…the saying goes, must come to an end.
So goes the summer of 2012.
One sure sign of summer’s end is retrieving one or more kids from Roads End Farm, the summer camp they both love. As ever, much fun was had. We’ve found there’s a direct correlation between how dirty they are at pick-up, and how great the summer was. Let’s just say that this year we transported a little ball of filth with a big smile. Here’s that same smile, up on Yuma.
Dante, star of the pix below was having a bad leg day, and was returned to the paddock rather than being pressed into service:
That’s Sue in the background, riding instructor extraordinaire. However you’ll note that Dante is sporting a fashion accessory. It was a very fly-filled season, and to give the horses some relief, they have been wearing fly bonnets. However in the farm’s price range for pre-made, they only come in one-size-fits-all. I don’t have a shot of Elliot, REF’s largest horse, but at well over 16.5 hands, he towers over the farm’s 76-horse mostly Morgan herd. Stock fly bonnets would not fit him – not easily. So I made him one, custom:
He was turned out to graze the morning we visited, otherwise I’d have a shot of the thing being modeled. I used the crochet pattern from Nordic Mart, picking up stitches after the crochet was done to knit the ear socks. I used some old Austermann Record 210 remnants and a size 4mm (US G) hook, approximately 4 skeins total.
Continuing my exploration of dedicated and general purpose software for use with my two great needlework passions – charted patterns suitable for counted thread embroidery (in specific – double running stitch) and knitting. Again I’m not testing one main feature of these programs – the ability to turn images including photos into needle-painted ready-to-stitch images. I don’t care about that feature, although it’s clearly the hook on which most of these programs hang their hat.
PROS: Standard features that one would expect – cross stitch, floss palette tied to major manufacturers offerings (in this case, in a companion program that allows color editing, but does not appear to allow one to mix across makers lines without direct finagling, or to blend colors – two features that Pattern Maker had). Includes back stitch, but not a separate straight stitch). Includes standard flipping/rotating/mirroring manipulations. Allows back stitch to be displayed in color. Allows printing pages with a selectable number of overlap columns so that navigation among multiple pages is easer. Allows auto-outlining of blocks of contiguous cross stitch with back stitch.
CONS: Selection is limited to rectangular areas (no free-form lasso), oddly called “select all” on the edit menu. The selection area can be resized as needed, and does select back stitches along with block units. Back stitch cannot be displayed with voids between individual stitches or by symbols that otherwise indicate beginning and ending of individual units. Back stitches can’t be right-click erased like cross stitches or erased using the eraser tool, they need to be individually clicked on and removed using a pop-up window.
KNITTING AND CROCHET SPECIFIC USE: Can be used for standard colorwork mappings, and true type fonts (including the same knitting font mentioned yesterday) can be substituted for the symbol set. Symbols can be displayed on a color background and more than one symbol can be assigned to the same color. You can also override the program to assign more than one color to the same symbol. Like all graphing solutions not specific to knitting, there is no artificial intelligenge programmed in that would prevent building impossible to knit stitch configurations (this is rare even in the knitting world). Could handle block unit diagrams for linear filet or multi-color tapestry crochet, but even if one had a pre-made font for crochet symbols, this isn’t well suited for stitch graphing.
VERDICT: Handy for cross stitch but unremarkable for my intended uses. I don’t like the interface with the separate floss management program, or the way selection is handled.
UPDATE: THE OLD CASTLE GRAPH IS NOW AVAILABLE AS AN EASY TO PRINT PDF AT THE EMBROIDERY PATTERNS LINK, ABOVE.
Wandering around looking for designs to add to my growing Clarke’s Law sampler I stumbled across the needlework photo collection oft the State Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg, Russia.
They have all sorts of fabulous things there including several items that may provide fodder for more bands on my current work.
