proper rich green colour - often, the photos show it as a washed out grey-blue.  
It's nice to wear - soft, not too warm,  just right for autumn weather.  And I like the collar.  I must admit that knitting all that moss stitch got rather tedious, but it was worthwhile in the end. 

I made a couple of minor changes  to the pattern.  I made the purl stitches closer together (every 8th stitch instead of evey 10th stitch) so that they are the same distance apart horizontally and vertically.  And there are supposed to be 6 buttons rather than 5  - in fact I made 6 buttonholes, but then decided that the top button wouldn't look good,  given the way that the collar lies. Fortunately, the extra buttonhole is hidden behind the fold of the collar.  In hindsight, I should have attached  the left buttonband and collar to see where to place the buttons, before starting to knit the right buttonband, rather than just putting the buttonholes where I was told.    I'll remember that in future. 

It has turned out rather larger than I anticipated - not really sure why.  I knit the smallest size (36 in.) and although there was quite a lot of ease built into the pattern, it has turned out even wider.  I checked my tension and it still seems to be OK, so it's a mystery.  Still, it's fine - a bit roomy, but fine.

Another puzzle is that I have quite a lot of yarn left over.  I used Rowan wool-cotton rather than the recommended  yarn, but they are both DK weight, and I calculated the yardage and then the number of balls I needed.  I bought 15 balls and have 4 left over, plus some oddments.  That's a big discrepancy (and it's not my calculations that are wrong, I'm sure) - and annoying, given the price of good yarn.

Monday, 11 October 2010

Christmas is Coming

Christmas is still a long way off, of course, but I have a few Christmas presents to knit so I have made a start.  I can write about the scarf I am knitting for my sister because she already knows what it is - in fact, she chose the pattern and the yarn   The pattern is the Belle Dentelle scarf  by Teresa Murphy, which is free from her web site.




 I have changed the pattern a little bit, partly because I wanted the centre panel to be a bit more interconnected, rather than having a line of holes all the way across after every pattern repeat.  The other change was to introduce a few purl stitches on the right side rows of the central pattern, to avoid the whole piece rolling inwards.    I know blocking should cure that, but in my experience it doesn't completely.  (Maybe I'm not very good at blocking.)  And it only takes a very small proportion of purl stitches  to avoid any tendency to curl - I think they add an interesting bit of texture, too. 

I haven't added any purl stitches to the side panels, because there the pattern seemed to need the continous scrolls of stocking stitch, so that part of the scarf is not lying completely flat,  but even my blocking should be enough to sort that out.

 The yarn is Sublime baby cashmere merino silk 4-ply, which is which is good to knit with and will be gorgeously soft to wear.  I bought  4 balls and I have nearly finished the second of them.

Saturday, 9 October 2010

Lace and Cables

I have an old hand-knitted jumper of my mother's that I have kept because of all the time and effort that  clearly went into it.  I recently realised that I also have the pattern for it.  It is in a book that she was given  for her birthday in 1947, Practical Family Knitting Illustrated, by Margaret Murray and Jane Koster. 
Lace jumper in a dainty open-work pattern

The caption is: "Here is a lightweight jumper that is delightful to wear under a tailored suit.  The ribbed effect of the open-work panels and the cable stitch produces a slim-fitting line, while the scalloped edging gives an attractive finish to the waist and short sleeves."   

The photo looks very 1940s, mainly because of the very square shoulders, but they are at least partly due to shoulder pads.  (And if you wore the jumper under a suit as suggested, with a coat on top if it was winter-time, you could easily be wearing a stack of three shoulder pads on each side.  I  remember that from the 1980s, when shoulder pads were again commonly worn.  Bad idea.)


Mother's version has a more natural shoulder line.  I'm not sure if she adjusted the shaping at the top of the sleeve, or whether it's just the lack of shoulder pads.  She did change the pattern to make the jumper bigger - the instructions in the book are only for a 34 in. bust size, and she inserted an extra cable and lace panel, front and back, and made the neck opening larger at the same time.    


 It is a very pretty stitch pattern.  The lace part is called Fountain Lace in one of  Barbara Walker's   Treasury of Knitting Patterns books, apparently - I guess it is a traditional pattern.




I don't remember Mother wearing it, but it is well-worn.  I think you would probably keep a jumper like that even if you were no longer wearing it - it must have been quite time-consuming to make.  My sister thinks that she knitted it around about 1980, when she acquired some very fine knitting wool from somewhere. At that time she mostly did simpler knitting that she could do while reading or watching TV in the evenings, with her feet up on the sofa.

