I had really looked forward to Tour de France this year. Lots of knitting watching a race with some new excitement after the last couple of years’ boring Armstrong domination. No offence meant to Armstrong, I just found it boring to watch, especially last year. Now I don’t think I’ll be watching at all this year. It’s worse than 1998. At least Ullrich and Pantani were still racing that year. This year it will be like the World Cup in football would be without for example Brazil or Italy… Not interesting.
Some time ago my grandmother gave me an old knitting book that she remembers having bought in the same year my father was born which was in 1947. It definitely couldn’t have been much later as a reform of the Danish orthography took place in 1948 and the book uses the old one.
It is fairly typical for its time with very neat designs for both women, children and men. Besides that it gives the basic instructions on how to knit, finishing and not least important for a country still suffering from the effects of the war, how to repair knitted items and reuse yarn. One of the models really caught my attention and after having coveted it for quite a while I have decided it is time to try it out.
The picture isn’t too good but I especially like the border on the sleeves which consists of a floral motive and two geometric. The construction is interesting but I’ll return to that when I actually start knitting it. For now I’m just making swatches. The most obvious reason is that the book is more than 50 years old and if it had recommended a certain yarn it would be completely unavailable. As it is the pattern doesn’t specify any particular type of yarn, it just tells you to buy 400 g of blue and 100 g of white 4-ply. Combined with the 3.5 mm needles recommended I figured that the Baby Ull would probably would be a good choice so Monday I went to one of the nicer yarn shops here in Copenhagen, Uldstedet, and got 3 balls.
I don’t like wearing dark blue very much and have a strong liking of very bright colours. The green is a bit darker in real life but still quite frisky. The yellow is intended for the border on sleeves and the collar. The pattern only uses two colours but I think the yellow will be a nice contrast to the green. Of the two yellows possible I chose the lighter one. Kaffe Fassett says in his book Glorious Needlepoint that the stitches will shadow each other and seem darker in the finished work and I suspect the same thing happens in knitting.
The book recommends doing a swatch first but it looks nothing like the kind you find in modern books. It tells you to cast on 20 stitches and knit 8 rows. I did it just to get a sense of the method and, as I suspected, it is not an adequate way to know your tension. Garter stitch will stretch so it is impossible to get an accurate measurement.
Another reason for swatching thoroughly with this pattern is that it is only one size, 44, which would be a very large size following the modern standard. Besides that there are no indications at all of any of the finished measurements. Looking at the length of the body and the sleeves makes me think the 44 is like size 44 in Italy which is size 40 in Denmark and 12 in the UK. Luckily that’s exactly my size but in the end it all depends on the yarns tension so I’m expecting to rewrite the pattern completely and maybe change a few minor details. So far, I’ve done this much on the first swatch.
The book also has a similar type of pattern for girl’s cardigan. As a Rowanette it made me look twice…
It does look familiar, doesn’t it?
It doesn’t surprise me that Rowan and Martin Storey are basing these designs on older ones, the book’s title says as much (Vintage Style), but I sure would like to know how this particular pattern has moved about in the world…
… is the reason why I haven’t yet sewn up Martha. So she’s still sitting there patiently in my knitting basket. The project that has stolen all of my attention is this thing on my couch. Can you guess what it is? The sidebar definitely leaves a clue…
Yes, I’m one of the couple of hundred apparently fearless persons who couldn’t resist the Princess Shawl from Heirloom Knitting. As far as I remember I bought the pattern in the beginning of May 2004 while I was living in Vercelli, Italy. I started it right away but it has been an on-and-off project ever since. It sees a lot of progress during the summer, especially during the Tour de France which I follow fanatically.
Here are some pictures of my progess so far. First a picture of the hole thing. My couch is approx. 2 meters long to give a sense of the scale.
Then a couple of pictures of the center triangle. I’m not halfway yet…
Next is a close-up of the 3 center feathers. As you can see there’s some puckering around the beginning of the center. A recent post on The Princess Diaries had me worrying about my gauge but I’ve decided to trust the knitting gods on this one. Basically the diaries is the blog I needed 2 years ago and didn’t have so I just did it. Began knitting. Made mistakes. Oh yes, I’ve frogged entire rows on the border. It’s just 865 stitches anyway…
This is a close-up of the edging and the border. Notice the difference in colour? Yes, I’m using different dyelots. I’m hoping it’ll disappear after the washing, otherwise I’ll have to find some tea bags… The reason I chose not to buy all the yarn at once was economical. I’m a student and didn’t have the money but wanted to get started anyway.
