Distraction…so worth it!

As you may recall, last week I posted about an on line knitting book I found.


I also commented that I liked one of the patterns suggested for a Canadian cloud.


It is the one in the middle of the left hand page. Finding a couple of balls of fine wool during my clean and purge work, led me to abandon my current projects (again) and start a new one.

As is normal, the instructions are a bit vague and some trial and error is typical.  The instructions read.

Use #6 needles.  I have no idea what that is.  I used 5.5 metric 9 US needles with fine lace weight wool.  The idea behind clouds is loose and airy.  Cast on even stitches.  That didn’t work out so well.  I used multiples of 3 plus 4.

First row: knit.  That is straight forward.

Second row: Slip one, knit one.  * Wool in front of needle, insert needle under three stitches and knit as one. Repeat from * to the end of the row.

Second row translation: Slip one, knit one (this creates the edge of the cloud) *Yarn over the right needle (I did front to back)Knit 3 stitches together.  (I found it too tight to do that so I slipped the next stitch, knit one, pull the slipped stitch over the knit stitch and off the needle.  Move the knit stitch back onto the left needle, pull the second stitch on the left needle over the first stitch and off the needle, move the first stitch on the left needle back onto the right needle.) Repeat from * to the last 2 stitches.  Knit last two stitches.

Third row reads: knit 2 * k1 out of the put over thread, purl 1, knit 1 repeat from *

Third row translation: this is where I guessed.  You could knit the first 2 stitches or you could slip one, knit one. (which is what I did).  *Knit 1 into the yarn over stitch but don’t pull it off the needle! Purl one onto the same yarn over thread and pull it off the needle.  Knit one. Repeat from * to the last two stitches.  Knit 2.

Fourth, Fifth and Sixth row reads: knit all three rows.

What I did: I slipped the first stitch on each of these rows to keep the pattern of the edge.


The drawing in the book looks more like a stocking stitch.  If I do this again, I will be more careful about changing the instructions so that I am alternating each row with knits and purls to make it smooth on one side (stocking stitch).  But a cloud wrapped around the head will look fine with both sides of the work looking the same.

Cha Cha dance marathon

Two steps forward, two steps back.  I’m still working on my undersleeves.  Third time is the charm.

I unraveled my first attempt because it was going to be too small, like arm corsets.  In my second attempt, I decided to have it be two colors like the pattern suggests, I increased the number of stitches to make it bigger and I decided to use my new wooden knitting needles and not the circular needles (no reason for that other than simply wanting to see how they feel).  The instructions called for plain knitting which I interpreted as the stocking stitch (knit one row, purl one row, repeat).  One side is flat/untextured which is, in my mind, plain.  When I switched the colors, I began to see that the striping effect would be on the wrong side of the work, thus defeating the purpose of having stripes.  That is when I remembered that in Victorian knitting terminology, plain knit means knit all rows. If I knit all rows, the wrong side would be the side with no stripes and the correct side would be the one with stripes.  Duh.  Unravel again.

Attempt three.  And hopefully, the last one.  Scrap all my previous instructions for this project.  Correct instructions to follow once I finally get these things done!img_20170321_091316277.jpg

The one perk to this way of doing things, is the ribbing effect will serve to hold the puffs out in a round shape.  When I did them in stocking stitch, the puffs were flat like a hem and I began to think I’d have to stuff them to get them to hold out their shape.


Progress on the undersleeves


I am using the following pattern to make knitted undersleeves.5b60a444dd9211ac82061bdc1ae5ec2d

I posted here about the first phase of progress.

Second phase.

Alternating the stitch on the needle and the cast on stitches did successfully create the first puff.img_20170316_083231250.jpg

In the pattern, they say to alternate the stitches on the needle and then attach the white wool and knit 2 together across the row, thus sealing the seam, creating the puff and getting the stitch count back to 36.  Then you are to knit one more in white, 2 in color and one in white.  Then another 23 are knit in color.  If you are only using one color like I am, knit 2 together for 1 row and then knit 27 more rows.  This will create a band.  I am assuming the band will sit next to the skin and will be the support that holds the two puffs in position.

I will let you know how that goes!

