I recently read the book, A History of Hand Knitting by Richard Rutt, the former, Bishop of Leicester. He also knitted since the age of seven. I love to knit and I am interested in history so I thought it would be interesting to read. I am also interested in textile history. If you are interested in knitting history it is worth reading but others may lose interest. The book was well researched, but very dry. The author clearly did extensive research. The book is organized in chronological order. The book covers the following time frames: before the 1500, the Restoration, the Victorian age, World War 1 up to the 1980s. The book also covers the history of kitting traditions in parts of the British isles, North and South America, Slavic countries, Greece, then India, Africa and Asia.
One interesting fact from the book is that knitting stockings was a way for people from England to make extra money starting in Elizabethan times. You can tell the author extensively researched the book. He constantly mentioned books he read and people he talked to for the book. If you are interested in vintage pattern books, you will find several names of books and authors to read and collect. At several points in the book he point out assumptions from history and debunks them. However, I felt like he got too bogged down in detail. He would mention a piece of knitting then describe it in exhaustive detail. I did learn a lot from the book and I think it is worth reading if you care about textiles and history.
A few weeks ago, I went to a library book sale with my mom and found some great vintage books. I found 2 needlework guides from 1973 called Make it Yourself and a McCall’s Needlework Treasury from 1964. I also found a book on making rugs from scrap yarn and a book on freeform crochet. I enjoy looking for vintage knitting books at thrift stores and library book sales. I don’t have the space to constantly collect books but I like occasionally seeing what I can find. I have always liked history and I also like reading vintage patterns.
Just last week or so, I happened to find The Complete Encyclopedia of Needlework by Therese de Dillmont at a local thrift store. When I first saw it, I didn’t buy it. However, I thought it looked familiar so I went back home and googled the book. Once I googled the title, I realized it is a piece of textile history. I nervously drove back to the thrift store the next day hoping it was still there. Luckily, it was still on the shelf and I bought it. It is a very thorough guide to needlework and people use it as a reference even today. I am excited to have a copy. You can read this book on Gutenburg.com but it is nice to have a printed copy. I just read the book A History of Hand Knitting by Richard Rutt. From that book, I got a list of other authors and books to look for when I am out looking for other vintage books.
I thought I would write a post about my knitting goals and what I want to make next. As we start a new month and go into a new season, it felt like a good time to think about how I want to build my skills and what I want to do differently with my craft projects. These are the knitting techniques and projects that have been on my mind lately.
Learn to knit socks
I have wanted to learn to knit socks for a long time. I even bought a couple of books on sock knitting and a few skeins of sock yarn. I am not sure when I will get around to it but I want to learn at some point.
Knit a sweater using the percentage system
The percentage system is a way of making a sweater without a pattern that was devised by Elizabeth Zimmerman; it is described in her books. A couple of her books that describe it are Knitting Without Tears and Knitting Workshop. I have read couple of books by Elizabeth Zimmerman and I am a big fan. I love how she encourages her readers to be more creative and knit without a pattern. I am hoping to start this project this fall or winter.
Make more garments
I have realized that I haven’t made a garment in 2 years and I really want to change that. I am thinking my next knitting pattern will be a summer top. I want to start it once I finish the scarf or shawl I am knitting right now.
Make a cardigan
As I stated above, I want to make more garments. I also want to make items for my wardrobe. I wear cardigans constantly and my favorite cardigan is wearing out. I am thinking I want to make a cardigan instead of buying one. I am eyeing a couple of patterns to make for this winter.
Use up some of my older yarn stash
I have had some of the yarn in my stash for years. Some of this yarn sits in my stash because I don’t know what to do with it. I started the lace scarf I am making to use up the yarn I had leftover from a sweater I made. I had a little over a skein left and I wanted to use up the yarn. I would like to do similar projects to use up odd bits of yarn in my stash.
Recently I wrote about the scrap yarn in my stash and the projects I have done to use up the yarn. One night I looked up stash busting patterns on Ravelry and found some beautiful patterns. There are a lot of lovely and creative ways to use up yarn. Here are a few of my favorites.
1: A lot of people like to make blankets out of mitered squares. I have seen a lot of pictures on Instagram of people making blankets made out of mitered squares using fingering weight or worsted weight yarn. I used these instructions to make a scarf but a lot of people use these instructions to make a blanket.
