Tuesday, 31 August 2010

Patons: a story of handknitting

Patons: A Story of Handknitting

Name of Book: Patons: A story of Handknitting
Author: Michael Harvey
Any other info: 0862541174, Springwood Books, 1985

Comments: this is a joint history of Patons the company and knitting in general, looking at some histories and trends, particularly as it impacts the company. It was comissioned by the company so it does have a tendency to emphasise the role of Patons in the industry. Now under the umbrella of Coats Crafts (a merger that dates back to 1961 and was formerly Coats Patons Ltd.) which also includes Viyella; Tootal; William Briggs; Rowan and Jaeger; Regia; Gedifra; Prym and Anchor are some of the other titles falling under this umbrella group but much of this later mergers aren't part of this book, as they post-date this book.

The original companies of Baldwin and Patons had been going since the 1770's and built themselves up until they merged. Forming a worldwide group spinning wool and making items from it.

While written by an academic it is dependent on available research so it's short piece about Aran knitting is infected by the Kiewe virus the author also notes that "It is interesting to note that some authentic Aran ganseys have horizontal bands of pattern, but though there are many variations in complexity and stitch arrangement, traditional Aran design has a unique and distinct flavour."p 110

Chapter 11 on knitting around the coastline and traditional knitted garments was an interesting read. The photographs are also interesting.

The postscript also makes for interesting reading. Writing at a time knitting was somewhat on the wane, when there were still people knitting as a way of saving, rather than today where pre-made goods are cheaper than hand-knitting and it's more a hobby than a necessity. In a pre-internet world he talks about using Teletext to transmit patterns and how it's an unexplored territory with potential. He also talks about television and knitting, something that is only really being re-explored in the US. His identification of Women's magazines as a staple of knitting pattern highlighting is no longer as valid as it was though recent flurries in the Letters Pages of the Irish-based Women's Way about the removal of the Knitting pages shows how essential it is to some people.

He also talks about how well entrenched the woolshop had become, something that over the next decade or so waned and how mail order was important, something that the internet also changed greatly.

He also states "Moving on to the social aspect, knitting equipment can be carried in a small bag and knitting can take place anywhere with little inconvenience - knitting is mobile. It is socially acceptable to do almost anywhere in non-formal, and even in some formal, gatherings. People can chat and knit, listen and knit, and travel and knit. Women's organisations give an impetus to knitting. People will knit for charity, blankets for the deprived in developing countries, sponsored 'knit-ins' - the satisfaction in all this is great and at the same time others are being helped." (p144) Sometimes even as things change they stay the same.

He also says "Concerning psychological factors, knitting is said to have a therapeutic effect. It is soothing and can help one relax, assuming the knitter does not select too complicated a set of instructions to follow. Above all there is the need many have to create, and knitting is creative. Choice of design, colour selection, knitting the fabric and the final product are the creation of the knitter, which leads to a great satisfaction being obtained from the completed garment." You only need to look at some projects on Ravelry, or indeed on the Knitting Elizabeth project to see how different people play with the same concept and how most of them produce something with variations, no matter how subtle. The concept that knitting is creative needs more emphasis!

Overall it's an interesting read, a slice of history of knitting in the UK and actually well complimented by No Idle hands which has a deeper look at knitting from a US point of view.

Buy/Borrow: If you're interested in history, read this one, it's available second hand in places, I got the copy I read from Dun Laoghaire/Rathdown libraries, and I have a sneaking suspicion that it's the only copy I could find in Borrowbooks. A slice of the knitting world that's quite interesting but focused on one company/supplier rather than several.

Where found: Dun Laoghaire Rathdown should have got their copy back ages ago from me, I've been bold. It's going back now.

Monday, 30 August 2010

Knitting Guild

While reading Patons a story of Handknitting and being without internet at the moment I came across the fact that St Fiacre or St Fiachra was the patron saint of the Paris Guild of Knitters (though he appears to have been a bit of a mysoginist) and also came across Knitting Neels discussion on the topic and wondered again about it.

Any ideas?

