Category Archives: knitting/crochet

A History of Shawls

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This is a really interesting piece I found recently, by Jen of Roving Crafters written in 2016 – I’m not sure if she is still blogging as it seems she was having problems with her eyes in the last post I can find on her site – but there are plenty of free tutorials and other interesting pieces on rovingcrafters.com, and if you want to read the original of this unashamed copy click HERE

Venetian widow, Cesare Vecellio, 1585-90

Technically the shawl as a garment and as a word comes from 14th century Persia. They were woven rectangles worn over the shoulders and made from kashmiri goat. That’s significant I think because Kashmir was a major trade center. Knowledge and supplies and all sorts of other goodies coming out of India had to go through Kashmir to get to the western world. In fact I personally believe its very likely that the shawl as a garment originated in China, was adopted by India, and from there passed to the weavers in Kashmir (but I can’t find any sources to back that up).

From Kashmir, shawls spread to southern Europe and North Africa. Ethiopians took to wearing large rectangular shawls that can be wrapped around the body once and then over a shoulder.

Ethiopian boys in traditional shawls
16th century French pine figures of female saints wearing blue shawls

Manila shawls took Spain by storm in the 15th century.  These were square pieces of woven silk with hand embroidered designs. They seem to have picked them up from the Philippine islands (again I’m saying the shawl is a Far East garment) and once the Spaniards had them, they went to the New World.

All these early shawls were woven. They were made in whatever fiber was on hand; silk in the east, cashmere in the near east, wool in the New World. They were square or rectangular in shape and usually large enough to wrap and fold around the body.

Decorative lace shawls seem to have come into fashion in the early 1800’s. The earliest styles were made on tambour or other netting with intricate designed stitched/embroidered on that base fabric. This seems to be when shawls became circular and triangular.

Hand embroidered Spanish blonde lace on ecru silk net, circa 1830’s.
A French fashion plate displaying a shawl of black Chantilly lace, circa 1865.

Then the knitters and crocheters got into the business of shawl making. That’s when the styles and shapes of shawls seems to have really exploded. Knitters in the Shetland Islands started making haps,

Jessie Thomson knitting by her fireside at Lower Huyea, Haroldswick while wearing a hap shawl. circa 1930

knitters in America made sontags,

The “bosom friend”, aka sontag from Godey’s Lady’s Book and Magazine, 1860.

crocheters in Ireland made collars,

Irish crochet collar, circa early 1900’s

and so on.

Up through the 1920’s shawls and stoles and wraps were worn by ladies in English speaking countries of all economic levels. Wealthy women wore creations of handmade lace and silken embroidery. Working women wore cheaper, machine made imitations. But all women had a shawl or two to dress up and cover up.

Not so today. Today its a rarely seen specialty item. For those of us who do wear shawls there is a dizzying array of styles and shapes and choices. And isn’t that just wonderful? We get to borrow on all these traditions of shawl making and invent some of our own. Shawl patterns can be found big or small, in every shape, in lace, cables, and color work. You could spend a lifetime making shawls and not explore everything.


Wishing you all a HAPPY NEW YEAR

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Isn’t it nice to arrive into 2018!  Well I think so anyway.  Last year was extremely disruptive, what with the landslip, and being evacuated from my house, and having to virtually camp in my new home, as the building work still hasn’t been done.  But things are getting better, and I am slowly sorting things out, and have great plans for this year – smile – which I feel strangely confident about.

So here’s to 2018, and hoping it goes well for all of us.

In the meantime, I just want to let you know that

my “twelve days of christmas” sale ends at midnight (uk time) on 3 january – thats tomorrow! 
 
there is 10% off all listings in my Etsy Shop
new etsy banner

this link will take you there

Tomorrow, I will get back to the series on the Twelve Days of Christmas Carol – next up is 6 Geese a-laying.

10% OFF EVERTHING in my Etsy Shop

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new etsy banner

My “12 days of Christmas Sale” has started in my ETSY SHOP

As I explained in my last post, its actually 10 days and goes on until 3 January.

All my listings have been reduced by 10% for this period, and there is no need to add any secret code to get the discount – you will see the usual price and the sale price on the listing – so just buy anything you want NOW!  If you want to just browse, do ‘favourite’ any items you are interested in, so you can find them easily when you have made your decision.

