CLOTH #2 – FINISHED, PLUS BONUS DOODLE

Waaayyy behind on my blogging, I’m now not only finished with the stitching on the first Forehead Cloth, I’m finished with the second one, too.

Because I have only a limited supply of the excellent hand-dyed thread, and the first triangle had a voracious appetite, I decided to work the second both smaller in size, and with only two plies of the four-ply silk floss.  I am not sure that the thread maker intended it to be used stripped into plies, but with patience and gentle encouragement, I was able to do so with minimal tangling and no losses.  Gentle finger spinning counter to the direction that the plies were assembled helped, as did tension on the strand while separating.  And it worked!  I have more than enough to finish, as you will see below.

On the design – I went through a couple of iterations.  I started with one from my forthcoming book:

Forehead2-01

I liked the larger motif, but not the smaller one.  It has a very prominent cross, and while it might not have been so apparent when a large area was worked, I noticed it.  I am not comfortable wearing crosses, so I drafted up a new companion motif to use in its place.  You can see the old one just peeking out at the top of the photo below, for comparison.

Forehead2-03

I liked the visual balance of this one better. While I lost some of the light/dark checkerboard effect of the original, I gained an interesting play of curves and frames.  Considering that this pattern conforms to the 45-deg/90-deg/180-deg composition rule found in just about every historical piece of linear stitch count-work (“Knight’s Move” two-over-one up stitches are exceedingly rare), seeing curves at all is almost an optical illusion.

Here is the final, plus a bonus doodle on top, which I’ll discuss in a bit:

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After I finish the bonus bit on top, I will remove the basted guidelines, gently clean my stitching, and draft out the lining and strings.  I’ve got some pre-shrunk muslin I’ll use as the lining.  I may use a length of this even weave, folded or rolled into a quarter-inch strip for the ties.  That appears to be the treatment most like the extant historical pieces.  The other option is using some purchased woven tape, which I think would look clunky and mismatched, by comparison.  In any case, there is no needle lace trim, adornments on the tie strands, or other embellishments for these.  I suppose I could add paillettes to this one, but I’ll save that bit of effort for a future matched coif-cloth set. 

On to questions from my inboxes:

You said you proof against established work.  What do you mean by that?

I cue my work off established, stitched areas.  Unless there’s no way around it, I rarely establish a very long outline or outlying branch teetering off into as yet unstitched territory.  I tend to bend my working logic so that I am usually stitching relatively close to finished bits.  That way I can easily confirm that I am still on-count and parallel to the rest of the piece.  If I am off, it’s almost invariably because I missed count on a diagonal, going over or up an extra thread (sometimes both).  I can reduce the chance of error if I do that diagonal by eyeballing a one-stitch horizontal or vertical displacement from an established grid point, rather than making the diagonal with no point of nearby reference.   In this way I am constantly checking my work for “true.”

Another way to proof off established work is to work attachment point stitches when they are encountered, if I intend on finishing up that divergent design segment and making that meeting later on from another direction.  It’s much easier to see and meet up with a little “twig,” and to spot potential deviations early on, than it is to meet up with a solid line of stitching, where identifying the individual stitches can be tricky, later on.

What thread are you using/Where did you get it?

I got it at Birka – four ply filament silk hand dyed using iron and tannin (full disclaimer here) by my Stealth Apprentice.  She is launching a small venture producing historically inspired Roman jewelry, plus embroidery threads and ribbons dyed with historically accurate materials and methods.  I am helping by being an early customer, sponsor, and “beta tester” for the threads.

 

Now on to the doodle.

That little lump in the hand-held frame above the two triangle-shaped forehead cloths… What the heck is that?

It’s a doodle. I had thread and ground fabric left over after I finished the two cloths, so I decided to just aimlessly stitch away, trying out some of the larger fills or smaller all-overs that rarely have scope to come out and play (like those on the forehead cloths themselves).  This particular design is from my free collection of fills, Ensamplario Atlantio. No plan here, just idle stitching while the ground is still in one easy-to-handle piece.  Along the way over the past week or so, my doodle has decided it wanted to bear a motto and become a mini-sampler.  So here is progress to date:

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I’m not sure what will be below the motto, but whatever it is will keep me doodling for another week or two.  For those who want more info, the alphabet I used is here.

ALMOST THERE

As you can see, progress on the first blackwork forehead cloth has been quite swift:

Forehead-02

I have just two corners left.  Although I have been using my sit-upon tambour (round) frame for this project, I will now switch to a hand-held hoop.  That’s because it’s significantly smaller, and better able to get close to the edge of the cloth.

On thread consumption – I started out with a 100-yard skein of the hand-dyed filament silk.  What you see here is the entire thing.  Every inch.  Luckily, I have another and will use a bit of it to complete.

Here are some more answers to questions posted here and other places where I’ve shown this piece.

What does the back look like?

Pretty much the same as the front:

Forehead-01

That’s because I’m primarily working this in double running stitch, which the assiduous can make entirely double sided.  I am not bothering (note the presence of Evil Knots) because this cloth will be lined.

How do you keep your knots from pulling through?

