Archive for August, 2010

Historic Crafts

I first met one of the owners of Historic Crafts, Eddie, a couple of years ago when I started attending a local knitting group. We didn’t speak much at first, and I really don’t know why, because she turned out to be a very friendly Danish archaeologist who crochets the most amazing gloves. (and knits, and weaves, and sews …and I could go on).

As she knows, I’m a textile historian and big craft geek, so it wasn’t long before Eddie asked me if I’d like to get involved in her new website, Historic Crafts. So late last year I signed up as a blogger and on the launch in January 2010, wrote a little bit about what I do, and more recently some posts about spinning. There are all kinds of articles including using natural dyes, as you can see Historic Crafts blogger, Louise from Haandkraft doing in the image below (image copyright, Haandkraft).

The Historic Crafts website was set up by Eddie Roued-Cunliffe and Helene Agerskov Madsen and is a really great resource for anybody interested in craft history and making in general. It is based on a series of blog posts, how-tos and reviews by a little group of collaborators (you can find them here: bloggers). Some of the posts are even available in Danish!

In June 2010 Eddie and Helene launched the Journal of Historic Crafts as a supplement to the website. It isn’t exactly a more academic tome, but has much more in-depth information.  Whereas the blog-posts on the website are slightly more informal and divided into series such as “learning a new craft”, “Easter” or “Spinning”, the Journal has a more overriding theme. You can see one of my posts about the language of flowers there.

Go and take a look! From woodworking to tablet weaving, there really is something for everybody.


Technical Stuff: Yarn Weights

Holly Handspun Yarn by Marlana. Used under Creative Commons License.

Just when you thought that you were on top of your knitting lingo, along comes something else to learn. As a beginner knitter, you might just grab whatever yarn and needles come your way, but soon enough you will come to realise that there are differences in yarn weights and indeed in what they are called. For instance you might be using an American pattern, but be based in the UK and wonder what on earth sportweight yarn is in the first place …let alone where you find it, and why aran weight yarn won’t do instead.

The basic reason for needing to use the right weight of yarn is for sizing. If your yarn is too thick or too thin, you can’t get the right tension and your sizing will be out. Because of this, it is important to know about the differences in yarn weights, and what they are variously called.

Here are some general guidelines:

UK – 2-ply/ Lace
US – Baby / Laceweight
UK – 3-ply
US – Light Fingering

UK – 4-ply
US – Fingering

UK – (light-ish DK)
US – Sport weight

UK- Double Knitting
US – Double Knitting / Worsted

UK – (light-ish Aran weight)
US – Worsted

UK – Aran
US – Aran / Fisherman

UK – Bulky
US – Chunky

UK – Superbulky
US – Superchunky

As you can see, sometimes there isn’t a direct equivalent for the yarns, but you can generally make a near- match. Another useful thing to know is that sock weight yarn will be either 3-ply or 4-ply, depending on the manufacturer, but due to its need to wear well, it will often have nylon content or be a superwash wool, which withstands machine washing.

This week I have mostly been making…

… jewellery for the 1970s showcase exhibition at my local arts centre.

I must admit, when they said they’d love some of my work, but ‘…could the colours be more 7os’, I immediately thought of the things that my parents had about the house when I was growing up. You know… the flowery orange and purple bedsheets; the brown and yellow patterned saucepans… (and if you’re too young to have seen such wonders, here’s an example.)

Vintage Dishes by ex.libris on Flickr. Used under Creative Commons.

Nice, hey?

You might be relieved to know that they didn’t want to go full on with the brown-orange colour scheme. I certainly was. I am still partway through making everything, but wanted to share what I have so far. I’ve made a whole bunch of knitting needle bangles, that you can see in the first image, and more of  my knitted flower brooches in zingy colourways. There’s just the one concession to the brown and orange flowers of my youth in the bottom left hand corner!

They’ll be on display and for sale at The Spring, Havant Arts Centre from 1st September til January 2011, but if you can’t wait for that you can also get them here.

Let me know what you think of the new colours: I’m really liking them and am wondering whether to go for this brighter look in my regular work.

Pass it on!

I have come across a few really interesting links this past week or so.

The BBC Racio 4 programme, Open Country had a very good programme investigating Fair Isle knitting. It is especially worth listening to on the iplayer to hear them discuss the value and worth of knitting both in reference to Shetland’s economy and in general. Open Country

I’ve been thinking a lot this past week about how to create a look for Vintage at Goodwood which is coming up this weekend. I’m going to try and work with what I have in my wardrobe already, and as nothing is just right, I will be getting out my sewing machine to do some alterations. I came across two really good blogs whilst doing a bit of research on the matter.

The first, New Dress a Day was brought to my attention by @dr_amyjaneb on Twitter. This blog is one woman’s quest to refashion herself clothes from one charity shop dress each day for a whole year, on a budget of $365. It’s quite simply, inspiring.

The second, Wardrobe Refashion, which I found via JustcallmeRuby‘s blogroll, does exactly what it says on the tin. Take a look: you’ll get plenty of ideas and inspiration for refashioning your own clothes.

I’ve also cast on five (yep) new knitting projects this past week. I won’t bore you with all of those, but this one is my favourite so far: Busker from knitonthenet. They’re fingerless mitts for Giles to use in the winter on photography shoots. They’re designed to have more room at the fingers than ordinary fingerless gloves so will be perfect for holding a camera.

Well, I’m off to think up more ideas for vintage look dresses now. Catch you later!