The reason the UFO pile gets so big


It is plain and simple.  It is because I have to work.  No other reason.  If someone would pay me to stay home and make things for myself, there would be a much smaller UFO pile.

So with millions  of projects that have been sitting on the back burner for YEARS and dozens that have been sitting for months and a couple of handfuls that have been sitting for weeks, I have started a new project.5b60a444dd9211ac82061bdc1ae5ec2d

Here is how I’m doing them.  I have a set of circular needles and I am working both arm warmers at the same time.  I am using real wool, worsted weight, and a needle size recommended for the wool (4.5 mm 7 US).  I cast on 36 stitches with one ball of wool and then cast on another set of 36 with another ball.  I knit one row for one warmer and then one row for the second one.  I have done this with mitts and it is very satisfying to finish both at the same time!

I have been knitting loosely to keep it stretchy. But, if a person tends to knit tightly, they can get the same effect by using larger needles.  The pattern calls for a color change but I don’t have another color so mine will be monochromatic (white).  I am not adding to the stash by running out and buying more wool. The pattern is fairly easy to follow so far.  The Victorian patterns can be a bit vague.  To create the puff I had to read it a few times to get it but I think what happens is you knit 12 rows.  Then you change colors if you want and knit 24 more rows to create the length for the first puff.  This is where I had to use my imagination.

To create the puff I think you have to slip one stitch on the next needle then pick up the first of the cast on stitches (hence the word “commencement” in the original instructions.) Then slip the next stitch and pick up the next cast on.  Repeat until all the stitches and all the cast on stitches are on one needle.  The work thus far should be rolled up like a hem.  The wool will be on the wrong side of your needle if you are using straight needles so you will have to pass them back to the other needle.  If my mind is serving me well, I shouldn’t have this problem with circular needles. By repeating “knit 2 together” across the row you seal up the seam and get back down to the original number of stitches (36).

My mind is not grasping what the color change would look like with 12 rows in white and 24 in color.  Once created, one side of the puff would be color and the other side would be striped.  It seems to me, you wouldn’t bother having a stripe if that was the side worn next to the skin.  Damn it.  Now I want to see it with the color change (plots second pair with color change…plans shopping trip…UFO pile grows….)


Completed project and how to knit stuff people want

My son asked me to make him a neck warmer for Christmas. He wanted black or grey. This makes me think of the time a couple of months ago, when I despaired that no one wanted my knitting (nothing sold at a craft sale table I shared with a friend). I went to my computer and typed in the google line “No one wants my knitting.” It lead me to a blog which had some advice, which I will pass on to you*.

First: knitters like wild colors because they are fun to work with (guilty), but in reality, no one wants these items. They are, at best, outside peoples comfort zone for actual use and at worse, just plain tacky. And when I look at my décor in my house there are lots of neutrals with tiny splashes of color.  In my wardrobe, I have color because I like it, but they are either solids or subtle patterns.  No wild stripes or blotches of rainbow colors.

So back to the neck warmer: boring black or grey it is.

I bought real wool, because we all know real wool is warmer (and more expensive) than the synthetic stuff.  Which leads to more advice from the blog I read: buy the expensive stuff  because the cheap stuff looks cheap and no one really wants that. People may or may not factor the amount of work you put into the item.  If they don’t factor in the work, they just see cheap wool that looks and feels like crap.  If they do, they feel guilty because they are not going to use all your hard work-because it looks and feels like crap.

Okay-neck warmer: I used circular knitting needles and “guesstimated” the number of stitches needed.  I used my own massive melon for fitting so the thing ended up way too big for the boy.  We tried shrinking it and that helped, but it also made it too short.  So back to the drawing board.  I knit another, much smaller one.  img_20170108_102333797.jpg

The top one is the first one I made.  My boy will use that one on super cold days when he needs his face covered as well, but the second one will be the one he wears most of the time.  I made it in two layers (extra warm) and I made it reversible so he can have it be black or grey.

The boy actually does use these things.  And this leads to the third piece of advice from the blog: if the receiver of the gift has a say in what they want they are more likely to use and value the item.  My boy said “I want a black or grey neck warmer”.  I gave him a black or grey neck warmer and he likes it.  For bigger ticket items like a blanket or sweater or for more finicky people, it is better to take the person shopping for wool so they can see the colors and feel the wool.