But as I leafed through the collection one item in particular struck me. It’s no secret that I’ve had a long association with the Society for Creative Anachronism. Among my long time and dear friends I count many members of Clan Oldcastle. Their device (shamelessly borrowed from their website) is:
I was amazed to find a historical embroidery oh-so similar to that device. The original is a fragment of a larger piece, done in drawn thread embroidery. The museum’s accession info dates it to the late 16th/early 17th century, and gives it an Italian provenance. There’s a companion piece, too, with a boat, some rather blocky lions.
But it was the castle that excited me. Here’s a graph adapted from the museum artifact. Click on the thumbnail below to print a useful size.
I’ve made some minor changes but kept most of the imperfections of the original. My count is the same. The original looks a bit taller because its constituent units are not square. I’ve kept the not-quite symmetrical center tower, with the ornaments below the tower’s embattled top offered up skew to the rest of the count. I’ve substituted stars for the crosses on the original flags, and added two more of them for good measure. (Estoiles being of special heraldic importance in conjunction with the Oldcastle edifice). I’ve left the one at the top of the left hand tower closer to the original in shape for those who prefer them accurate, but added a bit of twinkle to the others. I also took the liberty of mentally fixing a bit of wear on the original on the open portcullis. But the rest is spot on.
I’d love to see anything made up from this pattern. It would be especially nifty in any of a dozen styles of counted thread embroidery, in Lacis, Burrato, or Filet Crochet; or in knit or tapestry crochet. Other non-textile applications include mosaic work and marquetry. And if you do use this pattern, please consider visiting the Clan Oldcastle link above, and using the address there to make a donation to the American Diabetes Association.
This one is going into Ensamplio Atlantaea (my growing sequel to The New Carolingian Modelbook) for sure, but I share it here first.
UPDATE, 6 APRIL 2020:
Spotted in the wild, another example of the Old Castle. This one is on a piece in the collection of the St. Gallen Textilmuseum, Accession 00671. Their listing cites it as being from Sicily, dated 1590-1610.
Progress continues to mount on my Do Right sampler. The band at the bottom will be wider than the present stitched area, and the upper part will be flanked by two longer vertical strips. These may be two-toned, possibly with foreground in double running and some sort of background, but I’ve not decided yet for sure. My thread quantities are very limited, to the point where doing full up long-armed cross stitch is precluded.
Here’s what I’ve got so far. Details of the honeysuckle strip from the V&A handkerchief photo, and of my phoenix are presented for NeedleGal and Maria, respectively. Enjoy!
Stitches used so far are the obvious ones – double running (aka Holbein Stitch, Spanish Stitch), and plain old cross stitch. Nothing fancy at all. The back is neat, but not compulsive, due to the nature of the stitching it’s almost reversible, although I’ve taken no special pains to make it so, and yes – I do practice the stitching heresy of using knots on the back of my non-reversible pieces.
Oh. And I’m cleaning up my graph for the phoenix, translating my pencil scratchings and the as-stitched presentation into something usable by others.
Out web-walking again, I’ve stumbled across a treasure trove of books on spinning, weaving, and other textile arts. It includes historical and recent works on lacemaking, embroidery, tatting, knitting, crochet and some other less practiced crafts, as well as ethnographic material, periodicals, and academic papers. I’m sure I’m the last to find out about it, but I share the reference all the same.
This textile-related archive is maintained by the University of Arizona. Its collections are available on-line, with the individual works so distributed either aged out of copyright, or presented with the authors’ permission. There are thousands of items – mostly geared to industry and manufacture, but with a healthy smattering of works detailing hand production. Scans are available as PDFs, with the larger books broken out into smaller segments of under 15MB. Not all are in English.
