Herculaneum pillars

In an effort not to come across as bragging, I’ve failed to even mention an amazing family holiday in Naples last month. Better late than never.

It was wonderful to spend a week exploring a beautiful but gritty city (but not in the way London is, with more history and noise and round-the-clock street life), enjoying an espresso and fogliatella pastry for breakfast and pizza for lunch and dinner, and taking the train further out to the sites of Pompeii and Herculaneum. It was an odd sensation to wonder around the streets of these two frozen Roman cities, stepping from ancient cobble to ancient cobble, passing food stalls with their terracotta pots set into marble counters and occasionally wandering through a doorway into a villa or public baths. It felt like the locals had all just gone on holiday somewhere.

Here’s a picture of a courtyard in one of the grand villas of Herculaneum, the pillars of which struck me as good for a striped knitting pattern. I still find graph paper and felt pens the easiest and most satisfying way of designing patterns.pillar2

pillar3pillars

 

vesuOn the train back from Pompeii, Sayed and I listened to PJ Harvey’s ‘This is Love’ on headphones, restraining ourselves from leaping around the carriage and nearly imploding in the process as we passed Vesuvius, which I was convinced was about to erupt. If any song could make a volcano erupt, it would be this one.

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Thursday’s Paradigm Knit

Sion relic purse

Here’s a page from Reverend Rutt’s A History of Knitting, a book mentioned previously in this post. Along with information on a fourteenth-century knitted purse found in a Swiss cathedral, Rutt has helpfully included a pattern of the purse’s design, so I tried it out in Rowan fine tweed. HoKtweed1tweed3tweed2

Tweed swiggle

tweed4

I’ve started another swiggle piece (here’s the original design, the first swiggle jumper and its progress – one, two, three), this time a birthday present for my mum, who will be sixty in September. I went for Rowan tweed yarn in a mossy green and cream. Since the yarn is a bit thicker than what was used for this design before, the design is bigger and I’m reworking my original ‘pattern’ (I say ‘pattern’ because it’s shamefully strewn between various notebooks and sheafs of paper, many of which have uncertain whereabouts).

This time I’m making sure to remember exactly what’s already been done by literally attaching notes to the knitting on luggage labels. It’s the only way.

Thursday’s paradigm knit

Having been a bit lax about posting lately, I’ve given myself a pinch this week. I started this blog and want to continue it because  a) I want to post things that I think others would find interesting/ inspiring/ helpful and give something back to the huge online pool of amazing talent and work that I dip into so much, b) I have a poor memory and need an easily accessible archive full of images to remind myself what I’ve been doing and making and c) my self-motivation varies hugely from obsessive and hyper about getting something done to chewing nails and staring into space – I wanted a long-term project that would keep both it and me going. However, being in that uninspired, flat state of mind makes it difficult to write or photograph or DO anything.

So.. the point of this particular post is to have a regular feature that I have to post every week because ..otherwise that bomb on the bus*/ milk float** will go BOOM!! and Bruce Willis*/ Father Ted** won’t be around to help this time.

Anyway.

Every Thursday I’ll post a new design with a little bit about its source of inspiration. The design might be taken directly from a historical piece of knitting, adapted from another medium e.g. ceramics or emerge from the jelly-like substance of the sea on the surface of the planet Solaris.

Here, like this:

Oak leaf design

leafsample

A new knitting pattern, taken from a piece of embroidery in Hardwick Hall, Derbyshire. The yarn is Jamiesons of Shetland spindrift in ‘moss’ and ‘scotch broom’.

Detail of a framed cushion cover of crimson silk worked in long-armed, cross or tent-stiches with various types of oak leaves. From the Paved Room, Hardwick Hall, Derbyshire.

leafdesign

*popular culture reference for the general readership

**popular culture reference for Aunty Penny

Square Dance

Remember that commission I mentioned aaages ago? Well, I finished, wrapped and waved it off in April.

Now, two months on, having allowed any suspense I may have hoped to build up to whither and die (sigh), here’s a post to tell you (and remind me) what it was exactly that I made.

Ready?

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Ta da!

blanket1blanket

An excellent friend commissioned this blanket for her friend’s first baby. We settled on bamboo wool in cream, yellow and grey, and simple squares in garter stitch so it would be the same on both sides. Before sewing it together I photographed different patterns to help decide the layout, and ended up making this stop motion animation film in the process.

