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.

Monday, 13 March 2017

Swedish Bohus Knitting KCG Collection

If you read the previous post about the Edinburgh Yarn Festival I mentioned the Knitting and Crochet Guild (KCG) display which featured Bohus knitting. This is a style of knitting I had heard of but knew little about. Trish who was volunteering on behalf of the KCG told me a brief history. 

Originating in the Swedish province of Bohuslan, Bohus knitting began as a cottage industry to provide income for poor families. Run as a knitting cooperative it was active from 1939 to 1969. Emma Jacobsson was the founder and leading light who recruited artists and designers to produce designs for the cooperative. During the 1940's the distinctive multi coloured style was developed. Eventually, Bohus became highly fashionable with celebrities of the day among the clients such as Ingrid Bergman, Eartha Kit, Grace Kelly to name a few.

The basic knitting technique is very similar to knitting stranded Fair Isle. Whereas stranded Fair Isle colour work is generally knitted in stocking stitch with a smooth finish on the right side. Bohus has rows of purl stitches on the right side giving a texture of raised stitches. Trish was in the process of knitting a small sample which you can see below. The purl stitches are arranged on the right side of the work, both in rows and waves across the sample.

The main display board shows stitch patterns of garments in the collection. If you look to the lower right hand corner you'll notice a photo of the Swedish actress Ingrid Bergman.

Bohus sweater design worn by Ingrid Bergman.

An example was on display, no less, of that same sweater design Ingrid Bergman is wearing in the photo above (not the actual sweater though).

The sweater was originally designed by Anna-Lisa Mannheimer circa 1940. The pattern is called The Red Edge and is reproduced in "Poems of Color: Knitting the Bohus Tradition" by Wendy Keele.  Published in 1995 this book has 46 patterns, is full of historical information and photographs from the era. Examples of projects and patterns can be found on the book's Ravelry page.

Further items on display include a hat, scarf and gloves in the distinctive pattern and colour combinations. Items were probably purchased in Sweden around the 1950's and were part of the Coats archive.

I found the display to be inspiring and informative. This is a knitting style I'd like to try, just need to find more hours in the day to fit in the knitting projects I have in mind...

Sunday, 12 March 2017

Edinburgh Yarn Festival 2017

Had a very enjoyable trip to Edinburgh where the fourth Edinburgh Yarn Festival (EYF) was being held on 10th-11th March at the Corn Exchange. I traveled by train from Inverness approaching Edinburgh across the Fourth Rail Bridge with views to the old and new road bridges.

As well as attending the yarn festival  some free time was planned in the schedule to explore the city. A chance to take in some of the sights around Princes Street...

...checking out places to eat...

...french piano graffiti at "chez jules bistro"...

...Waverley Railway Station (taken with camera phone)...

Onto the knitting yarn part of the trip and some of the highlights. Friday morning at the Corn Exchange, saving a place for me in the queue to buy tickets was the lovely Lucia of Lucia's Fig Tree. We hardly noticed the wait as there was so much to chat about. Both Lucia and I had the same plan, visit the Knitting and Crochet Guild stand to say hello to volunteers. 

The theme of the display was Bohus knitting (a more detailed description about this display is planned in the next blog post).

Then we headed over to see lovely crochet designer Jane Crowfoot. Jane was busy with visitors so we spent a little while admiring her complex and colourful work.

I've been an admirer of Brooklyn Tweed since 2015 when I knitted the "Stranger Cardigan" by michiyo published in Brooklyn Tweed Wool People vol 4. The impressive display from this American designer included the yarn ranges Shelter, Loft and Arbor.

Close up of knit designs by Brooklyn Tweed.

Shetland Wool Week were promoting this years free pattern by designer Gudrun Johnston. The design is a slouchy style hat called Bousta Beanie.

You can pick up a free digital copy of this pattern here.

Another highlight was meeting Kate Davies at her stand where items from her new book were on display. 

And finally, I didn't manage to take any photos of Kate's display due to being so star struck when she kindly signed my copy of "Inspired by Islay"...

Monday, 6 March 2017

Summer Houses

It's March already and I've been wondering where this year has gone so far. There have been too many grey and rainy days. It's been good these last few weeks to work in summery yarn shades with names such as, Sky Blue, Sunflower, Greek Blue, Poppy, Soft Lime and Lavender.

Generally I use wool DK yarn when I knit these wee Scottish croft houses. It has been a change to use a smooth cotton in 4ply making a summery seaside cottage. Even though the 4ply is a lighter weight the pattern worked well with this yarn and the same needle size 3.25mm was used. 

Here are the colour combinations I came up with... 
 Poppy Sky Blue  ~  Sunflower  ~  Lavender

Soft Lime ~ Lapis ~ Poppy ~ Sky Blue

Peppermint ~ Sunflower ~ Soft Lime ~ Shell

Fondant ~ Lavender ~ Peppermint ~ Soft Lime

Greek Blue ~ Shell ~ Peppermint ~ Lavender

The pattern I used was Mini Red Roof Croft House.

For the Summer Houses I used the new Stylecraft Classique Cotton 4ply see below for the full the colour range. This is a 100% cotton and comes in 50g balls 182m/199yds.

I had fun choosing colour combinations from the 12 available in the palette. I like the mix of pastel and stronger shades. There are two neutral shades, White and Ivory, the latter I used for the windows on all the houses. This is just a start on possible colour combinations, I'm sure I can mix these around and create more different houses...

Image courtesy Stylecraft

Image courtesy Stylecraft