Category Archives: Uncategorized

A CURIOUS APPLIQUE TECHNIQUE

I’ve long been been fascinated by one type of pattern that shows up in a couple of modelbooks. It’s a strip design, done positive/negative, such that cutting down the center line would yield double yardage of the repeating motif.

Here are some examples, quoted from Kathryn Goodwyn’s redacted editions of Giovanni Ostaus, La Ver Perfettione del Disegno, from 1561 and 1567.

I have tried to use this technique myself, with very unsatisfying results due to the stretchy nature of the unsuitable fabric I was using, lack of sufficient stabilizer, and imprecise cutting.

But I’ve finally found a historical example, and it’s pretty close to one of the Ostaeus 1561 designs – amusingly enough, the exact one I tried and failed so badly to use.

CH-Band

The full citation for this piece is

Band, 17th century; silk, metallic thread; Bequest of Marian Hague; Cooper Hewitt, Accession 1971-50-47.

Compare it to this from the 1561 edition of Ostaeus (p.36 in this redacted edition):

ostaeus-2

As to technique on the CH band – it works just as I envisioned.  This is velvet, carefully cut and appliqued to a ground, with the cut edges covered by a couched heavy metallic thread.  You have to admire the efficiency of this method; not a scrap of that green fabric was wasted.

So.  Has anyone seen other examples?  Has anyone attempted the technique, either in fabric as shown here or (probably easier) glovers’ type very thin real or faux leather?

CORNERED

Continuing on with boring embroidery posts.

A good many people will recognize this pattern.

honey-1

I stitched this snippet from a chart I did in TNCM (Plate 64:1). A simplified chart for the same design also exists in Pesel’s Historical Designs for Embroidery, Linen, and Cross Stitch.

The original for my graph is a handkerchief in the Victoria and Albert Museum, Accession T.133-1956.  It’s current attribution is circa-1600, England, although that designation has changed over time.  It used to be called out as 1580-1600.  I’m delighted that museums are revisiting the dates, stitch descriptions, and materials info for their smaller textile holdings.  These listings are bound to improve as the methods and technologies (and available funds) to assess them improve.  I do not think that Pesel used the same artifact as her base.  There are some departures in her graphing from the V&A example, and her marginal notes cite a sampler source, from 1658.

Another reason that this design is so familiar, is that the V&A handkerchief is near iconic, and shows up in several influential stitching history books, including Digby’s Elizabethan Embroidery, and King and Levy’s The Victoria and Albert Museum’s Textile Collection: Embroidery in Britain from 1200 to 1750.  But in all of the secondary source representations, it is rarely shown with all four corners.  In fact, it used to drive me nuts that I couldn’t see them all.  But thanks to the V&A’s site archival image updates, we can enjoy completion. Here is their own photo of the entire artifact:

honey-2

and a color snippet, quoted from the V&A images, for good measure, since repros in the stitching history books often show the original reds:

honey-8

Gorgeous.

But look at the corners!

I’ve had many people ask me about how to create corners for strapwork, to go around the perimeter of linens, or to anchor a dress yoke.  Much fretting over exact matches happens.  Even the choice of mitering or bending the work around the angle (as opposed to butting the design up without mating the two directions) causes anxiety.  In truth all of these methods appear, although the exact mitering thing is the least commonly seen.

This is one way to treat those corners.  Four ways, to be exact, because no two of these corners are exact matches.  And it doesn’t matter that they are not.

Numbering clockwise from the upper left, we have 1,2, then 3 and 4, respectively.  I’ve taken the liberty of rotating (but not flipping) these so that they are easier to visually compare:

Upper corners, #1 and #2:

and lower corners #3 and #4:

There are three rough treatment styles. 1 and 3 are distinct,  and #2 and #4 are similar but not the same.  #4 has a fat twig interlace to the left of the flower, to fill in space.  In #2 there was less space to fill, so that twig is smaller.  The area at roughly noon above the flower is different between #2 and #4 as well.  On the others, #3’s flower is squished up against the border, with no surround to its left, and all manner of arabesques fill up the extra space below the flower in #1.

It’s always a matter of personal opinion and borderline heresy to use these cues to try to deduce working method, but it’s clear while our anonymous stitcher may have had a visual guide to the strip parts of her or his design, the corners were fudged in, ad hoc.  The narrow companion border’s corners – both inner and outer – are improvised, too.

