Category Archives: Uncategorized

MUDDLING THROUGH MIDWINTER

It’s doldrums here at String Central.  Younger Daughter is back to university.  Others are back to work.  I fill my time with nosing around for grant and proposal contract assignments, and my various projects.

First, my sanity project – the doodled decoration on the pre-finished napkins I bought on sale from Wayfair, using the cotton four-ply embroidery floss I picked up when we visited Sajou in Paris (stitching with three plies).  I can show a modicum of progress.  I’m just picking out random designs from my books and doing them rather informally, with a different design along a single edge of each of eight napkins.  The first of my mismatched set is complete.  The second in process.

The linen is soft and once washed, a bit mushy.  That makes count work a bit more troublesome than it otherwise would be, especially on so coarse a ground.  But it’s still rather quick work.  The first napkin with the interlace took three evenings (about half shown).  The in process photo shows only one evening’s worth of work.

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On to knitting.  I finished a pair of socks, packed up and sent to the recipient before I remembered to take a photo.  They were my “briefcase project” – the thing I always have with me to work on while I wait on telephone hold, on line at the post office, or for appointments.  Since I ALWAYS  have a pair on the needles, the next pair is already cast on and sitting it its bag, itself waiting for me to be waiting.  This pair however is special.  Younger Daughter picked out this yarn with the proviso that I knit something for myself with it.  I comply.

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And my project of long suffering guilt.  I promised these Octopus Mittens to my niece late last winter.  It was inadvertently destroyed, then was re-started with new yarn, and is now sitting next to my project chair, chiding me that it is being neglected.  I plead laziness, lack of inspiration, and frustration with stranding using two strands of DK, knit at sock yarn gauge for warmth.

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I MUST finish these.  I promised.

How do you flog yourself back into working on a sidelined project?  All suggestions gratefully accepted.

Oh,  And if you know of anyone looking for a project manager/writer/editor specializing in high tech grants and proposals – send them my way, please.

OFF THE SHELF TABLE LINENS AS STITCHING GROUNDS

OK.  Just before the Thanksgiving holiday we decided to get some new table linens, so we would have a nice table setting for the finished dining room’s holiday debut. Given the busy green floral wallpaper and intricate rug, I wanted something monochrome for contrast.  Also something that presented more of a hand-made  welcome rather than stark white formality was in order.

I looked around a bit and settled on these affordable cotton or cotton/linen blend washables from Wayfair:

 

On the left above is the tablecloth, showing a corner, and on the right, one of the napkins.  Although they aren’t a matching set, they are close enough in color and texture to coordinate, plus both sport a small openwork detail. For the record, the napkins are branded “Fete” and are cotton.  The tablecloth is branded “Toscana” and is a polyester/linen blend.  Both are machine wash, machine dry cool/low.  The tablecloth is no-iron.

You can see from the tape measure on the napkins, I had an ulterior motive.  I always have an ulterior motive…

Eventually I intend to do some embroidery on these.  My thought is to do a strip of a different voided or linear design on each one, in a deep, wine red, using the thread I bought at Sajou in Paris when we were there.  But there was no time to begin before the holiday, so on the table they went.  Thankfully all of the linens survived turkey, wine, cranberry sauce and the rest, and were then sent through the recommended gentle wash/low dry cycle.  And it’s a good thing that I did so.

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Blurry photo aside, you can clearly see that the four napkins I used have shrunk considerably when compared to a napkin from the other set-of-four, as yet unwashed – the bottom one in the stack.  The tablecloth did not shrink appreciably.

As far as thread count on the napkins – in the before state they were approximately 18×22 threads per inch.  The count of the most-shrunken one is now much closer to 24×24 threads per inch.  The tablecloth remains very close to 30×30 threads per inch.  I won’t guarantee that either are true even-weave, but for me, they are close enough.

In conclusion, I do recommend a hearty pre-wash and deliberate shrink prior to any counted stitching, if that’s what you want to do on these.  And I may end up touching up the napkins with an iron before I use them again – embroidered or not.

For the time being, this project is taking a far-back, back seat.  I have a ton of holiday and bespoken gift knitting to complete, first.

THE STITCHES SPEAK – Part 6

At long last!  The end of the talk from 2014.  I hope it inspired you to look up some of these examples, and perhaps, start your own piece of work in one of the styles presented.

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THE STITCHES SPEAK – Part 5

In the off chance I haven’t sent folks screaming off into the woods, here is the penultimate installment of images from my chat on historical counted thread embroidery, given back in 2014.

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THE STITCHES SPEAK – Part 4

And even more.  Continuing on with the visuals from my 2014 talk on historical counted thread embroidery.

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THE STITCHES SPEAK – Part 3

More from the 2014 Schola talk on historical counted thread embroidery.

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THE STITCHES SPEAK – Part 2

Continuing from yesterday’s post, here are the next ten images from my Schola talk on historical counted thread embroidery, originally given in 2014.

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THE STITCHES SPEAK – Part 1

Roughly four years ago I was invited to give a talk on historical styles of counted embroidery at an embroidery Schola (day of lectures and workshops), held under the auspices of a regional group of the Society for Creative Anachronism.

I put together some talking points and visuals and gave the chat.  I think the audience was a bit overwhelmed, though because I didn’t get many questions or much feedback.

Today I was going through some old files and came upon my talk’s slide deck.  I share it here now.  Note that some things have come to light since I spoke in 2014.  Most obvious among that is the reclassification of several patterns by the holding institutions, moving them from uncertain provenance or continental/southern European 16th/17th century provenance to their proper place in Morocco.  I’ve written about this group before, but they are represented in the talk, in their “before” incarnation.

