Monthly Archives: June 2015

The Crochet Of Yesteryear

I’m holding a reproduction copy of the first ever edition of ‘The Woman’s Weekly’, published in 1911, a magazine that is still going strong today, as far as I know. I’m turning the pages out of historical curiosity and because, well, vintage knitting/crochet.

1911 edition of Woman's Weekly

Apparently ‘WWW’ stood for ‘Woman’s Weekly Wednesday’ in those days: I guess they’ve had to ditch that acronym, in recent years.

May I show you a few things? Let’s begin with the sublime, before moving on to the ridiculous.

I was disappointed that there was practically no knitting, other than an unillustrated pattern for ladies’ and gentlemen’s bed socks that was so brief, I can show you it here in full:-

vintage knitted bed socks pattern

<whispers> Had they not heard of gauge? Don’t think I’ll be casting on that one.

There was plenty of crochet, however: some stitch instructions for beginners, and a couple of dainty lace designs. 1911 was a time when facts were facts and anyone thinking differently was just wrong, and let me tell you, There Was Only One Way To Hold A Crochet Hook. (The ‘pen’ grasp, rather than the ‘knife’ grasp, in case you’re interested, with the hook protruding a very precise 1.5 inches from the tip of one’s forefinger. Can you imagine the side-eye in social circles when some young upstart held her hook incorrectly? Anyway, I’m all about the ‘knife’ grip, so I’d have been a social outcast.)

image

I rather like the mistletoe lace, worked as crochet leaves sewn on to a crochet foundation. And it seems like the WW (or rather WWW) staff liked it too, since it was billed as “one of the most charming patterns ever designed,” and “the first mistletoe lace pattern ever”. (How did they know? These people didn’t even have Ravelry!)

crochet mistletoe lace

You know, this could be pretty, perhaps worked double-width as a table runner against a contrasting cloth for the Christmas table. There’s a pretty edging design, too, described as especially suitable for your underclothes threaded with ribbon. Um. No. But I hope I’m not snarking too hard, because I love reading this stuff from a historical interest point of view.

The rest of the magazine, especially the adverts, is a mixture of stuff that makes me think plus ça change, and stuff that makes me go, “Woah….” whilst waggling my hands in front of me and backing away slowly. In the former category, we have the delights of “the removal of over-fat” (loving that terminology) using an exciting new medication called Antipon. I’m not quite sure what Antipon does, but it’s clear from the text of this advert-disguised-as-article-in-a-way-that-would-be-unethical-today that It Definitely Works. There’s also the unspecified bust enhancement remedy, and the treatment of ‘hair neglect’:-

image

Amongst the slightly more concerning content (to these modern eyes), is Our Very Own Medical Adviser, who is confident that infant convulsions are caused by eating the wrong sort of food, and that they may be treated by dunking the poor wee convulsing child in a warm bath whilst pouring cold water over their head.

Let’s just leave that one there, shall we, and hastily time-travel back to 2015.

By the way, here’s my usual statement that the infrequency of blogging at present is related to ongoing IVF. (Only another 10 days to go, so I hope to be more productive after that.) And I was in the children’s hospital with one of the Toddler Twinnage for a few days (he’s fine now), so it’s been a little crazy and even quite un-knitty here for a while.

But let me finish by showing you something fun, that’s got nowt to do with yarn. I don’t know whether you’ve ever seen these kits for children to look after caterpillars and watch as they mutate into lovely Painted Lady butterflies. (I say ‘look after’, but caterpillars make delightfully undemanding pets.) I bought a set for the Toddler Twinnage, and it was all rather successful. We had tiny fluffy caterpillars, then we had stonking great chubby (‘over-fat’ in WW parlance) waddling caterpillars, then we had cocoons hanging from the lid of their enclosure, and then suddenly and magically, we had beautiful Painted Ladies. When we set them free in the garden, they seemed reluctant to leave probably too institutionalised and rested on our hands for a while, delighting both my sons, who now regard themselves as experts on butterfly handling.

Insect Lore butterflies

My crochet made a good place to land, too, though it slowed my progress on my latest crazy project, somewhat.

image

Some very large and very crazy crochet is on its way. I can’t wait to show you…

Acknowledgement: Mother Twisted, many thank yous for the vintage Woman’s Weekly. And I’m so excited that by the end of this week, we’ll be living in the same county as each other!