If I were to be so bold as to speculate, I’d pick the lower left edge as the starting point, with the work starting at the indicated line, and progressing around the piece in the direction indicated (note that the V&A says that the monogram is EM, so that we’re actually looking at the reverse):

honey-7

The stitcher worked to a convenient point to form a corner, keeping it as much in pattern as possible, turned direction, worked across the top edge, turned, and so on, until the starting point was achieved – at which point the “terminal fudge” was needed to finish the work.  It’s also vaguely possible that the finished size of the piece was determined in an attempt to make the the repeats (mostly) work out, rather than the square being laid out first, and the repeats being fitted into it.  At least that’s the way I – an improvisational and slightly lazy stitcher – would do it.

So.  If you are making a historically inspired piece, do you need to meticulously draft out exact corners first, then follow your chart with fanatical purpose?

Not really.

Just go for it.  Much as they did roughly 460 years ago.

PS: Eye training:  Bonus applause to the person who spots my departure from the original in the companion border. 🙂

THE LEAFY FAMILY

I hope I’m not boring my readers (especially my knitting pals), but with just a little bit of encouragement, I’m off and running on more historical embroidery pattern families.

This one I’ve nicknamed “Oak Leaves.”  It’s relatively well represented – not the design with the most extant examples, but I’ve managed to collect seven photos of artifacts displaying it, in various styles.  No modelbook source (yet), and I particularly like when designs are interpreted in different ways.

As in many of these smaller fragments, museum provenances and dates are not necessarily precise.  Some of these artifacts have not been revisited since they were originally donated to the hosting institutions. Putting these on a specific which-came-first timeline is problematic, especially doing so based on photos alone.  However, there is a possibility here again of “separated at birth” pieces, where an original artifact was cut apart by a dealer and sold to multiple collectors.

I start with a piece given to the Cooper Hewitt by my idol, Marian Hague. She was an embroidery research expert and curator, who worked with several museums in the first half of the 20th century. Her work pairing extant pieces with modebook sources is legendary.

oak-1

The Cooper-Hewitt citation for this piece dates it as 17th century, and of Italian origin.  The museum’s accession number is 1971-50-97 and was acquired as a bequest from Ms. Hague.  It displays the signature elements that make up the group – the center meander, with two heavily indented “oak” leaves sprouting left and right, overlapping the meander.  A central smaller floral element in the center of each of the meander’s hump, and a secondary leafy sprout filling in the hollow of the design between the leaves.  This particular piece also has voided spots along the length of the center meander.

Compare this piece from The Art Institute of Chicago:

oak-2

They also attribute it as 17th century, Italian.  The AIC accession number is 1907.742, acquired in 1907.  Although the C-H example lacks the fringed edge, the executed design of both pieces is extremely close.  C-H on left, AIC on right:

Ignore minor wear and tear.  The count of the leaves, voiding of the stems, method of placing and working the spots, and placement of the tendrils is the same, although some of the tendrils on the AIC sample have fallen victim to time.  Therefore I opine that these two pieces may have come from the same original.  That Ms. Hague’s bit is a bit more savaged is not unusual.  There are other instances where she had fragments of pieces in museum collections, but usually kept the more damaged bits for her own research.

Moving on here’s a fragment from the Metropolitan Museum of Art:

oak-3.JPG

The Met places it as 16th-17th century, also Italian.  Its accession number there is 09.50.3806, collected in 1909.  This may or may not be part of the same original as the previous two, even though it is fringed like the AIC sample.  For one – it’s mirror image.  That in an of itself isn’t a big difference.  Photos get reversed.  Designs themselves are sometimes mirror-imaged if they appear on opposite sides of a larger artifact.  Tendrils are missing, but this piece appears to have undergone more wear than the other two.  There are enough partial remains of the double running (or back stitch) bits to posit their existence.  But while the delicate linear stitching is more prone to damage the heavier interior stitching is more durable.

Look at the little interlace where the leaf-twig emerges from beneath the meander and crosses over it (AIC on left, Met on right):

The little “eye” of filling, which done in the solid filling stitch and should remain – is missing.

Might this be part of the same original, possibly a suite of hangings, covers/cloths or bed furnishings, but of a segment done by a less attentive stitcher?  Possibly.  But also possibly not, especially in light of the next example.