Sunday, 29 August 2010

Oh my darlings, oh my darlings

Oh my darlings Clementine

Purple Clementine front and side

Newly finished socks, only took me a day over 2 weeks (started them the day of the last Fiber Fun Friday - i.e. two weeks ago- and finished them today). I did a good chunk of the work on them during both Fiber Fun Fridays that I attended. I did another chunk of them while role-playing this evening, though there was a fair amount of distraction during combat and some ripping happened.

Saturday, 21 August 2010

Betty's Tee

With some changes
Ravelry Link Interweave Knits Link


Taken from Interweave Knits Spring 2010, the Darkest yarn is from Jenners in Edinburgh, the two pink blocks were from a sale in This is Knit and the rest from The Yarn Room.

Base Blocks took all bar 2g of the 1st hank of yarn
Body Blocks took almost a full hank of yarn each (all bar 3.5g each approx.)

I filled in the back using the oats colourway up to the reverse stocking stitch portion on the shoulders k2tog or p2 depending on the patterning each end of the row. I tried a variant that was in an email from Interweave knits but it was too big. I did a rib edging along the neck that was 6 rows long with a mitered centre. I also used the oats colourway for the sleeve and bottom edging. If I was doing it again I would crochet along the edges instead of picking up and knitting one row before casting off.

I like how my variant shows the construction. I wore it to last weeks Fiber Fun Friday(1) and the wonderful Elven too a photo of me. Man my hair is a mess.

(1) can be seen here under Fridays

Friday, 20 August 2010

Podcasts - not all knitting content

All podcasts are divided into several portions.

First are those which have lapsed and are no longer available. Sometimes you get a lot of noise about these but these things happen, for a variety of reasons.

Second are those who are incompatable with my player, I have a Nokia N63 which is what I use, it enables me to subscribe to podcasts which is quite convenient and I can download the episodes using wireless and this is an excellent thing. Can't play on this? Sorry I'm not listening. Associated with this are podcasts that can only be accessed through the apple store, sorry, not going there. I could probably play around with several of these and import them through my computer but life is way too short!

Last are those that can be used with my player. These are the only podcasts I'm going to review. Some I've been able to play one or two episodes of and then nothing more, alas.

These podcasts can be divided into two. Knitting and non-knitting. Why yes, I listen to a few non-knitting podcasts.

They also divide down into podcasts that are under 30 minutes, 30 minutes to 1 hour, and then over 1 hour, this is something I don't see often enough in the information about the podcasts on my screen so I have done a spreadsheet that I've filled an average length in (why yes sometimes I get too organised!) The lengths are a bit random, based on a few episodes and this can vary widely

So now for the list - this was typed up about 3 weeks ago and some have changed since but I just wanted to get this up and done. I plan to do some review of some of the podcasts following an old, new and non-knitting format. For reference Knitting Podcast is quite useful for tracking current podcasts.

Current - Knitting

under 30 minutes

Caithness Craft Collective - 20 minutes
Cloudy with a chance of Fiber - 25 minutes
Here's to ewe - 15 minutes
It's a purl man - 24 minutes
Knit a Journey - 25 minutes
Knit Picks Podcast - 22 minutes
Knit Wit - 15 minutes
Knitters Wading Pool - 25 minutes
Ready Set Knit - 28 minutes
Sidders Knit - 20 minutes
Sweaters for Dragons - 15 minutes

30-59 minutes
Brass Needles
Belle of the Ball - 35 minutes
Cast On
Crafty Lit - 40 minutes
Fiber beat - 30 minutes
Doubleknit - 50 minutes
Electric Sheep - 35 minutes
Knit Cast - 35 minutes
Knit Obsession - 46 minutes
Knit Pod - 40 minutes
Knitting History
Knitting Rose - 35 minutes
Must Stash Yo - 53 minutes
Manic Purl - 35 minutes
Never Not Knitting - 38 minutes
She Knits - 30 minutes
Spin control - 30 minutes
Stash and Burn - 53 minutes
Sticks & Strings - 35 minutes
Savvy Girls - 53 Minutes
Sassy Pants Knitter - 30 minutes
Yarns from the Plain - 35 minutes
Yarnspinners tales - 35 minutes
Yarnthing - 35 minutes
Lixie Knits - 33 minutes