Among the works I found that are of greatest interest to me in specific are:
Whiting, Olive. Khaki Knitting Book, Allies Special Aid, 1917, 58 pages. PDF
This compendium of knitting patterns presents sweaters, wristlets, socks, scarves, mittens, hats, caps, and baby clothes intended in part for troops overseas during WWI, and for the comfort of refugee families displaced by the war. Patterns for knitting and crochet are both included. The socks shown mostly knit top-down, some have a gradually decreased instead of grafted toe. Some of the socks are worked on two needles and seamed. One pair in particular (marked as a pattern from the American Red Cross, p. 13) seems to include a written description of a grafted toe, but it does not name the technique. Directions are a bit more detailed than is usual for pre 1940 knitting booklets. Fewer than a quarter of the patterns are illustrated with finished item photos. Aside from a list of abbreviations in the front, there are no how-to or technique illustrations.
Nicoll, Maud Churchill. Knitting and Sewing. How to Make Seventy Useful Articles for Men in the Army and Navy, George H. Doran Company, New York, 1918, 209 pages. PDF
This book is a bit more detailed than the previous one. It also contains a rundown of standard troop knitting patterns – hats, mufflers, balaclavas (called helmets), mittens, socks and the like. Every project is illustrated either with a photo or a line drawing of the finished product. Instructions are written out in a fuller format than in the Khaki Knitting Book. It also has some valuable bits of instruction including a list of yarn substitutions, plus two full size color plates showing the wools used, identified by name; a small stitch dictionary section,
Of special note are some unusual mittens (including a mitten with truncated thumbs and index fingers – p.68), half-mittens – p. 77, “doddies” or mittens with an open thumb, p. 80, and double heavy mittens intended for seamen or mine sweepers hauling cables – p. 94). The grafting method of closing up sock toes is clearly described AND illustrated, but it is called “Swiss darning” (p.131). I’ve heard that term used for duplicate stitch embroidery on knitting, especially when the decorative stitches are sewn in rows mimicking actual knitting, rather than being stitched vertically, but I have never before seen it applied to actual grafting. The entire section on socks and stockings is particularly clear and useful. There are even a couple of crocheted and knit mens’ ties in the sewing section.
Finally, the sewing section (about a quarter of the book) might be useful to people doing historical costuming or regimental re-creators who are looking to augment their kit. The one drawback is that most of the sewing patterns are predicated on Butterick printed patterns, and the schematics are not provided in the book. Among the offerings are money belts, a chamois leather body protector and waistcoat, various types of shirts and undergarments, pajamas made from heavy blanket fabric, and a book bag (like a messenger’s bag).
Egenolf, Christian. Modelbuch aller art Nehewercks un Strickens, George Gilbers, 1880, 75 pages. Note: Reprint of 1527 book. PDF
Ostaus, Giovanni. La Vera Perfezione del Disegno [True Perfection in Design], 1561, 92 pages. Note: 1909 facsimile. PDF
These are two modelbooks of the 1500s. There are several others in the collection, but they are mostly books of needle lace designs. Ostaus also offers up mostly patterns for the various forms of needle lace, plus some patterns that can be adapted to free-hand (as opposed to counted) embroidery, plus a large section of allegorical plates to inspire stitched medallions, slips, and cabinets. One thing I’ve always liked are some of his negative/positive patterns. These are designs that if laid out on a strip of thin leather or paper and cut can be separated longitudinally into two identical pieces. There are several of these scattered around the middle of the book.
Starting around page 73 or so there is a section of graphed patterns, a number of which landed in my New Carolingian Modelbook collection.
The Egenolf book also is mostly line drawing suitable for freehand embroidery. Some are pretty cluttered, but some are very graceful. The oak border on p. 32 has always been one of my favorites. There’s one plate with a counted pattern, on p. 72.
This books is obviously a seminal source behind many of today’s reference books on knitting technique and patterns. Notation is sparse and “antique” with n (narrow) being used for k2tog, and o for yarn over, and other oddities. There’s a fair bit of circular doily knitting, but it is of the knit radially and seamed variety seen also in Abbey’s Knitting Lace. In fact many of the doilies appearing in Abbey appear to have been adapted directly from this work. You’ll also recognize many Walker treasury edging patterns in these pages.