So what is a knitter to do with this advice when she knows her wool stash is full of wild colors and cheaper value wool?  When I think of my stash, I could despair.  I could just give the balls away to a thrift store…something I may actually do to some of it. But now I am thinking, there are some things I would use that are wilder.  I don’t care what my housecoats and slippers look like.  I could make all kinds of housecoats and slippers in all kinds of wild crazy colors and patterns and I will love them.  There is no law that says I only need two or three of these things.  I bought the wool, I will do the work, I will want and appreciate what I made.

I could make project bags for all of my UFO’s and I could line them with left over fabric (kill two stashes with one stone.) I could make small items to give to others that they might use no matter what it is made of (coin purses or pouches to use in purses).  Kids toys can be wild.  I don’t have any kids to give them too (yet) but that is an option.

Finally, a commenter on that blog I read said she knits all kinds of things and puts them in a bag, then at family gatherings she opens the bag up and allows people to pick something out of the bag that they want.  Sure, people may pick SOMETHING to avoid offending her but at least there is a chance they will pick something they might actually use.  I could do that with the more subtle colors and nicer feeling wools I have in my stash.

So new year with new goals for my knitting.

*Sorry, I did not save the link to the blog I am referencing.  If I find it again, I will rectify that faux pas.

Wool hood or How the crafters mind works

How the crafters mind works:  I was working on a project because I had gotten bored with the project I really wanted to finish.  This side track project uses wool a friend gave me.  I decided there wasn’t going to be enough so I went to buy more (from the store she said she bought it from).  The wool didn’t have a label so I had to “guess” by look and feel when buying more.  I should have taken a sample with me because, of course, I was wrong.  What to do with the “wrong” stuff?  Well, I found a cute pattern on Pinterest (aka Crafters Crack).victorian-8

Well, crap!  I’m now distracted from my distraction from the project I really wanted to get done!  This is why there are at least 30 knitting projects sitting in various stages of completion!  There was no date on the pattern that I could find but the book it comes from, Fleisher’s Knitting and Crocheting Manual seems to have started in the late 1890’s and continued into the 20’s.  Based on the look of the thing, and what I have seen in the Costume Museum of Canada’s collection I’m thinking this is more 90’s than 20’s.  Disclaimer: I can’t prove this at all!  Just an opinion!

The wool I have is a Chunky weight (5) so I knit it as directed (using the same number of stitches and rows as in the pattern) using 6 mm needles.  I have a mega melon so I think if I had used worsted weight yarn it would have been too small. Those of you with regular sized heads should use worsted weight yarn and needles recommended for that wool.

I cast on 100 stitched and made 60 rows using only the knit stitch.  That is the definition of “knit plain”.  I love that!  NO purl stitch to slow me down!

Then, keeping in the knit only pattern, I decreased every 10th stitch for one row.  Knit the next row.

Then the next row I decreased every 9th stitch and then did a row of knit.

Then decrease in every 8th stitch for a row and then knit a row.

Then decrease in every 7th stitch for a row and then knit a row.

Then decrease in every 6th stitch for a row and then knit a row.

Then decrease in every 5th stitch for a row and then knit a row.  Cast off and sew up the back, which it the edges where you just cast off.

The edge, which is the end of the rows you knit will become the neck.  Omitting the 8 ridges (or 16 rows) on either side of the work, pick up stitches.  I found picking up stitches in between the rows easiest.  Knit one row.

The instructions next say to knit 18 ridges increasing every second row.  I found it easier to think of it as knitting 36 rows and I increased 1 stitch at the beginning of EVERY row.  That way I didn’t have to keep track of where I was.  Cast off.  This is where I screwed up a bit.  My cast off was too tight so the work curls a bit so I recommend a LOOSE cast off.img_20161111_094727641.jpg

You can crochet scallops around the edge if you want.  I’m on the fence about that.  No point to them if they are curled under anyway.img_20161111_094715903.jpg

Now the 8 ridges or 16 rows that got left out in the neck cape get folded back and sewed down, creating a channel.  The instructions say to sew on decorative bows and strings.  I think they mean a tie when they say strings.  And I think the tie is run through the channel so that you can pull the hat tight around the face on a cold blustery day.img_20161111_094704844.jpg

I have to go to the store and find a ribbon that isn’t so much like plastic but I think I like the red.  I think people would have changed out the ties and bows to go with outfits.

