Friday, 7 July 2017

Harlequin Blanket

Finished off another blanket project. Seen here on a sunny morning on the croft in NW Scotland.

Knitted in soft pastel shades of blue, pink, lilac, primrose with a neutral shade to break up the colours. When the blanket hangs from one corner the repeating contrasting squares resemble diamond shapes, reminding me of harlequin fabric prints, hence the name. A two tone crochet border was also worked around the edge. 

It's the second blanket I've made in Debbie Bliss Baby Cashmerino. Can't seem to fault this yarn, it is very easy to work with, washes really well and feels soft.

Instructions how to make this blanket below. Downloadable PDF available soon.

Debbie Bliss Baby Cashmerino 50g
x2 204 Baby Blue
x1 608 Pale Lilac
x1 018 Citrus
x1 600 Light Pink
x2 001 Primrose
x5 065 Clotted Cream

You will also need
Pair of straight 4mm knitting needles
3.5mm crochet hook 
A tapestry needle for sewing the seams and weaving in ends

Finished Size
80cm x 92cm (32ins x 36ins)

21 st x 38 rows over 10cm

For each square cast on 25 stitches ind knit each row until work measures approx. 11cm (4.5 ins) and looks square shaped. Cast off. Make a note of how many rows have been knit and then make all the squares the same size. This will help keep a uniform shape and make sewing together easier. 

This blanket is 7 squares wide x 8 squares long (total 56). The following combination of colours, x6 Light Blue, x6 Primrose x6 Citrus, x5 Pale Pink, x5 Pale Lilac, x28 Clotted Cream

Making up
Lay out the squares following the diagram as shown. They look randomly spaced, but follow the sequence blue, yellow, green, pink, purple starting from the bottom right hand corner and then working from right to left. Orientate so that each square joins a cast on/cast off edge.

Use the neutral coloured yarn to sew all the seams in mattress stitch. Join the squares making vertical columns and then join the columns together. Weave in all the loose ends after seaming, working in along the back of each seam. Work a single crochet chain all the way around the edge in Baby Blue. Work single crochet in Primrose into each blue single chain stitch. Weave in loose ends.

Diagram showing squares sequence

Sunday, 2 July 2017

Wild Flowers and Landscape Summer 2017

From time to time I wander from the knitting pathway. This crochet project is one such example and has been a long time in the making. It's been in and out of the cupboard on numerous occasions. Started in July 2013 (see here), where did all the time go? 

First thing to mention is the hexagon motif, it's from Polka Dot Cottage Lakeside Forest Blanket by Lisa Clarke. I was originally  following this pattern but changed course after I'd made several hexagons, having a much reduced colour palette than the one suggested in the pattern. I moved on to making up my own colour arrangements and joining sequence.

Those with an eye for detail may notice this blanket isn't quite symmetrical.  The alternate rows along the horizontal lines number 9 and 10. There is a missing row of 9 hexagons along the top edge (or 10 along the bottom edge depending how you look at it). I was short of the creamy white colour which features in each of the hexagons. After a few online searches I couldn't find a supply of the cream, maybe discontinued? One of the pitfalls of taking so long to complete a project!

Here's some of information about the yarn etc:

Debbie Bliss Bluefaced Leicester DK 50g
stone#505 (cream)
pale blue#513

crochet hook 4mm

total number hexagons 76

blanket measures approximately 124cm x 80cm (49ins x 32ins)

I can't claim to have been inspired by the summer flowers and  landscape here on the west coast of Scotland when starting this blanket in 2013. But the colours in summer 2017 do seem to be reflected in the yarn, distant grey mountains, golden Buttercups, mauve Orchids, white Cotton Grass, green Sedges, blue Forget Me Nots (and rarely seen blue sky).

         Orchids    Buttercups     
Forget Me Nots      Cotton Grass

Here I am on the home straight joining and weaving in all those loose ends...

There have been plenty of rainy days to work on this blanket. Glad to now see it finished and photographed on a sunny morning here on 1st July. Four years almost to the day since I started the project in July 2013.

Wednesday, 14 June 2017

Behind the scenes...

Regular readers may remember in February I mentioned my visit to the Knitting and Crochet Guild (KCG) Collection in West Yorkshire - two blog posts, you can find them in the links here Part 1 and Part 2. There was so much to see during the few hours of the visit and so much more I didn't have time to see. 

Since then, I've been back to the archive on a number of occassions as a volunteer. This has given me the opportunity to see close up some of the work going on behind the scenes. Hopefully, in this post there's a snap shot of what I've been involved in helping with during the last few months - but it is just that only a snap shot. 

I've been helping to sort and record a small fragment of over 50,000 items of printed material going back to around 1900. These include amongst others, knitting patterns from the early 1980's to the 1930's.

The pattern "brands" or "spinners" range from Emu, Jaeger, Hayfield, Patons, Rowan. Names I'd heard of but there are many more from the past such as Golden Eagle which I'd never heard of.

In 2014 the Guild was delighted to receive the archive of the Patons pattern collection, it is the largest collection of Patons leaflets anywhere. 

Here's a sample of the thousands of Patons knitting patterns from the 70's and 80's. It's been fascinating working on this era and taking a trip back to my childhood knitted memories. 

Fairisle is so popular just now, it's interesting to see from these '80's patterns that it has probably never gone out of fashion. Here's a selection of patterns I was sorting through which caught my eye because of the yoke colourwork.

