Archive for January, 2010

‘.. if an old lady tried to knit that many, her hands would catch fire’

I love David Shrigley‘s work. I first came across it in an exhibition in Prague while I was there on a uni field trip a number of years ago. He was recently commissioned to produce this humourous short animation for the fashion label Pringle of Scotland, to mark their return to Milan Fashion Week this year. It is all about how jumpers and cardigans have been made over their 195 year history, and is just brilliant. Do enjoy.



I’ve just announced the latest @platea project (our sixth) over on their blog: excitingly it is to be PlateaKnit! Well, there had to be a knitting performance sooner or later, didn’t there? It is going to run 25th – 29th January 2010 (Monday to Friday), just on Twitter. I’m really excited to be leading a @platea project and I do hope that lots of you want to will join in.

The full instructions of how to participate are over on the @platea blog, but I’ll give you the gist of what is happening here. If you think you’d like to join in, please let us know in the comments section of the  @platea blog post, and be sure to follow the other performers taking part as well.

The basic idea is to create a knitting pattern by crowdsourcing it onto Twitter.  You can take part by either giving instructions, or making something from them. Although the instructions may primarily be knitting-abbreviation-based, you can actually contribute the the instructions by describing what you would like to see in a row or two of the project,  and by using the hashtag #plateaknit. I’ve written a cheat-sheet of some possible basic ideas which might help. If knitting isn’t your thing either, you can still take part as a maker, interpreting the instructions in any way you see fit as perhaps a painter or photographer. I’m really looking forward to seeing what people come up with! Everybody’s performance will be difference as will the outcomes made: that’s the fun of it.

I will be making something whilst dipping in and out of the instructions throughout next week. It may be a hat: it may be a scarf. After the performance is over I will be making up a larger item ( probably a scarf) following the full set of  instructions.  I’ll post what I come up with here along with links to what others come up with.

If you’d like to participate yourself, just drop your name and Twitter ID into the comments at the bottom of the @platea post, follow the other performers, and get instructing or making!

Friendsock Update 1

Here are just a few images to show how Katie and I are getting on with the first Friendsock for the Mrs Miniver series.

FriendSock in Progress

 You can see the difference in the two yarns that we are knitting on this sock in the image above. I started with an aran yarn and Katie’s handspun yarn turned out to be a little bit heavier, so making the sock ‘bunch out’ (technical term, y’know). We’ve persevered with the sock a little further to see whether it would even out: I turned the heel and Katie knitted a little more on the foot of the sock. Frankly it made little difference to the ‘bunchiness’.

Close Up

Ultimately, we have decided that this was our practice sock, and we have made some adjustments to the project (not least with using Actual Sock-Weight Yarn) and are continuing to knit two separate socks, swapping over each week at knit night. Fasle starts nonwithstanding, this is turning into a most enjoyable project. We are knitting two separate ‘normal’ socks, using two differently coloured skeins of sock yarn and two different stitch patterns. I’m turning both of the heels, so I might do both of them differently too.

Katie sporting her 'generic knitting face' 😀

In knitting this fraternal pair of socks we are additionally going to mark, in the knitting, significant (or not so significant) events which take place in our lives as we make them. Katie came up with this idea from a lady who she knew that marked events that happened whilst she knitted a shawl (I think). This lady wrote a note on a piece of paper and attached it in the appropriate place with a safety pin. This idea very much appeals to my geeky museum-collections-management side, and I’d like to catalogue events in our lives during the sock-making with labels. Also probably any problems that I had whilst knitting them. Certainly with this first FriendSock I went wrong a few times with my lace pattern and had to rip the knitting back a few rows!

More on FriendSocks Mark 2 soon…

Beauty in Storytelling

I love narrative art. I love book art.

This stop motion animation from the New Zealand Book Council makes me very happy indeed.

(via allaboutPapercutting)

The Trials and Errors of the Tension Square

No, not the Gauge Swatch, my friends across the Atlantic: the Tension Square. Must be properly British, you know…

Actually, that comment was prompted by my Mum asking me what on earth I was talking about when I mentioned that I was swatching for a jumper last week and then made comments to the effect that my Nan (who taught me to knit) would ‘turn in her grave if she had one’ to hear me say it! So, for my Mum and my Nan, I will be talking about tension squares.

Stack of Tension Squares for Sun-Ray Ribbing

If you’re a member of the A Stitch in Time group over on Ravelry, you will know that we’re starting a Knit-Along (KAL) on Friday 8th January. We’re knitting the pattern Sun-Ray Ribbing from Susan Crawford and Jane Waller’s book A Stitch in Time. The garment is a lovely 1930s jumper with the quintessential sun-ray pattern, popular in design and architecture of the period. I’ve been knitting up tension squares to test out different yarns for the project over the past couple of weeks and after quite a bit of heartache ( more of which later) have come up with my final decision.

Swatches for Sun-Ray Ribbing

These are the same swatches as in the first photograph, above. You can see from this photograph the importance of making tension squares in deciding the final yarn and needle size to use. It really is essential to make sure that your square is knitted to the right size, as a little bigger or smaller at this size (generally 4 inches) could make a difference of one or even two sizes in your finished garment. The pattern instructions will ask you to knit a certain number of stitches and rows over a desired size. Below are my attempts to get the right tension, the right yarn and the right needles for this pattern.

The square top left is knitted in Rowan Cashsoft 4ply, as called for by the pattern. I used the suggested needles but as you can see, it came out rather too big, as I knit a little loosely. I had a number of other yarns to try out, and on the top right is the same yarn in a different colourway, knitted on needles a size smaller. It came out just right, but I’m not so keen on pink for this jumper and decided to keep it for a cardigan. I was set on a green so tried out some double knitting yarn that I had in my stash (bottom left) with the smaller needles, and while the density of the knitted fabric was better the tension square was much too large. My last attempt (and in all honesty the yarn that I really, really, really wanted to use) was with some Artesano Aplaca 4 ply. I knitted it up with the smaller needles again, but despite my best efforts to talk myself into using it, the tension of the fabric was really too loose and holey. It is a rather thinly spun 4ply in contrast with the much bouncier Cashsoft.

Bearing this in mind, and revisiting my stash yarns, I found that I had enough Sirdar Country Style DK in a warm mid-brown to make the jumper. It is a wool/nylon/acrylic mix which and I wasn’t sure if it would have enough bounce to retain the shape of the garment as wool would, the tension square turned out quite well, so I’m going with it. Although my previous attempt swatching DK yarn turned out rather large, this is more thinly spun and similar to the American sport weight yarn. Using the smaller needles it actually knitted exactly to the right tension, so that is what I’ll be using.

Final tension square

There’s still time to join the Knit-Along for Sun-Ray Ribbing if you’re on Ravelry, and if you don’t fancy that pattern, we’ll be having another in April, so do join the group and get voting for your favourite  pattern from A Stitch in Time and get your tension squares on the go.