Here’s another one with an empty “eye.”  This example was found by my Stealth Apprentice, and is in the Textiles Collection of the University for the Creative Arts in Farnam.

oak-4.JPG

Unfortunately, the UCA gives no date or provenance for the work. Note how long this strip is, and that it’s folded – we see both sides.  This might be double running and one of the double sided Italian cross stitch variants because regular long-armed cross stitch doesn’t look the same front and back.  Tendrils?  Check.  Center meander with holes?  Check.  Oak leaves and supporting sprouts?  Check.  BUT those “eyes” – they are not worked, just as in the Met example.

OK, now we go on to other design adaptations.  This voided piece from the Boston Museum of Fine Arts is undoubtedly an interpretation of the same design, but with a bit more elaboration on the stems – using twining instead of spots, and on the sprouts and leaves.  It’s also doubled north/south – a very common method of taking a strip design and making it more dramatic by making it wider.

oak-5

The MFA calls this piece out as being Italian, 16th-17th century, and names the technique used as “Punto di Milano.” (The MFA uses several stitch style names not commonly seen elsewhere, this is one.) The accession number is 83.236.

I am particularly intrigued by the unworked area at the upper right.  The tightly overstitched pulled mesh technique used for the background is almost impossible to pick out, and even worn, leaves a very clear perturbation of the ground weave.  I know this from sad experience.  Even over the centuries, I have to say that the missing bit was just never worked.  Which gives us an insight into working method – defining an area, then going back and filling it in.

Did this piece, in this style predate the more simplified depictions above?  Again we can’t say for sure, but I tend to lean that way because the spots on the wide, plain meander to me look like the simplified descendants of the voids formed by twining stems in the MFA’s example.  One person’s opinion – feel free to disagree.

Voiding.  That was always done in long-armed cross stitch or the meshy stitch, right?  Nope.  Here’s another example of the same pattern, with an even more finely defined main twining meander, but done with a squared filling stitch.  This one is also from the Metropolitan Museum of Art:

oak-6

The Met lists this one as being Italian or Greek, from the 16th-17th century.  It was acquired in 1909, and its accession number is 09.50.58.

This piece is my favorite of the set, both for the delicacy of the interlace and the squared ground.  Obviously the tendrils are gone, as in the other voided interpretation, but it’s the same oak leaf design for sure.  And did you catch the mistake?  Upper right, where the meander is cut off from joining the previous repeat.  That’s not wear and tear – that’s a place where stitching happened where it doesn’t appear in subsequent repeats.

And last, but not least, a pattern cousin.  This one was also found by the Stealth Apprentice.

oak-7

This is an Italian towel or napkin, claimed as 16th century, in the Marcus Jehn private collection.  The only link I have for it is to the collector’s Pinterest board.

This is a curious piece.  It’s clearly derived from the same pattern family, interpreted in a linear stitch.  But the interlaces of the meander are rather heavy compared to the delicacy of the Met square-voided sample, above.  The slightly fudged corner is also of interest.  If I had to guess, I’d suspect that this piece was a see-me-and-copy, derived from something that looked more like the two voided examples.

So, what have we seen here?  Mostly that there are design clusters that are clearly related.  That there is no one canonical way in which to use these patterns – interpretations, some only a bit different, and others quite divergent, vary from artifact to artifact, even among those done in the same technique.  And based on museum citations alone there’s no clear way to arrange them in parent-child relationships other than idle musing.

Most of all, I like that there is no one “right” way to stitch these designs, and that when I do my own variant, I’m adding to family that stretches back for hundreds of years.

 

UPDATE:

And another one of the same family surfaces!  This one is the largest departure to date in terms of style, but it is clearly descended from the same pattern lineage.

Meet the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s holding #09.50.65 – entitled “Fragment,” dated to the 16th or 17th century, from Italy or Greece; added to the museum’s collection in 1909.

AR762-leafy

LONG LOST SIBLINGS?

As I wander through on-line collections, occasionally I spot things that look very familiar.  There are pattern style families, even specific motifs and strip designs that persist over time, popping up in multiple locations, over periods of decades.  Those are fun to trace, and to try to figure out branching traditions, and to try to pinpoint ultimate origins, although that’s rarely possible.

Today’s pieces though are something different.  I believe them to be either part of the same original artifact or set of artifacts.

To begin with, here they are.  At left is a piece from the Art Institute of Chicago (accession #1907.740); at right is a piece in the Hermitage Museum’s on line collection (accession #T-2734).

