Knit for Peace

I’ve been experimenting with knitting gloves or mittens to send to an amazing organisation called Knit for Peace. Based in London they both bring people together to knit and understand each other better, but also collect garments and other things that are then sent out to people in need of them, in Syria, mainly.

So as a break from knitting fine gloves, I decided to make some simpler gloves and mittens for Knit for Peace, with the aim of designing a pattern for them; more on that later.  This I saw as an opportunity to explore some different structures for covering the hands, with a view to perhaps using them in my own designs, so not entirely philanthropic in aim! I started with their own patterns for hand warmers which are a garter stitch square that has a gap in the side seam for the thumb. Very straight forward.

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Waiting to be sewn up

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Ready to wear

These are knitted in 2 strands of vintage pure wool Jaeger 4ply which should be nice and warm, and which came from the Knitting & Crochet Guild Convention stash swap. I’ve got another pair on the needles and it’s great to have something straightforward to knit as a change from complicated gloves!

So far I have also knitted 2 mittens from Elizabeth Zimmermann, the 36 stitch pattern from Knitters Almanac, and the garter stitch mitts from Knitting Around. These are in the same vintage pure wool as the hand warmers. You can see these below, and although the 36 stitch mitts look rather long and thin they are actually fine once they are on a hand – like mine!

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EZ 36 stitch mitts

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EZ sideways garter stitch mitts

The sideways garter stitch mitts are interesting to knit, and cunningly constructed but I don’t think they are one of EZ’s most inspired creations – however, I’m still glad that I tried them.

I offered to write a pattern for mittens and perhaps gloves for Knit for Peace and apparently most of their contributors like to knit on 2 needles from patterns that they provide, not Ravelry or the internet. So, I started knitting some mittens on two needles, and I’m almost there with the pattern having realised that you have to knit the thumb before progressing up the hand. I struggled with this, having knitted a whole mitten and gone back to the thumb in the round with a pair of straight pins. It didn’t work. I then had to find a pattern for mittens on two needles, which is not as easy as you might think, to see how it’s done. I found a Canadian booklet for gloves and mitts which explained the process, so now I can progress with my pattern.

So that’s all for now about Knit for Peace, but I plan to be writing more soon.

Workshops

Birmingham Saturday October 15th and Sunday October 16th I will be teaching two workshops:

Saturday is the Birmingham branch of the Knitting & Crochet Guild meeting and the subject is lace. There will be a show and tell of lace garments and samplers from the KCG Collection followed by a hands on workshop of lace knitting, using a sampler from the collection as inspiration. Participants can make their own selection of yarn and needles with a view to knitting samples or a scarf.

Yellow lace sampler

Sunday is an independent workshop on glove knitting. Participants will have the opportunity to learn and practice the techniques used in knitting two colour gloves and will need to bring 2 colours of plain smooth yarn in 4 ply or DK and double pointed or circular needles in appropriate sizes.

Sanquhar glove

There are a few places available on both. Cost for the lace workshop is £12.50 and the cost of the glove workshop is £20.

Both take place in the Community Room of the John Lewis store in central Birmingham.

Contact me via this blog if you would like to reserve a place.

Estonian glove workshop: 16th June 2016

 

Thursday 16th June – Estonian gloves workshop.

(Huddersfield branch of the Knitting & Crochet Guild)

 

I went to Estonian Craft Camp last year and am going again this year in July. The web site is here if you want to find out more:

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

Other crafts than knitting are also covered and I did nalbinding (pre-knitting constructed textile) and making bone needles last year. I did blog about them in July 2015:

This workshop is just to give a taster of how to go about knitting wristlets, gloves or mittens in the Estonian style. You are going to knit a sample piece to try out three techniques and then from there you will be able to design and knit your own.

 

These are some resources for finding out more about Estonian knitting:

Books:

Estonian Knitting by Nancy Bush

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Folk-Knitting-Estonia-Symbolism-Tradition/dp/1883010438/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1466009987&sr=1-2&keywords=estonian+knitting

 

Ornamented journey by Kristi Joeste

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Ornamented-Journey-Kristiina-Kristi-Joeste/dp/B007ST3FZI/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1466009949&sr=1-1&keywords=ornamented+journey

 

YouTube has some useful resources: a book review:

Estonian Knitting 1. Reviewed here by Felicity Ford (Knitsonik)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3UNoNisCCV0

Estonian Cast on by Nancy Bush

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Frc5_9AIVy0

 

The materials for the Muhu wristlets: note set of 5 1.5 mm double pointed pins and pure wool 3ply

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Getting started on 4 pins

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A completed wristlet – not mine

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Knitting & Crochet Guild

Huddersfield branch, 16th June 2016

 

A taster of Estonian knitting for the workshop

 

N.B. Bare bones instructions

 

Use a set of 4 or 5 needles – and cast on 36 stitches using one of the Estonian methods

(any long tailed cast on will do, or a chain cast on)

Knit one round in purl and one in knit

 

Purl stitch with braid

Take a short (80cms approx?) length of contrast yarn and knit in with main colour on first stitch. Purl every stitch using the two yarns alternately, wrapping one over the other as you go. A two colour braid will form.

