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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ANOMALOUS MUSHROOM

I continue to produce samples for the Chanterelle pattern.   This one is in a narrow self-striper – the kind of sock yarn that when knit up, makes socks with stripes of two or at most three rounds.

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And for reference, what the ball looked like before it was consumed:

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This scarf is another oddity.  It has the same gauge and width as all of the others.  The Steinback Aktiv Effekt yarn is marked as being 421 meters (460 yards) – comparable to  the others.

BUT.

I was only able to knit up nine full trumpet sections, plus the beginning and end section.  I did have a bit of yarn left over, but only enough for about a third of a trumpet.  So based on what I’ve seen so far, here’s the scarf length to yardage result.  As you can see, it doesn’t quite make sense.

Maker/Yarn

Description

Labeled length

Number of Full Trumpet Segments and Length

Steinback Wolle
Aktiv Effekt
Self-striper
Narrow stripes with one faux Fair Isle inclusion
460 yards
421 meters

9 segments
54 inches
137.1 cm
(about 12 yards left over)

Schoeller + Stahl
Fortissima Colori Socka Color
Self-striper
Combo of narrow red and white stripes with one medium length blue/white stripe
459.3 yards
420 meters

10 segments
62 inches
157.5 cm
(less than a foot left over)

Zwerger Garn
Opal 4 fach
Self-striper
Half medium, half narrow stripes.  One faux Fair Isle inclusion
465 yards
425.2 meters

10 segments
62 inches
157.5 cm
(about 8 yards left over)

Schoppel-Wolle
Zauberball Crazy
Gradient with two independently shading plies 459 yards
419.7 meters

11 segments
70  inches
178 cm
(about two feet left over)

Schoppel-Wolle
Zauberball Crazy
Gradient with two independently shading plies 459 yards
419.7 meters

10 segments
62 inches
157.5 cm
(about 18 inches left over)

The saving grace of the pattern is that the trumpet segment and the final section are identical until one is half-way through the trumpet sequence.  At that point the knitter can look at the remaining yarn and decide on whether or not to risk finishing out the last trumpet and then going on to the final segment (which would require about 36 yards remaining), or punting and just finishing off the segment at hand according to the instructions for the final section.

 

FLAG WAVING

I didn’t expect this.  I’ve finished the Chanterelle knit from the Schoeller and Stahl’s Fortisimma Socka Color, # 1776, “Stars and Stripes.”  In the ball it looked like it would present as medium width stripes, narrower than the ones in the ocean-wave blue sample scarf, but not particularly special in any way.  In my standard  socks, I would guess that each stripe would be about three or four rounds, with the blue areas about four or five rounds.

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BUT

In the directional world of this pattern, look what happened!

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In a serendipity I seldom achieve, the directionality of the Chanterelle pattern, coupled with the narrow width sections make a flags-in-the breeze effect.  And see that little butterfly at the right, containing about 18 inches of yarn?  That’s ALL I had left.  A squeaker, for sure.

Although I can’t bring myself to sport this, I have the perfect family to give this to – friends with a son in international competitions.  It will be the perfect thing for them to wear as they cheer him on.

Now on to yet another.  My goal is to show off a wide variety of self-stripers and variegateds, so folks can gauge what their own yarn might look like.  Digging down into the stash, I come up with another Nancy-Gift Yarn (it was a very generous gift).  This is Steinbach Wolle Aktiv Effect sock yarn, and as you can see from the 100g skein promises to have narrow stripes – probably manifesting as only two rounds each in a standard sock.

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As always, you can find the Chanterelle pattern for free at the Knitting Patterns tab at the top of this page.

And in other news, because there can always be other news, I’ve been asked to do a quickie set of fingerless mittens, from the leftover screaming yellow shawl yarn.  I’ll be casting on for that over the weekend.