In any case, here are the images from my talk.  It’s long (no one ever accused me of being concise when it comes to discourse on my fave subject).  Therefore, I’ll break the thing up into roughly six parts over the coming days.

Enjoy!

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MORE CHANTERELLES

Well, this pattern has wound my curiosity up around itself.  The basic design of the Chanterelle scarf is quite simple, but it can look quite different depending on the yarn chosen.  I have written it for any 100g ball of fingering/sock weight yarn, and finding out what the various yarns end up looking like when knit up – that’s turning out to be tons of fun.

So let’s start.

So far I’ve used two different Schoppel Zauberball Crazy colors: the autumn/purples mix of the original, plus a lilac/cream/navy mix. The pix below the scarves are photos of the SAME color numbers of Zauberball as the ones I knit from.  There is considerable variation between balls of the stuff, but you can get an idea of how the original yarn looked, none the less.

 

 

The ends look different because for some reason although the balls were marked with identical yardage, the one on the left was significantly shorter, and yielded only ten trumpet sections, while the shades-of-purple one yielded 11.  Go figure…  In any case, it’s nice that regardless of how many full sections are knit, the ends still complement the piece.

Here’s the third try.  This one is a stash-aged Opal yarn, whose label with its color number has long since gone the way of all things.

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You can see that the color runs are pretty wide, and unlike the happy chaos of Zauberball Crazy, the repeat is very predictable.  Variation happens because the yardage required to produce one trumpet isn’t in synch with that of the yarn’s printed repeat,  so the colors wander up and down the trumpet motifs, and the faux Fair Isle spot manifests differently each time it pops up, shaped mostly by the width of the section where it appears.

I’m now trying for Chanterelle #4.  This one is from another stash-aged yarn – another ball that was a gift from the generous Nancys.  It’s Schoeller and Stahl’s Fortisimma Socka Color, # 1776 – a red, white, and blue mix. This one looks to have small to medium width stripes.

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We’ll see how these stripes manifest.  I’ve obviously not gotten this out of my system yet, so I’m sure I’ll be doing some more Chanterelles.  Luckily they are a quick and mindless knit, and can be done while watching subtitled movies and shows on TV.

If you want to do up a Chanterelle and would like me to post it, you can find the free pattern under the Scarves section of the Knitting Patterns tab at the top of this page.  I’d be grateful for pix of the skein and pix of the finished product, as done above.  That will help others decide whether or not this design would work for their beautiful but problematic yarns, too.

CHANTERELLE – EVERYTHING OLD IS NEW AGAIN

UPDATE:  THE DOWNLOADABLE PDF PATTERN FOR CHANTERELLE HAS BEEN ADDED TO MY KNITTING PATTERNS PAGE, AT THE TAB ABOVE.

A bit more mindless knitting this week past.  I have two balls of Zauberball Crazy, a wildly variegated (and expensive) fingering weight yarn.  Both balls had minor damages to them, and I wanted to work them up quickly.  But I didn’t want to make socks.  This stuff’s colors are so over the top that I wanted to make something that would be seen.  Scarves are ideal.  I’ve done several before using Wingspan and its variants, or other designs calculated to display the gradients to their best effect.  But I wanted to do something different.  I cast on for a couple of designs I found on Ravelry, but wasn’t particularly pleased.

What to do….

Ah.  Thinking back, my most popular pattern of all time is Kureopatora’s Snake.  That was written for a DK weight variegated, and was the result of happy experiment.  It’s basically Entrelac, but slimmed down to just the two edge triangles, and worked over a large number of stitches.  The result is a graceful interlock of trumpet shapes, with the trumpet’s spread accentuated by working a purl into (not just slipping) the K2tog join stitch at the end of each partial row before the turn.

Why not make that one up in fingering weight, and publish the pattern adaptations that make it work?

So I present the first of the two test pieces.  I’ll be starting the second tonight:

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First off, I’ve renamed the thing. Now that it’s independent of the original yarn, I re-dub this one “Chanterelle.”  Yes, there are ends (the initial cast-on, bind off, plus a couple of damages).  A personal quirk – I don’t darn in the ends until I am ready to give my knit gift to the recipient.  This will sit un-darned until then.

I will be writing up the full design again under the new name, but for now, start with the Kureopatora’s Snake pattern, available for free at the Knitting Patterns tab at the top of this page.

CHANTERELLE:
A FINGERING-WEIGHT VARIATION OF KUREOPATORA’S SNAKE

Grab your ball of fingering weight variegated yarn.  ONE ball of Zauberball Crazy made this scarf, with only about 3 yards of yarn left over.  It’s about 5 inches wide (a bit under 8 cm), and 66 inches long (a bit under 168 cm).  Gauge is pretty much unimportant.  I recommend a MUCH looser gauge than one would use for socks.  I used a US #5 needle (3.5mm) for this project.

Follow the Kureopatora pattern as written for the initial section, but instead of stopping when you have 30 stitches on the needle, keep going until you have 46.

Work the entire scarf as-written, until you have completed ten full trumpet sections (not counting the partial trumpet done to initiate the project).

Follow the directions for the final finishing section, EXCEPT that instead of working the final section as normal until there are 15 stitches on each needle, keep going until you have 23 stitches on each needle.  Then on every row that begins on the edge of the scarf after that, work a SSK instead of the increase you have been doing throughout the prior sections.

DO NOT STRETCH-BLOCK this piece.  If you feel it’s lumpy, moisten it and pat it flat, but do not use wires or pins to stretch it out.  You want to preserve those graceful curves.