July knitting in the cold and wet -where am I?

I’m posting from the capital town of Saaremaa island, part of Estonia. I’ve been at the Nordic Knitting Symposium and plan to go to Estonian Craft Camp on Sunday.

Links here:

https://sisu.ut.ee/knitting2018/avaleht

https://www.kultuur.ut.ee/en/craft-camp

The knitting symposium was intense with workshops all day and three lectures every evening about Estonian, Latvian and Russian knitting. There were workshops on knitting from all the Baltic countries And north west Russia, which  for me was one of the highlights. It was an opportunity to meet knitters from Russia, whose workshops I took.

The knitting they showed is larger gauge than that done in Estonia, using  on 2.5mm needles with a light double knitting type wool. The patterns are from an ethnic group called the Komi, which were new to me, but they have been documented in an English language book by Charlotte Schurch, Mostly Mittens: Ethnic Knitting Designs From Russia.

One of the teachers was Zlata Ushakova, here on the left. She hand and machine knits, selling her products by travelling to Moscow by ferry and overnight train from her home in Arkhangelsk.

This is what I made, which is described as a holder for small things; it’s actually a mitten without a thumb and a cord attached, but quite ingenious.

My final project was a small wristband using another Komi pattern; we had the choice of three, a fish, arunning dog or a seagull. Mine is the running dog, in case you can’t tell.

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I also went to the machine knitting workshop which was a challenge. (Hand knitters look away now). The teacher had designed a project for a single bed machine including many techniques – a picot hem, a complicated buttonhole, a pocket, some punch card patterning, increasing and decreasing, and finished off with short rows. It was fun following the instructions and as there were only 4 of us in the class, two beginners and two experienced machine knitters we were all able to get finished.

 

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I finished the pouch with buttons cut from a jacket found in a second hand shop in Viljandi bought for .25 euro. After taking off the buttons, the jacket stayed in the shop! The pouch was then washed and dried and pressed in my hotel room. I think it’s the first time I have asked for the iron and ironing board in a hotel.

At the end of the event we were all given a sheet of A3 paper on which to arrange our productions and the final show was an impressive display of hand work.

For me, the lectures were the most interesting and useful part of the symposium, and they added to my knitting knowledge, especially that of Russian knitting. Of course the chance to meet up with old knitting friends and make new ones was perhaps the greatest pleasure and benefit of attending.

It was also interesting to look around the Department of Native Crafts, located in a former bakery in Viljandi, with impressive workshop spaces for textiles and wood and metal work. It made me wonder if such a thing might ever be possible in a UK context.

So, onwards and upwards to Craft Camp. I’m being really brave about missing the heatwave in the UK.

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April newsletter

April newsletter… or should it be March? But it’s not an April Fool anyway as it’s far too late.

Lots of exciting things happened during March.

I went to a fashion show at the V& A museum ….

I finished a pair of very intricate gloves …

I designed and planned a set of four new gloves to be hand knitted

I am knitting a baby jacket

So you can see that life for the glove knitter has been busy again this month.

The John Alexander Skelton show
This was in the Raphael Gallery in March. He was invited to take part in a series of fashion shows held at the V & A over the years called Fashion in Motion:
https://www.vam.ac.uk/collections/fashion-in-motion

This is the link about his show:
https://www.vam.ac.uk/articles/fashion-in-motion-john-alexander-skelton

John found my hand knitted gloves on this blog, particularly the Yorkshire ones here:

https://knittinggloves.wordpress.com/wp-admin/post.php?post=664&action=edit

I worked with him last year to design and knit 2 pairs of hand knitted gloves which were in his show.
This season I made 20 pairs of hand warmers on the knitting machine and these are the ones being worn in the show this March. I’ve also got some orders for making more!

The March show had the men wearing the clothes coming into the gallery space led by a singer, who was Vivien Ellis.

Here’s some pics of the show.

The gloves I finished

These are for my friend Jenny and they take their patterns from a vintage pair that I saw in a picture in Text magazine. I have taken almost a year knitting 2 pairs which is just TOO long. Without a firm deadline I tend to drag my feet on any project.

They have been washed but not pressed.

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The next set
I’m planning an designing a set of at least 4 gloves that will be made for friends as I have done in the past. But this time, instead of letting them choose colours I am specifying the colours and patterns and the person they are for will be able to add their initials and a date. I’ll also knit each pair to size for each person by drawing round each hand.

I’ve been wanting to design a set of gloves for a while and for this set I’ve returned to my favourite source of images from nature – I’m working from a set of pictures taken in Wales and California of the beach and trees so the underlying theme is nature.
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I decided I wanted to use the best quality wool I have in my stash as I need up having to use some rather stringy British wool 3 play to complete the last pair. I have been given some Jaeger 3ply Botany wool and some Marion Foale pure wool 3 plays along with Regia 3 ply in my stash. So I have a very lovely palette of wools to design with. I have been posting some of the images from my sketch book on Instagram and they are here.

So the plan is to aim to knit a pair each month to have these complete for the autumn.

The baby jacket – my first top down garment
A friend’s daughter is having a a baby in the summer and as I knitted an Elizabeth Zimmerman Baby Surprise Jacket for her sister, I thought I’d do one for her baby too. However, the baby is due in the summer so I wanted to make a second size, which I don’t have the instructions for in BSJ. So I found a very nice free pattern on Ravelry, via a Tweet actually from Louise Tillbrook who’s pattern it is – Fuss Free Baby Jacket. Yes I know I should be designing it myself but if that happened the baby would be at school before it had anything hand knitted

March newsletter

Hello again!