I never just make a knot, then push my needle up through the ground cloth, trusting entirely on the bulk of the knot to keep the stitch in place.  I either knot around a bit of established work, or if no previous stitch is handy, I make a knot at the end of my thread, stitch up, then down again leaving about an inch not pulled through to the front.  Then I use my needle to pierce the working thread.  I gently pull the thread into place, snicking up that inch of extra, and manipulating the just-made noose-join so that the knot isn’t in peril of being pulled forward.  Yes, I could make a waste knot on the front, then trim the thread back in a more traditional method, but in this case at least, the thread is prone to shedding color, and I prefer not to make a mark “outside the lines.”

On the terminal knots, I run the thread under an established stitch and do what amounts to a double hitch knot, then use my needle to pierce the newly made knot, pulling the thread tight.  This acts as a second lock and prevents unraveling or pop-through.

How do you determine your double-running baseline in a complex design like this?

I know I’ve written extensively about finding the baseline, but in this case, there isn’t just one stitching logic.  There are many, and they are all situational.  Do I want to go “out and back again” so that the active end of my line of stitching ends up near the point of origin?  Do I want to just head out in one direction until I run out of thread, then follow up with a second strand, filling in my every-other-stitch?  Do I want to establish the location of a design element, then go back and fill in detail later; or do I want to do every detour and departure on the first pass, leaving only a minimal amount of work for the second pass?  How much thread is left in my working strand?  Lots?  Just a little?  All of these thoughts combine and influence my path planning.  I can say that the stitching logic in no two of these repeats was identical – it was all done to optimize the remaining thread, cover the design without omissions, and to make counting and alignment as easy as possible; and the mix of those factors at any one time varied wildly.

However there is one thing that ended up being of great help in keeping everything properly lined up and accurately on-count. When I have a T-intersection, on the first pass I include the “attachment stitch,” so that when I come back and link up to that segment, the exact spot is easy to find.  Otherwise, if I continued straight along the top of the T, when I came back later and had to add the vertical, it would be harder to know if my alignment was correct; if the new addition had synched up correctly to the prior work.

Forehead-04

You can see this in several places on the snippet above.  Look at the heavy stacked diagonal at 1:00. On its base, where it joins the circular plume-flower medallion, I’ve left a little vertical hanging off the foundation 1×3 rectangle.  That’s an attachment point.  As I near it on my next stitching pass, I can cue off it to proof my work as I go, and know that I am on target for an absolutely aligned attachment point.  That’s also why I have those little barbs sticking out on the base of the as-yet-to-be-stitched diagonal at 5:00.

What are you going to do with the rest of the cloth?

It would be a shame to cut out my completed triangle, leaving a difficult to handle remnant.  So I am going to stitch a second, smaller triangle opposite this one, leaving cutting room between them. After I’ve finished #2, I’ll assemble both forehead cloths.  Not sure what motif to use on the second one, but likely it will be less dense, because I have less thread.

What are you using for the ground?  Do you like it?

I’ve had this piece of MCG Textiles even weave in my stash for at least a year, maybe two.  It was the last bit of 32-count linen ground on the shelf at a local JoAnn’s big-box crafts store.  I do not recommend it.

I have to say that I’m spoiled by higher quality linens at this point.  I am finding too many irregularities – thick/thin threads, slubs, surface matting, and the like, that are affecting the look of the finished project.  There’s one area in particular that drove me crazy – a segment of a few inches in which every other thread was super narrow.  Countwork there was not fun at all.  In addition, it’s not really an even weave.  There’s a distortion if you compare north-south to east-west.  (I can’t tell which is warp and which is woof because the bagged segment had no selvedge on it).  I grabbed it off the top of the stash when I started this because it was a nice coarse count, the size of the piece was suitable (minimal waste), and I wanted to begin quickly, without ordering or hunting for materials.

FOREHEAD CLOTH/KERCHIEF PROGRESS

This is working up to be a quick stitch:

kerchief-02

I attempt to answer questions submitted via email and on-line.  If you have other questions, please feel free to post and ask.  There are no secrets here.

Where/what is this pattern?

It’s one of the many designs in T2CM.  It’s quasi-original, based on a 15th century strip pattern from my all time fave V&A sampler, the famous (and infamous) T.14.1931.  I presented the strip in TNCM, but here have morphed it into an all-over. There are only two designs in T2CM that revisit some aspect of a pattern from the first book.  This happens to be one of them.

Here is the original historical design in strip form, as worked on my Clarke’s Law sampler:

plume-strip-2

What stitch are you using?

Mostly double running, with short hops in “Heresy Stitch”. But I’m not being slavish about the double-sided/double running protocol.  I am using knots, and I am strongly considering a muslin lining for my forehead cloth.  I think it will help it wear better, by reducing stress on the ground fabric.  Therefore, with the back well hidden, I am under no pressure to do a perfect double-sided parlor trick.  That being said, I do tend to stick to double sided logic for best thread economy and minimal show-through.

What thread and ground are you using?

The ground isn’t fancy – it’s a prepackaged linen or linen blend even weave, with a relatively coarse thread count of 32 threads per inch.  It is stash-aged, and parted company from the packaging long ago, so I am not sure of the brand name it was marketed under, or the retail source. I’m stitching over two threads, so that’s about 16 stitches per inch.  I tried stitching over three, but thought the look was too leggy.