60 plus minutes
Avocado Knits - 60 minutes
Craft Culture - 60 minutes (note this is in stereo)
Crafternoon tea with Granny G - 120 minutes
Craft sanity - 75 minutes
Knit Misadventures - 70 minutes - varies
Stitch It - 73 minutes (appears to be an issue with the page at this time)

Current - Non-Knitting

under 30 minutes
Coopette - 6 minutes (gone on Haitus since July 2010)
A History of the world in 100 objects - 20 minutes
Celiac Disease - 10 minutes
Harmonias Early Music - 5 minutes
History of Rome - note some episodes loaded on my device out of sequence - 16 minutes
Savage Love - 25 minutes

30-59 minutes
Coverville - 50 minutes - music covers
A Way with Words - 50 minutes - words and wordplay
RTE Playback - 45 minutes - Weekly broadcast where get the funniest and most newsworthy, or newsquoted stuff in Ireland are replayed, a good intro to modern Ireland
Slice of Sci-Fi - varies - I don't recommend listening to this where you can't laugh, I often cry with laughter with this show, particularly as I'm a geek, also be aware that it's an adult show and occasionally you won't want kids to listen, unless you want to explain some stuff.

60 plus minutes
Renaissance Festival Podcast - 60 minutes - music heavy
Secret World Chronicle - 72 minutes - one of my favourite authors does a podcast novel
Signal - 60 minutes - Can't Stop the Signal (and if you understand that you'll know what it's about)
Billibub Baddings and the Case of the Singing Sword - a dwarf detective in 1920's US.
Babylon Podcast - you all knew I was a geek, right?
Metamor City Podcast - a series of stories set in a kinda fantasy world with some tech. I like.

Podfaded, loosely defined as over 150 days since the last episode. However there are still episodes available.

under 30 minutes

Justify your Pod - 10 minutes
Bean Knits and Spins
Gives Good Knit - 20 minutes
Just Linda Online - 15 minutes
Knit Science - 24 minutes
Knitting Time together - 25 minutes
Knitting at Night - 20 minutes
Medieval Podcast - only 5 episodes and they're about 15 minutes each
Pixie Purls - 20 minutes
Purl Diving - 11 minutes
Socks in the City - 27 minutes
Stephen Fry's Podgrams - 25 minutes
Stitch Stud - 26 minutes
Whiskers in a twisted stitch - 25 minutes
Y Knit - 27 minutes

30-59 minutes
Brown Eyed Mom - 35 minutes
Crafty Woman - 30 minutes
Film and Fiber - 30 minutes
Knitters Uncensored - 45 minutes
Knitty Noras Knitting Natter - 43 minutes
Miss Flip Knits - 52 minutes
Trueyarns - 32 minutes
Tor.com Geeksguide - 58 minutes - recent but cancellation announced
Tor dot stories - 50 minutes- recent but cancellation announced

60 plus minutes
High Fiber Diet - 70 minutes
Pointy Sticks - 75 minutes
RTE Lyric FM Best of - varies but about 90 minutes
Squeakys Stuff - 60 minutes


Math 4 Knitters has moved to a site I can't use but has a fair number of online episodes
Yarncraft has had a format change and I can't use the new format

Monday, 9 August 2010

No Idle Hands

BookDepository Link

Types of patterns: Not a pattern book

Experimental/Classical/Modern: A little dated from being published in 1988

This is an interesting read about knitting in America from colonial days to the present of the writer in 1988. The last chapter talking about the boom in the 80's was to be followed by bust and then the modern boom and the explosion of the interaction of Knitting and the Internet. It was also pretty interesting when she was talking about some of the fashions and changes and popularity of certain yarns and perceptions about knitting. Much of which you can map as happening at the moment and you can also see some of what was popular waning as it has before and probably will wax and wane again.

It does also dwell on knitting for war and knitting for peace. Some intersting ideas. There was also a mention of a "stitch and bitch" in the mid to late 20th Century! The dearth of knitting for men and the curiousity about male knitters is also addressed.