 

The AIC’s piece has a more complete annotation, noting the dimensions of the various component parts, describing the materials and stitches used (“long armed cross stitch, cut and drawn thread work… insertion of silk needle lace”), and giving a provenance and date of Italy, 1601-1650. They call the piece “unfinished.” It was acquired by the museum in 1907.

The Hermitage’s piece provides less detail, silk on linen, and overall dimensions.  They call the stitch used “double Italian cross” (or that’s what the Russian translates as).  They cite origins as Italy, 16th-17th century, and say the piece came to them from the private collection of Baron Stieglitz.  I am unsure which member of that family they are citing, but the the Stieglitzs were prominent bankers and aristocrats during the 1800s, and up to the time of the Russian revolution.  They were known for amassing opulent art and antiques collections, among other extravagances.

When my Stealth Apprentice brought the Russian-collected example to my notice last year, she opined that it was unusual to see the very coarse voided strip, needle lace, and more delicately done center piece all in one composed work.  I agree with her.  It is curious – all the more so because of the second example from Chicago.

Let’s look more closely at the two.  Chicago’s larger piece seems to start at the right edge at the same design point of the urn/flower cycle as the Hermitage’s.  The count and spacing on the motifs are identical on both pieces, although the Russian sample is very slightly taller – about four or five rows of the flower/urn area pattern.  Both seem to be “full length” slices north/south.  But that left edge on the Russian example is very clearly cut and truncated, with the narrow border removed from a work’s right edge and seamed to the larger field.  AND look at the top area.  Not only was the piece sliced off and then replaced on the urn/flower area, that same cut and sewn seam ascends all the way to the top, cutting through BOTH the needle lace band, and the coarsely executed voided strip.  It’s also clear that the strip that was cut was taken from the left edge of the original source piece, because the fragment of the narrow border flower at the top left has “turned the corner.”

Further, because both artifacts include an intact right hand edge with no seaming, these were probably descended from a set of two matching items.

Both pieces seem to have been cut off at the right edge, snipped through the narrow needle lace strip, and both show signs of stitching remains on their bottom edge – possibly fragments of more needle lace.  On the Russian bit, there’s even evidence of red remnants along the outer edge of the applied border strip. Both works show clear signs of there being a finished hem around the central flower/urn plus companion border section; but no hem is in evidence on the voided strips.  Even the linen ground’s weave on the voided strip parts looks coarser than that in the center area’s ground.

So.  What do we have?

Here’s one possible flight-of-fancy.  I have no evidence to claim this as being true, so it’s just postulation and theory:  two rounds of re-use.

Our piece starts off as the urn/flower part – two strips, about 42.3 cm (16 5/8 in) tall, but of an indeterminate length.  They might have been bed hanging, long towels, or something akin in shape or proportion to a modern table runner (historical use unknown).

At some point in time, these items gets turned into something else.  Possibly a deeper set of bed valences, or possibly one or more rectangular bolster or cushion covers, through the addition of the side strips of voided work, attached by the decorative needle lace sections.  These additional bits were  done by a different hand than the older flower/urn section.  (I do note that there are other examples of artifacts that employ side strips to turn rectangular flat pieces into square-edged 3D cushion covers.)

Fast forward to the second moment of re-use…  The second-use bed hanging or bolster cover is cut down again.  The unknown recycler may have intended to make multiple covers for smaller cushions, or other smaller covers/bags/whatever.  And it’s possible she or he never finished that project – that’s why we have the partial cut-down-and-reassembled Hermitage fragment, and the unfinished fragment in Chicago.

And for the piece’s final disposition among multiple museums – I do know that in the late 1800s, lace and embroidery collecting was a fad among the wealthy and fashionable.  Many American museum textile collections crystallized around donations from prominent families – items they picked up on Grand Tours of Europe.  I have come across quite a few artifacts that may be pieces sundered in that process – cut apart by antiquities dealers who then sold smaller bits to multiple buyers, rather than keeping artifacts intact and making only one sale.  I posit that our flower/urn twins are a pair of those pieces, and having fallen victim to profitable multiple sales, ended up fragmented between two continents.

WHEN IS MORE OF THE SAME NOT MORE OF THE SAME?

Another post that only a stitching history nerd will love.