I am using a special treat thread – a small batch hand-dyed silk from an SCA merchant.  I got it at Birka, and I hear it will be intermittently available at the Golden Schelle Etsy shop*.  The thread is dyed with iron, tannin, and logwood, and is a warm black in color.  In thickness it is roughly equivalent to two plies of standard Au Ver A Soie D’Alger silk, although it is not a thread that can be separated into plies.

Do you wax your thread?

Yes.  For double running stitch work, even in silk, I wax my thread lightly with beeswax; paying special attention to the last inch for threading through the needle.  While I would not as a rule wax the entire length of the silk for work that depends on sheen (like satin stitch), at the very short stitch lengths used in double running, loss of sheen is minimal.  Waxing keeps the thread from fuzzing against itself as it is pulled through the same hole more than once, and (if you are working with multiple strands) minimizes the differential feed problem, without resorting to using a laying tool – which I find tedious for such short stitch lengths.  Others adore laying tools, so use of them is a matter of personal preference.

What needles do you use?

I favor a rather unorthodox choice for single strand double running – ball point needles intended for hand sewing on tricots and fine knits.  They have a nice, rounded point, that slides neatly between the threads of my ground fabric, and a small eye.  Blunt pointed needles intended for embroidery often have large eyes, which make thread management for a single strand unwieldy, allowing it to slip out of the eye too readily.

ball_points (1)

How do you know when to “go back again” in double running?

A lot of people think that working double running means you head in one direction, then turn back and retrace your steps.  They carefully calculate the length of their stitching thread, and when they get to the half-consumed point, turn around and go back.  This works, but tends to cluster thread ends.  If you cluster your ends you end up with (for double-sided work) a large number of ends to hide in a very small space, or (for single sided, with knots) an untidy zone, with many knots and ends in the same place, which can show through to the front.

Instead I just keep going.  I use up my length of thread, following my stitching logic, headed in one direction.  Then I begin a second strand,staggering my starting point from my original start, first filling in the previously stitched path, and then extending the design further.  Since I tend to do offshoots and digressions as I come to them and these do eat more thread as I trace them out from and then back to my main stitching line, I rarely have more than two ends at any one point in my work, and those two-end spots are widely distributed, rather than clustering in one small area.

How do you determine the baseline and stitching logic in an all-over?

There’s a little bit of catch-as-catch-can, but the basic concept is dividing the work into zones.  In this piece the zone is flexible, and can be centered on either square area bordered by the spider flowers, connected by the twisted framing mechanism; or on the smaller area defined by the “root zone” of those spider flowers, again connected by the twisted framing.  I go around either one of those, hopping between them as needed.  In either case, the small center elements – the tiny quad flower, or the quad flower with the elongated tendrils, is worked separately, with no jumps back to the main motif.

And speaking of that tendril-flower – I am not entirely happy with it.  I may pick it out and draft something else to go there.  For the record, the nice, large square it inhabits would make a nifty place for initials, heraldic badges, whimsical creatures, original motifs, or other personal signifiers.

Why are you using a round frame?

Because I have two flat frames and one round (tambour) sit-on frame, in addition to several round in-hand hoops.  I have works in progress on both flat frames, and don’t want to dismount them to do this quickie. My tambour frame has a padded bottom hoop, and when time comes to move the fabric and squash bits of just-done embroidery, I will pad the work with some muslin to protect it on the top as well as the bottom side.  Again, working short stitches with no raised areas – even in silk – makes this a less risky proposition than it would be for other stitching styles.

Can I see the back?

In the next progress post I’ll include a shot of the back.

 

* In the interest of full disclosure (and the no-secrets here thing), the un-named proprietor of Golden Schelle is my Stealth Apprentice.  Shhh.  It’s a secret.

 

ADAPTING FOR MODERN USE

Yet another post only a stitching/historical clothing geek would love.

Forehead cloths.

What were they?  Why do I care?

Forehead cloths were triangular kerchief type items, often matched with a coif (a close-fitting cloth hat) produced during the 1500s and 1600s.  Some still exist today in set with their coif, some are separate – possibly parts of sets, now orphaned over time.  They appear to have been quite popular based on survivals, and surprisingly for a popular item – how they were worn is not an entirely settled issue.

64.101.1237
Blackwork forehead cloth in collection of Metropolitan Museum of Art
British, last quarter of 16th century – roughly 14.5 x 16.5” (36.8 x 41.9cm)
Accession 64.101.1237

Some suggest forehead cloths were worn underneath the coif, tied or pinned firmly behind the head under the wearer’s bunned-up hair.  In this configuration, the cloth would keep the hair contained, and provide a firm foundation on which to pin the coif itself.  Having worn coifs and hoods of the time, this is very logical to me, and makes perfect sense.

