Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Update on Cuff pattern

  Well, I think I'm on the edge of a headache, but I finally found enough help files over at Ravelry to figure out how to add the pattern for the cuffs as a download.   It took no less than 6 posts and 5 searches to get all the information, and they said it was easy lol.  It is easy, but they negated to say you'd have to read more than one how to to figure it out.
  Anyhoo I survived the process and the Cuffs translation from my last post can now be had at Ravelry for free to download.  Just follow this link if interested.
Cuffs at Ravelry

If not, perhaps another pattern I figure out and share might be more to your liking.  I already have several more from Miss Lambert that caught my eye, as well as some from a few other civil war era books, which also lack proper imagery.
   For future reference, I'll only create pdf files for full patterns.  Stitch patterns I'll just list here.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Ye Olde Blind Knitting

  For lack of anything better to do, I decided to take an adventure into blind knitting.  No I don't mean I'm going to knit with my eyes closed.  But I mean those very old patterns and pattern books left to us from ladies of past eras, which have no diagram, drawing or imagery of any kind.  Not even a description beyond colors of yarn to give us a clue to what they looked like when finished.
  If your imagination is extremely good, you can probably read through the patterns and get an idea of how they'll turn out.  But some you just can't tell really until it's worked up.
  So I'm starting with a little piece by Miss Lambert, called 'My Knitting Book.'  The first volume, originally published in 1843.  She did another which was published in 1847, which I also hope to explore in detail.  I haven't decided yet if I'll skip the few that can be found, such as her stitch pattern 'Leaf and trellis,' which was featured in Victorian Lace Today.  Or her Pence Jug from the first edition, as Franklin Habit did a wonderful job showcasing that in Knitty.com as well.
  But there's so much more to explore.  Some of no interest other than living historians, historic crafters, and re-enactors perhaps.  But still it would be nice to see what they looked like.  I'm also putting it in my mind to re-write the patterns as I go along, just in case, and as long as credit for the re-write is given they're as free as the original patterns are now.
   I didn't exactly start with the first pattern, but because I did have some yarn in the right weight matching the description of color for a pattern titled 'Very pretty cuffs.' I have worked one out.  Although I'm still a little puzzled as how it goes, since it looks nice as is, but I think it might have been folded in half and work that way.  I'll explain why but first I wanted to share an image I have of the cuff.

  It certainly came out different than I'd expected.  You'll noticed on the right side the stripes are showing the wrong side stitch along the edge of the red stripe.  On the opposite side, it did the same with the white, and after checking, double and triple checking I'd wondered if this was done on purpose.  Perhaps Miss Lambert liked the way it looked.  As I continued the yarn switched to a different weight, and I noticed the new color joins were now all showing the wrong side stitches on one side only.  Again I puzzled but continued until finished, and stitched it up along the seam.
  I'd wondered only briefly if it really was knit flat, but the fact it's worked on two needles is clue enough that it is.  It certainly was a lot of work weaving in the yarn ends, but the cuff itself knit rather quickly.  I was finished within two days on knitting in my spare time between other obligations.
  At first it seems the smaller end is the wrist half, and I thought perhaps the wider end went slightly over the hands.  In the original pattern it describes only one aspect of the cuff.
 Quote~' The cuffs, when finished, roll over at the top.' ~unquote.
    While knitting it I thought this meant it would roll naturally when finished, only when it didn't I had to consider if it was meant to be rolled.  I did this with the last red stripe at the top, and got a pretty effect of the white showing through,  however it just didn't seem like it was right.  I know so little about knits from the 1840's, so it could have been work with the ridges covering the lower half of the hands.  It's certainly so small that even on a lady who is very small boned, and tiny, it would still not slide very far along the arm.
   I'd dismissed it thinking when I have time I'll ask a living history group of ladies I know for their opinion, and I still intend to do that.  However I started thinking, what if by rolling over, it's folded in half, with the thicker end rolled completely over the thinner end?  I started thinking perhaps that's why Miss. Lambert didn't mind the wrong side stitch showing through on both sides on the one half, because perhaps it's meant to be work folded so it's covered?
  Either way, there it is.  I could find no resource to show that anyone else has worked this pattern.  If someone who comes across it has, I'd be delighted to hear about it.
   If not, perhaps by working the patterns through here, someone who might be in need of an 1840's pattern for living history, or a re-enactment in that period, may find this useful.  And if interested, here is a more modern version of how to knit it.  Free to use as you like.  I only ask that you respect copyright laws and link to my original re-write.  Other than that all other rights are waived.   Enjoy :)