This can be done with one colour, but it’s easier with two to keep track of the yarns. Hot tip: unwind the yarns by letting the knitting spin around, not the yarns.

 

Knit 2 – 3 rounds main colour.

 

Two colour border with lace holes

First round: Knit 4 contrast, 2 main all round

Second round: YO K2tog all round

 

Carry on knitting

This would be a good time to try some small two colour patterns – little squares or just alternate stitches in the contrast colour to get used to knitting with two colours, one in each hand.

 

Estonian/peasant/after thought thumb:

Knit a few stitches, then knit say, 4 or 6 sts with your contrast yarn, replace these on the left needle, and continue to knit in the main yarn. When you are further up the knitting the contrast sts can be taken out and picked up for a thumb.

Use this as an opportunity to design your own wristlet or mitten – you will need more stitches of course. The amounts of yarn needed are very small.

 

Top edge of traditional wristlet is finished with a crochet picot edge – suggest this could be used on the cast on also, if this is a little ragged?

 

Some gloves that were shown in the workshop at Craft Camp, and in other sessions

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The above gloves are all typical Muhu island gloves

The white/cream and colours are from another area, Ruhnu

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A couple of pairs designed and knitted by Nancy Bush for Estonian friends are shown as part of an online exhibition here: scroll across until they appear), or here they are:

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A major project finished!

I’ve been working on this crochet blanket for, probably, 10 years, perhaps more. It was supposed to be my ‘easy’ project, that I could do when talking to friends or in front of the tele. It was also started with the intention of using a large bag of wool, mostly left over from my Masters course in the mid 80s, and a batch of indigo dyed wool. This wool was in hanks, very overspun, grey, originally from Craftsman’s Mark, a yarn firm that some of you may remember, which was owned and run by Morfudd Roberts. This I indigo dyed to various shades of dark blue.

The idea behind this blanket was to be quite improvised looking. I was freed from being too neat with crochet by the book, Louisa Calder’s Creative Crochet in which she shows visible joins in colours and other irregularities. Some of the reviews on the Amazon page are interesting – some people ‘get it’ and some don’t.

 

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Anyway, the whole project has been a design challenge as the quantities of yarn seem to have altered – more indigo dyed wool to use, then less, then more on one side than the other, then the whole thing getting far too big and so on. It started as a series of pieces and then got added to with strips being crocheted for the sides, and so on.

I am pleased with it though, although I think the wools used for the final edgings are too new and bright, but I’m hoping that I’ll stop noticing this in time.

The final round was going to be done in crab stitch, which I like to use as a finished edge, but I had a brain wave and decided to use a purple wool boucle for the last round. I think I must have dyed this too, as there’s quite a lot of it and it’s pure wool, not easily obtained now. It completes the piece. Here it is:

Crochet blanket

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I’m pleased with this – it looks like I intended it to look, by and large.

I now have a large bag of hand spun yarns left from my mother -what am I going to make with them?

A beautiful garment

Happy New Year!

I have many resolutions for 2016, one of them being to extol the virtues of machine knitting wherever possible. Over the New Year an old friend of mine appeared wearing a very lovely dark navy blue sweater with a roll neck. It was beautifully made and proportioned, and machine knitted in fine dense pure wool. It was perfect for the occasion where we were part of a group of friends staying high in the Lake District at Honister Hause Youth Hostel. We were at 1100 feet and not that far below the snow line so good functional warm clothes were essential even inside, especially when we first arrived.

Earlier today I had the chance to look at this garment in detail and find out where it had come from. In the past, I have knitted garments for him and also given him small knitted gifts like the small throw that I blogged about some while ago (I had trouble finding it, might reorganise in the next few days) and he is also the recipient of a pair of my hand knitted gloves. In short, I am confident that he has good taste in knitwear. I was curious about this latest model but he does sail and so I knew that he would know places to buy proper gear. It turned out that he just did a ‘heavy duty google’ for fisherman’s jumpers and this was what appeared.

I had a good look at it this morning and took some pictures of the fabric and the structure and also the label. It is made by a Danish firm that I have not come across before called SNS Herning. The web site shows their range of garments which is extensive for men, but rather limited for women. It is obvious from the site that they are pitching at a fashion market as well as to those who want functional clothing and the stockists in London are in key locations such as Redchurch Street, home to Labour and Wait, one of my favourite shops and Lambs Conduit Street, another place for great small shops.