Others suggest that the cloth may have been worn over the coif; or even instead of it, for sleeping or indoors-at-home informality. I do note that in coif-cloth sets where metallic or linen lace trims the coif, the accompanying forehead cloth is rarely adorned to match. This makes sense if the cloth was worn under the coif, but would be odd if it was worn covering the coif’s fancy trim.  Were they ever worn alone?  No one knows…

64.101.1242                                 64.101.1243

Polychrome forehead cloth and matching coif, also Metropolitan Museum of Art
British, 1600-1630, cloth roughly 7 x 17.5” (17.8 x 44.5cm)
Coif – Accession 64.101.1242   Cloth – Accession 64.101.1243

What we do know about forehead cloths is that they come in as many stitching styles as do coifs – blackwork, other monochrome, polychrome, counted, freehand stitched,  fancy with metallic threads and sequin embellishments or plainer; standard Elizabethan/Stuart era scrolling flowers and vines (with or without insects and birds); all-over repeat or geometric patterns – you name it.  Some. like the one below, even look like they are remnants of larger embroidered items, cut down and re-used.

2006BF4614_jpg_lStippled blackwork forehead cloth from the Victoria and Albert Museum
England, 1625-1650.
Accession T.42-1938

About the only thing I haven’t seen yet is one that is mostly plain ground, stitched just along hypotenuse edge rather than being entirely covered with pattering.  Some cloths (like the first two above) have small tie strings, some are just triangles, with no tabs, ribbons, or strings (although those may have become disassociated over the decades).

Now, why am I so interested?  I rarely get to SCA events these days, and don’t have an outfit (or a finished coif) to match a forehead cloth.

I want to make one for mundane day-to-day, modern wear.

I like wearing a bandanna or kerchief to keep my hair out of my eyes, especially during “down times” on weekends, or when we visit windy Cape Cod.  It strikes me that a purpose-built forehead cloth would serve well, and be a bit more distinctive than a plain old paisley bandanna.  Being small, it would not be onerous to stitch, and would be a fun thing to adorn with one of the larger all-over or infinity repeats that I’ve charted over the years.

I’m laying out the size of the piece now, basting my dimensions onto ground cloth.  More news on this as the project develops.

MORE BEACH!

Time for the annual promotional post here at String.

Love the beach?  Want to enjoy it up close and personal?  We have the place for you!

Our summer condo in North Truro, Cape Cod, right on the beach close to the Provincetown line is up and available for booking. for the summer 2017 season.

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View from the deck looking back towards Wellfleet, and sunset over Provincetown in the opposite direction (arrow on the map is back towards Wellfleet).

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We are at Beach Point, with parking for two cars, right at a bus stop for the local shuttle to Provincetown – a quick trip to restaurants, galleries, theater, and night life, with or without your car.

The condo is on the second floor, with a covered deck (the one with the red deck chairs, below).  The Shoreline development has its own private beach, and offers picnic tables, lounge chairs, kayak and bike racks, and grills to all who stay.

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The apartment itself is two bedroom, with a full kitchen (full size stove with oven, fridge and microwave, sink, coffee maker, blender, lobster pot).  It is air conditioned, and also has a washer and dryer, and a full bath with shower and whirlpool tub.

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There is TV in the living room and each bedroom, cable, and WiFi.  The bedrooms each have a queen-size bed, and the living room sofa also converts to a queen size bed.

Pricing and availability are listed at the agent’s website.  Prices vary by week, with significant savings in the shoulder seasons.

So, come and pull up a chair.  Put your feet up, pour a glass of your favorite beverage, and feel the relaxation!

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ACCOMPLISHMENTS

And its the cold, snowy part of the Boston seasonal experience.  Which is not improving my outlook much.  But there are bright spots.  We do what we can.

Here’s a free offering (also available via my Embroidery Patterns tab, above).  This motto just cries out to be a sampler, the irony of using an art that in and of itself requires intensive perseverance to accomplish is just too sweet.  Click on the chart image to get the full JPG, formatted for 8.5 x 11 inch paper. (Finished stitching sample courtesy of long-time friend Gillian, who was the first to post a finished piece picture.  Her’s is on 14-count Aida, finished post-wash size of stitched area is about 7″ x 9″.)

nevertheless       Gillians-Finish

And here’s the finish from Edith Howe-Byrne on even weave, showing her variant treatment of the concept, using other counted stitches and beads (she’s leaving in the gridwork so she can use this piece as a reference for additional projects):

Ediths-finish Edith-3
Edith-2

The alphabets used are (more or less) contemporary with the women’s suffrage movement – found on Ramzi’s Patternmaker Charts site, among his collection of vintage Sajou and Alexandre booklets.  The particular one I used for all three alphabets is here. The border is adapted from one appearing in a 1915 German book of cross stitch alphabets and motifs, in the collection of the Antique Pattern Library.

We all do what we can, and I encourage anyone with heartfelt opinions to use their time and skill set in service, as they see fit.  Even if you don’t agree with me, filling the airwaves with positive messages rather than caustic imagery can’t hurt.

If anyone stitches this up and wants me to showcase their effort, please let me know.  I’ll be happy to add pix of your work to the gallery here.

On my own  end, I have been productive as well.

First finished (but not first started) – a quick shrug.  Possibly even for me.

