Saturday, August 8, 2009

Don't believe everything you read

Even in knitting patterns. Remember when I was all excited because I'd figured out what the doily pattern writer meant by her 'fagot' stitch? Remember? Well, she was wrong (or the editor changed it and was wrong or the type setter changed it and was wrong). Someone was wrong. Doing 2 overs and a purl 2 together adds an additional stitch everytime you do it. Everytime. It was wrong. If you only do 1 over, however, and the purl 2 together, it looks like this:

That's right. Once I counted and recounted and reread and recounted, I decided to go with the 1 over and it mostly worked out. Actually it worked until row 3. Then I ended up with 1 stitch too many. But if I adjusted the pattern to come out even on row 3, then I was lacking a stitch I needed for row 4. I needed to add a stitch. Sounds easy enough but then the question is, where do you add it for the pattern to still come out? Here's what I had to work with:

Row 3: Knit 8, over, narrow, knit 4, over, narrow, knit 3, (over, narrow) twice, over 4 times, knit 3, fagot.

"Narrow" is just knit 2 together or decrease.
"Over" is a yarn over.
"Fagot" is yarn over, purl 2 together.

Row 4: Fagot, knit 4, purl 1, knit1, purl 1 (in loop), knit 24.

I knew I couldn't add a stitch to the end of Row 3 because the "over 4 times" has to fall where it was. On the first repeat shown above, I added a stitch to the "knit 3" section and made that "knit 4". The problem with that is that it throws off the pattern on following rows. Not much but it does. Then I realized as I looked at the other rows that this is the only place where the pattern has a even number in the section where it says "Knit 8". All the other rows have odd numbers. So I made that "knit 9" and Bob's your uncle. It worked out perfectly.

All of that for 1 little stitch! But when you're knitting this type of lace, 1 stitch matters. So now I'm happy with it and am busy knitting it out. Once you get the pattern right, it's a pretty easy little pattern. I'm not the biggest fan of the garter stitch, as you may know, but now I've got it figured out, I think it would be easy to convert it to a stockinette pattern. I think that would be prettier...but that's just me.

Friday, August 7, 2009

History Detectives - Knit Style

I know a guy who’s very nice but every time you talk to him, it’s like coming into the middle of a conversation and you have to go carefully to catch up. He came to mind as I was trying to figure out a pattern from the January 1918 Needlecraft magazine. I found a page with 3 “Doilies with Knitted Borders.” That is, linen middles with a wide knitted lace going around. They’re all pretty variations on a theme but I finally decided on doily #2. Fine.

I got my pattern copied, my crochet thread and US size 0 needles and started. Cast on 29 stitches. Check. Knit across plain. Check. Hey this is going to be pretty easy!

1. Knit 2, narrow, over twice, narrow, knit 2, (over, narrow) 4 times, knit 11, fagot. Huh?!!??!

Now I’ve heard of faggoting (I know, unfortunate word that doesn’t translate well but bear with me – it’s just a knit stitch) in regard to a stitch PATTERN but not as a term for a particular stitch. Usually a faggotted pattern would entail some variation of a yarn over and knit 2 together, usually staggered to make a mesh-type fabric but that didn’t seem to work so well. I didn’t end up with enough stitches.

Then at knit group, one of the ladies (who knows all things) said, “Oh, it sounds like you just need to do a yarn over at the end or beginning of the row, wherever that term shows up.” Hah! Easy. I can do that. I have to admit it did occur to me but I’ve never seen a pattern where you yarn over at the very end or beginning of a row. But, hey, she’s pretty smart so I was sure it would work. Until.

I get to row 5: Knit 2, narrow, over twice, narrow, (knit 4, over, narrow) twice, knit 3, fagot twice, knit 6, fagot.
So what do you do here?! Wouldn’t the pattern writer just say “over twice” if it was in the middle of the row like she did at other times? Besides it left me with too many stitches.

I put it down as it was time to go to bed anyway and thought about it all night. What could she be talking about? I’d already checked all the books I have, including the electronic versions I have of 19th century pattern books. No joy. I’m not discouraged because this is the fun (cough, cough) part of knitting vintage and antique patterns.

I couldn’t find my Great Grannie’s magnifying glass last night to look at the picture more closely so I magnified it on my copier. While it showed me more detail of the picture, it didn’t give me any clues.

Last resort? Read the article from the very beginning and see if there are any clues there, proving the old maxim - when all else fails, read the directions. That sounds logical and, for any other person, probably the place they would have started but, while I may take the scenic route (literally and figuratively), I usually get there in the end.

“For No. 1. – Cut from linen blah, blah, blah…Join the ends of the lace, blah, blah…The lace may also be used for any purpose, yeah, yeah….as a straight trimming.” Hum. Nothing there. Keep reading.

Cast on 28 stitches; knit across plain.
1. Knit 2 (it is always well to slip the 1st stitch of the selvage, inserting ………over twice, narrow, knit 20, fagot (that is, over twice and purl 2 together).” HA! HA, HA!

Case solved. I know I should have done that to begin with but I’m just so used to jumping in boots first that I didn’t think. But I did get people talking and thinking about what it might have meant so I think of it as spreading the joy.

Sunday, August 2, 2009


I went out on Saturday to visit a used bookstore in a neighboring small town (Books on the Square in Virden) and had a blast digging through all the wonderful books. I found several that I can't wait to read. On my way home, I decided to take a different route which led me past an antique mall so, as you do, I pulled in to have a look. In one of the first stalls I looked in I found a stash of 17 vintage magazines, 15 of them Needlecraft magazines - all of them ones I didn't have and all of them priced between 50 cents and $2. It was like Christmas! I've just had a marvelous weekend digging through them.

I started working through my magazines focusing on the ads for knitting supplies and here are a few of them from a 1910, 1911 and 1913 Modern Priscilla:

One of the things I've enjoyed is seeing how many of the articles advertised in these publications are products we still use today. Here are some from the 1910 issue:
Ivory Soap
Quaker Oats
Elgin Watches
Cream of Wheat
Corn Pops