Thursday, October 29, 2015

My Camera Hates Me

I knit V. a really lovely, simple cardigan recently, and just got the buttons on it this weekend. It's from a 1965 pattern for a girl's raglan sweater in fingering. However, as the title of the post says, my camera hates me. Here is a terrible photo of the book:
And here is a terrible photo of the pattern in the book:
And here is a truly horrendous photo of my finished project:
I swear, this really is a nice sweater, but I'm experiencing a profound level of resistantalism. Photos I took last week on this camera (set to Auto) came out just fine (you know, if you like pumpkin patches):
But try to photograph a sweater I spent about two weeks knitting? Noooo.
But anyway, here are the fun facts:
Child's Raglan Sweater (1965)
Needles: US #1 & #2
Yarn: KnitPicks Palette in Navy (about 4.5 balls)
Notions: 7 5/8" navy plastic buttons
I could not tell you the gauge, because I did not check. Probably about 7 sts = 1 inch in the stocking stitch body, which was on US #2 needles, because that's a typical size for me to use and it usually runs about that.
I'm fairly certain I have almost this exact same pattern in another vintage book that is seamless, but I was too impatient to dig it out. (By the time I did, V. would probably have been size 7, instead of size 6.) V. complained at first try-on that it was itchy, so I gave it a good soak in conditioner, which seems so far to have solved that problem because she hasn't complained again. I ironed on a name tag I usually put on all her outwear so that the sweater won't get lost at school. This is a real problem. Six year olds are not known for remembering where they put their cardigan, much less anything else, unless you don't want them to have it. Last year she had a store bought navy cardigan very similar to this one which she lost on the first day of wearing it. This cardigan cost me roughly the same, if not a little less, than the store bought one, so I am not losing it.
I actually like this pattern well enough that I'm considering making her one in another color, such as Kelly Green or yellow. A simple pattern like this has a lot of potential, because if I wanted, I could make it Fair Isle, or anything else I want. We'll see.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Slip Slip Skull Fingerless Gloves Sale!

Halloween is almost upon us again! To celebrate, I'm running a 10% Halloween Sale on my Slip Stitch Skull Fingerless Gloves pattern. 
 Slip Stitch Fingerless Gloves specs:
One Size Fits Most
Needles: US #2 (2.75 mm) dpns
Yarn: light fingering
Gauge: 11 sts = 1 inch in skull pattern
I have updated the pattern this year to include written instructions for the skulls as well as the chart.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Say What -?

Belding Bros. & Co.'s The Self-Instructor in Silk Knitting, Crocheting and Embroidery (1886) gives very precise instructions as to what method to use when casting on. It is, according to them, "the only one admissible in silk." They are as follows:

Well, now, that was truly illuminating, wasn't it?
After a bit of pondering (wherein I probably formed brand new frown lines), I deduced that it is very likely the Knit Cast On method. If I am wrong... well, I hope I'm not.

Friday, October 23, 2015

Hodgepodge Hat

I had this idea in my head for a while to make a tam style hat out of mitered squares. Sort of like the ubiquitous mitered square blanket, but in a hat. And in the round. It seemed like a viable solution to small scraps of yarn, or a pathological need to do intensive knitting. The opportunity finally came along when I scratched a baby sweater project in Noro fingering weight yarn.
This was the result:
My blurriness is in direct proportion to my fussiness fuzziness.
I call it my Hodgepodge Hat, not because it resembles mutton soup, but because "Patchwork" would have been too trite. 
I began by knitting the brim, and once it was long enough,, I then worked the mitered squares along live stitches until I'd come full circle. At the last square of each round I had to pick up the edge stitches of the first square to join it. This became a very fussy thing to do once I was decreasing for the crown. I was really wondering what I was thinking in doing it this way. Originally, I was going to write the pattern up, but after I was done I swept that right out of my mind. Plus, I think the ribbing is too loose!
An excellent view of my Sherpa-wear
But all-in-all, I think it's a nice hat. Maybe I'll knit it again someday in a sensible manner that is easy to convey to others in writing, as opposed to a video of knitting contortions.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Getting Medieval

What do you do over the weekend when you don't feel like knitting?

Do you say... make medieval headgear?


Well... ok. But I do.

The Toque
Some time back - a year or so ago - I started a medieval garb project that was centered around the 1200-1300's. I had a wimple, but no period appropriate gown to go with it, and in my quest for something that looked comfortable and simple, I settled upon the cyclas. A cyclas is basically a loose gown with no sleeves, worn over an under gown, which is probably worn over another gown, over a chemise. (No central heating!) The appeal - aside from the ease of construction - was the ease. I could smuggle monkeys, or a band of jugglers, under a cyclas, because it doesn't have a fitted waist. This is a plus, because nothing is truly sadder than being five pounds too heavy to wear a gown you hand stitched, and only finding out right before you intend to wear it, except, of course, then having to wear the wrong headdress or hat altogether.

The most popular hat for this period in Western Europe seems to be (aside from the coif) the dubiously-dubbed "coffee filter hat", or fillet. It's essentially a pleated or ruffled linen crown-shaped headpiece. There are no extant examples, and while I wouldn't exactly say it looks silly walking around looking like you have a paper coffee filter on your head (I've considered much sillier) the general effect I've seen with these hats (once made) doesn't appeal to me greatly. So, I opted for a less common style, the toque, or what we these days call a "pillbox."
Scantily clad in my kitchen in a half-made toque. You know, a typical Saturday.
It all begins with some millinery wire and stiff canvas. There re no extant toques that I know of, so for all I know, they did use wire. Or at least I like to think they did, because certainly plenty of wire got put in headdresses through the medieval period in Europe. (How else do you think that "flying nun" look keeps staying up? Starch will only get you so far!)