                                          Very Pretty Cuffs (1843)
Original by Miss Lambert in My Knitting Book. (first series)
Translated by Sandra Coats.

One size: small

Knit Picks Palette (100% Peruvian highland Wool; 231 yards/50g); fingering weight. 1 skein each of Serrano and White.
Knit Picks Telemark (100% Peruvian highland wool; 103 yds/50g); sport weight. 1 skein each in Cardinal and Drift.

Us. Sz 0 straight or circular 16"-32"
Us. sz 2 straight or circular 16"-32"

Yarn needle
Needle threader if you use them

Knit six rows.
Yo, K2tog. Repeat across.
Knit six rows.

With the Palette yarn in white, Cast on loosely, forty-six stitches.
*Yo, K2tog. Repeat from * across.
Knit the next six rows across. This will form 6 rows of garter stitch.

With Palette in Serrano, join and work through the pattern once.

With palette in white, join and work the pattern through once.

Repeat the pattern again first with white, then with serrano once more each. You should have four stripes total.

With Palette in white, knit the next six rows. On the next row, *yo, k2tog, and repeat from * across.

Now switching to Telemark in Drift you'll work as follows:
R1: knit across.
R2: Purl across.
R3-4: Knit across.
R5: purl across
R6: Knit across.

Switch to Telemark Cardinal, join and *Knit one row. Purl one row.* (two stripes total).
Repeat from * to * four more times for a total of five stripes.
For the last row and still using Cardinal, *yo, k2tog. Repeat from * across.
Bind off all stitches in whichever manner you prefer. Weave in all yarn ends. Then with about 18" of yarn, fold the cuff over so the right side is on the inside. And whip stitch along the side to form the cuff tube. Turn right side out, and you're done :)

(Note: I haven't asked anyone but myself to test this through, so if there's any errors, please do let me know, and I'll do my best to correct it.)

Copyright Sandra Coats 2010.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

My New Toy

   Fall is around the corner.  I don't know about you, but I can feel it, and smell it in the air.  Even before the leaves turn color.  I think it has everything to do with growing up in the country, running out doors all the time, and just plain being more aware of what's around myself in the world than most.
  When I get these feelings, I'm usually in the mood for fall colors as well.  That means golden yellows (the only yellow I actually like), deep maple reds, and my favorite, both bright and bronze oranges.  Of course brown makes a bigger appearance in the fall color theme as well.  On the manly side I think gray this year will be partially replaced by deep blues and greens for the colors men will enjoy wearing.  The fun is seeing if I'm right :D

   Last Saturday I received my reason for adding to this journal.  And a great excuse for a new hobby.  (Like I need that).  It's my new Turkish spindle, developed and sold by Knit Picks.  My fave yarn company of course.  but this just adds to why I like them so much.  If you're savvy to spinning, then you know what the turkish spindle is.  If you're not, here's what mine looks like after I stained it a bit.  I plan on doing another, but I couldn't wait to start playing with it, so the next stain coat will wait for later.

 Spindle 022

   I didn't know how I might like spinning, but I definitely wanted to give it a try.  But every time I looked at spinning wheels I'd about loose my breath over the cost.  Spindles looked interesting, but they too were quite expensive for my budget, with most around $45 to $50 each.  The unfinished spindles on Etsy are probably ok, but they kind of looked more like a child's toy button stuck on a dowel, with a hook screwed into one end.  And not knowing if that would even work very well,...well I could do that myself.

