Friday, 11 August 2017

Knit one, post one



Bletchley Park the home of codebreaking, were asking knitters earlier in June to contribute items to their Knit one, post one campaign to help with set dressing their historic site. Hand knit garments and accessories from authentic 1940's patterns such as cardigans, hats, mittens and gloves were required. 

Items were to be used in a variety of ways:

1. Part of seasonal displays in the set dressed areas of the park, such as the Huts and the Mansion.

2. By Bletchley Park Education Team for public outreach programs.

3. For wearing as costumes by Bletchley Park staff for live interpretation or living history events, such as 1940's weekends.

As a thank you, a free season ticket was being offered to each knitter who contributed to the campaign.

I''ve always had a interest in the history and mistique of the WWII codebreakers. The oportunity to contribute and receive a free ticket to visit Bletchley Park seemed a good offer and an interesting knitting project to research and make.

Due to the shortage of time available, a set of mittens were my quick knit option. I asked the help of Barbara the Publications Curator at the Knitting and Crochet Guild (KCG) Collection for some assistance selecting a suitable 1940's knitting pattern.


Bestway and Femina are a couple of the brands available from the era and are held in the KCG archive. 

Eventually I settled on this Bestway pattern for a Fair Isle design set of mitts. 



1940's patterns were generally knit with 4ply and few used thicker than double knitting. In order to keep the character of the pattern I decided to use a 100% wool yarn called Spindrift by Jamieson's of Shetland




I happened to have some grey (Granite #122) Spindrift available and ordered a contrast green (Verdigris #772) to go with it.  This pattern has a fairly bold fair isle design on the back with a small repeating motif on the palm, a solid strip around the edges and an after thought thumb.



These are the finished mitts ready to wrap and post to Bletchley.


Once I've scheduled a trip south for a visit, another blog post might be in order with an update and pictures of the 1940's knit wear at Bletchley.

Monday, 31 July 2017

July Catch Up



July has been a busy month for me, finishing projects, starting new ones (more about these at a later date), then dividing time between Yorkshire and Scotland. Where did July go? Anyway, before more time slips by and August begins, thought I'd write a quick update.  

A few weekends ago I attended a very enjoyable Blogstars meet up in Slaithwaite, West Yorkshire. We catch up every six months or so to find out about the latest Stylecraft yarn releases, also to share "important" knitting and crochet chit chat. Meeting up on the day were, (see above group photo from left to right), Heather, Sarah, Phil, Lucia, Helen, Sandra, Kathryn, Emma, me, and seated Catherine. Also in attendance via Skype link from around the world were Angela, Zelna, Polly, Ann and MichelleTwo more Blogstars who were unable to make it on the day are Lucy, and Jane.

Stylecraft are launching a number of new yarn shades this Autumn / Winter. One yarn which I'm able to tell you about now is a particular favourite of mine, Batik DK. There are four new shades in the range, Silver, Mint, Rose and Lupin.




Inspired by Sandra's lovely and very organised collection of Special DK yarn samples which she brought with her on the meet up day... 


...I thought it was time to put my growing collection of Batik DK into some sort of order, using these cardboard embroidery bobbins...


The initial release of Batik DK included 16 shades...


... now total of 20 including the new shades...


I've enjoyed working with this yarn previously on a crochet project using a small selection of colours. There's more about this project in an earlier post here.




I have an idea for a knitting project using some of the new shades.  In the coming weeks and months I'll be able to tell you about that  and about even more shade additions. Plus there'll be news of other interesting and exciting developments from my day out in Yorkshire.


Friday, 7 July 2017

Harlequin Blanket



Finished off another blanket project. Seen here on a sunny morning on the croft in NW Scotland.

Knitted in soft pastel shades of blue, pink, lilac, primrose with a neutral shade to break up the colours. When the blanket hangs from one corner the repeating contrasting squares resemble diamond shapes, reminding me of harlequin fabric prints, hence the name. A two tone crochet border was also worked around the edge. 

It's the second blanket I've made in Debbie Bliss Baby Cashmerino. Can't seem to fault this yarn, it is very easy to work with, washes really well and feels soft.