Mitred squares

Here’s my (slightly) modified version of Aunty Penny’s pattern for a mitred square. These measurements are specifically to make a 10x10cm square in Debbie Bliss ‘Angel’ mohair yarn.

Debbie Bliss kindly donated this and lots of other beautiful yarn to The Mill, so we’ve been putting it to good use for our group piece for the forthcoming Softer textiles exhibition.squares

Abbreviations

k – knit

k2tog – knit two together

sl1 – slip 1

psso – pass slip stitch over

Cast on 31 sts on size 5mm needles.

Row 1 and every following alternate row: Knit.

Row 2: k14, sl1, k2tog, psso, k14.

Row 4: k13, sl1, k2tog, psso, k13.

Row 6 and all following alternate rows: Continue reducing in the same way, with decreased stitches forming central diagonal line, until 3 stitches remain.

Following row: sl1, k2tog, psso.

Cut yarn and pass end through loop.square

Many thanks to Aunty Penny for putting me on to this. Here’s her original, excellent advice:

20th April 2013

“I just discovered an interesting way of knitting squares, where you decrease a stitch in the middle of each row, forming a diagonal, as follows.
Cast on an odd number of stitches, 2n+1
Row 1: knit n-1 stitches, slip 1, k1, psso, knit
Row 2: as row 1
Row 3: knit n-2 stitches, slip 1, k1, psso, knit
Row 4: as row 3
Continue until there is only 1 stitch. You can either pull this through, or start on a new square by picking up n stitches along one of the edges of the first square and casting on a further n.”

24th April

“Re my comment of 20th April on diagonal squares, I’ve just been trying different decreases, knit 2 together or knit 2 together through back of loops, and for garter stitch it doesn’t seem to matter which one you do as long as it’s always the middle stitch and the stitch before that you knit together and you are consistent. These squares are particularly fetching in rainbow yarn.

I’ve also noticed that it’s a way to get a scalloped edging. Instead of carrying on decreasing until you’ve got one stitch remaining, you stop sooner and then just knit straight.”

Swiggle Sweater

tU94vf on Make A Gif, Animated Gifs

A new project! I’ve started a new sweater using my swiggle pattern and an adaptation of Schiaparelli’s bowknot sweater (available free here). I love the ‘straight-up-and-down’ style of 1920s knitwear, and I think it makes a good canvas for colourwork patterns.

Here’s my progress so far:

green
green2
green3
green4 green5
I decided to use a folded edge, since it gives a very neat finish and adds a little weight to the bottom of the jumper. Another iconic item of clothing from the 1920s, the Chanel jacket, employs the clever use of a chain sewn into the inside of the hem to give a satisfying weight and better hang. I’m hoping to achieve the same effect.
I picked up the trick of folding the edge from Lesley Anne Price’s wonderful book Kids Knits. It works by knitting a few rows in stocking stitch, then a row of purl on the right side, giving a ridge to form the folded edge, and continuing in stocking stitch until the ‘post-ridge’ rows reach the same number as the ‘pre-ridge’ rows. In the next row each stitch is knitted together with one picked up from the cast-on edge. With the first attempt I found that the edge curved outwards too much. I remedied this by knitting the folded edge on needles a size smaller, then switching up to larger needles when I reached the ridge row of purl.
Here are my instructions for making a small folded edge:
Cast-on with smaller needles.
                                                                    Row: 1. Knit
                                                                             2. Purl
                                                                             3. Knit
Change to larger needles for ‘ridge row’.               4. Knit
Continue in stocking stitch.                                  5. Knit
                                                                             6. Purl
Fold and join cast-on edge.                                   7. Pick up last stitch of cast-on edge, knit together with first stitch on needle.
                                                                                       Repeat to end of row, using all stitches.

Swiggle pattern

Here’s a design I came up with recently, after doodling on a piece of paper.

swiggle

swig2

swig3

I started by testing it out with some 3 ply..

swig4swig5

..then with 4 ply, alternating the two colours. I realised that this was a perfect opportunity to try double-sided, so I used the same yarn to test it out (it’s the same piece as in my last post).

swig6

swig7

swig8The double-sided technique bulks the knitting out widthways, making the design appear stretched. Halfway through my swatch I compensated for this by repeating each row.

After a few experiments I think I’m ready to start a project. Watch this space..

P. S. Feel free to use this pattern, but if you do, I’d love to see the results.

P.P.S. I used the free colour chart maker from tricksy knitter.com for the chart at the top of the post.