Below is a small selection of the listings – there are over 100 of them – so you might well find something you didn’t know I sold! click here for my Etsy Shop.

I am aware that many of you are not registered with Etsy, but you can have a look without registering, and can buy as a visitor if you don’t want to give them all your information!  The sale does not apply to any listings I have on ebay, and in any case, I think all of them have just expired, and will be renewed after 3 January, or not at all!

Apologies to anyone looking for the Mawata Silk Hankies, they have been the most popular item ever since I got back to selling – I have run out of stock – and couldn’t find anymore on my suppliers list either.  I hope to re-stock as soon as possible.

I’m just listening to Radio 4 as I write this and it turns out that I am not the only person doing a little series on the TWELVE DAYS OF CHRISTMAS CAROL!  They are doing the 12 tweets of Christmas – also on birds!  If you want to listen to them, I’m sure they will be on the Radio iPlayer page of the BBC website.

I will, I hope, finally get round to writing the next episode of the series tomorrow – on the Three French Hens! If you want to see The Partridge in a Pear Tree post, click here!

Knitting with Slip Stitches – and another free pattern

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cowl-8-768x1024With this blog in mind, I often bookmark articles I’ve found online, to share with you.  This one, which I have edited slightly, comes from Interweave and was published on September 09, 2015 by Joni Coniglio

What is a slip stitch? Pretty much just what it says: you slip a stitch from one needle to the other without working it. In knitting, there are many reasons to slip a stitch intentionally. In colorwork knitting, slipping stitches makes it easy to achieve the look of more complex colorwork techniques with little more effort than when working simple stripes. If you’re working a color stripe pattern and you slip stitches on the first round of a color change, the color from the previous round will be drawn up into the current round and it will look as if you’ve worked with two different colors on the same round. But you can do much more than imitate other colorwork techniques. You can also create effects that are unique to slip-stitch knitting.

When you slip stitches without working them, the yarn must be carried from one worked stitch to the next, spanning one or more unworked stitches. The resulting yarn strand, or float, is carried either behind or in front of the slipped stitch (or stitches). If you slip a stitch with the yarn in front, the floats that are carried across the front of the work become a decorative element. (Just make sure to bring the yarn to the back of the work again when you’re ready to knit the next stitch or you’ll end up with a yarnover increase.)

If you’ve never tried slip-stitch colorwork, start with the simple polka dot pattern above. Before you know it, you’ll be hooked!

TRY THIS PATTERN FOR A POLKA DOT TUBE COWL – it will make a useful scarf for this winter.

PLEASE NOTE THAT THIS PATTERN DOES NOT TELL YOU WHAT SIZE NEEDLES TO USE, OR WHAT YARN TO USE – YOU CAN MAKE IT UP FOR YOURSELF!

HOWEVER, TO CONTROL THE SIZING – IT WOULD BE A GOOD IDEA TO TRY KNITTING A SMALL SWATCH WITH YOUR CHOSEN NEEDLES AND YARN FIRST!

The polka dot pattern is a great introduction to slip-stitch knitting. Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 16″ circular needle
  • at least two colors of yarn (but use as many as you like), a main color (MC) and contrast color (CC)
  • stitch marker

Note: Slip stitches purlwise with yarn in back.

With MC, and using a provisional method, cast on a multiple of 4 sts. Place marker and join in the round.
Rounds 1 and 2 With CC, *slip 2, k2; rep from * to end.
Rounds 3 and 4 With MC, knit.
Rounds 5 and 6 With CC, *k2, slip 2; rep from * to end.
Rounds 7 and 8 With MC, knit.
Repeat Rounds 1-8 for pattern, ending with Round 6.

Block and join the ends of the cowl using three-needle bind-off or Kitchener stitch and MC.

NB:  You can also try this sequence without using circular needles – to make a ‘flat’ scarf.  Choose the width you want the scarf, and double it – so that you can sew the two edges together.  The pattern above can be adapted in any way you want, and don’t worry about the ‘technical’ names of  knitting stitches – you can choose the way you like to cast on and cast off!

Start knitting this now and you could easily finish making your cowl or scarf in time to give it to someone as a Christmas present.