Fuzzyshrug

This is knit from the generous bounty resettled upon me by the Nancys, for which I continue to be grateful.  The multicolor yarn is older Noro Nadeshiko, a blend with a hefty dose of angora, along with silk and wool.  It is soft and supple, and although I am generally not a fan of desert colors – is superbly hued, with just enough rose, sage, cream, and grey to be perfect.  The accent edge is done is another of their gift yarns – two balls of a merino wool variegated single, worsted weight.  I held it double for extra oomph.  One thing to note about the Nadeshiko though – it sheds.  A lot.  And the Office Dogs where I work like to sniff it (it probably smells like a bunny).

The pattern is Jennifer Miller’s Shawl Collar Vest – a Ravelry freebie.  It is a no-seam, quick knit, written for bulky weight yarn.  The thing fairly knit itself.  Four days from cast-on to wear-ready.  My only criticism is that the XL size is really more of a 12/14.  I can wear it, but it’s very tight, and tends to emphasize attributes with which I am already more than proportionally blessed.  My answer to this problem will be to unravel the green finish rounds, and add about 2 inches of stripey, then re-knit the green.

The nifty pin is an official heirloom of my house.  Long ago and far away, SCA friend Sir Aelfwine (now of blessed memory) made it for me as a cloak pin.  Obviously I still treasure it and wear it when I can.

On the needles is also yet another pair of Susie Rogers’ Reading Mitts, another free pattern available from Ravelry.  I’ve done four pair of these, but never for me.  I rectify that oversight now.

mymitts-1

Obviously, the first one is done.  Now for the second.

The yarn is yet another denizen of the Great Nancy Box – a worsted weight handspun alpaca – chocolate brown with flecks of white and pale grey, from Sallie’s Fen Alpacas.  The photo doesn’t do the yarn justice.  It’s butter on the needles, and gloriously warm.  The only mod I make to the original pattern is using a provisional cast-on, then knitting the cast-on edge to the body on the last pre-welt row (to eliminate seaming).

My typing fingers will be toasty when #2 is done.

STRING ON THE MARCH

Yup.  We were there with everyone else on Boston Common, for the rally and march on 21 January. I knit hats that travelled to DC and Kansas City, too.  These photos were taken by Elder Daughter, who knows her way around a camera.  Sadly there are none of her, because she spent the day behind rather than in front of the lens.

First my favorite marcher of the day:

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We arrived early, around 10:00, and found the common already full.

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Elder Daughter plus friends Christine and Matt and I found a place to stand at the rear center on a small rise – close enough to hear and see the large screen, but not the speakers themselves. 

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Christine and Matt made us a nifty banner:

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The crowd was upbeat and considerate, supportive and non-confrontational.  There were no vendors outside the Common hawking tatty merchandise.  A few groups produced and carried similar signage, but the vast majority of hats, shirts, sashes, banners, and signs were home-made.  Some were quite funny, others strident – but all were from the heart:

IMG_2877 IMG_2889 IMG_2896 IMG_2902 IMG_2908 IMG_2910 IMG_2911 IMG_2912  IMG_2922 IMG_2929 IMG_2930 IMG_2932 IMG_2944 IMG_2945

There were so many people packed onto the Common that it took us almost two hours to walk the 30 yards from where we were standing back to the street.  We set out on the march route, in roughly the first quarter of the people walking, and noted that by the time we completed the circuit at 4:00, there were still crowds exiting the Common, just starting out.

IMG_2946 IMG_2993 IMG_3005 IMG_3007 IMG_3027 IMG_3029 

Elder Daughter’s best shot of the day, taken mid-march.  The route was lined with people cheering, some on balconies:

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The carillon in the Baptist Church we passed rang out We Shall Overcome, and the national anthem.  There were at least two walking groups that accompanied themselves with music – a group made up mostly of Revolutionary War era re-enactors who brought fife and drum, and marched in cadence, wearing proper attire behind their own Phrygian-capped Lady Liberty.  There was another group with steel drums whose beat was a bit more syncopated, and whose spirit could not be denied.

Police presence was benevolent and in many cases, charming.  We saw more than one officer assisting the disabled, or taking photos of marchers for them.  Heavy sand spreaders, and DPW construction and sanitation trucks were used to block side streets.  While any barrier would have kept the march on course, those massive trucks were there to protect us from vehicle attack, with their drivers putting themselves in potential danger.  We on the route noted this, and share special thanks to all the public safety personnel.

At the end, back on the Garden and Common, many people left their signs along a fence:

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I am proud to have been part of this, and note that it is just the first step. 

Involvement does NOT end with this march.

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TOO BUSY TO BLOG

As ever, things have been very hectic here at String Central.  Holidays, work obligations, family – you know the standard round of excuses.  But that doesn’t mean that progress is not being made.

In no particular order, I present a subset of the accomplishments since the last post:

The Red Licorice pullover – finished.  Amended slightly to meet the recipient’s specifications.  Pix on this one are belated, since I gave it to the wearer who scuttled off with it before took photos of my own.  I’ll go back and update this post when the pix come in, but I’ve held back publishing this long enough.