The last post explored some differences between modelbooks that looked like they featured the same patterns, but in fact were not printed from the same plate.  This one looks at one of the most widely reprinted and well known modelbook authors – Johann Siebmacher, and three of his works, all available in on-line editions.  All of the excerpts below are from these three sources:

  1. Schön Neues Modelbuch von allerley lustigen Mödeln naczunehen, zuwürcken unn zusticken, gemacht im Jar Ch. 1597, Nurmberg, 1597, – the source work for Mistress Kathryn Goodwyn’s Needlework Patterns from Renaissance Germany
  2. One reprinted in 1886 as Kreuzstich- Muster: 36 Tafeln des Ausgabe, 1604, that calls out Siebmacher as its author.
  3. One indexed simply as Newes Modelbuch with him as author, possibly 1611, but unclear from the source

Many of the designs in these books seem to repeat edition to edition.  Some are unique to only one.  Before we begin, it’s worth remembering that these books are survivals.  Long use and reuse over decades have resulted in page loss.  None of the editions are complete, as in “all intact in one original binding,” and some may have been re-composed at a later date from other partial works.  But we do what we can with what we have, and Siebmacher’s editions have title pages in them, and distinctive numbering and framing conventions that can lead to a reasonable conclusion that they were from the same printing workshop.

All of the books show graphed designs suited for reproduction using several techniques, including various styles of voided work on the count, lacis (darned knotted net), and buratto (darned woven mesh).  Twp of them also include patterns that would be suitable for other forms of lace.  Over time these patterns went on to be executed in weaving, cross stitch, filet crochet, and knitting, too. The descendants of these designs ended up in multiple folk traditions and samplers on both sides of the Atlantic.

In addition to the longevity of their contents, Sibmachers books are among the earliest that seem to indicate execution of the design using more than one color or texture, a feature not common in the black-and-white printed early modelbooks.  Here are examples the first two books.  But I don’t think that these pages were originally printed two-tone.  I think they were hand-colored to add the darker squares, either at the time of manufacture or later.

1597 The possibly 1611 edition
sib-1 sib-2

Obviously, the two samples above were printed from the same block. But the pattern of the darker squares is different, and if you look closely, the some of the solid squares looked colored in, as opposed to having been originally printed that way.  I can say the retoucher who did the 1597 was a bit neater.  I don’t think these were colored by the book buyer, because every single edition of Siebmacher’s works that I’ve seen have included multi-tone pages like this.

Here are other single- and multi-tone blocks that repeat between these two editions:

1597 The possibly 1611 edition
sib-3 sib-4
sib-7 sib-8
sib-9
sib-10The brown ink on the G near the talon matches the color of the hand-drawn designs at the back of the book – post-publication additions.

The 1604 edition has similar pages that sport two-tone presentation:

sib 11

But these books are not the same.

That 1604 edition…  It’s curious that there are no blocks that are in the other two Siebmacher works that are also in the 1604 edition, yet all three books are clearly signed by him.  And the majority of the block labels that show stitch counts for the repeat, or pattern height in units – they are curiously different between the 1604 and the others, too.  But still, there evidence of style affinity across the works.  Zeroing in on some specific pattern features:

A very familiar stag, that shows up on some of the earliest samplers, with descendants on American Colonial samplers, all the way up to pieces done in the 1800s.

1604 1597
 sib-11 sib-12

Similar, yet not the same.

Here is a set that’s confounding.  First the hippogriff and undine from 1604:

sib-13

Compare the item above to these two designs – a winged triton and an undine, each from the 1597 work:

sib-14 sib-15

Lions rampant?

1604 1597
sib-16 sib-17

Even the geometrics are close but not duplicates

1604 1597
sib-18 sib-19

All this aside, even the seemingly close 1597 and possibly-1611 versions have significant differences between them, although they do have exact page duplicates between them. Not so with 1604 – it’s unique when closely compared to the other two, even though all three have the same author attribution, and very similar styles.  This is VERY odd considering the vast amount of physical labor that had to go into producing these blocks.

So.  What’s going on with the 1604 edition?  Why is it so different from the other two?  Has anyone read an academic work that examines this issue in more detail, or corroborates these findings with other editions that are not published on line?

So many patterns, so many questions, so little time to do in depth research.

BUSY BUSY BUSY

I wish I weren’t but it’s been so, and for a while.

Sadly this means that not much substantive is getting done on any of my main projects.  I feel quite badly about this because I promised a pair of Octopodes Mittens to a niece.  Thanks to the ungentle hands of the Philistines at TSA, during my trip to Florida, my on-the-needles project was unceremoniously dumped out into my checked baggage, the needles were pulled out of the work (and one was lost); the magnet board I was using was bent, the magnetic strip that marked my place is missing, and they broke the yarn to remove and lose the Strickfingerhut knitting thimble thingy I use to make stranding easier.   So progress has been stalled while I replace the needles, Strickfingerhut, and magnet board.

