1940s Vintage cardi FO

Finished Object – stripey 1940s short sleeved cardigan in 4-ply angora.

This was commissioned by a friend who does historical re-enactments, putting together a 1940s outfit.  She chose the pattern, the colours and the buttons, which saved me a lot of time as I am hopeless at putting colours together!  I love the gathering effect on the waist and sleeve cuffs, and also the fabulous pleat in the shoulders.

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I am so pleased with how it turned out, but…will it fit?  My friend lives quite a distance away so we have not been able to do many fittings.  The pattern only gives one size and my friend is smaller, so I reduced the number of stitches.  Then I found that the pattern didn’t make sense: with stripes it is easy to count the rows, and the pattern instructed me to knit many more rows than are visible in the photo.  So I had to rely on my stitch gauge and my friend’s measurements.

Added to which, my friend did not want the pocket flaps or the collar.  The flaps were easy to miss out.  Then for the collar I worked a simple ‘pick up & knit’, 2 rows in garter stitch, and then cast off.  For some reason this was fiendishly difficult – the first attempt was puckered so I had to re-work with a much looser tension.

The sleeves look huge and I’m now thinking I should have reduced them more.  But perhaps they look huge because the waist is drawn in – maybe it will look more balanced when it is being worn.

My friend is coming to collect at the weekend – fingers crossed for a decent fit!

Vintage Knitting

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This week I’ve been working on a commission to make this 1940’s striped cardi,  I love a spot of vintage knitting, and it makes a nice change to work with fine yarn and no 9 needles (US 5), when you’re used to handling needles the size of a broomstick.

My friend has chosen some fabulous colours, and a superfine angora yarn.

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The pattern is from Subversive Femme, a fab website full of vintage inspiration.

Vintage patterns are interesting.  Only one size is given, so if that’s not your size, you have to work out how to amend it yourself.  On top of that, this pattern instructs you to knit almost twice the number of stripes you can see in the picture.  The shaping is accurate, which is a relief for such a fitted design.  But the given length is way off!

The only way to make sure I’m getting a good fit, is to do a fitting with my friend, in person.  We are now permitted to meet in a garden, if we keep 2m apart.  So I will have to pass her the Left Front, and the pins, and ask her to fit it herself.  Or ask her partner to pin the piece accurately on her.  This could be quite a challenge for a burly tree surgeon, especially when the sides of the piece curl in!  We certainly live in interesting times.

I have some lovely vintage buttons for this cardi, looking forward to getting this far!

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Barnett Drum Carder

I have occasionally mentioned the Barnett Drum Carder in my posts.  As a result, I sometimes get enquiries from spinners and fans of the machine around the world who are looking for advice or spare parts.  So I’ve dedicated a new page on my blog to the Barnett Drum Carder.  Drum Carder front pageDavid Barnett is my Uncle (my mother’s brother) and although I’m not a spinner (yet!) I am so proud to be part of the family handcrafting tradition.  Uncle David made the giant double pins and circular needles which enabled me to start my adventures in Extreme Knitting back in 2012.   I am also the proud guardian of the Great Wheel which he made back in the 1970s.

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My cousin Libby demonstrating the ‘Long Draw’ method

 

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Here is a picture of me with my Uncle David and Aunt Sonia in Sheffield Botanical Gardens, on the occasion that they visited from Sussex to deliver the Great Wheel.

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One day I will learn to spin, as I think that will be a whole new world….but for now I’ll be knitting, with the tools that have passed through my Uncle’s hands, and the collection of knitting needles inherited from my Aunt and Grandmother.

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Cat Basket finished!

So the test knit worked!  Cat basket in dove grey arm knitting yarn, hot off the needles and approved by Larry.

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This yarn is acrylic, so it doesn’t have the woolly scent which attracts the furbags.  So I placed the basket in a high status location – kitchen table – location is everything – and sprayed it with catnip spray.  Took about 5 minutes for Larry to jump in it.

I’ve only knitted these in wool before, so wondered how the acrylic yarn would perform.  Well, it was perfectly easy to knit with, a consistent thickness, and pretty strong.  Like any yarn, you have to be careful not to split the fibres whilst working.

This particular basket was knitted from the top down, so the outer rim is the cast-on edge.  I used the long tail cast on, to make the edge neat and flexible.  Larry will stretch out in his sleep and flatten the sides, but this yarn is happy to be re-shaped afterwards and the sides hold up pretty well.

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Really loving the dove grey colour and find it goes well with the decor in any room in the house.  Grey is the new white!

I’ve listed the Giant Wool Cat Basket, and the pattern, on my website Knittingrev.com, and in my Etsy shop.

The pattern includes 2 sizes, and 2 methods.  You can work top down, as in the grey basket, or from the centre outwards – see white basket below.  If you work from the centre outwards, you start off with 6 stitches, and your cast-off edge is the outer rim.  You might prefer the look of this.

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For both methods, the basket is worked in the round, on circular needles, using the magic loop method.  There is no seaming – hurrah! – and only 2 ends to weave in.

Arm knitting yarn and 25mm circular needles from Woolly Mahoosive.  Many good suppliers for extreme knitting also on Etsy.

