Wednesday 14 June 2017

Behind the scenes...

Regular readers may remember in February I mentioned my visit to the Knitting and Crochet Guild (KCG) Collection in West Yorkshire - two blog posts, you can find them in the links here Part 1 and Part 2. There was so much to see during the few hours of the visit and so much more I didn't have time to see. 

Since then, I've been back to the archive on a number of occassions as a volunteer. This has given me the opportunity to see close up some of the work going on behind the scenes. Hopefully, in this post there's a snap shot of what I've been involved in helping with during the last few months - but it is just that only a snap shot. 

I've been helping to sort and record a small fragment of over 50,000 items of printed material going back to around 1900. These include amongst others, knitting patterns from the early 1980's to the 1930's.

The pattern "brands" or "spinners" range from Emu, Jaeger, Hayfield, Patons, Rowan. Names I'd heard of but there are many more from the past such as Golden Eagle which I'd never heard of.

In 2014 the Guild was delighted to receive the archive of the Patons pattern collection, it is the largest collection of Patons leaflets anywhere. 

Here's a sample of the thousands of Patons knitting patterns from the 70's and 80's. It's been fascinating working on this era and taking a trip back to my childhood knitted memories. 

Fairisle is so popular just now, it's interesting to see from these '80's patterns that it has probably never gone out of fashion. Here's a selection of patterns I was sorting through which caught my eye because of the yoke colourwork.

Just this week I was making a list (for the digital record) of the pattern numbers held in the collection for Golden Eagle, a popular spinner in the 30's and 40's. 

Here's a few of the styles that caught my eye...

Note the feather and fan stitch here on this 1930's era design, a stitch so popular currently.

Members of the Knitting and Crochet Guild can have access to a large number of patterns from the collection. See the KCG publications page for information about what's available - here.

Barbara Smith is the Publications Curator with a wealth of knowledge about the collection and history of knitting. She regularly writes articles about the collection on her blog Knitting Now and Then

There's so much more at the archive including actual knit and crochet samples, shade cards, a library with over 2000 books, tools and accessories. 

Hopefully, I'll be able to tell you more soon about volunteering at the archive.

In the meantime, there's lots of information on the Knitting and Crochet Guild Collection website.

Thursday 8 June 2017

Summer Coastal Stripy Blanket

It's June and officially summer, despite the cool, wet and windy weather of recent days. Here's some news about a finished project, a summer blanket with a coastal look in blue stripes. 

Inspiration for this blanket started in February when I was introduced to a new yarn called Jeanie Denim Look from Stylecraft. I liked the shades of blue and the soft feel of this cotton yarn. There are four colours (amounts used in brackets):

Dixie #9349 (light blue x3) 100g balls
Memphis #9350 (medium blue x2)
Delta #9351 (dark blue x2)
Texas #9352 (blue grey x2)

The yarn is 60% cotton, 40% acrylic in 100g balls of 210m/230 yards. It's machine washable - I put this blanket on a hand wash cycle and it came out perfectly. There was no running of the colours which was very good as there are three darker shades combined with a lighter one. 

The recommended needle size is 5mm. However, for this blanket I wanted to have a stretchy and looser texture so went for slightly larger needle size of 5.5mm.

Image courtesy of Stylecraft

Initially the stripes were going to be completely small and random in colour. But after starting with lots of narrow bands I was keen to make faster progress, so opted for some wider stripes. The wider ones are worked towards the centre of the blanket. At the middle band the stripes then repeat, decreasing in the same colour/size as for the first half. Below are some basic instructions for making a similar blanket.

To make a similar Jeanie Coastal Blanket

Cast on 165 stitches in grey on 5.5mm circular needles (I used circulars to accommodate the large number of stitches). The sides have a band of 5 stitches worked continually in knit stitch back and front. To start and finish the blanket there is a band of a few garter stitches to edge and prevent curling of the stocking stitch.

The main body of the blanket is mostly in stocking stitch with the exception of the "dotted grey lines". These line patterns are worked over three rows. 

Row 1: With the right side facing work a row of alternate one stitch grey and one stitch of the working colour. 

Row 2: Wrong side, work a row of knit stitches in grey (they will appear as a row of purl stitches on the right side).

Row 3: With right side facing work a row of alternate one stitch grey and one stitch new colour.

Continue in new colour in stocking stitch. Work until required depth of stripe is achieved. 

The finished size of the blanket is 98cm (38ins) x 126cm (50ins).

I really enjoyed working with this yarn and love the smooth feel of the cotton. Perfect for a cosy wrap on typical British, cool, wet and windy summer days.