Just this week I was making a list (for the digital record) of the pattern numbers held in the collection for Golden Eagle, a popular spinner in the 30's and 40's. 

Here's a few of the styles that caught my eye...

Note the feather and fan stitch here on this 1930's era design, a stitch so popular currently.

Members of the Knitting and Crochet Guild can have access to a large number of patterns from the collection. See the KCG publications page for information about what's available - here.

Barbara Smith is the Publications Curator with a wealth of knowledge about the collection and history of knitting. She regularly writes articles about the collection on her blog Knitting Now and Then

There's so much more at the archive including actual knit and crochet samples, shade cards, a library with over 2000 books, tools and accessories. 

Hopefully, I'll be able to tell you more soon about volunteering at the archive.

In the meantime, there's lots of information on the Knitting and Crochet Guild Collection website.

Thursday, 8 June 2017

Summer Coastal Stripy Blanket

It's June and officially summer, despite the cool, wet and windy weather of recent days. Here's some news about a finished project, a summer blanket with a coastal look in blue stripes. 

Inspiration for this blanket started in February when I was introduced to a new yarn called Jeanie Denim Look from Stylecraft. I liked the shades of blue and the soft feel of this cotton yarn. There are four colours (amounts used in brackets):

Dixie #9349 (light blue x3) 100g balls
Memphis #9350 (medium blue x2)
Delta #9351 (dark blue x2)
Texas #9352 (blue grey x2)

The yarn is 60% cotton, 40% acrylic in 100g balls of 210m/230 yards. It's machine washable - I put this blanket on a hand wash cycle and it came out perfectly. There was no running of the colours which was very good as there are three darker shades combined with a lighter one. 

The recommended needle size is 5mm. However, for this blanket I wanted to have a stretchy and looser texture so went for slightly larger needle size of 5.5mm.

Image courtesy of Stylecraft

Initially the stripes were going to be completely small and random in colour. But after starting with lots of narrow bands I was keen to make faster progress, so opted for some wider stripes. The wider ones are worked towards the centre of the blanket. At the middle band the stripes then repeat, decreasing in the same colour/size as for the first half. Below are some basic instructions for making a similar blanket.

To make a similar Jeanie Coastal Blanket

Cast on 165 stitches in grey on 5.5mm circular needles (I used circulars to accommodate the large number of stitches). The sides have a band of 5 stitches worked continually in knit stitch back and front. To start and finish the blanket there is a band of a few garter stitches to edge and prevent curling of the stocking stitch.

The main body of the blanket is mostly in stocking stitch with the exception of the "dotted grey lines". These line patterns are worked over three rows. 

Row 1: With the right side facing work a row of alternate one stitch grey and one stitch of the working colour. 

Row 2: Wrong side, work a row of knit stitches in grey (they will appear as a row of purl stitches on the right side).

Row 3: With right side facing work a row of alternate one stitch grey and one stitch new colour.

Continue in new colour in stocking stitch. Work until required depth of stripe is achieved. 

The finished size of the blanket is 98cm (38ins) x 126cm (50ins).

I really enjoyed working with this yarn and love the smooth feel of the cotton. Perfect for a cosy wrap on typical British, cool, wet and windy summer days.

Monday, 13 March 2017

Swedish Bohus Knitting KCG Collection

If you read the previous post about the Edinburgh Yarn Festival I mentioned the Knitting and Crochet Guild (KCG) display which featured Bohus knitting. This is a style of knitting I had heard of but knew little about. Trish who was volunteering on behalf of the KCG told me a brief history. 

Originating in the Swedish province of Bohuslan, Bohus knitting began as a cottage industry to provide income for poor families. Run as a knitting cooperative it was active from 1939 to 1969. Emma Jacobsson was the founder and leading light who recruited artists and designers to produce designs for the cooperative. During the 1940's the distinctive multi coloured style was developed. Eventually, Bohus became highly fashionable with celebrities of the day among the clients such as Ingrid Bergman, Eartha Kit, Grace Kelly to name a few.

The basic knitting technique is very similar to knitting stranded Fair Isle. Whereas stranded Fair Isle colour work is generally knitted in stocking stitch with a smooth finish on the right side. Bohus has rows of purl stitches on the right side giving a texture of raised stitches. Trish was in the process of knitting a small sample which you can see below. The purl stitches are arranged on the right side of the work, both in rows and waves across the sample.

The main display board shows stitch patterns of garments in the collection. If you look to the lower right hand corner you'll notice a photo of the Swedish actress Ingrid Bergman.

Bohus sweater design worn by Ingrid Bergman.

An example was on display, no less, of that same sweater design Ingrid Bergman is wearing in the photo above (not the actual sweater though).

The sweater was originally designed by Anna-Lisa Mannheimer circa 1940. The pattern is called The Red Edge and is reproduced in "Poems of Color: Knitting the Bohus Tradition" by Wendy Keele.  Published in 1995 this book has 46 patterns, is full of historical information and photographs from the era. Examples of projects and patterns can be found on the book's Ravelry page.

Further items on display include a hat, scarf and gloves in the distinctive pattern and colour combinations. Items were probably purchased in Sweden around the 1950's and were part of the Coats archive.

I found the display to be inspiring and informative. This is a knitting style I'd like to try, just need to find more hours in the day to fit in the knitting projects I have in mind...