Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Well that's odd; what is it?

I think of it as a kind of sketch. I was doing a few things at once here: getting a general idea of size, and experimenting with which increases would best match which decreases in appearance, and trying out a couple of different edgings. Now I should probably throw it in the washer and dryer (it's superwash wool) to see how that affects things.

Where is it all headed? Might lead to a kind of hat, might not.

Monday, September 28, 2009

The Cat Boys

have at least doubled in size.

Bob the bumptious (tiger stripe) still looks kittenish. Merlin f/k/a Martin is more the young cat. The difference is more apparent when they are standing up; but when they are standing up they are usually moving, rapidly.


All over the map this weekend. Well, not really, but we went to Platteville on Saturday for a Carla Bonhoff concert, and then to Madison yesterday for dinner with Mom, Dearest Daughter and her guy. Our favorite Chinese buffet was under new management. Our appraisal: the food wasn't as good as it used to be. But the company was wonderful, so all was well.


It's grey and decidedly chilly this morning. Won't be long before it's time to put the storm windows down.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Mrs. T. H. Corbett's Shell Lace* instructions are a model

of clarity, and need no translation. In this case "thread over twice" really does mean a double yarn over, and in the 2nd row she even clarifies what to do with that double over.

The results left me a little "meh".

Ok, but not exciting. Maybe with blocking, or in a finer yarn, or a crisp cotton or linen? I started on smaller needles (right side of pic), then changed moved up a size, but that's as much experimenting as I plan to do with this one.

* pp 8-9, Knitting and Crochet Manual. New York Tribune Extra No. 62, found on Google Books.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Ox-Heart Point Knit Edging from 1880

While I was at it, I went ahead and worked up a second edging from Knitting and Crochet: An Illustrated Manual of Home Industry. And I must say that although the pamphlet does have illustrations, it does not have illustrations of everything, not by a long shot. I was knitting blind here. Though I suppose the up side is that I'll never have to worry that my recreation doesn't look just like the original. I'll never know if it does or not.

My written version came out this way:

Ox Heart Point Edging

Working Note: on Rows 2, 4, 6 and 8, you will be knitting into the first loop and purling into the second loop of the double yarn over.

Cast on 6 stitches
Row 1: k1, yo, p2tog, yo twice, p2tog, yo, k1: 8 sts on needle.
Row 2: k2tog, k2, p1, k1, p1, k1:7 sts on needle.
Row 3: k2, yo, p2tog, yo twice, p2tog, yo, k1: 9 sts on needle.
Row 4: k2tog, k2, p1, k1, p1, k2: 8 sts on needle.
Row 5: k3, yo, p2tog, yo twice, p2tog, yo, k1: 10 sts on needle.
Row 6: k2tog, k2, p1, k1, p1, k3: 9 sts on needle.
Row 7: k4, yo, p2tog, yo twice, p2tog, yo, k1: 11 sts on needle.
Row 8: K2tog, k2, p1, k1, p1, k4: 10 sts on needle.
Row 9: k9, yo, k1: 11 sts on needle.
Row 10: k2tog, k1, pass the st formed by k2tog over the second st knit to bind off 1, bind off 3 more sts in knit, k5: 6 sts on needle.

and it looks like this:

I don't know why it's called "Ox-Heart".

I must say I've been quite engaged (obsessed?) with looking over the old knitting pamphlets that can be found by searching in Google Books. The one this edging comes from was published by "The New York Tribune" as an extra, and many (all?) of the patterns were sent in by appreciative readers of their knitting column - some of the introductory statements are rather charming. One thing that hasn't changed over the years is the eagerness of enthusiastic knitters and crocheters to share their favorite projects.

Friday, September 25, 2009

The Small Shawl

I finished knitting on the small shawl in autumnal colors.

The finished fabric has a very nice drape, and a pleasant almost springyness to it - I think partly due to the mesh section and partly due to the character of the yarn. For whatever reason, I love the way it feels over my shoulders. The base yarn that the dyer used is a superwash merino, 3 ply, smooth with a firm twist - reminds me of Koigu or Louet Gems. This is a lousy picture, but it does give an idea of how the fabric falls into nice folds.

The top edge rolls to the outside, which might bug the heck out of some people, but doesn't bother me. I'm mulling over some ways to mitigate this tendency, though, just as a design challenge.

The whole thing used a little less than one skein of "Calypso" from Creatively Dyed Yarn (color: Gin) - so somewhere in the area of 480 yds. I knit it on 3.00 mm/ US #2 Addi lace needles for a gauge after blocking of 15 sts = 4 ". (I'm a loose knitter, so I expect many would use a US 4 for this gauge with this yarn).