The instructions also say to crochet a cord about a half yard long.  At first I thought the point of that was to be the tie so I made it much longer.  It didn’t work.  The hat is too loose around the face to stay on and it feels like you are being strangled. That is how I came up with the idea that the tie is run through the channel. But the pattern does still say to make this half yard string so I measured from the corner of my jaw, around the back of my neck to the other corner of my jaw and made a cord that long (this was close to the half yard measure).  I strung that along the top of the cape, securing the two ends.  I believe the point of that string is to reduce the stretch in the knit so it sits firmly around your neck.

I will post pictures once I have bought the better ribbon and attached them.

Now the next question is: When would this be worn.  Probably 1890’s.  Obviously winter.  Was is worn in doors?  Was it worn under or instead of the big hats found in the era?  Was it worn only when feeding the chickens and running to the out house?  Was it only in extreme weather when one gladly forgoes fashion in favor of not dying of hypothermia?  Was it day wear or evening wear?  My theory is it was worn out doors.  In extreme cold.  It would have been worn when it was not appropriate to wear your big fancy hat so in the chicken coop and outhouse  and in the evening when off to a ball or concert.  What do you think?

5 costumes, regular clothes, 2 suit cases

Yes it can be done!  A reader asked how I managed to get all my crap to Coco.19

All that fits into one suit case, one carry one bag and one purse.

All the credit goes to a knock off version of these!Space-Bag-Suitcase_Gallery_1_2X_new

With the air squished out, the mountain reduces to this.18

Which fits into this.17

The checked luggage was full but well under the weight restrictions.  There was still a bit of room in the carry on, but it was heavy…dragging it from one end of the Vancouver airport to the other nearly killed me…next time I invest in a carry on with wheels.

I was careful to chose costumes that could share elements (petticoats, bustles, jewelry, corsets…) to save space.  With it being summer, my regular clothes didn’t take up much space.  This left me room for snacks, and things to do on the plane.  Hope that answers your question.

I hope my next post will be a completed project but the dang thing has been fighting me.  I hope I can finish today….

So many ideas. So little time.

I saw this photograph….1860's dress day lilac tambour Glascow…on the American Duchess’ blog.

I thought, “Oooo, how pretty!  I want to make one of those”. As you do.

It is done in a tambour muslin.  “What is that?,” you may ask.  I had to ask the same question. Off to the world-wide web for the answer.  I found this photograph which summed it up nicely.

Tambouring1Basically, you pencil in a pattern on a fabric and punch a fine hook through the fabric, along the pattern line.  You hook the tread and pull it through.  You continue along, basically doing a crochet chain stitch through the fabric.  To get a dress like the one above, you’d be doing some major Netflix marathons!  The real trick would be to keep the stitches consistent.  The temptation would be to let the stitches get bigger and bigger so you could go faster and faster.

If I did a dress like this, I’d also like to add a detail like this one.  I can’t recall where I found this but it is quite pretty and looks more complicated than it is.12993497_1105828362808570_8115833867320330133_n


How to do an 1870’s hair style for long hair

I saw an article from an 1871 magazine (don’t recall which one now) that had a hair style I liked. 1871 hair how to b I photographed the pages so I could try to copy it.  I hoped to wear it on my outing today so yesterday, I did a test run. The title was “hair dressing for young ladies 1871” and is a style for long hair.1871 hair how to a

I include the text for those of you interested…1871 hair how to dThe directions say to part the hair from front to back…SAM_0004

…and ear to ear.SAM_0005

“On each side of the middle parting divide the front hair into two parts.” With some fiddling, I decided that they meant to take the two front sections and further divide them like this…SAM_0006

The top/front section is to be crimped.  I don’t have a crimping iron so I didn’t for the test run.  For the real run I thought I would braid this section wet and when it is dry it will look crimped. Later, you will see why decided not to do this step.