The web site tells of the machines on which the garments are knitted and also a bit about the people who knit them and in many ways the set up is similar to that of small scale weavers such as Melin Tregwynt and Solva Woollen Mill, both in West Wales, who batch produce high quality goods using mechanised looms but hand finishing processes. Interestingly, the SNS Herning sweater label said that it was knitted in Denmark and made up in Latvia, presumably to keep costs down but it could also be to do with access to machinery or people with particuar skills.

So here’s the pictures I took:

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The rather wonderful retro back neck label

IMG_20160103_101044The sleeve and shoulder

 

 

Detail of hem finish

A rather dark shot of the hem

The fabric is constructed from a dense double jersey (the plain sections) interspersed with bands of a textured stitch, for you machine knitters a tuck stitch, which adds both elasticity and a textural interest. The garment is put together with a heavy overlock, often associated with cheaper quality knitwear but I was impressed by the superb quality of this manufacture which is really solid and immaculately done.

 

And check the label! The whole thing a great advert for machine produced knitwear.

Crochet (not about gloves or Xmas)

A while ago I bought two crochet blankets from a vintage shop in Huddersfield. They are both large, generous double bed size and nicely made. They were a lot of work for someone and are in a variety of mainly synthetic yarns, which does mean that they can go in the washing machine easily.  One is mainly red and the other mainly purple. I have had them in the house on the wall, the red one at the top of the stairs and the purple one on the landing where they looked pretty striking. They hang well on metal picture hooks one in every square onto the picture rail. However, they’ve made the journey to our caravan in the far west of Wales where they are now brightening up the rather beige sofas. Here they each are with a closer shot of the square too.

 

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Vintage crochet blankets

Interestingly, the red one has the squares set parallel with the sides but the purple one has the squares set on the diagonal so that the edges are serrated.

I’ve made several granny square blankets but over the last 10 years or so I’ve had a crochet blanket on the go in rows of double crochet (single in the States I think?). The idea was to use up a large bag of wool yarns, mostly left over from my Knitwear Design Master’s course, which I completed in 1986. So the continued existence of this yarn was and is a testament to whatever mothproofing it has had, and to the fact that I rarely throw anything away (especially yarn).

This blanket was supposed to be my ‘easy’ making – that I could do when chatting to friends or perhaps in the car and so on. It started life in small sections, some of which were plain, and some striped and then got added to in a purposely random fashion with a strip down either side of plain blue indigo and so on.

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P1010324My work in (very long) progress

The design inspiration came from several sources, including a piece o West African Kente cloth that was brought back for me and a crochet blanket seen on the bed at a friend’s house when staying overnight. I really wanted the overall look to be lively with not too much neatness and order and I think that I have achieved that, although the individual stitches are properly formed. I took the time to sew the side strips onto the main central block while I was in West Wales last week, where the days seem longer, and now I’m ready to finish it off with an edging down the sides and then one last stripe of bright red all round.

If you’ve read this far, thank you and best wishes for a lovely festive season.

Gloves for Linda

I’ve been knitting these since the end of last month and they are coming on really well. So well that I haven’t had time to blog about them although I have put them on Ravelry.

The colours are a good contrast which makes them instantly easier than the previous pair, in which the greens and blues were so cloes I had to wait for daylight to be able to knit. I also didn’t have enough of any two colours and had to change several times which I usually don’t mind. However, on this pair, the changes didn’t seem to sit well with the design and it made me wonder about the wisdom of sticking to stash yarns when the amount of yarn in a pair is so little compared to the time spent knitting them. Add to that, that there are some wonderful yarns available such as Marion Foale’s 3 ply pure wool  which is shown on the web site.

Anyway, back to the current pair. Tried and tested Regia 3ply, a sock wool but totally suitable for gloves, and what is used and sold in Sanquhar, an endorsement I think, and knitted on 2.25mm circular needles. These are Knit Pro wooden ones, my preference over the metal Addi turbos, the tips of which I find too blunt for picking up stitches and correcting mistakes (always plenty of that going on). Perhaps I need the Addi lace, but I’m not spending any more on needles now, especially as I have several boxes of dpns lying unused.

The patterns on this pair are Faroese inspired using the same sketch book sources as the pair for Stan:

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The Faroes page in my sketchbook

I’m using some motifs almost directly, such as the large zig-zag but these patterns are interesting as they mostly use 5 stitch floats which is one more than I am generally used to using. Elizabeth Zimmerman generated her patterns with a maximum of a 4 stitch float. I catch in the middle of the 5 stitch float and like the tiny suggestion of texture that that can give to the fabric. These patterns are wonderfully easy to knit though, the zig-zag being various permutations of 3 and 5s and therefore quite easy to work.

Almost forget to put in some pics of the knitting:

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Up to the thumbs, palms facing up.