Six Pussyhats for the upcoming marches.

hats2

The now standard run of ten types of holiday cookies:

cookies-2017

If you must know, clockwise from the top, they are coconut macaroons dipped in dark chocolate; chocolate chips; chocolate crinkles (aka Earthquakes); peanut butter, stamped with suns; hazelnut spritz with chocolate ganache filling (aka Oysters); raspberry jam filled vanilla wafers; Mexican wedding cakes; lemon cut-outs; bourbon/cocoa balls; and iced spice spritz cookies.  In the center is homemade fudge, with and without hazelnuts.  I also did two panfortes.  Recipes for any/all available on request

And of course there were latkes (this year done in goose fat):

latkes-2 

And of course over the three-holiday-week there were the donor goose; some heavenly fish quenelles (think gossamer gefilte fish and you would not be far wrong); a fantastic cassoulet made with duck confit we put up back in the summer; leek and potato soup; a home-made paté/terrine type loaf; our own sourdough bread; and an amazing spread of cheeses.  Most of the heavy lifting cooking was done by The Resident Male.

cheeses

We’re still eating the cheeses – there was so much that was (and still is) SO good.  Thanks again to Cheese Gifters, Kim and Mike; and a shout-out to the Cheese Makers, Jonathan and Nina at Bobolink Dairy. If you love well-crafted, delicious cheese and have not tried theirs, you are missing out.

Along the way, I also started a couple more projects.  First – curtains for the library.  I’ve been threatening to do it for years, and have the linen and trim on hand, the trim being one of the embroidered things I treated myself to in India:

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I’ve done all the calculations, pre-washed the linen, and ironed out the first panel of four.  I’ve also obtained and pre-shrunk the lining. Next is to calculate placement of the trim and stitch it on to the first panel, prior to doing final assembly and hemming.  I intend to use rings to hang the panels, from black iron or iron-look rods.  Those will either be clip- or pin-type, so tabs are not needed.  Parking these mysterious secret sauce numbers here for future reference (90, 10, 3).

And having finished the sweater and hats, I embark on another knitting project – Sandra’s Shawl, pattern by Sandra Oakeshott.  This one features lots and lots of nupps – little multi-stitch bobbles.  I am not a fan of making them, so instead of the nupps, I’m using beads.  I’m using some really intense variegated green Zauberball Lace yarn (pix shamelessly borrowed from unrelated retail website):

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And the beads are silver tone.  As you can see, I’m already well into this one, past the unadorned center and out into the infinity rows where the beaded fun happens:

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I can say that the pattern is well-crafted and easy to follow.  I suggest putting markers at the beginning and end of the pattern repeat, to segregate out the edges in which the design is a bit perturbed by the increases required for shawl shaping.  Some may wish to use markers between each pattern repeat, but I found it wasn’t necessary for me – the thing is easy to proof visually as one knits. And I most heartily recommend the use of beads rather than the fiddly nupps.  Apologies to the designer, of course for using a non-traditional/alternative interpretation of her excellent pattern.

LONG HIATUS, BUT NOT INACTIVE

A frantic interlude of work related deadlines later, I return to this page.

And the recipient of the Crusher pullover, modeling it with standard ironic teenage attitude during Thanksgiving break:

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Eye roll aside, she loves it.  Really.  Especially the three-quarter sleeves and front pocket.  She’ll wear it with a collared denim or chambray shirt underneath, so the wide neckline and shorter sleeves (for rolled up cuffs) is spot on what she wanted.  So armed, Younger Daughter returns now to college, full of turkey, and cocooned in wool.

On the knitting front, I am well into a Licorice Whip pullover possibly for me or Elder Daughter.  I’m still trying to fit The Great Stash Largesse into my yarn boxes, so to make room, I’m doing up some quick knits from the bulkiest lots in them.  This one is to use up some Araucania Nature Cotton, an Aran-weight thick-and-thin, kettle dyed cotton I’ve had on hand for at least six years.  The skeins are not uniform, not even within dye lot (probably why I was able to snag it on special sale), so I am working from two of them at the same time, alternating to meld the colors and avoid any visible horizon likes (like the deliberate one in Crusher, above, where I used to strong contrast yarns on purpose). 

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The color is sort of washed out in the photo above.  Red Licorice is really a very bright candy-apple red, veering to orange.  The cotton is cushy and soft, but prone to shedding.  It will most certainly be a gentle hand-wash garment when it is done. 

In other news, two more pairs of briefcase-sox accomplished using Great Stash Largesse yarn.  Standard figure-8 toe/short row heel, 76 stitches around, plain feet/interesting ankle.  One brown pair already with its recipient, the other pair is mine, mine, mine:

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Yummy!

I also completed two baby sweaters, for Salazar Clan grandchildren born last month.  One is with its target baby, the other is here in my basket, awaiting word of where to send it to rendezvous with the target great-nephew. Both are the same Lopez Island pullover and use same long stashed yarn in two different colors.  Red is a 6 month size, and Blue is a 9-12 month size:.

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In other knitting news, I will be needing a small project to carry with me on a trip the week after next. The bulky red pullover being too big for in-flight knitting.  For that one, I’ve settled on Sandra’s Shawl, using a shaded deep to medium green laceweight from an earlier shipment of Largesse.  I’ll knit up the larger size.  However, I’m not a big fan of working nupps (the little bobbles that accent the edgings).  Instead I will use silver beads.  Cast on for this will be sometime this week, so I will be well enough along for relaxed knitting on the plane.  

