Thursday, 28 May 2009

Mini-Maturin Stockings

"'...and pull on your stockings, I beg. We have not a moment to lose. No, not the blue stockings; we are going on to Mrs Harte's party - to her rout.'

'Must I put on silk stockings?...Was I to put the silk stockings over my worsted ones, sure the hole would not show: but then I should stifle with the heat.'"

Master and Commander, Chapter Six

While The Garment was growing apace and outstripping me in height by more than a foot, I knit these stockings for a change of pace. I am still working on the life-size blue stockings related to the above quotation but these were a test pair for some future mini-stockings. They are long enough to go over a mini-person’s knee, have the welting/garter stitch rows at the top, the long, square heel with a three-needle cast off, a gathered toe and a seam/purl stitch up the back (see the flattened-out stocking on the left.) I have also embroidered “S M” in red embroidery cotton (standing in for silk) at the top of the stockings although not in cross-stitch as I am doing on the life-size pair.

The stockings measure 5" long from top to sole and are one inch wide at the calf. They were knit with Morehouse Farm Merino laceweight wool on 1.50 mm needles. The gauge/tension is 13 stitches to the inch.

The photograph of these stockings, ironically, refuses to open up in a larger version when clicked on.

Tuesday, 12 May 2009

The Garment - Its Wool

I have, perhaps, been an unconscionable time knitting The Garment. Designing and creating something to fit someone I have never met has been one reason. The other one is, however, a purely selfish one. I love, love, love, love, love this wool and I do not want to ever stop knitting with it. Sure, it is the Wool of the World! Three ply, a gorgeous shade of brown (which refuses to come across in the photograph at left), strong and smooth while still holding surprise bits of straw, etc., it proudly sits on my needles and wraps around and glides through my fingers, creating a fabric that is both sturdy and elegant. It smells like wool should and it almost looks good enough to eat!

I have knit with all kinds of materials from sewing thread to shredded strips of fabric and plastic bags. We live in a great age of knitting; the choice of yarns, strings, wire, etc., is limitless. No matter – I always yearn to return to pure wool. It is what I learned to knit with and grew up with, not making the acquaintance of acrylic, let alone cashmere, angora, etc., as knitting yarns until I was in my twenties. I miss wool if I spend too much time away from it, working on socks with a nylon blend, soft cotton for baby clothing or stained glass ladder scarves. Perhaps that is another reason I am attracted to historical knitting, most of which I do in wool.

I recently reviewed my stash of twenty- two oversize plastic bins which contain wool, cotton and synthetic yarns, some dating back to the 1950’s. Most of it I adore, some of it I cannot recall purchasing or receiving, some of it I wonder at, confused as to why I ever bought it or so much of it! There are, however, many old friends in those bins, including a skein or small ball left over from something my mother knit for me as a child or my early attempts at clothing my toys. Some of it was given to me (that fabulous mid-20th century sock yarn that works so well for mid and late 19th century knitting), some of it is rough, dull-coloured 1960’s Aran wool which is just as treasured as the undyed handspun laceweight wool or gloriously hand dyed sock yarn from last year. Looking at it all at once, bins opened, lids scattered, I felt as though I had a museum of yarn, spanning almost 60 years and the products of many countries. Each skein or scrap has a history, and, very soon, what little will be left over from The Garment, will join them – with its own special story within a story

Tuesday, 5 May 2009

The Garment - Out for the Day

The weather has been glorious and just right for sitting by the water while knitting. Even the Garment, with its neck/head in progress and still awaiting its left arm, took advantage of a bench in the sun, facing the lapping waves and enjoying the sun on its back.

Saturday, 2 May 2009

The Garment - The Neckline

The neck and head of the Garment are, perhaps, its most controversial parts. Stephen Maturin gives a hint of the their constuction:  "...I can withdraw my head entirely..."

In interpreting the above, I designed a long cowl neck which would be wide enough to go over and around the head, estimating 12-14" long (it is still on the needles.) The neck line and cowl would also, however,  have to pull the whole garment together to give the impression of a one-piece, "single tight" garment and not one made up of three parts, that is a lower body, torso and headpiece. 

The upper body of the Garment buttons down the front. The photograph shows the two button bands (minus the buttons - more on those in a future separate post), the button placements marked by gold pins and the neck joined by a pin for the pickup,  and the neck/cowl stitches picked up around the two fronts and the back neck with a few inches knit. The Garment will, thus, have to be stepped into, the legs and hip area pulled up, then the  back pulled up from behind up so the head can go through the cowl, the arms put on one at a time, and, finally, the fall, waistband and front bands buttoned. A deeply rational manner of dressing, is not it?

All quotations are from Post Captain, Chapter Twelve