Wednesday, April 30, 2008

All paths lead to knitting

It is possible - no, easy - to get from silver mining in Saxony in the sixteenth century to Knitty, 21st Internet Knitting magazine.

1) Georgius Agricola was a sixteenth century doctor who lived and worked in the town of Chemnitz, in Saxony. He was extremely interested in mining - it was the main industry of the area. He studied the diseases of miners, the technology of mines and geology.

2) He synthesised all his knowledge into one great work, De re metallica, which was published the year after his death. Before any one tells you it was 'modern', well it wasn't that modern. It wasn't an alchemical work, but he still thought in Aristolean terms.

3) De re metallica was the main mining reference well into the eighteenth century. It was written in Latin.

4) A copy came into the possession of Lou Hoover, the wife of the future United States President. She had studied Latin and geology at Stanford, and after she discovered there was no English translation, she and her husband worked on the translation together.

5) After the translation was published, she became First Lady, which meant people were interested in her knitting. The letter she wrote describing how to knit a blanket was the source for the "Hoover blanket" published in an early issue of Knitty.

6) That Hoover Blanket was one of the first internet knitting patterns I really noticed, and it was one of the few things I connected with Lou Henry Hoover.

And that is the trail of links from sixteenth century Saxony to Knitty magazine.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Boring Post

Whoops, I thought I'd posted more recently.

I thought about doing a Messy Tuesday post about defrosting the freezer yesterday. It was a little bit overdue. The post would have shown a photo of the inside of a slightly icy freezer. Then there would be a photo of lovely clean freezer, with a stack of home cooked frozen meals neatly wrapped in foil. But the latter picture would have gone completely against the Messy Tuesday ethic, and I wouldn't have wanted to post just the first picture.

On the creative front, I wrote two essays last week. One was on whether Galileo's trial came about because of his book the Assayer, published in 1623 (summary of essay: "no"). The other was whether the Spanish Inquisition had an effect on 16th century science (summary of essay: "maybe)". However my essays were supposed to be 749 words longer.

I also knitted a bit more of my entralac bag from Yarn Forward.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Delve Swatch Scarf - finished

When I started making my scarf, I wrote exactly what I did, so I could put the pattern on my blog. The general plan was to use the Delve stitch pattern for the ends, with a stocking stitch section in the middle. The only reason it wouldn't be perfectly symmetrical was because the chart pattern would continue in the same order.

The reality was different. Somehow the two ends ended up being sufficiently different they would be suitable for a spot-the-difference competition.

There are 3 stitches of garter stitch at the sides, to stop stocking stitch curl. Due to the limited quantity of yarn available, I wanted pointed ends: squared off ends can look rather chunky.

Here are selected notes from my pattern file: more a recipe for adaption then a pattern.

Delve Swatch Scarf: Extended recipe:

Triangular end of scarf

Put a loop on your needle and knit into the front and back of it to have two stitches. (Fudge this however you like.)

Kfb, K1
Kfb, K2
Kfb, K to end of row
Repeat this row until you have 7 stitches on your needle. This is the equavalent of a 3-stitch border, a pattern area (currently one stitch) and another 3 stitch border. However in one row a stitch from each border is 'borrowed' to form part of a K2tog stitch.

Next row - wrong side
Kfb K1 P2 K3
Kfb K1 K3 K3
Kfb K1 P4 K3

(Row 11 of Delve chart) Kfb K1 K1 YO K3tog YO K1 K3

Carry on increasing at the beginning of each row while simultaneously including more of the chart stitches, until you have 29 stitches in total.
(If I was making it again, I'd stick to 27 stitches, with several rows borrowing from the border.)

Keep going until you have used about two thirds of the skein. At this point change the pattern to go into a stocking stitch section: keep the side diamonds, but have the central section in plain stocking stitch.

Around here, I made a section with 5 yarn-over holes, so that I'd know later that I used 5mm needles. This is the first time I've tried this technique: using purl bumps isn't effective.

Stocking Stitch to the end of the skein, plus a little bit further.

The start of the next section was where I got muddled. I knew what I wanted to do: make the stocking-stitch-to-pattern section as a mirror image of the pattern-to-stocking-stitch section, but continue with the chart in the same direction. In my mind it was straightforward, but in actuality I couldn't do it: my mind doesn't work that way. I can picture most of it, it was just translating from what the pattern showed to the actual knitting. After I had got part way through, I had the right number of stitches, and it looked OK, but it wasn't a mirror image. So I decided to leave it as it was.

I carried on with the Delve part until I got to the place where I had to start decreasing at the sides. This section ended one pattern repeat shorter then the other side.

The end section:

starting with a row 7:
K2tog K2tog YO K5
K1 K2tog P22 K3

Decrease one stitch at the start of each row, continuing with the pattern
until you have 8 stitches left.

Final section:

K1 K2tog P3 K3
K2tog K6
K1 K2tog P1 K3
K1 K2tog K3
K1 K2tog K2
K1 K2tog K1
Finish off remaining stitch (by passing thread through it).

