Estonia wristlet finished

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The first of the Estonian craft camp projects is finished although I think it is destined to be a singleton. It needs a hot press which I can’t do as I’m at our caravan and we don’t have an iron, caravanning not tending to need the sort of clothes that need ironing.
This was hard to knit with 1.5mm dpns in a set of five and quite dense wool. But I learnt some new techniques and I might use these in future designs.

More on Estonian Craft Camp

Well, after the first two days we had a day out. I had chosen to go to Parnu, a town on the Baltic coast. It was about an hour or so on a coach through quiet roads and lovely agricultural countryside. We were taken round the local museum and then went to look at crafts in the local shops. The weather was windy and not too warm so I headed off to the beach as I hadn’t seen the Baltic. Also, the museum had pictures of the beaches from the days when Parnu was a resort used by the Soviet authorities for the workers to have holidays. When Indira Ghandi visited Parnu, which must have been before 1984 when she was assasinated,  a wooden elephant was put in the sea, which is still there. It also doubles as a slide. It’s almost life size and looks bizarre and so smart that it must be renewed and repainted. Here it is in the unseasonably choppy waves:

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I also bought some gloves in the local Modern Art Museum. They are beautifully knitted and very fine but I haven’t taken any pictures yet.

Back at Craft Camp we had two more days of workshops. I did a day of bone work, in which I made four bone needles and a second day of knitting in which we learnt about blue and white mittens and gloves, and started a pair of them. Here’s the bone needles, of which I am very pleased. It’s an example of it being easier to learn to do something that you know nothing about as the steep learning curve is always very satisfying.

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Estonian craft camp

Estonian Craft Camp

I’m (was) writing this from Craft Camp, in the south of Estonia. I found out about it by accident, probably on the internet, and decided that I had to come as there are workshops about Estonian gloves although there are workshops on craft other than textile ones too, such as silver smithing and making from birch bark. My choices for the week are

Muhu wristlets (knitting)

Nalebinding

Making things from bone

Blue and white glove knitting

So far, I’ve been to two of the workshops, every one is a day, split into a morning and afternoon session.

I expected to know what I was doing in the wristlets workshop, given that I knit gloves almost all the time, but this was not the case. It’s actually harder doing a workshop that you know something about than one in which you are totally ignorant I think, as when you know something about it, you want to do things the way that you usually do. You also have an expectation that you will be able to do it. I had one of those ‘feel about 6 years old’ moments when we were shown a twisted cast on, and I could not do it. Then it was hot and my hands got sweaty, the knitting got tighter and moister etc …. It was a bit like ritual knitting humiliation in public.

 

The materials for the Muhu mitts

The materials for the Muhu mitts

The start of the Muhu mitts

The start of the Muhu mitts

But you can see how attractive the material looked laid out for each of us in the class, and I did get going eventually. I’d forgotten that I’m not very good on 5 dpns, I prefer three, as I find them more stable, but as you can see the knitting is on four and you knit with the 5th. The needles are Prym, 1.5 mm and the yarn is Estonian, and like a light Shetland, quite woolly, so hard work to knit on the fine needles.The pattern has a braided cast on and braided ridges which make the yarn twist yo really badly, another hazard! But I have progressed since this picture was taken so I’ll post a picture when they are finished. If ever.

 

The following day I chose the nalebinding, the technique that prefigured knitting and that can appear to be the same structure. That turned out to be difficult too, time consuming and hard to control. I produced very little in the way of anything recognisable: here is a little of it:

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However, this was a good learning experience again, as it’s useful to be on the receiving end of instructions if you are more used to giving them.

More later about the other workshops.

Long train journey

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These pics taken on my phone with knitting on pull down table. Large expanse of pale green is my legs in cycling trousers (Patagonia, used to be too tight but not any more)

Onto the fingers of Jan’s gloves and on very long train ride which is an ideal opportunity for uninterrupted knitting. Pleased with these mostly but I can’t iron out the little ridge that goes up the fingers where the two circulars meet. I’m going on to the thumbs next as I don’t think I have quite enough of the beige wool for all of them. If that is the case I will maybe do the little fingers and then use another, very similar yarn for the two remaining ones.
I think there could be more posts coming in the next few days as I am hoping to finish these soon.

Why I love volunteering in the KCG collection

From the collections

One of the best things about volunteering in the collection of the Knitting & Crochet Guild is the opportunity to see the pieces close up. As we sort them out, the ones that are really in need of a wash, which is in fact, most of them, come home with us volunteers to be given the treatment.

This week I brought home these:

A full length crochet evening dress, pink synthetic

A knit and crochet jumper with the front and back in small granny squares

A hand knitted colour and texture jumper – very home made

A crochet curtain in a vine and grapes pattern

And last but not least, a crochet apron (yes really).