I could say this newsletter is late because of the snow … which actually wouldn’t be true at all as the snow has not held me up! It has stopped me making a trip to the very west of Wales where I have a caravan overlooking St David’s Head but that’s all now put back a week so I’ve had more time at home not less.

So what’s being going on knitting wise?

I’m machine knitting at the moment. This is a fine 3ply wool sweater for my partner, Gordon, to wear under his McNair walking shirt, a Christmas present from me.

The McNair shirt is made in Slaithwaite, a village near Huddersfield where we live, and is a great example of local small scale production. You can read all about it here, on their rather slick web site.   The shirts are not cheap and raise all the questions about how much we are prepared to pay for our clothes, showing it is that global capitalism has made mass production of so many goods so cheap that we can treat them as disposable blah blah … I’m sure most of you are familiar with the arguments on this. Anyway, it was a lot of money, like anything made in the UK that pays the maker anything more than living wage.

Gordon had been wearing an old cashmere jumper of my father’s under it. This goes back to when I worked in the knitwear industry and sometimes visited factories that would have garments on offer, so this is a beautiful garment, classic bottle green etc but with a moth hole right in the middle of the front, probably where some food or drink’s been spilled down it. No amount of mending, visible or invisible, is going to restore it to its former glory, but as an underlayer it’s perfect. However, a change is needed from time to time even if all these wool garments do hardly ever need to be washed, hence the call to action.

I suggested buying a merino base layer but when I admitted that I have some 3 ply pure machine washable wool on cone, a rare beast indeed, an order was placed. So it’s almost there, not quite enough for a photo though. I love machine knitting but as a process it’s not very photogenic, (unlike say hand spinning) which is a shame so here’s some not very attractive pics: (I don’t think machine knitting is meant for blogs or Instagram).

This is the start – the tension swatch, the working out and notes including the special green ruler for reading off stitch and row gauge. And while I was working out the shape of the garment, I had to search for a sleeve top shape and sound everything I needed on the Knitting & Crochet Guild web site here under the heading ‘Finding out more about designing’. It’s a mine of information and highly recommended although it’s not what I’d term designing, more pattern drafting.

Here’s some pics of the work in progress:

The blue is the garment and the yellow and green are waste yarn, used a lot on the machine.

Machine knitting is a great way of producing good quality garments quickly, or it can be combined with hand knitting or crochet to make items like blankets such as this one, featured some while ago. The central panels are machine knitted on my chunky machine and the deep border is double crochet. The yarn is all my own indigo dyeing, some over natural greys and dark greys. Design inspiration Amish and Welsh quilts by the way.

I’m also carrying on with hand knitting gloves for my friend Jenny a process not without upset as I had to undo about 3 hours of work when I realised that the yarn I was using was just not the right thickness. I do my utmost to use only stash yarn for these gloves and I’d run out of the perfect vintage pure wool 3 ply in the exact right shade of red, so I put in a heavier red which didn’t work. It’s on the white background, 2 pics, below. I then found a very thin pure wool on cone, and have continued with that. All is ok and progress is again being made.

And I’m also thinking about exhibitions, workshops and a lot of travel …. and hosting Beth Brown-Reinsel at the end of the month – thanks for the heads up Beth in her recent newsletter.

and wondering what I can do with this gorgeous yarn, a present from someone who knows I like to knit with 3 ply pure wool, (and there’s none better than Marion Foale’s) here:

 

I almost forgot to say that I have finished one or two of my many half finished projects …  a couple of Estonian wristwarmers.

December newsletter

 

Only a bit late this month!
I’ve been far too busy this month machine knitting. I’ve been knitting a batch of hand warmers for John Alexander Skelton ready for his next show early in the New Year. Keen readers of this blog (!) will remember that a couple of pairs of gloves knitted by me and my daughter were part of his last collection. I blogged about these earlier this year: https://wp.me/p2ctxi-Og

There are images of the show here – do go and look – you won’t see anything like it.

https://www.wallpaper.com/fashion/john-alexander-skelton-shelley-inspired-collection-is-poetry-in-motion

This time though, we agreed that I would machine knit which then meant that I could produce more, so I have done. Suddenly batch knitting felt like being back in the 1980s when I had a small business producing garments on the machine. When you have to do the same thing repeatedly – 40 thumbs and 64 fingers – for example, you find ways to refine and speed up the process along the way. Anyway, these samples were hand related so not big pieces and very enjoyable to do, although it has to be said that yoga was essential  last night to straighten out my poor old back and neck. The big plus of all this activity was that I have caught up on my Radio 4 listening.

I have been supporting Knit for Peace in the UK for a while now but I subscribe to Beth Brown-Reinsel’s newsletter here: and this post caught my eye. 

The Project Peace is an initiative that Beth mentions, organised by Christina Campbell, who has Knit Along with a pattern available on Ravelry

https://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/project-peace-2017

and a blog at TheHealthyKnitter where she shares ideas for doing peaceful things

So I will leave you with this inspirational project. We have to do what we can in these troubled times. I joined the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament yesterday as a non knitting way of peace promotion, although I’m more than slightly embarrassed to admit that I haven’t been a member for years.

Seasons greetings and have fun over the festive season, and a peaceful and enjoyable New Year.