 But I wanted something I felt would be worth the trouble.  And so far Knit Picks has never let me down.  Not to mention they do stand by all their products  So when they started carrying this little baby, I honestly felt now was the time to try spinning.  And I certainly wasn't disappointed at all.  At $14.99 it's quite a good deal.

  And the quality of the wood was surprisingly good.  Sure it's pine, but it's good quality, not the cheap stuff they usually stick on cheap furniture.  I had no trouble getting it to spin smoothly.  What I liked best about the spin, was it didn't go too fast, and it was really easy to manage a slow spin for my very inexperienced fingers.  I seem to keep forgetting that the fibers are about 2" long in the cheap roving I'm practicing with.  No it's not sold by KP, shame on me I know.  But I wanted to practice with the cheap sub quality stuff before buying KP's good roving.

Anyway, I keep forgetting how long they are, and I kept trying to tug at the roving with my fingers too close.  Which of course doesn't budge it one bit.  Now on a fast spinning high whorl, it could've gotten ugly.  Over twisting, and spinning too fast to keep up.  But with this spindle I had no trouble, even when I stalled.  Or I could switch to a nice slow spin, and pay more attention to what my fingers were doing, than how it was spinning.  I over did it for sure, but I couldn't help myself and I wound up spinning both my brown and orange roving over the span of last Sunday off and on.  I took it with me, and practiced park and drafting in the car, which is needless to say a must learn for beginners.  If interested in knowing what it is, here's a video to check out, by Franquemont the author of Respect the Spindle.
and part two:

  The two videos really got me going on how to spin.

  So Sunday I worked with some brown and orange, and this is what I got.

Spindle 010

  Which isn't much to brag about I know.  In some parts, it's thin as fingering weight, in others it's thick as dk.  Maybe worsted, I don't know.  I've been too afraid to check it out on my WPI tool :/   It is however a ball of yarn.  Strong enough to make something if I chose.  Such as maybe a hot pad.  But not good for much else really.  I think I'll keep it as a 'this is my first ball of yarn' trophy :D

  This morning is when I started the red roving, but I learned painfully to take my time this time around.  So it'll be awhile before I finish it.  And that's also when it started turning out quite a bit better.  Although the roving quality is awful, which is why it was sold as felting roving.  It however is coming along.  I wanted to see how skinny I could make it, and hopefully learn how to keep it consistently the same thickness throughout.  So far so good, with it at least as thin as size 10 crochet cotton thread.

Spindle 023

   In this I can see just how fuzzy it is.  I think this is Peruvian wool, because it feels just like Kp's Palette yarn.  However it didn't say on the package what wool it is, so it could be scrap mixes as well.  I honestly can't wait to try out their good roving, especially the wool silk blend.  My hope is to see if the wool silk blend might not be suitable to produce yarn thin enough to use in Jacobean embroidery.  Which is why I'm practicing at making it thin as possible without breaking.  I figure if I can get it cobweb weight first spin, then it should ply at just under lace weight.  Which could work for some embroidery.

After all, back before factories existed, and even before the wheel, someone had to make the thread that was used for sewing and embroidery.  I've long admired Palestinian traditional needlework in several museum pieces.  I would be thrilled if I could reproduce a bat wing abaya, similar to what my great grandmother might have worn, with traditional embroidery.  Although thanks to mixed blood it's watered down quite a bit, I do still feel an attachment to my great grandmother's people.  And her courage to venture into a new culture for the sake of my great grandfather.  She must have really loved him to take such a leap.  But sadly her knowledge of traditional embroidery was lost when she died, as she felt it best to adopt her husband's culture and religious belief.  I can only imitate what I hope is something she might have done.

 Oh before I forget, along the subject of spinning I found this little guy in our back yard, wearing his little leaf and stem armor, which is stuck to the silk threads he spins.  He, or she is a Case Moth.  I guess while some wander until it's time to change, then they build their little cocoon, this little moth takes his with him.  Either that or it's his armor against something eating him. Either way it's pretty inventive for a little moth.  I wonder how long it took him to spin his silk?