And – if you are looking for Christmas presents – have a look at my shop on etsy, and my listings on ebay.  If you are not registered with either of these sites, you are welcome to buy direct.

A couple of free xmas knitting and crochet patterns you might like

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Courtesy of Sheila Dixon’s Hand Spinning News for this month, I thought I’d pass on these FREE patterns she found!

strick-muster-Nikolaus-Stiefel-knit-pattern-Christmas-socks-013-3-1100x1100This one is to knit your own Christmas Stocking.  Of course the pattern is free because you are supposed to buy the exact wool from the German (I think) company that is giving away the pattern, but, as the final size is not all that important, I think you could easily use any 2 ply wool combinations, especially if you have spun them yourself.  The pattern on the socks is apparently Latvian.  You can find the pattern HERE.  You have to fill in a form to get it, but it is FREE!

The second free pattern is for making this rather interesting leaf garland.  If you crochet you will find it very easy – if you don’t, its worth having a look because there are very full instructions on how to make each piece, and you could probably make it yourself anyway!

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You can find the instructions on Lucy’s blog here, and the overview and background info HERE.  If you do make it, let her know, I’m sure she’d love to see your version!

For my Readers, all over the World – a re-blog of “Winding Yarns into balls by hand”….

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nostepinne woundI’ve been checking my stats recently to see how many people have been visiting the blog and where they come from and what posts they are reading – yes I can tell all that with one click!  (But be reassured, I can’t tell WHO it was, so you’re secrets are safe – smile)

I can honestly say that my readership is WORLD WIDE!  I think I have had readers from almost every country in the world – lots of you are, of course, from the UK, but almost as many are from the USA, and all over Europe, and recently quite a lot from Australia, China and India.

I’ve noticed that, apart from my post about the Ystalyfera  Landslip,  which someone else must have publicised on social media, without telling me – (over 100 hits in one day!) smile – the most searched for post is this one: Winding Yarns into balls by hand – with or without a nostepinne which is also listed under the i/sheets tab (an archive of my ‘information  sheets’ or free tutorials – which I haven’t kept up to date lately, by the way!)  And by now,  you must have realised what that picture on the right is doing on this page.

Anyway, to save you the trouble of looking for it,  I thought I’d just repeat it here for those of you that are interested – and as I have only just sold the last nostepinne I had, and wasn’t actually going to buy any more in at the moment – this is NOT a sales ploy! (But do have a scroll down to the previous post – smile!)

Originally posted in August of 2015 – 

HuH – I can’t find a way to copy the whole thing after all, but this is the most important stuff – especially the video!

This is a very useful tutorial I found via Sheila Dixon’s Hand Spinning News, which has a video that takes the mystique out of how to use a Nostepinne, or any useful stick, to allow you to wind hand spun yarn, or just oddments of wool into tidy balls, manually.

It is copied directly from Roving Crafters – she calls them “cakes” – and she says on her blog that it can be freely copied – so I have!

How to Hand Wind Yarn Into a Cake

Winding warn cakes Confession #1:

I like to wind yarn. Its fun. Its an excuse to play with my yarn and when I wind up other knitters’ and crocheters’ yarn (I’ve been known to do that) I get to play with their yarn too. But its more than just play time. A nicely wound yarn cake will save you headache and frustration and make for a more pleasant knitting and crocheting experience.

A yarn cake sits flat on the table. It has a nice easy end to draw out of the center. If its done right, the yarn won’t tangle up and the cake won’t flop or bounce around. A yarn cake as a great and wonderful thing and nearly every yarn shop in the world will wind up your yarn into a cake with their ball winder.

But you don’t need a ball winder to make a yarn cake. You just need a stick. A dowel will work. So will a broom handle, a fat knitting needle, or the empty tube from your next roll of toilet paper. If you want to be fancy-pants about hand winding yarn, you can get a nostepinne. But only really hopeless yarn-geeks bother with those.

Confession #2: I own three nostepinnes.

I also own a ball winder but sometimes I make yarn cakes by hand and not just for fun. If I only have a small amount of yarn, say 50 yards or less, I wind it into a little cake using a small nostepinne thin stick. That works out much better.