Instructions how to make this blanket below. Downloadable PDF available soon.

















Debbie Bliss Baby Cashmerino 50g
x2 204 Baby Blue
x1 608 Pale Lilac
x1 018 Citrus
x1 600 Light Pink
x2 001 Primrose
x5 065 Clotted Cream

You will also need
Pair of straight 4mm knitting needles
3.5mm crochet hook 
A tapestry needle for sewing the seams and weaving in ends

Finished Size
80cm x 92cm (32ins x 36ins)

Tension
21 st x 38 rows over 10cm

Instructions
For each square cast on 25 stitches ind knit each row until work measures approx. 11cm (4.5 ins) and looks square shaped. Cast off. Make a note of how many rows have been knit and then make all the squares the same size. This will help keep a uniform shape and make sewing together easier. 

This blanket is 7 squares wide x 8 squares long (total 56). The following combination of colours, x6 Light Blue, x6 Primrose x6 Citrus, x5 Pale Pink, x5 Pale Lilac, x28 Clotted Cream

Making up
Lay out the squares following the diagram as shown. They look randomly spaced, but follow the sequence blue, yellow, green, pink, purple starting from the bottom right hand corner and then working from right to left. Orientate so that each square joins a cast on/cast off edge.

Use the neutral coloured yarn to sew all the seams in mattress stitch. Join the squares making vertical columns and then join the columns together. Weave in all the loose ends after seaming, working in along the back of each seam. Work a single crochet chain all the way around the edge in Baby Blue. Work single crochet in Primrose into each blue single chain stitch. Weave in loose ends.


Diagram showing squares sequence







Sunday, 2 July 2017

Wild Flowers and Landscape Summer 2017


From time to time I wander from the knitting pathway. This crochet project is one such example and has been a long time in the making. It's been in and out of the cupboard on numerous occasions. Started in July 2013 (see here), where did all the time go? 


First thing to mention is the hexagon motif, it's from Polka Dot Cottage Lakeside Forest Blanket by Lisa Clarke. I was originally  following this pattern but changed course after I'd made several hexagons, having a much reduced colour palette than the one suggested in the pattern. I moved on to making up my own colour arrangements and joining sequence.

Those with an eye for detail may notice this blanket isn't quite symmetrical.  The alternate rows along the horizontal lines number 9 and 10. There is a missing row of 9 hexagons along the top edge (or 10 along the bottom edge depending how you look at it). I was short of the creamy white colour which features in each of the hexagons. After a few online searches I couldn't find a supply of the cream, maybe discontinued? One of the pitfalls of taking so long to complete a project!


Here's some of information about the yarn etc:

Debbie Bliss Bluefaced Leicester DK 50g
grey#502
stone#505 (cream)
gold#506
lilac#512
pale blue#513
willow#516

crochet hook 4mm

total number hexagons 76

blanket measures approximately 124cm x 80cm (49ins x 32ins)


I can't claim to have been inspired by the summer flowers and  landscape here on the west coast of Scotland when starting this blanket in 2013. But the colours in summer 2017 do seem to be reflected in the yarn, distant grey mountains, golden Buttercups, mauve Orchids, white Cotton Grass, green Sedges, blue Forget Me Nots (and rarely seen blue sky).




         Orchids    Buttercups     
Forget Me Nots      Cotton Grass



Here I am on the home straight joining and weaving in all those loose ends...




There have been plenty of rainy days to work on this blanket. Glad to now see it finished and photographed on a sunny morning here on 1st July. Four years almost to the day since I started the project in July 2013.




Wednesday, 14 June 2017

Behind the scenes...



Regular readers may remember in February I mentioned my visit to the Knitting and Crochet Guild (KCG) Collection in West Yorkshire - two blog posts, you can find them in the links here Part 1 and Part 2. There was so much to see during the few hours of the visit and so much more I didn't have time to see. 

Since then, I've been back to the archive on a number of occassions as a volunteer. This has given me the opportunity to see close up some of the work going on behind the scenes. Hopefully, in this post there's a snap shot of what I've been involved in helping with during the last few months - but it is just that only a snap shot. 