15 Comments

Filed under Crochet

Just What I Need: Another Crazy Idea

And…. voting is now closed for the Stylecraft colour competition. All of the shades that we shortlisted were in their own ways scrumptious, but now that the poll is done, I can come out of my shell and say that I so hope that one of the greens will win. A soft, nature-inspired green. Or a vibrant one like this, maybe?

'Grass Green' is on the shortlist. (Image credit: Stylecraft yarns.)

‘Grass Green’ is on the shortlist. (Image credit: Stylecraft yarns.)

Anyway, we shall see.

I was thinking of all the shortlisted shades yesterday in a yarn shop (where else?) in Abingdon, Oxfordshire. Below, you can see their racks of mostly-Stylecraft, and I noticed that it was particularly amongst the greens that they’d squeezed in balls of rival shades to bulk out the rainbow. C’mon you greens! The photo is terrible because I was slightly embarrassed to be seen snapping their yarn. So let’s keep it small, OK?

Stylecraft yarn

Anyway, I was in the shop for other stuff: chunkier yarn, lots and lots of chunkier yarn, because I have yet another plan. Never mind all the things I should be knitting/crocheting/doing (such as finishing writing up the house-bag pattern/tutorial – I AM working on that, honest), but I have a big, crazy plan, part of which involves a much larger-scale version of the crocheted house design. (And it’s not a bag, this time. It involves a large item of furniture.)

crochet house bag

So I lugged home a sack of yarn so large that the Stoic Spouse’s first words when I got back were, “Oh, you bought an actual sheep?” He should know better than to say something like this, because round here, that sort of remark is likely to be punished by my bringing home an actual real live baa-ing, munching, pooing sheep next time. Then we’d find out how stoic he really was.

Anyway, this new project is going to be big, but should work up pretty speedily due to the aran-weight yarn. Here’s the start of the roof tiles. My feet are there for scale. They are not small feet. And that ball of yarn is properly large, I tell you:-

image

So, I shall bring you images of the craziness as it evolves. For anyone who hasn’t seen my last few-and-far-between posts, I’m writing here less than usual at the moment because I’m mid-IVF. Really the instruction sheets for the drugs should’ve said: WARNING: MAY CAUSE A REDUCTION IN BLOGGING FREQUENCY. But hey-ho, maybe it’s the drugs that made me crazy enough to come up with my mad new crochet plan, in which case I owe them some thanks.

40 Comments

Filed under Crochet

Subverting The Medium Of Colourwork

Friday, my fine friend, you have been a long time coming this week. And by the way, ANYONE WHO RECEIVED AN EMAIL NOTIFYING YOU OF A BAG PATTERN POST THAT DOESN’T YET EXIST, PLEASE SEE THE END OF THIS POST!

Anyway, the Knitting And Crochet Guild / Yarn Stories competition is closing. Did you enter? Best o’ luck if you did. I can’t wait to see everyone’s entries when they’re shown online.

For anyone who hasn’t seen it, the Knitting and Crochet Guild promotes both crafts within the UK and also houses a collection of historical and modern samples of knitted/crocheted objects, as well as yarn and associated paraphernalia. Anyone with a passion for these crafts can join, whether you’ve been knitting/hooking for a week or a century. The competition involved designing and working a 15cm square in either knitting or crochet, with a design inspired by artefacts in the collection. The best entries are apparently going to be sewn together to make a blanket, and the winner will receive lots of luscious Yarn Stories yarn.

Anyway, being more than a little in love with stranded colourwork, I was drawn to this image of a higgledy-piggledy pile of intricate fairisle jumpers. Some of the colour combinations are maybe reminiscent of decades past, but the designs are timeless, and I decided to try and capture both of these elements in my entry. Perhaps I should have spotted that this was quite ambitious in a little square 36 stitches by 45 stitches. Oh well, you live and learn… or possibly just live, in my case.

First, to the yarn. I chose some Yarn Stories merino double knit in a combination of shades inspired by the ’70s.

image

Can you spot the tell-tale signs of frenzied package-opening?