 Case moth 2

Saturday, May 15, 2010


   Ever get that feeling that your Works in Progress out number your Finished Objects?  I think that's what's happening to my projects.  Not only have I accumulated more stash than I have projects for, but I realized I have more projects than I should have going on with knitting.

Oh I don't mean to sound like I'm complaining.  I'm not.  If it were just knitting I wanted to do, I'd have at it and do as many as I have needles and yarn for.
   But I realized we're well into the year and I still haven't even started drafting patterns for the linen I bought last year, or the ripple skirt I'd love to have.  And don't get me started on the Garibaldi blouse I was so set on designing myself.  Honestly I think I'm going to cheat on that one and buy the pattern from Truly Victorian.   But then that leads first to their corset pattern I bought, foolishly thinking it'd be easier than the Laughing Moon pattern.  It is pattern wise, I love it.  But I realized it's the sewing by hand that's getting me.  Never attempt it with drill, that's all I can say.

   Anyway back to knitting and crochet.  Side tracked is probably why many of us have so many wips going on.  One of my diversions isn't too bad though, as it resulted in an interesting Irish Crochet rose bud.

  Side view.

    Only took three pieces of mesh worked around a cord, then pieced together.  Once I tie it off I'll cut those dangly cords and sew on some leaves..  Very simple, but in a way I'm thinking of adding it to my wips and doing a whole bouquet in colors.  This took crochet thread in sz 20, however what if it were done in lace yarn?  Or cobweb weight?  That opens up possibilities, doesn't it?
   Yep, side tracked, but as always for a good project idea.

   In the meantime I'm trying to stay on track with my Pi R 2 shawl from Elizabeth Zimmerman's Knitting Around. 

My husband's Aunt Sissy has been feeling a bit down lately.  Mainly because she had to move into a care home for round the clock nursing care.  We thought we were going to loose her for at first.  So I wanted to give her something really pretty, and still being new to knitting the Pi R 2 seemed perfect.  If you haven't tried it, you should.  It's such a simple design, yet even in lace weight feels like it'll add the right amount of warmth for the summer months.  Since her favorite color is pink, Knit Picks new Shadow tonal lace weight is perfect.  Here you can see how the variation in colors just blend to form this really pretty fabric.

   I figure once I finish the shawl I'll get back to nibbling down the other WIPs I have.  However I can't help but add one more to the list with this yarn.

   Time Traveler from Knit Picks limited edition Felici yarn, Dr. Who inspired colorway.   What a great nudge these will be as long socks to get me to finally narrow down my colors and start my Dr. Who scarf.  Which will be another WIP for another day.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Vintage books online

   Recently I've been looking more and more at vintage books online.  Google books has some really great ones if you have the knowledge of vintage patterns, and the patience.  If not, thanks to the internet these days, it isn't too difficult to figure things out as well :)
   One I recently started reading is called Treasures in Needlework. It's dated 1855 and it basically has several collected patterns for Knitting, Netting, Crochet, Point Lace, Tatting, Braiding and Embroidery.   I'm unfamiliar with Netting and Point Lace as yet, so I looked at some of the other patterns.  If you're in love with vintage crafting, you won't be disappointed with this book.  It has a little of everything in there I believe, from baby socks to neck ties.  Caps, Mats, Toilet (toiletry not the modern toilet) fringe, Turkish slippers, and one of my favorite subjects an embroidered pocketbook.   I'm seriously hoping I can find time to do at least a couple of the patterns from this book.
   If you're interested in the 1830's, and haven't already heard of it, here's a real gem.  The Workwoman's guide.  Have I mentioned this book before?  If I have here it is again.  Great resource for learning how to sew nearly everything from soft corsets, chemise, shirts, dresses, baby clothes to household goods.  The one drawback that it has is the measurements, and the need for intermediate sewing knowledge.  As for measurements, that's easily resolved by going to the Online Conversion Chart.   Using the all lengths and distance conversions, you can easily type in how many nails and have it translate it into inches, and voile you're ready to go.
   Another interesting online book is My Knitting Book by Miss. Lambert published in 1843.   It's really no different than other knitting books of it's time, however I could tell immediately why it isn't widely used or shared.  There's absolutely no images drawn or otherwise to go by.  So when you set out to knit a Pretty Cuff, you're literally flying blind until you observe whether it really is pretty or not.
   Now that might be a drawback to some.  But it could also be interesting.  The mystery of what the Pretty Cuff might look like could entice someone enough to knit it just to see.
   I haven't personally done more than download and flip quickly through this one, but if you're up to the challenge of mystery or blind knitting The Comprehensive Knitting-Book also offers a nice assortment of patterns.  Published originally in 1849 it has baby items, curtains, something it calls a habit shirt.  What caught my possible interest to venture into experimentation were the gaiter patterns.  One called Gaiter, with stripes down the leg (possible steampunk item?), and the Traveling Gaiters for a Lady.
     I do find modern crafting interesting sometimes.  But there is this certain j'nai said quoi about vintage crafts.  Perhaps it's the romanticism attached to it.  Whatever it is, I honestly hope they continue to share wonderful books like these online for future generations to enjoy.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Beauty everywhere

