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Archive for the ‘miscellaneae’ Category

Two months ago, one of my sheets ripped due to old age. And a month later, another sheet ripped. Pants! I had bought them at the same time, so they grew old together.

But my woes were not over yet, as a few of my older boxer shorts also ripped during this period! But, as the saying goes: if life deals you lemons, make lemonade. So I decided to make myself some new boxer shorts. I used an old pair of boxer shorts to make a pattern.

I made a front piece and a back piece. These is a very simple pattern, so I just used one piece for both left and right sides.

I then cut squares out of the sheets, making sure they would be large enough for the pieces plus a margin for the seams and a casing for an elastic band. I made sure to cut these from the edge of the sheets, where the fabric hadn’t worn yet. Then I could cut the pieces. Luckily the fabric was woven, not printed, and right side and wrong side were identical.

I sewed the boxer shorts on my gorgeous Singer 201K treadle sewing machine (on which I shall write another post in the near future). I started with sewing the short inside leg seams of the back pieces and the front pieces. Then I made the hem at the bottom of the legs. Next was the side seam, with my attempt at a small split. Or at least, that’s how I call them – after trying to find instructions on t’interweb I only found references to splits in seams due to wear and tear and how to fix those, so perhaps they are called something different in the sewing world? My two sewing reference books don’t have anything on that either!

Then I had to employ some fabric origami to make the fly. I just fiddled around a bit until it looked like a boxer short fly, referring to the old pair of shorts. First I sewed the long seam from the back to the crotch and then up to the fly, then graded the seam allowance and made a flat-felled seam. I sewed up the fly along with the flat-felled seam. Last but not least, I made a casing for the elastic band. I hadn’t taken the correct measurements, so the elastic was two inches too short for each boxer short, so I had to sew down the ends in the casing, two inches apart. I cunningly did this on either side of the fly, so it looks intentional.

I now have five new pairs of boxer shorts. Perhaps not entirely made according to the text book, but that’s okay. I think they look good at first glance, and only my partner will get to see them in close-up…

PS, if anybody knows where I can find instructions on how to make those split seams, I’d be ever so grateful!

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Today I made a field trip to the Knitting Reference Library at the Winchester School of Arts. I packed my lunch consisting of a pear and that stalwart of Dutch sandwiches: peanut butter on brown bread. After a two-hour train journey I arrived at Winchester and found my way to the Winchester School of Arts. While I was waiting in one of the main libraries to meet the very knowledgeable Linda Newington, I thumbed through a Complete Book of Needlecraft, where I found the following instructions for the rather obscure Christie cast-on method:

This was a promising start, seeing I wasn’t at the actual KRL yet! Soon after Linda turned up and she took me to the Sanctum Sanctorum of Knitting. The KRL comprises the collections of Montse Stanley, Richard Rutt and Jane Waller. All three have built up extensive libraries of reference books, patterns, leaflets, objects and ephemera related to knitting; and they all come together at the KRL. After Linda made me feel at home, I soon settled in and got down to the purpose of my visit: researching glove construction. Although the knitted objects collected by Stanley and Rutt are housed in a different building altogether, there was one box of gloves available to rifle through…

I got very excited indeed when I saw not one, not two, but THREE pairs of Sanquhar gloves! With kind permission of the Knitting Library at the Winchester School of Arts, I can present you the following photographs I took of a 1846 Sanquhar glove replica, knitted by Rutt himself:

It’s a design I have not seen before.

Starting at the bottom, there is a fringed cuff to be found, and not a single corrugated rib in sight. The customary wrist inscription goes all the way around and reads “G. Walton  1846”. The bands separating the inscription from the other parts of the glove are made of small peaks.

The back of the hand shows three prominent zigzag bands with small diamonds. The main pattern looks like a variation on the midge and fly, and it’s very handsome too.

As you can see, the thumb gore is outlined in both a white and a black stitch. The increases are made inside these two stitches and they are evenly spaced up to the base of the thumb. It is knitted in wool in natural white and (dyed?) black, and the tension comes in at 12 stitches per inch. I didn’t take pictures of the other Sanquhar gloves, as they were in the, dare I say, ubiquitous Duke pattern, although they were also incredible feats of knitting, with a guestimated tension of appr. 20 spi!