2: I like this winter hat pattern that has been in my Ravelry queue.
3:I absolutely love this beautiful pillow pattern. I love the bright colors.
4: This is a cute pattern for a snake.
5: I almost have to include a pattern for a log cabin blanket. I love how they look and want to make one at some point. This is another pattern that is in my Ravelry Queue
6: This crocheted lace shawl would be a good pattern for summer
7: The designer designed this knitted shawl to use up her scraps of fingering weight yarn.
One thing I love about being into crafts is finding ways to use what you have to be creative. I love looking up creative ways to upcycle. I also enjoy reading about projects that use ordinary household objects to make something creative and interesting. In that vein, I want to write a small series on using up scrap yarn. This week I will talk about my experiences with stash busting.
In my stash, I have 2 bags of small amounts of yarn that are leftover from other projects or from projects I unraveled. I also have several skeins of leftover yarn. I can’t bear to throw out any of it no matter how small the amount. I keep thinking I could find a use for it. Originally, I kept all the odd bits of yarn because I wanted to learn freeform crochet and I kept thinking that I could use it in that technique.
I haven’t done much freeform crochet but I have used up scarp yarn in other ways. Periodically, I like to go through my stash and and find ways to use up odd bits of yarn. I made the bag in the middle picture to use up scrap yarn. I recently made these slippers to use up an odd skein of bulky weight yarn. I also made a hat and several scarves to use up odd bits of my stash. Some of the projects work better than others on stash busting. I will start a project to use up scrap yarn and end up buying more to finish it. I started the scarf in the top picture to use up some purple and pink yarn I had but ended up buying 2 skeins to finish it. I bought the grey to add a neutral color and I ran out of the purple and had to buy more. I wrote about the scarf project here. With the blanket in the bottom picture, I drastically underestimated how much yarn it would take and had to buy a lot more yarn than I was originally trying to use up.
May 2nd was Ravelry’s 10 anniversary. I thought I would take a moment and write about what the site means to me. Ravelry is an amazing place. It is a an online community for knitters, crocheters and spinners. It has a database where you can look up patterns and yarn. It also has a place to list the projects you have made and a queue to list the patterns you want to make. Plus there are a large number of forums where you can interact with other fiber types. You can look up a yarn and see what others have made with that yarn You also can look up a pattern and read what others have to say about the pattern and see what it looks like when it is finished.
Thanks to Ravelry, I found out about Elizabeth Zimmerman, freeform crochet, yarn bombing and a lot of my favorite designers. I also received countless tips on how to expand my skills. I learned about art projects that asked knitters and/or crocheters to help out and make stuff for the exhibits. I have made pieces for 2 projects. Here is a link to one of the projects. I also participated in the Mandalas for Marinke project. Here is a blog post showing the Mandalas I made for the project. Ravelry has even helped with non fiber related things. I have found out about some of my favorite books from a book group I joined on Ravelry.
One of my goals is to design and publish my own patterns. Without Ravelry, I wouldn’t know that this option exists. Plus there are 2 groups on Ravelry that are incredibly useful if you want to design patterns.They are Designers and budding designers. Both groups have amazing resource pages. Thanks to those pages, I found out about 2 Craftsy classes and a lot of books I could read on knitwear design.The Ravelry forums have been a lifeline for me at various times. Just about any knitting or crochet question you have could be answered on the forums. Recently, I went on the forums to find out how to try on a top down sweater before it is finished and found out about some tools I didn’t know about before. In short is an amazing community.
Recently, I took part in the Initiate Knit Design Challenge that Francoise Danoy from Aroha Knits hosted. I didn’t finish it but I learned a lot and figured out how to use an odd skein of yarn I had in my stash. I wanted to do this challenge because I have wanted to design my own patterns for a while. I felt like I needed a push to start working on my design ideas. In the last couple of years, I have been working more and more without a pattern and being more creative with yarn. However, I had written down very few of my ideas and wasn’t anywhere near being ready to publish any of them. I wanted to do this challenge to push myself to move forward with my design ideas. Even though I didn’t finish, I learned a lot and finished the lessons on my own time.