I've been helping to sort and record a small fragment of over 50,000 items of printed material going back to around 1900. These include amongst others, knitting patterns from the early 1980's to the 1930's.



The pattern "brands" or "spinners" range from Emu, Jaeger, Hayfield, Patons, Rowan. Names I'd heard of but there are many more from the past such as Golden Eagle which I'd never heard of.

In 2014 the Guild was delighted to receive the archive of the Patons pattern collection, it is the largest collection of Patons leaflets anywhere. 

Here's a sample of the thousands of Patons knitting patterns from the 70's and 80's. It's been fascinating working on this era and taking a trip back to my childhood knitted memories. 





Fairisle is so popular just now, it's interesting to see from these '80's patterns that it has probably never gone out of fashion. Here's a selection of patterns I was sorting through which caught my eye because of the yoke colourwork.





Just this week I was making a list (for the digital record) of the pattern numbers held in the collection for Golden Eagle, a popular spinner in the 30's and 40's. 

Here's a few of the styles that caught my eye...




Note the feather and fan stitch here on this 1930's era design, a stitch so popular currently.




Members of the Knitting and Crochet Guild can have access to a large number of patterns from the collection. See the KCG publications page for information about what's available - here.

Barbara Smith is the Publications Curator with a wealth of knowledge about the collection and history of knitting. She regularly writes articles about the collection on her blog Knitting Now and Then

There's so much more at the archive including actual knit and crochet samples, shade cards, a library with over 2000 books, tools and accessories. 








Hopefully, I'll be able to tell you more soon about volunteering at the archive.

In the meantime, there's lots of information on the Knitting and Crochet Guild Collection website.




Thursday, 8 June 2017

Summer Coastal Stripy Blanket




It's June and officially summer, despite the cool, wet and windy weather of recent days. Here's some news about a finished project, a summer blanket with a coastal look in blue stripes. 

Inspiration for this blanket started in February when I was introduced to a new yarn called Jeanie Denim Look from Stylecraft. I liked the shades of blue and the soft feel of this cotton yarn. There are four colours (amounts used in brackets):

Dixie #9349 (light blue x3) 100g balls
Memphis #9350 (medium blue x2)
Delta #9351 (dark blue x2)
Texas #9352 (blue grey x2)

The yarn is 60% cotton, 40% acrylic in 100g balls of 210m/230 yards. It's machine washable - I put this blanket on a hand wash cycle and it came out perfectly. There was no running of the colours which was very good as there are three darker shades combined with a lighter one. 

The recommended needle size is 5mm. However, for this blanket I wanted to have a stretchy and looser texture so went for slightly larger needle size of 5.5mm.


Image courtesy of Stylecraft

Initially the stripes were going to be completely small and random in colour. But after starting with lots of narrow bands I was keen to make faster progress, so opted for some wider stripes. The wider ones are worked towards the centre of the blanket. At the middle band the stripes then repeat, decreasing in the same colour/size as for the first half. Below are some basic instructions for making a similar blanket.








To make a similar Jeanie Coastal Blanket


Cast on 165 stitches in grey on 5.5mm circular needles (I used circulars to accommodate the large number of stitches). The sides have a band of 5 stitches worked continually in knit stitch back and front. To start and finish the blanket there is a band of a few garter stitches to edge and prevent curling of the stocking stitch.





The main body of the blanket is mostly in stocking stitch with the exception of the "dotted grey lines". These line patterns are worked over three rows. 

Row 1: With the right side facing work a row of alternate one stitch grey and one stitch of the working colour. 

Row 2: Wrong side, work a row of knit stitches in grey (they will appear as a row of purl stitches on the right side).

Row 3: With right side facing work a row of alternate one stitch grey and one stitch new colour.

Continue in new colour in stocking stitch. Work until required depth of stripe is achieved. 




The finished size of the blanket is 98cm (38ins) x 126cm (50ins).


I really enjoyed working with this yarn and love the smooth feel of the cotton. Perfect for a cosy wrap on typical British, cool, wet and windy summer days.