In addition to the stitch texture and lacy knitting sections, there’s a bit on “cameo knitting” which appears to be another name for stranding (in PDF2). The section on filet knitting (in PDF3) is relatively extensive, and clearly shows both the strengths and weaknesses of this rarely described style.
This has got to be the single most complete and eye-popping source I’ve ever seen on Irish crochet. Not only does this contain an amazing amount of eye candy, it also gives directions on how to create it, offering up pattern descriptions for the individual motifs, the joining brides and grounds, and the working method of fastening the motifs to a temporary backing while the grounds are being worked.
As an example of the depth of the collection, here’s a work on Sprang, one of the lesser known fiber manipulation crafts sometimes mistaken for early knitting. It is in Dutch and appears to be from before WWI, but it is illustrated with photos of finished pieces and works in progress.
These are just a small sample of the hundreds of works available at the University’s website. Again, most are on the industrial aspects of the textile arts, from fiber acquisition (including sericulture and sheep raising) through spinning, and weaving, but a goodly number are of direct interest to hand-crafters. Topic lists exist for knitting, crochet, embroidery, cross stitch, lace, tatting, and a multitude of other subjects. Support this valuable resource by visiting and using it. I know I’ll be combing through here for years…
Yes, it’s true. I made this:
- It was 1970
- Limited yarn budget, using whatever I could find in the 25-cent bin, or beg or borrow from friends, relations and people with a grudge against me
- Unlimited time
- Not yet knowing how to knit
- Hating the seaming and end-darning common to standard issue granny square blankets
- Having no concept whatsoever of what a useful size might be
- Being 14 years old at the time
I came across it on Saturday, at the bottom of a box of first apartment leftovers I rescued from a narrowly averted basement flood. I did actually use the thing. I did most of my Junior High School and High School homework while wrapped in it. It also accompanied me off to college, where it kept other people from sitting on my bed, or provided a modicum of insulation when hung up against a very cold cinderblock wall.
I will say the haphazard design and awful colors sort of grow on you after a while. Kind of like fungus, or a particularly gruesome looking pet. My kids want to use it as our TV room sofa throw. Maybe you have to be pre-adult to appreciate it. Plus it’s absolute proof that Acrylic Is Forever.
Thank you to everyone who posted or sent notes about yesterday’s blanket. I haven’t kept up with Aran style crochet, but I do have two pattern leaflets about it published in the early 1980s. The first is the one I already mentioned:
It’s written for worsted weight yarn yarn and sizes H, J and K hooks. It includes patterns for a stole (which turns out to be the thing I enlarged), a poncho, a pieced lap robe, a vest, a pullover and a cardigan. Styles are rather unisex (button placement on the cardigan and vest would vary, of course). Sizes range from a kid-size extra small (24-26" to a large 38"-40". The best of the lot are the stole (as lap blanket, as it’s too heavy in my opinion to be worn as a wrap), and the poncho. The pullover is less lumpen looking than the other designs, but it’s a strange combo of extremely heavy work and loose hole-y areas, making it too hot to wear indoors, but too ventilated for many to wear as an outdoor outer layer.
The other booklet I have is this one:
It’s an American School of Needlework leaflet, listing Mary Thomas as the author. It’s also written for worsted weight yarn and size G, J and K hooks. It offers up two basic designs – the bathrobe style wrap sweater and a pullover, written separately for both men and women. Of the two leaflets the designs in the book by Ough are better – worked tighter with less of that stitch out of size crochet at home look, with more stitch variety, and better fit.
In terms of technical details, the two do vary a bit. The designs in the Ough leaflet are worked vertically, with the crocheted rows running the north-south length of the pieces. The Thomas designs are worked in the more conventional east-west direction, across the pieces. I think this helps improve the drape and texture of the Ough designs. Still both share the same weaknesses – heavy, heavy, heavy final products, unstretchy imitation ribbing at cuffs and hem, and a general boxy/slightly odd fit due to the different elasticity factors of the various stitches employed.