It looks at how some people knit out of a sense of obligaton, particularly during the war and then abandoned the practice once they could because it was a reminder of those times, and also because as an obligation it became something that when they could they abandoned it. Yes it would probably leave a non-knitter cold but as an example of what women did when they could it's a good one.

It's a social history of American knitting, it dwells on a lot of the social sides, the get-togethers and the feeling of fellowship that many people get from knitting. You only have to glance at Ravelry to see that social aspect of knitting, everything from religion to politics (sometimes a contentious issue and fraught with problems) to pattern searching to books - and thats just the forums. You can also see in it the ways in which people have changes and tweaked patterns more to their taste, a conversation that was harder before the internet.

It's a book that could do with a short update talking about the end of the 20th and the beginning of the 21st century knitting that's been written by people like me as I type. I'd also love to see a serious look at the history of knitting (and crochet) in Ireland, somewhat like this book. I saw a criticism of the book where it complains about how some of the jargon wasn't quite explained well enough (rather like the rumoured story about the woman investigated by the FBI for a coded document in her possession with k2p4k3 written on it, a joke guaranteed to seperate those who know something about knitting with those who know nothing), and yes, it does have some jargon and some of it can be a little unclear because of the change of styles and assumptions about some ideas and themes, but overall it's a very interesting read.

Buy/Borrow: Worth a read, probably worth even more a read if you're from the US, an interesting social history for Knitters.

Where found: Swansea Metropolitan University Library via Inter-Library Loan

Sunday, 8 August 2010

Knitting out of Africa

BookDepository Link Ravelry Link

Types of patterns: Garments

Number of Patterns: 16: Jumper (12) Cardigan (1); Tank top (3)

Split of patterns: Women's mostly but some of the styles would also suit men, the jumpers really have no shaping so careful colour use could make some of these male-friendly.

Size Range: 38-52" (96.5-132cm) (not for all garments)

Colour/Black & White: Colour with some black and white sketches

Schematics: Yes and often with a lot of detail

Target Audience: Intermediate to advanced.

How to knit guide: the regular Interweave hints with some detailed ideas for some of the more complicated applications like entrelac.

Experimental/Classical/Modern: Some a little experimental but mostly classical, stuff that could be make any age by careful colour use.

Comments: as usual she tends towards her own yarn used double.
The first jumper is Kuba, worked in the round in mitred garter-stitch panels it then has either two-tone or contrast stitches, it finishes with a filled in garter stitch piece that ends in a collar either foldover or zippered.
Zaire is somewhat the same but it's more colours and has aspects of log cabin squares, again with the same style collar.
Congo looks something like a woven fabric worked again in mitred garter stitch sections. ended with either standup or v-neck

African Domino - mitred cevrons in this use colour in an interesting way, has potential for use of left-overs.

Pullover - uses the back of the African Domino pattern and plays with it, with a chevron pattern so it's not straight lines, again has potential for use of left-overs or variegated yarns

Asante - two colour slip-stitch motifs make this interesting - though not me.

Sierra Leone takes the slip stitch pattern and add a chequerboard and colour. It's interesting but a bit busy for me

Mali is a pretty jumper with a two-colour coloured pattern that almost looks like a carpet, it's interesting and involves steeks (eek!)

Arrowheads is an interesting pattern also reflecting a carpet, while most photos show it in the yellow and red, I prefer the charcoal and white version

Zimbabwe is a strong pattern done in two colours with a zigzag stress to add variation, interesting look that could be good elsewhere

Nigeria is a band design pattern with more steaks. Zippered neck

Zig-Zag is a more restrained version of Zimbabwe, again in two colours, this is an interesting looking jumper.

Shoowa - another jumper with almost a maze or mosaic to the front almost looking like tiles. Also has slits along the front and back, bold and dramatic

Shoowa Vest is a tank top style top, not photographed on anyone. Uses some of the elements as the Shoowa jumper with a deeper bottom. I'm not sure about this one, I think I would like it as a waistcoat but it would be a fair amount of work to adapt it for that purpose.

