Thursday, January 14, 2016

Vintage Thursday - The Owl Cable

For the past couple years I have noticed a surge in the popularity of knitted owls, especially cable owls. Recently I was asked to make this owl cable hat, but the cable owl is so versatile and easy that it's found in sweaters, mittens, gloves... just about anything. But, this being Vintage Thursday, I feel compelled to point out that (like many clever motifs) the owl cable is not a new innovation.

Enter Workbasket and Home Arts Magazine (Number 3, Volume 37, December 1971):

This volume has been well-loved
I received a slew of old Workbasket magazines from my grandmother a couple years back, mostly for the early part of the 1970's. They are a real study in changing domestic fashion, addressing everything to husbands making comments about your thighs being like saddlebags, to growing violets and making granny square ponchos. (I'm definitely going to write more about them in the future, especially the granny square fad.) One of the interesting things about this issue is the Owl Snowsuit, which my grandmother has noted in her scrupulously neat handwriting on the tattered cover.

 Do you see those googly eyes? Yes, those are owl googly eyes!

Unfortunately, this pattern only comes in size 1, 2 and 3. But there's the sweater AND mittens with owls! I'm really tempted to make the mittens, but with a modification: instead of sport weight yarn on US #3 dpns, I'd use worsted weight yarn, just like the plan mitten pattern from 1944 I use calls for to keep the chill out.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Buy Handmade! (VERY Handmade!)

Recently I have begun collaborating with a friend of mine who dyes and spins yarn. You may remember her - she was the same person who comissioned me to knit I don't know how many earflap hats from her handspun yarn one Christmas. We've taken it one step further and are selling things now at craft fairs and on etsy.

I know quite a few people make a living or augment their income with selling hand knit or crocheted goods. I am trying to be one of them! But what Wendy(for that is my cohort's name) and I are doing takes that a step beyond. Wendy does not buy her yarn, then dye it. She spins it herself on an actual spinning wheel, in an actual crowded and chaotic craft room, not very unlike my own craft room. She has a hand cranked wheel for carding wool that may some day give her tennis elbow. She stinks up her place soaking and washing and drying fleeces. When we say we are making these things by hand, we mean from the sheep to the shelf.

Wendy usually gets fleeces from Romeldale sheep, an American breed which is critically endangered. I even have the names of the sheep she gets the fleeces from SOMEWHERE in my craft area. They produce a very soft and springy wool that dyes up beautifully, as you can see in the image below.
I sometimes want to keep this hat for myself.
Some of the fleece Wendy uses is what we call Mystery Wool. A friend or an acquaintance says, "Oh? You spin? I have a fleece for you!" and then the next thing she knows, she has a fleece with an unknown provenance, with characteristics yet to be discovered. And other times she just happens on a good deal.

On my end, it's a bit of a challenge. I never know what yarn I will be working with next. The gauge changes, the texture changes, the style changes, according to Wendy's whim. This means everything is unique, and that I am really never knitting or crocheting the same thing twice. It keeps me on my toes, and I am constantly developing patterns which incorporate versatility to keep up with the yarn.

But what does this all mean for you, Gentle Reader? It means you can get handspun, hand knit/crocheted stuff from us! Stuff that will last! Stuff that is so removed from big box store yarn that it doesn't even know what a box is! Imagine!

Do check out our etsy shop.