Tuesday, 30 March 2010

2010 Knitting Resolutions

It is almost April and I have not reconciled last year’s list of knitting resolutions, let alone drawn up the 2010 list on paper although the list, such as it is, continually grows by leaps and bounds in my mind.

I listed fourteen wips last year (http://historyknits.blogspot.com/search?q=resolutions) and completed the 19th century garters* (one only as I ran out of DMC yarn and I cannot find exact colour matches for it now), the child’s handspun and marled stockings, the handspun gloves, the 1855 mitts and the Vanity Fair purse. Six out of fourteen projects is not terribly respectable but added to the projected and unexpected items, the numbers do go up. Not just one but three 19th century under or half caps were made (although none of them completely satisfactory) and the man’s 19th century nightcap became a boy’s. The projects that did work out well were the Gunnister purse*, long 18th century woolen mitts*, another 19th century miser’s purse, the 17th century red and blue mini-stockings, Stephen Maturin’s blue mini-stockings, the Norwegian morning cap/hood, two different pairs of 19th century undersleeves and a linen bookmark in lace from the 1830s-1840s. The clamshell coverlet continues to grow in clamshells and I think I have found a filler section pattern for the edges. Not content with knitting masses of pieces for one coverlet, I started an octagon/squares one*, too. Tiny 19th century lace samples* needed a place for display so I created an album* out of 19th century reproduction fabric to house them. And then there was that 19th century lace fish serviette* that I just couldn’t resist starting just to see what the pattern looked like, of course.

The Garment is not languishing but still very much nearly finished. More on that soon. Contemporary projects and various commissions usually take precedence over the historical knitting and the historical knitting creates delays of its own. I am very lucky if the first version becomes the final version. I sometimes knit a miniature version just to work out the pattern, especially if I am knitting blind, that is, from one of those delightfully laconic, illustration-free early patterns or trying to reproduce a surviving item, or will knit several “life-size” versions before the final one, if there is a final one, works out. The half-caps were a case in point and I am still not satisfied with the wool and am working on a fourth one that I hope will be more historically accurate.

On the 2010 list are, of course, the uncompleted 2009 projects as well as the following:

1. Gunnister gloves
2. Blue mini-Maturin comforter (half completed)
3. Another Weldon’s nightcap (which I am re-knitting for the fourth time as I write this)
4. 19th century lace collars
5. Second pair of long 18th century woolen mitts (one finished, one to go)
6. 19th century knitted veil
7. 19th century double-knitted wristlets
8 Mid-19th century under-cap
9. Sortie cap
10. A muff or two
11. 1855 mitts in white and pale blue
12. 19th century pen wiper (that I have twisted my brain into knots over twice already)
13. 19th century knitted petticoat

and because I like a challenge, this 18th century pincushion* whose own work box with materials is in the above photo. It is cast on but I can only do one row a day or so as the work is very, very fine and hard on the hands as well as the eyes, not to mention the charting of the pattern on paper (more on this project soon):


I daresay there will be another miser's purse this year, too, as I just cannot resist them.

*Items marked with an asterisk will appear soon on the blog.

Thursday, 18 March 2010

Knitting and Walking

Knitting in the Fields
Charles Sprague Pearce
(American, 1851-1914)
Private Collection

This is me yesterday. The weather is improving and I can take my gloves off outdoors and knit as I walk. Although this painting is called "Knitting in the Fields," the subject may be walking along a small river. I did the same for about two hours yesterday though by a much larger river (and on a smoother surface) in the first, fine sunny and warm yet breezy day this year. I was also working on a long piece, an 18th century long mitt, adapting it to fit me, and so ripping and re-knitting the thumb and upper hand as I went along, any frustration dispelled by the glorious weather, the breeze in my hair and wool, and the sheer delight of knitting outside in pure daylight and fresh air.

The weather in this painting does not look as nice as mine, and the knitter seems to warding off the chill with her outer clothing. She may, also, not be walking but standing as the leg in front is bent and the other is straight. Has she stopped because something we cannot see has caught her attention or is she simply pausing? Her hands have stopped knitting, too, and there is no strand of wool attached to her work. Has she run out of wool and so the stocking production has also halted?

We do see, for once, FOUR knitting needles - huzzah!

Saturday, 6 March 2010

Godey's 1877 Blue-Bag

This pattern comes from Godey’s Lady’s Book and Magazine, Vol. XCIV - January to June, 1877.

It is very straightforward and easy to knit. I omitted the final set of five repeats without decreases as the bag was already the size it should be by the time I got to that part in the pattern so I just continued with the decreasing rows to the end.

The bag is knit in Blackberry Ridge Lace Weight wool (Medium Wedgewood) and is a lovely dusky light shade of blue and not as grey as it appears in the photographs. The dpn's needle size was 1.75mm/00US. The original pattern called for "Scotch fingering wool" and "four needles No. 16 (bell gauge {sic})." which I matched to the modern size.

The draw strings were crocheted on a 2mm/0US hook. No hook size was suggested in the pattern.

Please see the comments on the possible use of this "blue-bag" in the comments which follow or are attached to this post.