The last two patterns are Giraffe and Zebra, a tuxedo style vest and a high-neck vest done in double knitting, the Giraffe wouldn't suit my body shape and the Zebra I'm just not sure about and I'm not sure if it's open front or not, the pattern is a little unclear.

Overall interesting, not my style, the styles are bold and interesting and have potential for use with some interesting colourwork and yarn play. A book to at least look at.

Buy/Borrow: If you like large-ish patterns and like colourwork and like blocky jumpers this is one for you, if your other half likes these too this might be a great book for you, borrow it first and pass it by him to see. Elements of the designs could also be used to play with plainer designs. This is not a book for beginners.

Where found: Fingal libraries via Borrowbooks

Japanese Inspired Knits

BookDepository Link Ravelry Link

Types of patterns: Women's clothing

Number of Patterns: 12 - Cardigan (5); Jumper (4); Top (1); Poncho (1); Coat (1)

Split of patterns: Women

Size Range:36"-54" (91.5-137cm)

Colour/Black & White: Colour with some black and white illustrations

Schematics: Yes, and notes if the schematics don't necessarily fully reflect finished garment

Target Audience: Intermediate to advanced. This book has colour work, lace, entrelac and modular work among others.

How to knit guide: Nope, guides to the more advanced stitches yes and some clarification of what terms mean.

Experimental/Classical/Modern: I think it's pretty classical stuff with roots in Japan

Comments: I find this an interesting collection, some of the designs are not really for me but several of them are quite interesting. There are 12 patterns taking a theme from the months of the year as the book progresses, also taking concepts from some of the Japanese traditions around certain months.

(All links below are to the Ravelry Page for the pattern)
January: Stone Garden Jacket - a side tied jacket with coloured tips to the cuffs and fronts and some colour to the tie. The moss stitch and honeycomb body is interesting. As common with a lot of Marianne Isager's work it's in fine yarn used double. I like this one.

February: Winter in Tokyo - Entrelac jumper with diagonal patterned sleeves and some bobbles to add variety to some of the lighter boxes, this is followed by a workshop on Entrelac, not a me design but interesting.

March: The Fan - interesting construction top with radiating fanlike front, elbow length sleeves, another one I like

April: Flower Buds - a cardigan with a shawl collar, ties and stripes that are broken up by being bobbles and a variety of colours.

May: The Carp - this one is my favourite piece and has potential for some interesting uses for a fine yarn, like sock yarn and possibly in a variety of colours. It's a short sleeved top. Slight shaping.

June: The Umbrella - an interesting poncho with intersting patterning on the top. I'm not sure about the entire pom-pom thing.

July: The Sun - Almost shadow knitting these are suns in either a large or small size depending on taste on a jumper that's an interesting effect but not for me. Could be a great use of a subtly variagated yarn.

August: Summer in Tokyo - fairisle cropped raglan jumper whose sleeves end just below the elbow, could be lengthened to taste, probably using more repeats in the first pattern or the body pattern depending on how much extra you would like. Not really for me.

September: Rice Fields - a zipped cardigan with panels at the end these create triangles with colour use. It's not really my kind of top but it's an interesting inspiration for colour use and shape play.

October: Indigo - the cover jacket, worked from the neck down this is a long flared jacket with three buttons on the top. It also has a wave-like pattern on the bottom. It's an interesting pattern but it's not something that my bodyshape would like.

November: Maple Leaves, knit either in stripes or in a solid colour this is a lace piece that gently flares with 3/4 length sleeves. It could be a great use of some fingering-weight yarn, possibly some yarn that's too good to use for socks! Could also be a good piece to use a variegated yarn to make the variegated yarn play a bit more with itself, like this project

December: Sake and Soba - a long-line jumper with cables and turtle-neck, a nice piece.

Overall I'm quite impressed with this book, there are a few pieces I'd like to knit (Maple Leaves, The Carp and Stone Garden Jacket with a possibility for the Fan) and a few that I could see getting inspiration from. She does go into detail about how to do any vaguely complicated technique. These are pieces to stretch your wings with. Pieces that made me think. She also has a lot of photographs and detail shots which is very useful.

There would appear to be extra patterns in the German version of the book that aren't included in the English.