Another thing I might not have done right is the picking up of the infamous 865 stitches. I think but I don’t remember it exactly (this is exactly the reason for keeping a blog) that I knitted up the stitches. Does it matter? I hope not… The third thing I kind of messed up was reversing the increases and decreases on the equal rows on all of the edging and most of the border. That is, I did a ssk before an yo and a k2tog after a yo. Reading the instructions I somehow understood completely the opposite of what they really said. Still , it’s not really a mess up because it doesn’t seem to make a difference. Boy, blocking this thing is going to be exciting… Just one more close-up because I’m none the less proud of it!
I’ve been knitting it on two different sets of needles. The edging I knit on a pair of straight 2mm needles from Aero and the rest I’m knitting on these:
It’s a 2mm circular needle 40 cm long. I found it at a cleaning up sale at a supermarket close to my parents home and have no idea who made it. It is working fine besides one join being rather obnoxious but I can live with that because I’m using cotton. What really annoys me is the fact that I have to take it completely of the needles to really see the progress.
As I said the yarn is cotton, the DMC Crochet Cotton # 70 recommended in the pattern. Here is picture to give a sense of the thickness or should I say thinness? The other yarn is a fingering sock yarn, 220 m/50g.
Besides the economical motive and not having that many options I chose it because I knew the DMC Cotton from an earlier crochet project. It’s sturdy and washes well which I’m thankful for now after having dragged the shawl around Europe for a couple of years. Trust me, it gets dirty.
As a bonus I’ll throw in a picture of the crochet project. It’s a small doily the size of a saucer and I made a dozen of them. They are protecting my nice china saucers from each other in the cupboard. I made them by looking on a set of nine that my great grandmother’s sister made. I never knew her but got them from her niece, my grandmother.
In the end I think the Princess Shawl has been and continues to be a nice learning experience. Sure, there are a lot of things I would have done differently now but this is not the kind of project that gets completely frogged and reknitted. I’m crazy enough to do that with a sweater if I don’t find it perfect but not with this…
So next time I’ll do my homework…
Instead of continuing the revealing inside story on the contents of my knitting basket, I want to turn my attention to a certain Yarn Harlot who appeared on the radio today. Living in Denmark I have the benefit of being 6 hours ahead of Toronto so while it was very early in the morning there, as Stephanie mentioned at least a couple of times, it was early afternoon here. Being unsure of the exact time difference I sat down a bit earlier to be sure not to miss the interview and got the benefit of not only hearing the local news but also the stories of a local competion to catch the most black flies, a Canadian football player being a bit too fond of marijuana and the host giggling every single time she mentioned the word yarn harlot… The interview was about 10 minutes long and maybe not very deep but I really wanted to hear Stephanie’s voice. Living on another continent doesn’t really give me the possibility to go see her in person and having lurked about her blog for an eternity, I was getting very envious of the people that could. So this was the golden opportunity. Basically the interview focused on two things: the role of the internet and the feminist aspect. To someone who has followed the knit scene for quite a while it didn’t bring out anything new but I really liked the way Stephanie talked about the things. She has a fine sense of humour and made me laugh more than once. That’s probably what I really wanted to know. Is this women just as funny and interesting listening to as it is reading her blog? The answer is definitely yes! While listening I was of course knitting. The radio is to me the perfect media while knitting. Most knitting blogs talk about knitting while watching the TV or films and I do that too but I really prefer the radio. Usually I’ll listen to talk radio and with the internet the possibilities are almost endless. I can choose from live broadcasts or the radio stations’ archives as I like and from all over the world. I find it keeps me better informed, not just with the news but also with many things I would never have heard of otherwise, ranging from the bizarre to more straight forward things like books and music. What’s your opinion?
This is my knitting basket:
I bought this basket a couple of weeks ago because I became tired of watching my WIP’s lying around in plastic bags all over the living room. It contains four projects that I’m currently working on. One of them is this, just waiting to be sewn up:
It is Martha from Rowan Magazine 37. I chose to do the eyelet version and by coincidence I chose almost the same colour as the model.
I didn’t use the required yarn, though. Instead of the rowan 4-ply I used this instead:
It is Marina, a mercerized cotton yarn from Grignasco which I bought in Palermo in April. It comes in 50 g balls and runs aprox. 180 m. At first it looks like a 3-ply yarn but each of the three strands twisted around each other actually consist of 3 strands each so in total it is made of 9 very thin strands. This could lead to a problem with the yarn splitting but I’ve had no problems at all.
Here is a close-up of how it knits up. I really like the way the purl stitches enhances the eyelets. It almost looks like they have been embellished with embroidery.
The only thing that I can’t show properly with these pictures is the true colour. Here it looks very much like the model but in reality it’s much warmer, more salmon-like.