Now I note that my familiarity with the style pretty much stalled out in the early ’80s. I haven’t touched it since, and have given more recent books and leaflets only a passing glance. I’ve seen a couple of books on "Fisherman Design Crochet" by Ann Pomeroy, but I haven’t looked at them closely or worked anything from them. Other crochet books also delve into this specialty, mostly as single projects. I hope that the style has evolved somewhat. That stitches and textures are better expressed, that the "ground fabric" is more wearable, that lighter weight yarns are used, and that fit/finish has evolved, too.
It was this:
I crocheted this from the American School of Needlework pattern leaflet Original Fisherman Crochet for the Family by Anne Rabun Ough (LA #151):
Well, sort of. Actually I took the poncho pattern in this booklet, expanded it a bit in both length and width, adding extra panels of texture stitches, and edged it with a two-knot macrame fringe. (I tinkered with patterns even before I started knitting). It ate yarn. Crochet uses more yardage than knitting to make an equivalent sized piece. The finished blanket weighs a ton. Even though crochet is usually faster than knitting, it took a long time to make. See those fake cables? Those were done as little semi-detached bits, anchored at the tip several stitches away. The solid parts were panels of slip stitch or single crochet. The narrow, wandering cable was applied slip stitch worked after the piece was finished. The bobble section took forever and a half to finish. I can safely say that I haven’t crocheted a bobble since.
I made this piece as a thank-you gift for my mother, for all that she did in handling our wedding preparations. That was roughly 27 years ago but the thing has aged well, surviving washings and daily sofa or bed-throw use for all these years without pilling, discoloring, shrinking, or snagging. I’m not quite sure which 100% wool yarn I used, but I do remember it had an Irish-inspired name (possibly Plymouth Galway). In any case, here’s yet another example of the lasting power of quality materials.
Why did it inspire me to finally learn to knit? Lots of reasons. For one, bobble exhaustion. Plus at the time there were (and still are) comparatively few attractive, interesting, wearable crochet patterns compared to the wealth of knitting patterns out there. The crocheted faux Aran imitators were certainly interesting to make, but like the ones on the cover of the leaflet, cursed by that "loving hands at home" look. I wanted to make more than just fine lace, fancy tablecloths, and heavy blankets. I envied the style and wearability of knitting. Yes, I know that crochet can be used for far more, and that it can be wildly attractive, but especially at the time it was pretty much limited to tablecloths, blankets, baby things, odd lumpen pullovers done in yarns far to thick for comfortable wear, and granny square ponchos.
So I was primed for learning how to knit. From a book even. But that’s another story.
As of yesterday, I’d finished the top edging, run the solid two-row strip down the left hand side, chained out to establish the bottom edge, and was three rows into the charted part of the remaining border strip.
Today I had to rip out everything done after Saturday. I had made the only absolutely fatal error there is on this piece. I forgot to work the last double-width eyelet hole on the top edge, so there was no way of putting the last inch of my curtain onto its curtain rod.
As of today I’ve finished the ripping back, have created the missing hanging hole, and am in the forever bands of solid double crochet at the leftmost edge. As a result I don’t have the nifty-looking progress shot I’d hoped to share today. Instead, in response to some requests for a closer look at the join between the old and new work (and provided my photog skills cooperate), I present a detail shot of the edging join area:
Remember – you’re looking at the piece sideways compared to the working direction. (Also as it turns out, from the wrong side, but that doesn’t matter). My working direction proceeds from the right edge of the photo to the left edge. There’s a schematic of the stitch logic for this join in a previous post.