The stitch patterns work very well with the variegated yarn, I think for reasons that Tracy mentioned in her comment on an earlier post: there are sections of smooth stockinette that show off the color play, and the small repeat mesh section that mixes the colors up. The overall arrangement is simple/bold enough to stand up to the color changes. I don't think this would look particularly well in yarn that forms definite stripes, whether wide or narrow. Because the shawl is worked from the bottom point up with increases at each side, that type of color arrangement would form horizontal color bands that would fight (rather strenuously, I think) with the stitch patterns.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

About that Errata (erratum?)

I mentioned in an update to the post before last that there was a correction to the final line of the old Wheat Ear edging pattern I had been playing with.

According to this correction, the eighth row would be: yo, p5tog, k3.

I tried that. P5tog is a major PITA, even with a crochet hook. Maybe I could manage in a more elastic yarn than cotton. Maybe I will even try sometime.

But for now, here's what I did for Row 8: yo, p2tog, k3tog, pass the second stitch on the right needle over the first and drop it off the needle, k3.

With a bit of blocking that might be quite pretty. It definitely looks more like wheat ears this way.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Another Elegant Blog

No, not mine. This one: Fed by Birds.

Wheat-Ear Knit Edging from 1880 (Updated)

I thought, just for the heck of it, that I would try to knit one of the narrow edgings I found in Knitting and Crochet: An Illustrated Manual of Home Industry

Here's the original.

The first row was easy enough.

But on the second row, what am I supposed to do when I come to those double yarn overs? I could knit into the first loop and purl into the second, but that would leave me with too many stitches for the start of the 3rd row. So I just worked into the first loop and let the second drop off.

Working this way, the 3rd through 7th rows went smoothly.

But the 8th row? That's not going to work. After Row 7 I have 8 sts on the needle (if you count the double yo as only one stitch). If I work the eighth row as written, I will only use up 5 of those sts, leaving three left over. And besides, I need to reduce the stitch count to a total of five so that I will be ready to start over with the 1st row.

Obviously, I need to bind off three sts at the beginning of Row 8. Do I still start the row "Over twice and purl 2 together"? I tried it that way, passing the yo over the p2tog for the first bound off stitch, but the second loop of the yo didn't drop off easily. So in the end, I just worked the last row as "Bind off 3, knit 4". *

I must say, those double yarnovers at the edge leave awfully big loops. Maybe this would look prettier in a finer yarn. But it did occur to me to wonder if "over twice" really meant "yarn over and then bring the yarn into position to purl".

So I tried it that way as well.

To my mind, the results are much neater, and it's definitely easier to work.

This is a very basic edging with a familiar look about it, and I'm sure that with just a little searching I could find versions of it in one, or more, of the books on my shelves. But for whatever it's worth, here's my re-write.

CO 5 stitches
Row 1: k2, yo, k1, yo, p2tog: 6 sts on needle.
Row 2: yo, p2tog, k4.
Row 3: k3, yo, k1, yo, p2tog: 7 sts on needle..
Row 4: yo, p2tog, k5.
Row 5: k4, yo, k1, yo, p2tog: 8 sts on needle.
Row 6: yo, p2tog, k6.
Row 7: k6, yo, p2tog.
Row 8: yo, p2tog, pass the yo over the stitch formed by the p2tog to bind off 1, bind off 2 more sts, k4.

For Row 8, you could just: "Bind off 3, k4." I think starting with a yo makes a slightly nicer point, but that could be just my imagination.

* Update, I actually found an Errata section in the original, and it notes: Wheat-Ear Edge, Page 27, 8th row: for “purl 2 together” read “purl 5 together.”

That rather changes things. I'll get to work on knitting it this way.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Really old stuff

A tip on one of the Ravelry forums let me to search Google books for knitting related items. I confined the search to "out of copyright ", because I was interested in the old stuff. There's a wealth of material out there.

For instance, there's Ward and Lock's Home Book of 1882, which bills itself as a companion to Mrs. Beeton's Book of Household Management, which was one of the best selling books of it's day. I wasn't clear from the preface whether this came from the same publisher, or whether Ward and Lock were just trying to cash in on Mrs B's name.

The book is a wide ranging compendium covering the house and it's furnishing, "children and what to do with them", and, finally, needlework. Here are just a couple of tidbits from the section on knitting.