 

ERRATUM, added 24 July 2011: after sharing this blog post with the Sanquhar Knitting Group on Ravelry, it soon transpired that this glove is not a replica of a Sanquhar glove, but of a Yorkshire Dale glove, which explains all the differences I noted. Rutt found the original in the Wordsworth Museum in Grasmere, but I don’t know if they are still there. And in fact, there is a photograph and a pattern graph in Rutt’s A History of Hand Knitting (pages 123 and 124 in my edition of the book, which is an Interweave reprint).

 

After dissecting this glove it was time for a tea break and Linda and I had a nice chat about the next In The Loop conference, which will take place in September 2012. After the break, I trawled through loads of knitting books, made lots of photocopies, secretly wanting to take the whole library home, but instead making lots of notes:

Postscript:

On the way home I got chatting to a lovely lady, who was an avid knitter herself, and perhaps even more exciting: an expert cake baker! She carried a cake she made for one of her grandsons, and it was in the shape of a treasure island, complete with palm trees made from Flakes, a Lego rowing boat and a here-is-the-treasure-hidden cross made from chocolate. She told me a bit about her travels when she was younger. She taught English in Nepal, Hong Kong and other places when she was, erm, somewhat younger. And then we talked about that amazing cake again and it’s a tradition now that she makes a cake for each of her seven grandchildrens’ birthdays. They love their gran’s special birthday cake so much they give her designs nine months in advance!

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Now here is an object that has yet to make its way into the FutureMuseum collection: a knitted pencil case. The pattern combines elements of typical Sanquhar designs. I made this pencil case for my partner who’s about to graduate and I hope he will make good use of it when he goes on to do a Masters in Modern History.

Needless to say, it was knitted in my favourite yarn: Shetland spindrift. The green is called Bracken and the cream is actually a marled yarn in mooskit and white. The pencil case was knitted in the round using the magic loop technique and is completely seamless, although I did need to graft the bottom closed. I knitted with the cream in my left hand and the green in the right. As my left-hand tension differs from my right-hand tension, single green stitches don’t stand out. I suspect that swapping the carrying hands will make a difference, so that’s something I will investigate and report on.

Find it on Ravelry here.

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Blog post update (10/04/2012): I’m pleased to let you know that this pencil case is now available as a downloadable pattern from the Prick Your Finger webshop.

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Almost two years ago I found out about the knitting tradition in a town in Scotland called Sanquhar. Having been developed in the 16th and 17th century, their style is very distinctive: two-colour stranded patterns, mainly for socks and gloves. You can find more information about them on the Future Museum website. I’m somewhat smitten by the gloves and I ordered all four available patterns from the SWRI (Scottish Women Rural Institutes). My first endeavour was going to be the midge-and-fly glove, but when I saw the fleur-de-lys on the aforementioned website, I couldn’t resist and I adapted the pattern thusly:

As you can see, I knitted in my initials, which is part of the traditional pattern. The next gloves I would like to make have a very different style. The fleur-de-lys is a tweed pattern, but the Duke pattern gloves is a so-called dambrod pattern and the squares fit in just so. Achieving stitch gauge isn’t that difficult, but achieving row gauge – crucial to get the right fit AND keeping the squares – requires finding the right yarn. So here’s a test knit, using Blacker Yarns 50/50 British Wool with Mohair 2-ply Sock Yarn. I used all different dambrod designs I could find:

Yes, the feet look ridiculously baggy, but these socks fit like, erm, a glove!

And I think I have found a suitable yarn to boot.

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I have been very very very busy knitting a Shetland Lace Shawl for a cousin. She will be doing her Holy Communion soon and her mum asked me to knit her a lace shawl to wear. I had to put everything else I was working on on hold to ensure it would be finished in time. I chose to use a modern construction: start with the center, pick up all around and knit the border outwards on a circular needle. The lace edging was knitted on. This was probably the fastest method, but the next Shetland Lace Shawl will be constructed in the traditional manner, so loads of grafting to look forward too. Anyway, here’s the result!

As you can see, it’s still being blocked. It measures 50x50in.

A close-up of the border. The diamond pattern is the traditional “rosebud” stitch.

And the lace edging. I designed the lace edging myself: it has some fagotting, then a small bead strip, triangles with lace holes and the diamonds are based on the rosebud pattern from the border, but this time the shaping happens on each row – no “rest” rows here!

Phew!

Now I can relax and finish my socks.

Raveled here.

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Okay, maybe it won’t take me to Narnia, but whilst waiting to have collected enough wood to build an Enzo Mari wardrobe, I made a temporary and functional cardboard wardrobe. I used removal boxes and packing tape.

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