One thing that may or may not be seen in the resolution-stripped photo above – the J&P Coats Royale brand name size 30 cotton thread I’m using has a nice sheen to it compared to most crochet cottons. I have to say I really like the stuff. It does appear to have limited distribution though. Even the Coats website doesn’t? list it. So far the only retailer I’ve found that mentions Royale crochet cottons?is the big-box crafts store, Michaels, and I’m loathe to shop there on principle, much preferring to patronize smaller needlework specialty shops.
As bad as the knitting stitch?name problem is, crocheters have it much worse. Not only are there no crochet pattern books as authoritative and comprehensive as the Walker series on knitting (the Harmony series of paperbacks is nice, but doesn’t have Walker’s cachet), the basic vocabulary of written? crochet patterns is different depending on their place of origin.
Anyone in the US who has tried to crochet from a British Sirdar pattern has run into this problem; as have?UK/European?residents?who have picked up patterns issued in North America. Still, it’s amazing how many crocheters run afoul of the term problem, even though it’s widely known. Here’s the challenge. Terms that differ are shown in red below:
|Slip Stitch||Single Crochet|
|Single Crochet||Double Crochet|
|Double Crochet||Treble Crochet|
|Half-Double Crochet||Half Treble Crochet|
|Treble/Triple Crochet||Double Treble Crochet|
|Double Treble/Triple Crochet||Triple Treble Crochet|
|Triple Treble/Triple Crochet||Quadruble Treble Crochet|
|Quadruple Treble/Triple Crochet||Quintuple Crochet|
|Quintuple Treble/Triple Crochet||Sextuple Treble Crochet|
|Yarn Over||Yarn On/Over Hook|
Now. How can you tell which system of terms a pattern is using?
Clues abound. Aside from the obvious – looking for a copyright statement or publisher’s address, or just plain knowing that Sirdar uses UK notation, and Classic Elite uses US terms – you can look for these things:
- Metric vs. Imperial units. If sizing and measurements?throughout?are given in Imperial only, unless the pattern dates from the ’50s, chances are that it’s using the US system of notation. If it’s metric only, it’s worth looking closer to make your determination because it well may be using the UK system. If both systems of measerement are used – it’s a toss-up. I’d suspect most likely it’s using the US system, but I’d look closer anyway.
- Telltale terms:? The terms "tension," "fasten off," and "miss" are UK usage. The equivalent US terms are "gauge"? "cast or bind off," and "skip."??
- Very few US patterns use the term "treble crochet."? Those that do tend to be pre 1970s. If I see the word "treble" and not "triple" and those monster long double triple and above variants aren’t used, I suspect UK notation and check deeper.
- General spelling. The "u" in "Colour" isn’t a dead give-away for UK origin, but it is a clue that should make you look more closely. The pattern might be Canadian, in which case it might use North American/US notation.
- Yarn weights. Most US-origin patterns use the yarn weight descriptors "fingering, sport, worsted," etc. Most UK,?Australian,?and Euro patterns use terms like "3-ply, 4-ply,?Jumper weight, 8-ply."? Be careful however of double knitting (DK). That can go either way.
- Hook size descriptors. If it uses a letter only to describe hook size (A-N), you’ve got a US pattern. However hook sizes themselves are far from standard among makers, and most contemporary patterns include a metric size in addition to the letter. (Side hint:? ALWAYS go by the metric size, not the arbitrary letter or number size name.)
- Visual inspection. LOOK at any photos or illustrations that accompany the pattern. Look at your standard?single or double crochet. Does the photo make sense?
I don’t have very many crochet pattens on my shelves, otherwise I’d make a table of what makers use which notation. Sirdar I’ve already mentioned. I suspect Rowan uses UK notation, but I don’t know if they print up separate editions using US/Canadian notation for distribution in North America. Patons is a problem because notation in Patons North America patterns may be different from that in Patons Australia patterns.
If you’ve used a crochet pattern recently and have determined which of the two nomenclatures it uses, please feel free to report on that fact by leaving a comment to this note. I’ll compile the responses and post a follow-up table here in the future.