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Here they are, draped artistically on my garden seat, after being taken off the washing line

So, with a nod to the Orange Swan, author of one of my favourite blogs ‘The Knitting Needle and the Damage done’, let’s have a look at these.

The pink dress is notable for several reasons – it’s beautifully made and has been worn, perhaps for a special occasion as it is floor length (one of several in the collection). I think it’s from the late 60s or early 70s but could be wrong on that. There is a lot of work in it, especially when compared to many current projects. This piece is from a time when crochet was high fashion, and you could have a piece of that fashion by making it yourself. The yarn is a light synthetic which has a rayon-y look to it, but I’m not sure exactly what it is. The armhole trims have been finished in another lighter colour yarn, turned under,  and the index card for the piece says that the maker ran out of yarn before quite finishing the dress. It has a zip up the centre back, nicely put in.

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The pink dress, looking refreshed

We have a box for items that are made from both knit and crochet and that is where this next piece will go on its return to Lee Mills. I think it’s a work of art. The front and back are standard ‘granny’ squares, in probably 4 ply wool or perhaps a light DK, but then they’ve been turned into a jumper by being knitted into and given sleeves, a neck and trim. The skill with which this has been done can be seen, I hope in this picture of the neck edge where the edges of the crochet have been picked up and knitted, with sharp decreases and I think, increases making the knitting lie flat.

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Neck detail from the knit and crochet jumper

The next garment is also a jumper – this time in colour and texture combined, similar to the Bohus garments. It’s in wool, perhaps left overs, and it’s been well worn. It’s not a perfect piece of knitting by any means but it has a life and character about it which make it very special I think. Here’s a close up of the front – the sleeves are plain fawn knitting.

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Fabric detail from the ‘Bohus’ style jumper

And then there’s two more pieces of crochet, a hostess apron and a curtain. The apron is one of several that we have in the collection. They seem to have been popular in the 1950s, when housewives were being told that their place was in the home (post war, men returning, needed their jobs back etc ). As the theme for the Knitting&Crochet Guild shows is ‘Afternoon Tea’ this year, we have an excuse to get these out, along with tea cosies, tea dresses, tableclothes, doilies, sugar basin covers and all sorts of things.

The hostess apron, with handy pocket:

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You’d wear this over your best dress if you had friends for tea

However, the last piece, a curtain/hanging (?) references not tea, but wine, with its crochet vine leaves and crochet grapes. It is possibly Italian and meant to go in a doorway where it could be seen to advantage. In the mean time, here’s a close up:

P1000910Life size vine leaves and grapes in cream cotton

Next time I have a batch of exciting and precious washing I’ll try to remember to take some pictures and show you more from the KCG Collection.

New Duke pattern being knitted

I’ve been working on an exhibition about Sanquhar gloves (will tell more when it’s further on) and realised that I have only knitted one pair of Duke gloves. I wanted to explore the construction further and test the various written instructions about a year ago and got them all together:

The People’s Friend version (2, The Scottish Knitting Book and the Sanquhar Knitting book) from the mid 1950s

The Patons & Baldwins version, again from the mid 50s

and the SWRI version, I think from the 60s.

Then there’s the charted one from a Japanese web site.

They are all slightly different from each other – for instance the P & B pattern specifies 2 ply wool while the others say 3 ply and some have the thumb set at the start of the round (P & B) while some (People’s Friend) have it in the middle.

Here’s what I’ve done so far: and it’s only going to be one glove!

P1000885The pattern is a copy of the one that I have had in my personal collection for many years but we also have it in the collection of the KCG.

Patons & Baldwins Duke glove

Patons & Baldwins Duke glove

It’s coming out very small – vintage 2 ply pure wool and 1.5mm (old 15/16uk needles) mean that it is barely adult size. Were people’s hands smaller 50 years ago?

Knitting gloves re-organised, update

To all my readers! I know you’re out there ‘cos sometimes I meet you and sometimes you send me messages!

I have spent this weekend, yes almost all of it, shuffling the blog posts around. The task is not quite complete yet but I didn’t have a message on the home page so I thought that I should explain.

The pages are now in groups, the titles of which are across the front page. Roll over these and you will see the names of the pages in that group. Under About there are the more general pages such as:

Design: here you will find all the design related posts (unsurprisingly)

Process: blog posts about materials, thinking about making

Knitting & Crochet Guild: usually news from the KCG Collection, where I volunteer

Events: exhibitions, visits to collections and so on

Let me know your thoughts.

Thanks to those who’ve ‘liked’ it already!