Here is the barely-begun first mitten prior to TSA’s pillaging:

E80DE046-1E8F-44E7-85A1-0A9AFAC842B5_medium2 (1)

Back to Square One on that project.

In the mean time, my mindless “briefcase project” socks march on.  These require little to no thought, and are done in stolen hours while waiting on line at the post office, in large group meetings at work, and the like.  The ankle patterns are improvised on the fly. Since January, I’ve done 3.75 pairs – all toe-up, quick knits on 76 stitches around, (US #00s – big as logs…)

Starting with the blue pair with red accents, yarns used were blue striped Cascade Heritage 150 Prints, with Kroy Sock toes/heels/ribbing; orange Cascade Heritage 150;  Plymouth Neon Now (it really does glow under UV light); and Berroco Comfort sock, in pastels – which is an acrylic/nylon blend with no wool in it at all.  The last one is an experiment, we’ll see how it feels to wear, and how well it holds up in regular sock rotation.

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Now that I have the requisite replacement materials, it’s back to the Octopodes Mittens.  Winter 2018 may be almost over, but I have a feeling the niece will appreciate them in 2019.

CORDAGE FILET AND FINISHES

Over the holiday weekend, I found myself between projects, with a yen to play.  The summer adventure in yarn-bombing was the first time I’d touched crochet in years, and left me hungry for more, so I decided to try something off-beat.

I had a large cone of a rather industrial heavy cotton cordage.  It’s about worsted weight equivalent in thickness, but is much, much denser than regular cottons of that weight offered up for hand-knitting.  I got it at the old Classic Elite mill end store, when it was still co-located with the mill itself, before it moved into a location a few doors down from the mill, and long before it migrated down from Lowell.  I’ve used this yarn to model various lace knitting problems, relying on its size and durability to help me figure out the problem section before I tried the same bit in the fragile lace yarn being used for my main project.  But I’ve always wondered what else could be done with the stuff, so I decided to experiment. 

My first thought was a market bag, done in filet.  So I picked out a simple 35 unit square from Dupeyron’s Le Filet Ancien au Point de Reprise VI, itself an on-line offering in the Antique Pattern Library’s filet crochet section.  It quickly became apparent that my gauge with a 3mm hook for this yarn wasn’t square.  I didn’t like the look of it for this style with a larger hook (filet should have a strong contrast between the solid and meshy areas), so I kept going, in spite of the skew.  In a fit of serendipity, while my finished proportions were way off for a bag, and I doubted I would have enough yarn for an effective throw, what I ended up with was perfect for a placemat (mug shown for scale).

Placemat-1

This crocheted up quickly, in one weekend.  I plan on doing as many more as my cone of string will allow.  A set of four for sure, probably six, and remotely possible – eight or four plus runner.  Oh.  With the wealth of 35×35 squares in the book above, each mat will be a different design.  Mostly mythical beasts.  Possibly some other motifs if I tire of those.

And I also have several finishes to report.  The most important is to finally post the baby blanket knit for new niece Everly, born to Jordan and Paul (the Resident Male’s brother) last week.  I had finished it some weeks ago, but I hesitated to post pix lest I spoil the surprise.  Yes, I did end off the ends and wash it prior to sending.  🙂

IMG_1111

A home-grown pattern, based on the Frankie Brown 10-stitch garter spiral concept, and an original edging previously posted here.  It’s knit in Bernat Handcrafter cotton (pink and cotton were special requests), a washable worsted weight yarn.

The other finishes include two pairs of socks.  Younger Daughter’s Bee Socks, plus a pair of “briefcase project” socks of my own. Pix of those when they are out of the wash, having already been integrated into our wardrobes. 

There’s also this scarf for me.  This one is based on Sybil R’s Little Rectangles pattern.  I changed the proportions of the blocks a bit to better suit the very short color segments of the Madelinetosh variegated merino fingering.  Note that the original called for two skeins of yarn (about 780 yards/722 meters), but my variant (about 5 inches x 80 inches/12.7 cm x 203 cm) used every scrap of just one skein, making it a spectacular but economical gift item.  Gauge is about 9 stitches = 1 inch; each little block is about 1” x .75 inch. 