I zig-zagged the strips of canvas I had by machine to make the crown of my toque, but everything else, including attaching the wire to the canvas, was done by hand. I used a medium weight bleached 100% linen to cover the toque, which I had to use 100% cotton thread on, because the linen thread I do have just seemed too bulky to get the polished effect I'm looking for.

I used recycled lightweight linen for the lining.

Center back seam of the finished toque
Unfortunately, I took some very blurry photos posing in the toque, but I think the photos will at least give you a general idea of how it turned out.
With barbette
With veil

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Wash, Block, Repeat.

I like striped hats. I especially like striped beret type hats. Witness below, the dk weight hat I knit for V. a couple years ago:

KnitPicks came out with some neon colored yarn not long ago and I got the wild idea to combine the two. I started with yellow and gray:
This is fingering weight yarn. No surprise there, coming from me. Here's how the top of this version looks:
I like it, but the sizing wasn't quite right, especially after I blocked it on a plate. Yeah, yeah, I know - I should have run a piece of yarn around the base of the hat ribbing and pulled it on so that the ribbing wouldn't necessarily be blocked as well, but that strikes me really as just a short term solution. I know from experience that hats stretch out with wear. So the ribbing has to be a little tight, even if it's blocked with the hat, IMHO. So... I knit it again, but in navy and tan, which is what I had on hand in the same yarn.
I finally got the fit perfect, even after blocking. However...

I was knitting this as a publishable pattern, and waiting all this time for my yarn support. I was feeling as clever that I had it all worked out to perfection before the yarn came for the sample... and then the yarn came. In worsted.

Which, alas, is really nobody's fault. At no time did I specific yarn weight. I had completely forgotten that the neon yarn came in more than one weight. Urgh!

Now I'm starting the process all over again. I recalculated for worsted and knit it up. Same problem: the band is too loose. I have to do some swatches of ribbing, wash and measure them, and then recalibrate, and re-knit.

This kind of stuff is one of many reasons I never seem to get the dishes done.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Belding Bros. Lady's Mitts

So, I was browsing the Antique Pattern Library one day, looking for WWI patterns (as one does), and came across Belding Bros. & Co.'s The Self-Instructor in Silk Knitting, Crocheting and Embroidery (New York, 1886, 80 pgs.), and paused. I was intrigued.
I am not a silk knitter. Some random Noro is the closest I've been to silk yarn. And while I also tend to gravitate toward knitting fine, I usually stop at size US #0. I have some lace weight yarn in my stash, but I have never used it. Ever. I tried lace one time and came to the conclusion that I couldn't count, or follow directions. (The latter, if you've read much of this blog, will not be much of a revelation to you.) However...
Not long ago I was reading an article about Victorian knitting. There was an emphasis on much of it no longer being useful (who needs a silk opera cape these days? etc.) and I found myself bristling a little at that. Admittedly, we have become a very casual society, as the millinery industry knows only too well. And I have definitely been known to spend my entire weekend in pajamas, and to leave the house in mismatched socks. But just because we are no longer required in most instances to meet the formal standards of yesterday does not mean we can not.
So I decided to knit something in silk. This is what I chose:
I have a friend who does Dickens Faire, and  this seemed like an appropriate gift to pawn off on her, especially since I recall some mention in the past of needing fingerless gloves for her costume. She was probably thinking filet crochet, but one also shouldn't look a gift horse Victorian silk fingerless mitt in the mouth, so to speak. She acquiesced.
Now, it is just my luck that I was drawn to just about the only pattern in the pamphlet that doesn't specify needle size. What precisely, in this context, are "ordinary-sized steel needles"? The other patterns in the book for mittens and such for Ladies call for needles anywhere from No. 17 to No. 20, and have about 20 more stitches cast on. So, no joy with a comparison there.
The yarn in the pattern is Belding's "Superior" Knitting Silk. I tried very hard to understand what "Superior" Knitting Silk is - I even have an eBay alert going for anything that has the words "Belding + Silk" - but still no joy. There might even be tears. This image is what I have to go on:
Isn't that edifying?
Not especially.
I do know it is finer than fingering weight. Assuming the average hand to fit these gloves back in the Victorian times wasn't so very different from my own - quite an assumption, I know, but I'm also petite - then for this pattern I am casting on 66 sts for a 6.5 inch hand circumference. That's roughly 10 sts per inch. So, we are definitely looking at something smaller than a US #0 (2mm - 1.5mm), because US #0 needles do not get me 10 sts = 1 inch. In Victorian times, that could be anything from a 13 to 17 steel needle. And how they decided which minute fraction of a mm made a difference, I'd really like to know. I'm taking a bit of a risk here, but I'm going to shoot for size 18 needles, known in modern times as 5/0, or 00000. That's 1mm.
I did find 5/0 (1mm) knitting needles, thanks to miniature knitting aficionados keeping them in demand. HiyaHiya was the brand available at one of the online stores I like to use for some of these obscure hunts, so I went with them. They are deadly looking. I'm a belt knitter who tends not to use the belt, but on this occasion I may have to whip it out lest I impale myself in my enthusiasm.
Dime for scale
As for the yarn? I did what I normally do when I need to substitute for wildly discontinued yarn - I got weaving yarn. Above you can see one of the cakes I wound up from the skein of Paradise Fibers Undyed Silk Yarn 20/2 I purchased. It comes in 1000 yd skeins. I highly suspect this little project will not take up that much yarn, so I am going to (maybe) dye the project after it is knit... carefully. If it goes all wrong, well... I still have more yarn left to try again.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Too Broke for Blue - see me in my kitchen!

I'm trying my hand at video podcasting, or whatever it is called. I am so hopelessly square!

I hope you find this entertaining, and forgive me for the poor video quality. I think my laptop has too slow of a processing speed for the webcam I was using.