And then I got out some knitter’s graph paper and began to doodle, and erase, and doodle, and erase, and fetch green tea, and doodle, because I love the fun and the freedom of creating stranded designs. And eventually the green tea ran out, and I came up with this:-

stranded jumper design

What?! You took an entire pot of green tea to come up with THAT?!

The problem is, I decided to go a bit off piste with the whole colourwork malarkey, and instead of sticking to a cosy, sensible two shades per row, I used up to four shades per row, and worked a sort of stranded-intarsia hybrid (“strandtarsia”??) that made for some – ahem – not especially tidy knitting. Don’t try this at home, people: it will hurt your fingers and it will hurt your brain. But how else was a girl to cram a world of orange-laden 1970s shades into one small square? So here we have it (after a certain amount of swearing): my tiny take on the Guild’s penchant for fairisle jumpers:-

image

And though I’d usually show you the back of a piece of stranded work because, y’know, the Knitting Police demand that you show off your ultra-neat floats, I think I’ll pass on doing that just now, and show you another shot of the front instead:-

fairisle jumper design

Yikes, please don’t look closely. I used intarsia to keep the three strong colours all within the outline of the jumper, and worked a mad jumble of twisted floats as I tried to marshal the chaos into an identifiable representation of a jumper.

I Will Not Be Doing This Again.

Meanwhile thank you for your kind comments about the IVF after my last entry. Posts may continue to be a bit more infrequent than usual for another month or so, after which time, normal regular silliness will return.

________________________________

Now, for anyone who subscribes to this blog by email, you will have received a message a few days ago saying there’s a new post up with the crochet house bag pattern inside. But had you clicked on the link, you’d have seen nothing much of anything other than a load of ellipses and drafted notes. I was working on the pattern and accidentally hit ‘publish’. Yikes! I clawed back the post, I clawed back notifications from every social medium out there, but the one thing I couldn’t retrieve was the messages sent out automatically by email. Apologies. Blame my IVF brain. The pattern is coming soonish, but it needs a goodish chunk more work before it’ll be done.

20 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

Socks. And Mint Tea.

Oh, happy feet! Just look at this colourful sockage!

Noro socks

(Let’s just gloss over what the Stoic Spouse said about my sanity when he found me lying on my back on the hard tiled floor, crunched upwards in order to photograph my own feet.)

Yes, these chaps are the Noro Kureyon socks, and I won’t mention again the prima donna-ish proclivities of this yarn. The colours are stunningly intense, and the way they slowly shift makes for knitted fabric that’s reminiscent of a painted landscape. Happy feet. Oh yes indeed. But I don’t think I’ll be knitting any more socks in Noro. And judging by some of your comments about your own experiences of Noro when I posted about this stuff before, neither will many of you.

image

As you can see, these socks are fraternal twins. Yes I know, some of you would rather eat your own knitting needles than fail to create perfectly identical twin hosiery. But I do like the quirky individuality of non-identical socks, and it’s a medium effective defence against the dreaded Second Sock Syndrome.

The thing is, having given birth to identical twin children, identical twin socks feels like a match too far. Here are my children’s feet:-

image

So that, my friends, is why there are no matching socks at The Twisted Yarn.

Meanwhile, the deadline for the Knitting And Crochet Guild competition is almost upon us, and I’ve just finished weaving in the ends of my entry. I’ll snap a few photos of it for you before I send it off. Are you entering? Good luck! It’s been a bit of a last-minute rush (just like everything else in my life, really). I’ve been working fuelled by mint ‘tea’, made using leaves of the mint plants that sneak through our fence from next door in late spring.

Minty yumptiousness

Minty yumptiousness

The easiest pick-me-up in the world: put a few leaves in teapot and pour over boiling water. Job done.

image

It’s super-refreshing and tastes sweet even though it contains no sugar. Win!

Now, I know I’ve been uncharacteristically quiet on here for the past couple of weeks. It seems that the side-effects of IVF medications include a reduction in blogging activity, and even – yikes – a reduction in knitting! In six weeks’ time, it’ll all be over and I’ll either be pregnant or I won’t. Meanwhile, I might be a slightly unreliable blogger. Sorry about that.

50 Comments

Filed under Knitting