Tom Says Darn It! At Super+Super HQ

Last Friday saw the inaugural Tom Says Darn It! Mending class at Brighton’s new creative hub: Super+Super HQ.

It was an intimate affair, which meant I could give my students all the attention they needed. We started off with Swiss darning, also known as duplicate stitching. I don’t know where the name “Swiss darning” originates from, but duplicate stitching makes perfect sense, as this is more like embroidery, where you copy the knitting stitches with needle and thread.

This method is particularly good to reinforce worn areas that have not, as yet, developed a hole, like thinning elbows. It is also a clever way to hide stains.

After tackling the Swiss darning, we moved on to the classic stocking darn. I had brought my collection of darning mushrooms and eggs, which is an essential aid, if you want to keep your darn looking neat and tidy, and not accidentally sew onto the other side of your sock!

There was plenty of different yarns to mend with, and we discussed which yarns are suitable for which purposes. The students got to keep the needles needed for darning: a blunt tapestry needle for Swiss darning, and a long sharp darning needle for the stocking darn.

As you can see, we had pots of tea, and a home-made banana bread to fortify the budding darners. I think we all had a slice more than we strictly should have! If you take a closer look at Amy’s cardigan, you will see she has engaged in a fashion intervention. I will tell you more about it in the near future, as I think she has done a great job of it.

I will be running darning classes every month at Super+Super HQ: keep an eye out on my ‘What’s Happening’ page, and the Super+Super HQ website, where you will also find booking information.

The next class will be on Friday, 27 May, 19:00-21:30h. I’ll be looking forward to share the darning love with you!

Hand in Glove Workshop preparation – Gloves for Howard

In preparation for my Hand in Glove Workshop at Prick Your Finger, I have knitted a pair of gloves for my friend Howard. He liked my Sanquhar Gloves and houndstooth patterns, so I decided to throw them together. Although we will be knitting a plain stocking stitch glove for the Hand in glove Workshop, you still need to make the same measurements and calculations, so I tried out a few things for the workshop with my very patient friend.

Apart from trying on whilst knitting and using some stitch markers, there are various methods of trying to calculate the number of stitches needed to construct the fingers and I have tried out a few:

If you can’t try out whilst knitting, which was the very reason I wanted to make some gloves for somebody else I couldn’t readily meet up with, then I think that the maths provided in Hand-Knitting Techniques from Threads Magazine (although long out of print, try to get your hands on a copy, it has so many good articles in it) is your best bet.

After a reknitting the fingers three times (don’t ask), I finally produced some gloves I was happy with:

The back-of-hand shows a simple houndstooth pattern:

I say simple, but I did have difficulty getting the tension right for the row that makes the top of the brown check. Whatever I tried, the grey stitch immediately left to the brown stitch just disappears. However much I love my Shetland Spindrift, the sholmit (that’s the Shetland name for this particular colour of natural grey) was a bit thicker than the brown, which made even tensioning that little bit harder still. Luckily blocking has sorted most of it out.

The palm of the hand shows a check pattern I designed myself:

However, the thing I most pleased about is the cuff:

We have the wearer’s initials! We have a small split! We have i-cord edging! But best of all: we have cashmere lining! Even if Shetland wool softens considerably after washing and blocking, the cashmere is so much softer still, it gives a very luxurious feeling when you slip these on. I’m pleased to report that Howard loves his gloves. As the weather is turning cold again, I have no doubt he will be sporting them every day. As for me, I want to line the cuffs of all my gloves with cashmere now…

Hand in Glove – a Glove Knitting Workshop at Prick Your Finger

If the prospect of knitting a pair of gloves makes your head spin, then fear no longer: I will be running a glove knitting workshop at Prick Your Finger over three consecutive Saturdays, starting on 28 January, 2012.

By guiding you through knitting a pair of gloves in stocking stitch in 4ply yarn, we will go through all the stages of constructing a pair of well-fitting gloves. I will cover the following areas with you: glove construction, hand measurements, provisional cast-on, increasing and decreasing, finishing techniques. The workshop handouts will enable you to repeat the process and knit gloves to fit any hand.

Dates:
Part 1 on Saturday, 28 January, 13:00-15:00h
Part 2 on Saturday, 4 February, 13:00-15:00h
Part 3 on Saturday, 11 February, 13:00-15:00h

As it is not possible to knit a pair of gloves in 3 x 2 hours, you will need to do some homework during the week. But then, who in their right mind would count knitting as homework? Besides, it will give you the opportunity to try some things out for yourself.

Total cost: £100. Pay £50 deposit when booking, the remaining £50 after the last class. The price includes 4ply yarn, a handy sheet to record essential measurements, workshop handouts with glove-knitting hints and tips, and all the cups of tea you might require to see you through any difficulties. Please book online HERE*, or ring Prick Your Finger: 020 8981 2560.

 
Skill level: you need to be able to knit in-the-round, either using double-pointed needles or Magic Loop with circulars, and have an understanding of increasing and decreasing. If you can knit a basic sock pattern, you will have no problem with this course.

IMPORTANT: bring your own needles, size 3-3.25mm.

There are only a few places left, so don’t wait too long with booking to make sure you can tackle your next pair of gloves with a steady hand!

*) please note there is an unfortunate error on the workshop booking page: the total cost of the workshop is £100, not £50.

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