And finally, progress on the long stalled Second Carolingian Modelbook project.  As I feared, in the format I had chosen, parallel to the original book, production – even in electronic format – will be prohibitive.  I am now redrafting for release as a series of shorter works.  The first of these will be a very short pilot folio – probably only five or six plates worth.  By contrast, the book as  I originally conceived it was 75 plates.  If that works out well, I will continue with similar scheduled releases.

WITHOUT A NET

I’ve finished the no-pattern/no-gauge pullover I started the last week of September, at the beach:

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It’s a short but not cropped front-pocket/baggy-fit raglan pullover, knit in rustic New England style two ply Aran weight wool.  The only seaming was grafting the top of the front pocket to the body.  The thing is knit top down.  Had I decided to add a pocket when I got to that point, I’d have worked it in, and knit the bottom edge into the body, and obviated any need to sew at all.

Younger Daughter has first dibs on the thing.  It should fit her nicely, and if not – I’m sure I’ll find another family member or friend to wear it.

Here’s a working-method summary.  I hesitate to call it a fully developed pattern because I haven’t calculated sizes, made exact measurements, or estimated exact quantities.

Wesley Crusher Unisex Pullover – A Method Description

Fits size 44 chest
Gauge: approx 18 stitches = 4 inches (10 cm) in stockinette
Recommended needle size: US #10 (6mm) circular for body, or size to get gauge; US #8 (5mm) circular for ribbing.  You may wish to start the neck and finish the cuffs using DPNs of the same size.

If working the optional hand-warming pocket, either an additional US #10 (6mm) circ, or a pair of US #10 (6mm) straight needles, and a piece of contrasting color string, preferably a cotton in fingering weight or thinner, that will be used to baste the row to which the pocket is grafted, for better visibility in keeping that seam straight..

Materials:  One skein of Bartlett Yarns 2-Ply Aran weight rustic wool (about 210 yards/192 meters) in shoulder color.  3.5 skeins of the same yarn in a contrasting color (about 735 yards/672 meters) for the body.

Other tools:  5 stitch markers, two large stitch holders or spare circular needles (any size) to hold the sleeve stitches while the body is being completed.  Yarn sewing needle to darn in ends.

Neckline:

Using smaller needle, cast on 100 stitches, join in the round and work in stockinette for approximately 2 inches (a bit over 5cm).  Switch to larger size needle.

Raglan Increases:

Place marker, knit 35 stitches (front); place marker, knit 15 stitches (sleeve top); place marker, knit 35 stitches (back); place marker, knit 15 stitches (other sleeve top). Knit one round.  The four markers indicate the center point of the raglan increases.  There will be one marker left over.  We’ll use it later.

Increase round #1:  *K1, YO, knit until one stitch remains before the next marker, YO, K1, move marker*.  Repeat this three more times.

Increase rounds #2 and #3:  Knit.

Continue working increase rounds 1-3 until you have enough depth on the shoulders so that the under arm area ends about under the arm (don’t worry if there isn’t enough depth for the front and back raglan “seams” to meet.  We’ll be adding stitches under the arm, and working them into gussets.  I did my raglan increase set 18 times (making 18 holes in a rows down my raglan “seam,” and ending up with 71 stitches between my front markers, and 51 stitches across each sleeve).  Be sure to finish after round 3.

Separate out the sleeves:

Knit 36 stitches.  Place the fifth marker.  Continue knitting across the front to the first raglan marker.  Set it aside. Take a stitch holder or spare circular needle (or a piece of string threaded onto a yarn needle) and slide the 51 stitches of the sleeve onto it.  We’ll revisit them later.  Set aside the next raglan marker.

Returning to your working needle and replace the marker. Holding the sleeve stitches out of the way, cast on 16 stitches, preferably with a half-hitch cast-on to minimize bulk.  Place marker. Continue in stockinette, knitting to the next marker.  Set it aside.

Set aside the stitches for the second sleeve in the same way, sliding them onto a storage device, replacing the marker, casting on 16 stitches, and placing the remaining marker after the cast-on stitches.

You should now have a marker indicating the center front, plus four markers – two at either side, isolating the cast-on stitches.  Continue in stockinette to the center front marker. We are going to use that marker at the center front as the “begin round” point from here on.

Work the body:

Knit one round in stockinette.

Gusset Decrease Round #1. Knit to the side marker, move marker, SSK.  Knit until two stitches before the other side marker, K2 tog. move marker.  Knit across the back of the piece until you reach the other side marker.  Move it, SSK, knit until two stitches before the next marker, K2tog, move marker, knit to the center front marker.

Gusset Decrease Rounds #2 and #3:  Knit.

Repeat Gussett Decrease Rounds until only two stitches remain between them.  On the next row, knit to the marker, take it off, knit one stitch, put it back; knit one stitch and set the second side marker aside.  Repeat this for the back.  You should now have a tube with about 176 stitches in total – 88 for the front and 88 for the back.