Sew in ends.
Wear scarf.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Sheep, Knitting and Photos

My route to the Open University tutorials passes a church which sometimes has sheep in the churchyard. I have often thought about stopping and taking some photos, and finally did so on Saturday.

sheep in churchyard

The Delve Swatch Scarf was at the halfway point (finished one skein out of two). I'd taken that along with the intention of photographing it somewhere. So while the camera was out, I dangled it from the fence and snapped away.

scarf hanginf from fence

I crossed the road back to the car, and it was here that the Stranger stopped me. He seemed to accept it as a not-insane thing to do, and suggested that the village's Millenium Stone might also be a good backdrop. But there was no pavement, and I had enough photos.

The other place I'd stopped was Wallingford. It is on my route, and has a quilt shop. I also wanted lunch.

Wallingford town centre has an unusual layout, and it would be interesting to know how it developed. There are effectively two sides to a very wide street or market oblong, but I get the impression that someone plunked a church into this area, and then someone else built some shops at the end of the churchyard. I took this photo on the pavement of one side of one street, looking across the street on my side, the churchyard, and over the other street to the shops on the far side of the road.

looking across the churchyard

Village Fabics is at the south end of town. It is very large for a British quilt shop, with about six or seven "rooms". At the back is a sizable workshop, and possibly another one upstairs. There was a very small selection of knitting wool, a few balls of Rowan and Katia. It was hard to get a feel for how much fabric they had, because it was all so spread out.

Most quilt shops seem to be arranged by colour, but Village Fabrics is arranged by theme. For instance there is a "Christmas room", which has a selection of Christmas themed fabrics and books. Other themes I noticed were Japanese fabrics, '30s reproductions and (USA) civil war reproductions. This probably suits some people, but I'm much more likely to decide to make a purple quilt then a '30s quilt, and it would be difficult to assemble a collection of possible purples.

I bought a small selection of fat quarters and a copy of Australian Patchwork and Quilting. I'll be going back again, partly because it doesn't involve a detour.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Discussion with a stranger

"Excuse me" said the total stranger, "I've been walking across the fields, wondering why you are taking photos of knitting?"

"Ah", I say "have you heard of blogs?"

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Magknits - gone

Well, its just as well I printed out the pattern for Judith. The people who own Magknits, the free knitting pattern site, took it down with practically no warning. They didn't even tell the designers of most of the patterns.

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Snow! and the summer tweed

OK, I'm not the first to post, but it snowed last night. DH took some photos of the snow before I was up, in case it melted before I had a chance. I particularly like this one, which is looking across some of our neighbours' gardens.

square of

Now for the knitting.

Several years ago, I came across a pattern in Knitting magazine for a gorgeous tunic, with crossed cables which echoed the lines of the v-neck opening. It was utterly lovely, but as the pattern required 9 skein of Rowan summer tweed for the smallest size, it seemed somewhat extravagant. Then last year I came across a half-price sale, and now I felt I could get the necessary yarn. And some extra balls in other colours, as one does, to get the free postage.

I swatched and very quickly discovered that the designers guage for the tunic bore no resemblance to the manufacturers guage. When I had another look at the pictures, it became clear the tunic didn't actually fit the model particularly well, and the guage given by the pattern was ... well, not the same guage as the tunic was knitted in.

I still wanted to make it so I had a go at recharting the pattern. Then I started knitting, and I can't remember why, but it didn't work. So I had another go at charting the pattern and it still didn't work. So I put the whole lot in the naughty corner, and went onto other things.

square of

A week or so ago, I decided to have another go at using the yarn. Looking at other patterns, nine skeins of summer tweed was plenty for a sweater, and there were two possibilities: Delve, from Rowan 43, or Judith from Magknits. I decided I liked Judith more, but it needed 5.5mm circular needles and I didn't have any. So that was a delay, and in the end I bought two from different places.

On Friday, I started knitting, without a guage swatch. First time of casting on, I was on my third row of stocking stitch before I realised the first row should have been purled, not knitted. So I started again, and I was on my third row before I decided my cast-on was much too tight and I ought to use a different one. I started for a third time, and got to the increase row. The pattern said it needed to have a tension of 14 stitches to 10cm after aggressive blocking. I was getting it before blocking.

square of

I was getting very frustrated, because this feels lovely to handle, and I really want to use it.

Then I had a brainwave: introducing the Delve Satch Scarf. The ends will use the lace pattern for Delve, and the middle will be plain stocking stitch. When finished, I'll have a new scarf (which I wanted) and a tension rectangle for both Delve and stocking stitch.

square of

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Thoughts on Messy Tuesday

I am conflicted about the idea of messy Tuesday.

On the one hand, mess can say things are going on here

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Possibly quite interesting things.

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On the other hand, mess can say they have better things to do then clear up.

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The difficulty I see is that even the interesting things

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have to be dealt with by someone eventually

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no matter how unpleasant.

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I've got my own stuff to do.

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The End.