Well slap my wrist! I guess knitters have had strong feelings about their work since at least the 1800's.

I could sit and read this kind of stuff for hours. I've already downloaded The Lady's Knitting and Netting Book, and How to Knit Socks. But I've barely scratched the surface.


And speaking of old stuff, here's a perfectly wonderful blog: Bibliodyssey. The header sums it up: "Books~~Illustrations~~Science~~History~~Visual Materia Obscura~~Eclectic Bookart." (Found thanks to a link on Andrew Sullivan's Daily Dish). Of course the blog isn't old, but it consists primarily of fascinating illustrations from old books (some of them very old indeed). I've only begun to scratch the surface of this one, too.

Ain't the Internets wonderful?

Let 'Er Rip

I've been moving right along with the small shawl, right up to the bind off, in fact. Unfortunately, I decided that I wasn't completely happy with the top edge. Fortunately, I anticipated that this might happen, and had the foresight to install a lifeline.

So I'm slipping those stitches back onto the needle, and then I'll rip away.

Saturday, September 19, 2009


Last spring I purchased a skein of of fingering weight from Creatively Dyed Yarn. It intrigued me because the colors are sort of "edgy" and the color repeats irregular. It's exactly the kind of coloring that wouldn't work for a lot a lace patterns. I decided that I wanted it to be a triangle scarf or small shawl for fall, and, perversely, I wanted it to have some lace elements to it.

So far, the yarn is cooperating in a way that I like. And so far, I like the design well enough to want to write it up properly. The problem I'm running into as the piece gets wider is this: the chart will be really big, too big to print out the full width on a single page. The pattern isn't complex, it just takes up a lot of room to chart out. So now I'm trying to figure out the most reasonable/comprehensible way to break it down.

Friday, September 18, 2009

There Goes the Retirement Account

You know that Alice Starmore book on Fair Isle?  The one that was listed for astronomical amounts on eBay?  The one I was keeping to fund my retirement?

Well, the speculative market just crashed.  Dover has re-issued the title.

Seriously, I'm delighted by the news.  I love this book and wouldn't have sold my copy for any amount.   

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

A Very Satisfying Weekend - part 2

Day 2 of Wisconsin Sheep and Wool:  My class with Cat Bordhi.

Not to mince words, Cat is a wonderful teacher.  She is warm, funny, well prepared, affirming, and inspiring.  If she were offering a class on fish gutting, I would take it.  Fortunately, this class was on understanding and using the sock "architectures" in her New Pathways book.  I came away with the sense that now I understand the "whys" of this contruction as well as the "hows", which is exactly what I was hoping for.  Maybe just as importantly, I came out feeling energized with the creative juices flowing.


One thing Cat showed us, almost as an aside, was the newly published Jeny's Surprisingly Stretchy Bind Off.  Good for sock tops, but it also strikes me that it would be useful for neck openings, or for a triangle shawl knit from the bottom point upwards (because I just hate a tight edge at the top of the shawl).

I forgot to mention that while cruising the vendors on Saturday I learned a new yarn store will be opening in Mt Horeb.  "The Cat and Crow" will be opening on Oct. 3 "specializing in local and fair trade knitting, spinning, and other creative fiber arts supplies."  Mo Brown, who was one of the founders of The Sow's Ear, is co-owner. 

Monday, September 14, 2009

A Very Satisfying Weekend - Part 1

As soon as I got off work on Saturday, Mr S and I hopped in the car and headed for the WI Sheep and Wool Festival. It was a lovely late summer/early fall day, the soybean fields turning golden, brushings of crimson on the tops of scattered trees, a true-blue sky.

When we got to the fairgrounds in Jefferson, the first stop was for food (Hey, I hadn't eaten since breakfast).

The lines were long, but they moved quickly.

After lunch, we headed to the barns to see the beasties.

Random assortment of sheep

Of course, the sweetest spot was the pen with the new lambs.

After the barns, we split up. Mr S went to watch the shearing demonstration, which he just loves and goes to every year, and the watch the dogs working. I headed to the "Country Store", meaning the two buildings full of vendors.
It seemed to me as if there were slightly fewer this year (maybe because Stitches Midwest was the same weekend?) But it's possible that I was just imagining that. There was still plenty to see.
I've refined my strategy to a quick circle through the buildings, just to get the lay of the land. I spotted a couple of locals: Linda D from Hillspring Eco-Farm, and Kristi from the Argyle Fiber Mill.