  I don't know about anyone else, but I've been having a horrible time getting myself to work on anything creative.  It was just so cold and dreary this winter that the beautiful weather has been making it difficult if not impossible to concentrate on anything else.
   Of course I could always take knitting outside, but then it would only be worse most likely.  So I gave in and whipped out my camera to snap a little of what's been popping up in our yard, and that of our neighbors.  I'll start there because they have a gorgeous Tulip Tree.  I don't know if there's another name for it, but they call it a Tulip Tree, and for good reason, so I snapped a few of the blossoms with the zoom.

and here's a closer view.

   While admiring the green everywhere, I noticed we have what I think is wild Parsley.  Anyone know what it looks like for certain?  Because I really think it is, although I'm not adventurous enough to try it to see.  It smells similar to the tops of a carrot, however the roots and leaves look like parsley.

  On the second half of our yard there's an Ornamental Pear tree the former owner had planted.  Although the blossoms only last a few days when they do bloom it's so beautiful.

    It's only too bad it's ornamental and won't ever have fruit.  So far our Jonathan Apple Tree, Montmorency Cherry tree and Plum haven't popped blossoms yet, but they look like they will any day now.  I'm assuming the cold weather we had after a bit of warm might have slowed them down because last year we had cherry blossoms by now.  Leaves are unfolding so I know it didn't die on us.  But according to my husband, he thinks our baby Fig tree might have.  I'm hoping he's wrong, because I love figs right off the tree.  I guess if it did die, we just have to buy a couple more, although I really am surprised if it was so delicate.  It's a Tx breed that's supposed to be really hearty.
   On wild flowers, we don't have very many around us.  My in laws get Indian Paint brushes and other really lovely flowers.  Other than clover and dandelion I have no clue what the purpley wild blossoms are called.  But the way they grow in clumps makes them stand out.

    And these look almost glowing blue.  I don't think I quite caught them right though, and I have no clue what they are either.
  If anyone does, I'd love to know.  I took way too many pictures to share, including a nice clump of clover but then that's the way I am.  Sometimes everyone ignores something because it's everywhere, and I stop and stare all the while thinking to myself how beautiful it is.

   On a side note, my Knit Picks Tonal yarns arrived last week.  Sadly I'm too poor to get one of everything, but I did get Canopy green, Deep Waters blue and Queen Anne pink in lace, and Queen Anne in Stroll sock yarn.
   I had decided to do a cardigan with two of them, but couldn't make up my mind.  Now I'm not so sure about the pattern, because it's rather plain.  And a Victorian cardigan perhaps in the Queen Anne would be so much better.  I have a really nice pattern from the early 1900's, but they always seem to be in extra small, and they expect you to know how to re-size.  I feel very blessed that I figured out how to re-size the sontag, I'm not so sure I'd get it right for a cardigan though without more practice.
  Perhaps I should just stick to working on my hand bag pattern.  I wanted something like a beaded purse, but minus the beads.  So far two weeks later I have half a pattern written and I think I'm close.  I'm wondering if it wouldn't have been easier just writing a miser's purse pattern instead. 
    Sure there are patterns already for them.  But it just seems to me that there's enough evidence to show our ladies of history didn't just follow a pattern when they made things.  Some of them used their skill and knowledge to create their own originals in the same style of the period.  In a way it saddens me that some who do vintage inspired crafting, are so stuck on doing something only if they can find a pattern for it.  If you're doing re-enacting and living history wouldn't it seem logical to follow the examples of the past and not just the letter of the law, and be more creative?   Our Victorian ancestors and their Rococco ancestors, and so on and so forth were.  Many of them taking pride in their skill, whatever it was.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Spring fling.