 In fact, there are quite a few mistakes in both the lace and the cables, if you examine it closely.  I think that's partly because the book doesn't give charts.  Whoever invented knitting charts did a great service to knitters. (Although Mary Thomas used charts in her 1943 Book of Knitting Patterns, so they seem to have already been invented before Practical Family Knitting Illustrated was published.)    I have knitted a test swatch and it is very difficult to follow instructions like:

5th row - P. 2, * k. 9, p. 4, k. 1, k.2
tog., k. 2, m. 1, k. 2, m. 1, k. 2 tog., k.1,
k. 2 tog., m. 1, k. 2, m. 1, k. 2, k. 2 tog.
t.b.l., k. 1, p. 4; rep. from * twice, k.9.
p. 2.

spread over several lines like that.  Even worse when the page with the colour photo comes in the middle of the instructions for the row.  Evidently, Mother didn't copy out the instructions but worked from the book - there is a large tea stain on the first page; the colour photo page has fallen out, been taped back in and fallen out again; and the spine is giving way at that point in the book.  "Well-thumbed" doesn't really do justice to the amount of wear this poor book has had.

But as a birthday present it was very successful - Mother used it over many years, and I still have it.  I'm sure that this pattern could be updated to be wearable today and I plan to do it. My mother's friend who gave her the book later became my godmother, and re-knitting Mother's jumper seems a good way of remembering her as well.  

Monday, 4 October 2010

A 1927 Sailor Jacket

J went to a collectors' fair recently and brought me a copy of Woman's Weekly magazine from 1927.  It was a very well-chosen buy.   I remember Woman's Weekly from the 1950s and 1960s when my Grandma used to buy it (of course, it is still being published to this day), and I have bought a few copies from that era on eBay, out of nostalgia.  (I'll write about them another time).  They remind me of going to Grandma and Grandad's on Sundays for tea (which was always thin slices of bread and butter with tinned salmon, followed by tinned peaches and tinned cream, as far as I remember)  and playing cards in the evening on the chenille table cloth.  Woman's Weekly always had at least one knitting pattern, and so I was interested in seeing the patterns in older issues from the 1940s and earlier.  Post-war issues are available quite often on eBay, but I have not seen a pre-war issue offered for sale - I think most pre-war magazines went for salvage during the war.  So this was quite a find, and not very expensive.


It's interesting to see what women were reading 80 years ago.  There is some mild editorial grumbling about the fashionable shape for women and the prevalence of various extreme diets: "How long the present slim-line silhouette will continue, it is hard to say.  I think a new shape would be a pleasant change don't you?"  And, for anyone else who remembers Woman's Weekly from the 1950s,  Mrs Marryat was already advising in 1927.  As featured on the front cover, there is a knitting pattern for a sailor jacket: "For Tennis or for the Seaside Our Cover Design is Just Right".  It's a fairly straightforward pattern, mostly in stocking stitch, with a moss stitch border and  collar, and a navy blue crocheted edging.   But the odd thing is that the body of the jacket is knitted in one piece, on straight needles.  It is 44 inches wide (more than a metre) and you cast  on 283 stitches.

Jacket layout
The yarn is 4-ply wool, and the instructions call for "a pair of long bone knitting needles No. 9".  Can you fit that many stitches in 4-ply wool onto a pair of straight needles?  How long would a pair of long bone needles be?  It seems virtually impossible to knit, to me,  but I can't believe that Woman's Weekly would have published unworkable instructions.     

      

Sunday, 3 October 2010

Shadow heart

In an earlier post,  I described seeing Steve Plummer knitting Girl with a Pearl Earring  using Illusion Knitting.  There was a follow-up post  by Knitting Before Knitting was Cool on her blog, which mentioned Vivian Høxbro's book, Shadow Knitting.   Same technique, different name.   Her book has some very desirable cardigans, with stripes and other simple geometrical shapes appearing and disappearing, as you move.  In a good colour combination, they look very attractive.

I found it very hard to grasp how shadow knitting/ illusion knitting works, either  from seeing Steve Plummer's handiwork, or from the description in  Høxbro's book. (Though her account makes perfect sense now that I do understand it, so I cannot blame  her description.)  The only thing to do was to try it, so I chose one of the smallest pieces in the book, a small bag with a heart shape on each side.  The pink/orange yarn is left over from my Zigzag top; the contrast yarn is plain navy blue.




I knit the first side on a hot and crowded train journey to Scotland a couple of weeks ago, and was grateful for the distraction.  I made a couple of changes to the pattern.  The original has a different pair of colours for the top and bottom half of each side of the bag, but that seems to me unnecessarily fussy for such a small piece.  And the heart is outlined in buttons (the pattern is called "Button Heart Bag", in fact), but I think that would spoil the effect of only being able to see the heart clearly from some angles.  

Tone on Tone sweater
Last weekend, we visited friends whom we have not seen for years, and had a lovely weekend even though it rained.  (A lot.)  Christine is a knitter and knows the Shadow Knitting book and has knitted one of the sweaters for her husband, who modelled it for me.    The shadow stripe effect is very subtle in that pattern, maybe too subtle.  Because the garter stitch ridges are horizontal, the stripes are not very  visible except on the shoulders, where you are looking across the rows, though that's not so clear from the photo in the book.  We decided that it would be preferable to have the ridges running vertically. The cardigans I like best are like that, in fact; they are knitted sideways from cuff to cuff.