Apologies for the blurry photo.  Artificial lights at dawn aren’t my forte.  The second detail shot is not color-true, but shows the garter construction a bit better.

 Berry-Confetti-3 BDD02E71-3B1C-4EB5-808E-4DF315C6AC06_small2

MORE BEACH!

Time for the annual promotional post here at String.

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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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ESCAPE KNITTING

So here we are at the beach again, seizing a weekend unoccupied by renters, to enjoy our place in North Truro.  It’s not as warm as it can be in full summer, but it’s plenty comfortable enough for lounging on the beach, wandering the shoreline, and nosing around Provincetown.

And what’s lounging on the beach without a knitting project?  It can be difficult to knit from a complex pattern on the beach – hard copy pages get damp, and tend to blow around.  It’s often too bright to knit from designs stored on the iPad, the screen washes out in the sun.  So I tend to look for projects that are mindless, memorized, or free-form.

So here’s the latest, photographed in full sun on our deck.

Crusher-01

I’m working entirely without a pattern, using a rustic style Aran weight wool.  I’ve got several skeins of well-aged Bartlett two-ply Maine wool, that are taking up all to much room in my stash boxes I’d prefer to put to other use.

I have a couple of heathered garnet red; a couple that are ragg-mix of one ply of the garnet, and one of a navy; and a couple of a medium blue which is too light to use in combo with the others.  None are enough for an entire adult sweater but it’s time they earn their keep.  Also the ragg style blue/red mix would overpower most texture work.  So what to do?

A unisex, simple raglan, worked top down was the obvious choice.  No pattern, no gauge.  I started by casting on 100 stitches, and working a rolled stockinette collar on a US #8 (5mm) needle.  I changed to a US #10 (6mm) needle.  I’ve now got about 172 stitches around – roughly a 44-45-inch chest circumference.  The fit is slouchy and sweatshirt-like, and the high lanolin content rustic yarn (though a bit itchier than Merino, and hand-wash) guarantees a hard wear sweater ideal for cool weather hiking, and winter sports.  It’s a bit small for me, but between spawn, and a huge army of nieces and nephews, plus lots of outdoorsy friends, it’s bound to fit someone.

So, what do I call this no-pattern piece?  The Wesley Crusher, of course.  Named for the ubiquitous shoulder-colorblock casual sweaters and uniform blouses worn by him and the rest of the STNG crew.

Minor discovery during the course of this one.  Many circular needles in larger sizes have a noticeable “bump” where the needle part slims down to the cable’s thin diameter.  It can be annoying to shuffle stitches up that steep incline as you knit in the round.  But you can minimize the problem if you are using an interchangeable needle set.  I’ve outfitted one of the circs with a size #10 on one end, and a #8 on the other.  Since stitch size and gauge is dictated by the needle you are using to form the stitches (as opposed to the one being knit from), the smaller size needle sits on the “feed” side of the round, and its slightly smaller diameter presents less of an impediment when shuffling the stitches around into “knit me” position.  Give it a try!

And in other knitting news, I have finished the leaf shawl/scarf:

scarf-3

It looks like work/home will crawl back to a more manageable schedule, so I hope to be posting more regularly again in the weeks to come.  Next up is a tutorial on a simple method to finish out a sampler into a backed hanging.

BELATED FINISH

A very hectic month, between work and other obligations.  I’m glad to say we’ve gotten Younger Daughter off and installed at college, purple hair and all:

dorm-1

And I finished her vintage shrug:

shrug-2   shrug-3

An interesting project, this was a very quick knit, but it did take a bit of attention in finishing.  The instructions for seaming in the original are pretty rudimentary.  Here’s what I did, in case you want ot make one of these for your own:

  1. Leave stitches live instead of binding off the final row
  2. After blocking, graft live stitches to the cast on edge, taking care to match the drop stitch ribs.
  3. Next, sew up the two sleeves, using grafting along their finished edges.  Again, match the ribs.
  4. You now have the final seam left. Carefully match the center back seam to the center of the shoulder strip, and pin.
  5. Use mattress stitch to join the two strips together.

In effect, what you end up with is a T-shaped seam in the back, with the horizontal running between the lower edge of the armholes, and a vertical seam at the “spine” of the lower strip forming the center back.  Both are hard to see in my photo of the back because (to brag) I took great care with my grafting and seaming.

Quite pleased with this one.  Younger Daughter is into swing dancing, and will wear it not with t-shirts as shown, but with her 1940s/1950s-style dance dresses.