The challenge consisted of 5 email lessons that were sent over 10 days. She also did a daily video lesson on Facebook live in her Facebook group. The challenge had 5 lessons. Part one was inspiration, part 2 was sketching, part 3 was swatching, part 4 was about math and part 5 is writing the pattern. I got as far as part 3 during the challenge. It took me a long time to figure out what to do, I couldn’t decide what stitch to use. In step one, I learned about using vision boards and I like using them. I definitely want to do more with that. I also learned you can look up knitting stitches on Pinterest. For the challenge, I was trying to make a narrow scarf. I wanted to use up an odd skein of yarn in my stash. I looked up stitches in a stitch dictionary by Barbara Walker and found so many beautiful stitches. I struggled with swatching; it took me a long time because I didn’t have enough yarn do both a swatch and make a scarf. I ended up using another similar yarn to swatch even though that was not encouraged in the challenge. I eventually did find a stitch pattern that I really like after the challenge was over. The top photos shows the stitch I chose and the progress I have made so far. I love the stitch and am really enjoying making this scarf. I watched and read the lessons for part 4 and 5 on my own and found out about some very useful online calculators. In addition to doing the project for the challenge, I also found a lace stitch that should work well for some yarn that I love but didn’t know how to use. I also got an idea for a shawl design. For that reason alone it was worth my time because it helped me come up with ideas for new projects that I am excited to start.
I recently completed a shawl class by Stephen West. I was hoping it would give me the knowledge I needed to design shawl patterns. After the class, I felt a lot more familiar with basic shawl shapes and the techniques used most often in Shawl making. For one of my next knitting projects, I want to design a triangle shawl and this class gave me more confidence that could design my own. It made me want to knit his shawl patterns. When I had finished the class, I put several of his shawls into my Ravelry queue. I found out about his Herbavore Shawl Pattern from this class and I started knitting it.
Before I started the class, I had already done a garter tab cast on and made a triangle shawl. The first part of the class covered the garter tab cast on, the triangle shawl shape, make one increases, and yarn over increases. That part was a review for me. Then he went over how to use increases to make new shapes and how to distribute increases. The last part of the class covered binding off, blocking and color and texture. I learned some new cast off methods and new ways to increase and decrease to get different shapes. Stephen West is so upbeat that watching these videos brightened my day. I could tell that he is incredibly creative. When he was talking about how he designed the Herbavore shawl, he said that he was doing a triangle shawl and got bored so he added new increase sections. Overall, I enjoyed the class and learned something.
Since I recently wrote about the blanket I made, I wanted to write about other projects I have been making. I just finished making slipper socks. This pattern is the Ribby Slipper Socks pattern by Cathy Carron. I made this project because I needed a pair of slippers and was looking for an easy, relaxing knitting pattern. I decided to make slippers instead of buying them. I had some navy bulky weight yarn in my stash that I wasn’t sure how to use. I realized this pattern would be a good fit for the yarn. I rarely make the same pattern twice but this is the third time making these slippers. In the past, I had used this pattern to make my dad a pair of slippers for Christmas one year and I made myself a pair that wore out.
I also just finished this string bag. I am hoping to use the bag when I visit to farmers markets. The yarn is Martha Stewart brand yarn I got on clearance one summer and never could figure out how to use. I finally decided to do this bag pattern. It is an easy pattern and a good use for this yarn. I am trying to decide if I want to make a second bag.
As far as current works in progress, I am working on the blanket I wrote about earlier. I have also been working on the Herbavore shawl. I found out about it when I did Stephen West’s Craftsy class on shawl design. The pattern uses increases in a novel way and I wanted to see how he did it. I am using Manos del Uraguay Allegria yarn in the Atlantico colorway. The yarn was an impulse buy. I saw this yarn and had to buy it because I loved the colors. I have been trying to use up my older stash but I was excited about using this yarn with the pattern. Starting this pattern has been harder than I thought. I had to use several stitch markers to separate the increases and there is no resting purl row. I kept having to rip it out and start over I had to keep careful count of the stitches. Eventually saw how many stitches I needed to use between each set of stitch markers and was able to get the hang of it by carefully counting the stitches. I was about to give up when I got it. I love working with this yarn; I love the colors and once I got past the first few rows, the pattern isn’t that difficult.