 

Cat basket in progress

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For a knitting pattern to be successful, it has to be thoroughly tested.  Just as important, it must be easy to find the tools and materials needed to make it.

My giant wool cat basket is knitted in the round.  I’ve always made it using large 20mm doublepins.  Back in 2012, you couldn’t buy oversized doublepins anywhere, so I asked my Uncle to make some for me.  Many cat basket orders later, and a change of wool supply, I am still happily knitting these on the oversized doublepins.

Since then, extreme knitting has come on in leaps and bounds.  There are lots of giant yarns available from specialist suppliers, in both wool and acrylic.  You can even get giant circular needles for making those eye-popping blankets and throws.  But you still can’t get giant doublepins.  So how was I going to make my pattern appealing to knitters, if the tools for the job were not available?

Then I discovered the Magic Loop method.  This is how you can knit even the smallest circumference on any length of circular needles.  I tried it and found it really simple.  I knitted the whole basket this way and it worked a treat.  Then I knitted the whole basket in reverse – from the outer rim to the centre.  That worked too!

Next is to test knit the basket again, using 1kg of easily available arm knitting yarn.  Step forward Dove Grey acrylic from Woolly Mahoosive!  Let’s see how the basket knits up with this yarn…watch this space!

Finished – Rosewood Scarf

I just finished the Rosewood Scarf by Knifty Knittings.  I love to cable, and I love a reversible design, and this pattern is both.   I must admit I got a bit confused between worsted and light worsted, so I really should have used a thicker yarn, but it still turned out great.

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The yarn is pure undyed alpaca, so it’s lovely and soft.  The pattern is worked in fisherman’s rib, which gives a thicker fabric anyway, so add the cables and you have a super thick and squishy soft scarf!   Thanks to @KniftyKnittings for this super pattern.  Looking forward to wearing this scarf when the seasons turn…hopefully we’ll be back to some kind of normal by then.

 

 

Giant Wool cat basket pattern

Following many requests over the years, I’ve decided to release the pattern for the Giant Wool cat basket.  Here is Larry modelling one.  He’s pretty good at cat yoga.

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I’ll be working on the pattern over the next few days, making sense of my many notes and different versions.  I’ll also include the Cat Cave – that’s the basket with hood.

Hope everyone is keeping well in these strange times!

Best wishes, Louisa x

I actually knitted something!

It’s been so long and I’ve missed it!  There’s nothing like a deadline to make you start browsing patterns online.  A friend’s baby is due in December and it was just the nudge I needed.  I found this adorable jumper by Hennie on Ravelry – the Very Hungry Caterpillar based on the children’s book.  How cute is that, I thought.  I love how the caterpillar goes from front to back; the leaf is a pocket and I found a ladybird button in my stash which was just the right size.

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There was an option to work the caterpillar as intarsia or as applique.  I opted for intarsia although I’m not very good at it, but luckily the messy bit is at the back.

Another good thing about this pattern is that there is absolutely no seaming.  Front and back are worked in one piece, shoulder seams are joined by kitchener stitch, and the sleeves are pick up and knit in the round.  I had never tried kitchener stitch before – a method of grafting two ‘live’ edges together, to create an invisible seam.  I found some very good instructions on Craftsy and managed pretty well, with a bit of concentration.

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The caterpillar’s face and little legs were embroidered on, which is something I’ve not done for a long time.  So actually this little jumper involved several different skills.  But it was a real joy to knit from a pattern, and enjoy the fruits of someone else’s labours.  Can’t wait to give it to my friend!

 

 

Giant Knitting Cat Baskets are here!

…and they’ve been well and truly road-tested by all three crew members.  I think we have the seal of approval.

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It was useful to make two baskets.  One came out a bit tighter than the other, and that turned out to be the best one.  This is because, over a few days’ constant use, they stretch.  So the looser basket has ended up a bit on the floppy side, and the tighter basket is just about right.  Also, as I knitted the base more tightly, the sides appear taller.

The crew spent hours lounging around in their new beds, which enabled us to take lots of scrumptious photos of them.  My partner is a professional photographer (thesheffieldlens.com) – I am sure you can tell which are his pictures and which one is off my iphone!

I am excited to make the next batch.  I might try a different colour, or at least, a different sheep….

Giant Knitting Cat Baskets here soon!

The new yarn is on the needles, and the cat basket is in progress…

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Wow this yarn is even better than I expected.  It’s bigger and thicker than the yarn I used for the original baskets.  And it knits up fine using the needles I already have.  So I don’t have to order a load more knitting needles to be custom-made in bigger sizes.

I have amended my pattern slightly to accommodate the thicker yarn.  I was a bit worried that I hadn’t maintained an even thickness and twist on all of it.  After all, the wet felting was a bit of an experiment.  But working the yarn, it doesn’t seem to matter.  There is enough twist and felting to give it a bit of structure.  In fact, I think it performs even better than the old yarn.

 

It’s easier to get a flatter base.

It’s softer, less like rope.  More like a big, squishy soft strand.

It’s got that characteristic, fleecy scent.

The stitches are massive, with loads more visual impact.

And….the cats love it.

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It’s not finished yet, Monty.

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