Moving along…. The top/front/crimped section gets pulled back and the bottom/front section is lifted up over the crimped section like in drawing (a).1871 hair how to bYou will have to do some clipping and pinning to get it to stay there.SAM_2962Note: I have done to the right side of my head what the original drawings show on the left (and vise versa)…I blame that on the mirror effect.

Leave the pins in but take out the clip and twist the two strands together for about an inch.

SAM_2965Gather the rest of the two strands up together with the back section of hair and braid it.  The braid should start low at the nape of the neck. (For ladies with thinner hair, you may need to work in sections of fake hair to make the braid thicker.)SAM_2967Repeat the same steps for the front section on the other side.  You will not need to do the twisting part. We are ready for the rest of the instructions.1871 hair how to fInstead of braiding the hair low at the nape of the neck, you need to pull it up higher, closer to the pins for the front piece.1871 hair how to eUse a string or elastic to hold it in place. SAM_2968Braid.SAM_2969


Once the braid is finished, remove the elastic near the scalp.

This is where I changed up the instructions a bit.  It seemed from the way my hair was behaving that it would be easier to get every thing in place and laying nicely if I reversed the order the braids were pinned down.  I started with the braid that is set higher on the head.  It goes across the top like a head band.SAM_2971The braid is pinned in place with the end hidden in the layers of the front section on the opposite side.  In the photo below, the very top left corner shows the braid with the braid-end hidden.  The other braid is still hanging down my back.SAM_2974The lower braid is wrapped along the nape of the neck and pinned with the ends hidden in the folds of hair on the opposite side.SAM_2978Keep pinning for security and to make sure things look tidy.  With the weight of my hair, I prefer the pins that look like a coil. Most folks should manage okay with regular bobby pins.SAM_2976The above picture still looked a bit messy so I tucked and pinned until I was happy.SAM_2977Not bad.  The next thing to do was try the hair with the hat.  Lord knows how many times I have had to redo a hair style because it made my hat sit funny.  SAM_2980The back of the crown sits nicely over and up against the braid at the top of my head and the braid will provide the perfect anchor for the hat pin.

The front of the hair is not visible under the hat and this is why I decided to skip the crimping step for now.  If I go somewhere where the hat will be removed, I will crimp/wet braid.SAM_2982I wore the hair style all day.  It held up while I helped Hubby clean carpet and upholstery and while I cut out my next project.SAM_2983I actually kinda like the look of it and may consider it for modern wear.  SAM_2975I need my hair up at work because it is too hot there to wear my hair down.  This may give me a different “look” without looking completely freakish.

My attempt at Battenburg Lace

I found a link for a book on making Battenburg Lace on the “Vortex” aka Pintrest. I decided that this would be my “try something new” project for the next Historical Sew Monthly.  I wanted something useful and small to try and a scrolling through the pages gave me this pattern.035ifull I copied it onto a Word document and then enlarged it as much as it would allow and printed it. When I measured the width of the broader lines, it was about half the width of the fabric tape I bought at my fabric store.   Then I took the photocopy to work where I have access to a printer that enlarges and made 4 copies at 200% magnification.lace 2I cut the four pieces out.lace 1Then I taped them together.lace 3The plan is to make this into a handkerchief with the square in the middle being where I will add a plain cotton piece to be the business end of the handkerchief. The next step was to pin the tape to the paper and then baste it down.  So far the printer paper has held up to the demand.  The tape is not lovely but it was cheap and easy to find and I really didn’t want to lay out a ton of cash for what amounts to an experiment.  lace 4 Using white thread, I whip stitched the folds and joins down and also gathered up the edges that are running along a curved edge.  That is a long and dull process!  I chose several stitches from the above mentioned book and I have started putting them into the spaces between the tapes.  Here are the first two stitches I have tried.010i3 014i1 (1)And this is how they look.  lace 5Battenberg lace makers have little to fear from me!  I have used a crochet thread and it is a bit on the heavy side but it was on hand and was a better than the thinner stuff I have. Once all the spaces are filled in and the edges are done, I will have to remove the black thread and paper and then whip stitch the folds and joins on the “wrong” side and then add the cotton square to the middle.  Wish me luck!