Buy/Borrow: Another one to borrow and see if it inspires, I'd be inclined to add it to my collection, almost more for inspiration and ideas than actual patterns, though a few of the patterns are calling to me!

Where found: Wicklow County Libraries via Borrowbooks.

Thursday, 5 August 2010

Newish Finished Object

I finally got around to actually taking the photograph off my camera and now I'm posting about it!

So the lovely Debbie (my other sister-in-law) gave me a voucher for my birthday and I decided to knit Siesta Source(1) by Cork Based Carol Feller but I felt I needed to make some changes (apart from the incidental turning the pattern updside down and getting the decreases along the body the wrong way around, but consistently the wrong way around!)

Sierra top

I lengthened the body overall splitting it after the last set of increases and also added some extra to the sleeves with the cable along the edge of the sleeves and the edge of the split. I started when I was doing the last set of increases by doing two rows of p1 either side of the side markers and then p2, then k1p2, k2p2, k3p2, k4p2 and then splitting into two and doing the same cable as in the neck. When I got to a length I was happy with I then cast off using a loose cast off. The sleeves I knit 7 rows (could have possibly knit 9-10 actually as I was left with 6g of yarn at the end and there was about 1g per round) and then cast on 6 stitches and repeated the cable edging, p2 tog at the end of every second row and then sl1 k1 p4 every return row. I'm very happy with it.

(1) I had some problems printing on A4 with it, I ended up having to print in landscape to get all the details, I think the website is formatted for US Letter.

Wednesday, 4 August 2010

Book wishlists

I have a number of wishlists, which I'm going to put on the sidebar eventually but in the interests of getting some feedback about some of the books on it I'm creating this post. Yes, if you're feeling really generous I wouldn't say no to you buying me books, however this is more in a "Have you read this and what do you think of it" fishing expedition. There are a few I've actually handled and seen and would like a copy for myself, thank you, but some are sight unseen and I'm kinda curious.

Yes, I have too many books I want to buy and yes they're categorised into sections so I can decide to buy a few fiction and a few non-fiction and I do try to shop from the end.

Amazon.com Craft List
Amazon.com Non-fiction OOP and To be Published List
Amazon.com mixed top of the pile list aka those books and things I'd like to have NOW!

Amazon.co.uk Craft List
Amazon.co.uk Non-fiction OOP and To be Published List
Amazon.co.uk mixed top of the pile list aka those books and things I'd like to have NOW!

Book Depository List

Tuesday, 3 August 2010

Kilt Hose and Knickerbocker Stockings

Amazon.com link
Ravelry Link Book Depository Link

Any other info: 1980, Rannock Press is the edition I looked at, the available editions are later and it appears they have more information about the collector, Veronica Gainford

Types of patterns: Kilt hose and Knickerbocker stockings - socks, socks and more knee socks

Size Range: No real sizes given but it's more aimed at adult socks

Colour/Black & White: Black and white illustrations and photographs

Schematics: No

Target Audience: You'd need to have some knowledge of sock making. Most of the patterns are more about the edging and then you do the rest yourself

How to knit guide: No

Experimental/Classical/Modern: Pretty classical stuff, kilt hose, evidenced by this being republished a few times.

Comments: Pretty much a classic of it's genre. There's not a huge demand for Kilt hose and less for Knickerbocker stockings but this is a pretty comprehensive collection of designs. Veronica Gainford sallied forth and collected these designs and has built this collection to keep the patterns on record and allow later generations to use them. I plan to try a few for my husband who has been seen in a kilt a few times. I also plan to knit some for myself. There are a good variety of both male and female styles (as well as some unisex ones) so if it's what you're looking for it's ideal.

Buy/Borrow: If it's what you're thinking of doing it's a good book to have as a secondary reference. You'll need a good grasp of knitting socks for it as it concentrates on what makes them different from regular socks rather than what makes them similar. It does assume a knowledge of sock making (there is a basic pattern included but it's sketchy) so as a companion to one of the big sock books out there it (Getting started knitting socks, Vogues' ultimate sock book or Sensational Knitted Socks to name a few off the top of my head)

Where found: Glasgow Libraries via Inter-Library Loan