Continue knitting the body tube until it is as long as you want, minus 2 inches (about 5 cm) for the ribbing.

Optional hand warming pocket:

You will need a second ball of your body yarn at this point, or you will need to work from both ends of your current skein.  I’ll call this secondary source the “pocket yarn.”

Using  your original body yarn, knit all the way around your piece until you reach the marker for the second side.  Move it and knit 19. 25 stitches should remain before the center marker.  Holding your original yarn and your pocket yarn together, knit to the marker, then knit 25 stitches after the marker.  Drop the pocket yarn and continue around with your original yarn (don’t worry if you’ve mixed them up – it makes no difference).  Make sure that the pocket yarn emerges from the PUBLIC side (the knit side) of the work after you drop it, before you continue around with the original yarn.  Stop when you get to the start of the doubled stitches.

Take your second #10 needle (straight, circ, whatever).  Working carefully with your original needle, knit one stitch of each doubled pair and slide its brother onto your second needle.  When you are done you should have 50 stitches on the pocket needle, and the same original 88 for the front (plus 88 for the back) on your original body needle.

Knit one round on the body, just to make sure everything is snug and safe.

At this point you can either finish the body or continue on to the pocket.  Your choice.  If you opt to finish the body first, skip below to Ribbing, then return to this point.

For the pocket – you will be knitting flat, back and forth.  This means that to achieve stockinette, you will be knitting on the right side of the work, but purling on the journey back.

Turn the sweater upside down. We will be working from the bottom back to the shoulders for the pocket.

Pocket Row #1:  Knit 5.  Place marker.  Knit 40.  Place marker.  Knit 5.

Pocket Row #2: Knit 5, move marker.  Purl 40, move marker.  Knit 5.

Pocket Row #3: Knit 5. Move marker.  SSK.  Knit to 2 stitches before the next marker.  K2tog. K5.

Pocket Row #4:  Knit 5.  Move marker.  Purl to next marker.  Move marker. K5.

Pocket Row #5:  K5.  Move marker.  Knit to next marker.  Move marker. K5

Pocket Row #6:  Knit 5.  Move marker.  Purl to next marker.  Move marker. K5.

Pocket Row #7:  K5.  Move marker.  Knit to next marker.  Move marker. K5

Pocket Row #8:  Knit 5.  Move marker.  Purl to next marker.  Move marker. K5.

Repeat Pocket Rows #4 through 8 until 38 stitches remain on the pocket needles, or the pocket is deep enough.  If you want it deeper, work remaining rows without decreasing.  When done, DO NOT bind off the stitches.  Instead, break the yarn leaving about 2.5 feet for seaming.

Keeping the pocket stitches on the needle, smooth it out against the front of the sweater.  Note the row where the pocket should be grafted.  On the row ABOVE that, take your piece of marking string, thread it onto your yarn sewing needle and run it through that row for the width of the pocket.  This will make identifying the row for seaming easier.  If you are confident in being able to graft a straight seam, you can skip this step.

Using your extra long tail end left over from the pocket, graft the pocket stitches to the row immediately below the one you have carefully marked with basting.  Invisible horizontal seaming works nicely for this, uniting the live stitches off the working needle with the body stitches.

Ribbing:

Return to the original needle holding all of your body stitches.  Take your smaller ribbing needle and working from the original needle onto the new smaller needle, start from the center front marker, and work K1, P2,* K2, P2* ending with K1 for the stitch immediately before the marker.  Discard the larger needle and using the smaller one, continue in this K2P2 ribbing until you’ve worked 2 inches (about 5 cm) or the ribbing is long enough for you.  Bind off in pattern.

Sleeves:

Take your #10 needle and transfer the stitches for your sleeve to it.  Take your body yarn and starting  at the left point of the stitches you cast on underneath the arm, place marker, pick up 8 stitches place the center sleeve marker (suggest this be a different color), pick up another 8 stitches to finish filling in the gap, place the third marker, and knit around the sleeve.  Knit around until you have returned to the center sleeve marker.  NOTE:  As you continue the sleeve from this point you may find that it gets uncomfortable to use a larger diameter circular, even if you “loop out” the excess cable as you go.  Feel free to switch to DPNs or a two-circ method at any time during completion of the sleeve.

Sleeve Gusset Decrease Row #1: Knit to 2 stitches before the next marker, K2tog, move marker. Knit around the sleeve until you reach the other sleeve gusset maker.  Move it. SSK, knit to the center sleeve marker.

Sleeve Gusset Decrease Row #2 and #3: Knit

Repeat Sleeve Gusset Decrease Rows #1 to 3 until only two stitches remain between them (one on either side of the centermost marker).  At this point you should have 53 stitches.  You can remove the two sleeve gusset markers and continue working until you sleeve is long enough (minus 2 inches for ribbing).  On the final row before starting the sleeve ribbing, start the row with a K2 tog, so that you have 52 stitches.  Switch to the smaller needle(s) and starting at the center sleeve marker, K1, P2, (K2, P2)*, ending with a K1.  Work this K2P2 ribbing for about 2 inches (5 cm).  Bind off in pattern.

Darn in your ends, and you’re done.