Saturday, November 28, 2009

Fashions of the 50's

When I was in Pennsylvania a couple of weeks ago, I visited the Civil War Museum in Harrisburg.  In the gift shop, I found a copy of The Ladies' Self Instructor In Millinery & Mantua Making, Embroidery & Applique (1853).  It contains quite a good section at the end with knitting and crochet patterns.  While there're no pictures, I'm having a great time with them.  I've just finished my first one: Evening Carriage Shoes.

The pattern started out with the most fascinating stitch pattern knit into a rectangle:

Just looks like a scrubber, doesn't it?  The stitch pattern is very simple once you figure out what the idea is.  You do a foundation of the brown wool then for the blue section, you knit 4 in blue, slip 2 brown, and repeat across.  You do 4 rows like this, working the blue section in stockinette.  Next you change back to the brown and knit 2 rows and purl 2 rows.  On the next section, you set off the blue pattern by knitting 1 in blue, slip 2 brown, knit 4 in blue, repeat the last 2 steps to the last 3 stitches and knit those in blue.

It's a great textured look.  I was showing it to someone who mentioned it would look great as a jacket and now I can't help thinking what a great idea that is.  The more I see it the better I like the idea.

Next in the pattern, you simply fold lengthwise and sew up each short end.

The pattern then says to run a string through it and put on fringe.  I decided to pleat the front and add the brown button. (Click on a photo to see a larger image.)

Now is it just me or does this look very 50's - 1850 or 1950.  I can also see Scarlet O'Hara wearing these on the way to the Ball but it reminds me of the sort of shoe Mary Tyler Moore would have worn on the Dick van Dyke Show.  Oh, wait, that was the 60's.  Early 60's.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Amish Diamond Quilt (afghan)

A few weeks ago I went to Pennsylvania and had a side trip to Lancaster.  While I was wandering around, I came across the Lancaster Quilt and Textile Museum.  If you're ever in the area, I would really recommend stopping by.  I'm not a huge quilt fan but I did see a quilt that fascinated me.  It was one of the earliest of the Amish patterns, from what I understand, called the Center Diamond Quilt and all I could see was how easy it would be to knit.

This is a (poorly blocked) sampler I did just to work out the dimensions and to show the basic elements.  The center diamond is knitted from tip to tip, casting on 2 stitches and increasing each side every other row until you have the desired number of stitches (in this case 20).  Then you simply decrease each side every other row until you have 2 stitches left.  Bind off. 

The brown sections were picked up from each side of the diamond.  I wasn't too sure about how many stitches to pick up since geometry has never been my strong suit but I discovered that I needed to pick up 75% of the width of the diamond (plus one to make an even number).  In this case, the widest part of the diamond was 20 stitches so I picked up 16 stitches along each side.  I decreased stitches on each side every other row to finish up the square.

With the square finished, I picked up 24 stitches across the top (12 for each triangle - 75 % of  the 16 stitches I picked up for the section).  I knitted in garter stitch until I had 5 ridges and then did a stretchy bind off.  I did the same for the bottom then basically the same thing for each side except the pick of stitches included picking up stitches across the blue bar of the top and bottom.  And, as they say, whala.

The theory is that you could use the formula above to make it any size you want.  As you can see from the link above, there's all sorts of variations that can happen within this basic recipe.  I think what I would do for my large version is to make the center diamond and brown sections a seed stitch and then garter for the outside borders.  That way it could easily be reversible.  One thing I like about having the center diamond in stockinette is that it kind of pops out but I don't know that it would have the same effect in real size.  You could include some sort of motif in the middle of the diamond and on each of the diamond corners.  That could be cool.  I think I would like this sample more if I'd had a 3rd color for the outside border. 

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

I stand corrected...

Evidently I stand corrected on the nets for horses' ears! See the comment on the previous post. Always ready to learn something new.

Onto to new things. I am now the proud possessor of Evening Stockings (for a Young Lady to Knit).

This is the most fun I've had with a pair of socks in ages. I love to knit socks, don't get me wrong. But these were just plain fun. And incredibly easy. Nancy Bush interpreted them from a pattern in Weldon's Practical Needlework, Volume 15, published in London in 1900. I found the pattern in the November/December 2009 issue of Piecework Magazine, in case you'd like to give them a go.

Here's how the shaping was worked along the back of the leg.

Heritage Knitting Retreat

We've finalized some details for the Heritage Knitting Retreat next June. The idea is to have a weekend devoted to knitting from the latter half of the 19th century, including looking at patterns and how to read them, materials that can be used and stitches that were commonly used and more. Have a look here for more details and to download a printable version of the flyer. If you'd like to join us June 18-20, 2010, drop me an email or message me in Ravelry and we'll get you fixed up.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Now I've heard everything

I was looking at a newly posted pattern book called "Homework" from 1891. I was scrolling through the crochet section when I came across the following:

The image isn't great but it reads:
No. 162 - Nets for Horses' Ears.
Really? Really? Nets? For Horses' Ears? Really?