  Isn't it amazing how a nice spring breeze can brighten everything?  Even though it's still a bit chilly out, we're finally getting sunshine and the trees are beginning to bud.  Which means spring planting season, already started with a new rose bush.  I went for one called Miranda/Mirandy (spelling depends on who's selling it I guess but it's the same rose), which should yield some really nice crimson red blooms.  Now if I can only find a few black rose bushes that aren't so far away I'd worry they'd arrive dead.  Our local florists look at me oddly when I ask if they have them, with the exception of Lowes.  I guess although not ideal for good roses they tried by getting some tea roses that were a brown red.  Cocoa something or other, I forget the name.
   With spring also comes new yarn lines.  Some are out already, while some are still forth coming.  And I noticed the majority are doing the same ol' same ol' you see every spring.  Which is pastel.   I mean no offense, but honestly pastel is done every spring, it's almost like ho hum.
   However there is one yarn line, (and this is one of the reasons I love this company so much), that is giving us color.  Not only bright, bold spring colors, but they're creating a new yarn line that takes shades of these colors, blending them in such a way that you're not looking at striped yarn.  Instead you're looking at yarns with a shade, highlight and main color all in one.  The company is Knit Picks, and they're calling the new line tonals.  It won't be limited to one type or weight, which is sweet.  And although it's all over their group over at Ravelry, and they've shared images on their knitting community blog, just in case you come across this blog and haven't seen them yet, I'll share the teaser pic with ya.

  Aren't those gorgeous?  If you look at the orangy pink one you'll notice how it blends from a yellowing up through pink to this nice shell pink shade.  And they're in bright easter egg spring shades, from light to dark, which I think is appealing to all crafting types.  This particular one is from the tonal sock yarn, but they've hinted it'll also be found in other weights.
   Their simply cotton line, which was a 100% organic cotton yarn in four natural shades ranging from marshmallow off white to a really pretty brown.  This year they're adding color to them.  I can't wait to see, and if I heard right they're also bringing it out in fingering weight.  I'd love to have cotton socks that fit in my shoes when the summer heat strikes us, that's for sure.
   And lastly what I'm really excited about almost as much as the tonals is their cotlin (a cotton/linen blend), which will also come in new bold shades from canary yellow to lilac, cerise red, bison brown, whisker grey and pistachio green.  Although from the image it doesn't look pistachio to me, but more like a sea green but we'll have to wait and see when they release them.

    The cute puppy is Xena, which belongs to Kelly I believe?  The owner of Knit Picks.  Hopefully she won't mind my slurping her picture.  To hear more about the KP yarns their link is over on the right hand side of my blog here.  Trust me, you won't be disappointed.  Just click Knitting Community on their main page for their daily news and information about the new yarns.  From what I know they're releasing them this April, which gives me maybe enough time to finish some of what's already on my needles.   I hope :/
   Ok I waxed on too long about KP's new yarns.  But as a fairly new knitter, crochet/tatter for much longer, the more bold colors are what I think of when I think of spring.  Sure pastels are pretty, but they look washed out to me.  In a way I've thought they'd be more suited to winter, when everything's white.  The pastels would add a little splash of color without overpowering the crystal white of winter.   But in spring flowers come in color, the grass (at least here) is turning a nice rich green, the sky no longer looks washed out but turns that beautiful robin's egg blue.
   I just can't imagine being inspired design wise by pastels.  Not in the spring leastwise.