I unexpectedly ran into a non-knitting friend, who was there with her knitting daughter; also, less surprisingly, Elizabeth and Cathy from the Last Saturday knitting group.
Then I make a second go around for serious shopping. There was lots of temptation, but I was pretty restrained as far as yarn purchases go, two hanks of sock yarn from Samantha in Stitches, and indy dyer based in Illinois. She had lots of beautiful blues, but I stuck with my resolution to widen my color horizons.

The little wooden thing at the lower right is a "yarn susan" from Gosh-Yarn-It, LLC, a LYS in Lake Mills. (I couldn't find a web site, but the address is 103 S Main, Lake Mills)

The top platform spins around smoothly on ball bearings, so you can pull from the outside of the ball without drag. This was a complete impulse buy. We'll see if it significantly improves my knitting experience (I think it has potential).
We headed out a little after four. It would have been fun for me to stay for the Ravelry "after party", but knowing we would be getting up early on Sunday to head back again, a late night just didn't seem sensible (plus, short of finding a bar in Jefferson, which really isn't his style, I'm not sure what Mr S would have done with himself).

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Happy Birthday to a Beautiful Woman

Love you more than words can say.

Friday, September 11, 2009


I wish I had a better quality video, but this is the best I could find.

There are a lot of things we need to remember.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Another Funny Hat

Sometimes when I'm in the middle of a bigger project, I need a smaller project to take on the road, and hats fit the bill. Hence this

(That little bump on the right is matched on the left. The matching bump is just hidden behind the edge.) The bumps aren't really bobbles. They're sort of cheater bobbles. You knit into the front, then the back, then the front, then the back, then the front of one stitch. After the last "in the front" you finally drop the stitch off the left needle. There are now 5 kind of clustered sts on the right needle. You take the tip of the left needle and lift the first 4 over the one closest to the needle tip and off the needle. (Like a psso, only there are 4 sts being passed over).

I haven't tried the hat on yet, but it looks about the right size. I don't really need another hat, though, so I'll probably give it away.

Monday, September 07, 2009

How to Knit: The Minimalist Approach

In the hallway outside of the library, there is a small cart with used books for sale. These are donations and books that have been "de-acquisitioned" from our shelves. It's a small scale, ongoing fundraiser, and saves us from having to store quite so many boxes of books between our every-other-year book sales. On Saturday morning, this one caught my eye.

I love old needlework books, so of course I brought it home. I was pleased to find that knitting came first. Then I was startled to find that this is almost the entire extent of the directions.

You can click on the picture to make it bigger.

Favorite quote: "Before attempting to knit any article, you should first "learn how"...." Um, yes, that is probably a good idea.

The second page does provide equally detailed instructions for binding off and attaching a fringe, as well as the color sequence for stripes on a garter stitch scarf.

I look at this and think how totally inadequate it is in terms of today's standards; and yet, it's possible that some readers did take their first steps into knitting on the basis of these two pages.

Perhaps in 1941 the author assumed that knitting was so common that instruction was hardly necessary. Or perhaps she just liked embroidery and rug hooking better.

Friday, September 04, 2009

Wow, was that fast!

Yesterday, I ordered a brochure of dishcloth patterns from Frugal Knitting Haus. Today, they arrived in the mail. My head is spinning. I guess it doesn't hurt that they are located in Appleton, just a few hours drive from here, but still....

A friend had sent me a dishcloth she likes a lot, and asked if I could figure out how to knit it. As soon as I saw it, I recognized it as one of the ones from this brochure, which I had noted with admiration at some point in the past. It's by Evelyn A. Clark: yes the "Swallowtail Shawl", "Wild West Lace Shawl" Evelyn A. Clark. In other words, one of the people on my most admired designers list. I wasn't going to try to knock off her pattern. So I ordered the brochure for Mary. This wasn't entirely altruistic. If I know Mary, I'm going to find a couple of really cute dishcloths on my doorstep one of these days. And this way she has ten different patterns featuring hearts to choose from. I may even find myself with a coordinated set.

(Note to clarify: I wouldn't intentionally try to knock off another designer's distinctive pattern, no matter who he/she was.)

Since I don't have any other news of note, I'll just throw in a gratuitous baby picture.

It's kind of hard to believe how much they have grown in just a week.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Knitting News of the World

The Guardian reports on a project to produce a Giant Knitted Poem. Hat's off to the Poetry Society!

And in New York, a nurse in a unit for women with high risk pregnancies has started a knitting program for her patients. Hat's off to Marguerite Tirelli and the "Mothers of Purl".

I just love Google.