Monthly Archives: December 2008

Eastern crochet

I have just finished reading Knitting in the Old Way: Designs and Techniques from Ethnic Sweaters by Priscilla Gibson-Roberts and Deborah Robson (a very interesting read by the way). The last chapter is on combining crochet with knitting, and they talk about the differences between Eastern and Western crochet. Basically with Western crochet you poke your hook through both legs of the chain of the stitch, whereas with Eastern crochet you only use one leg of the chain. So there are two different kinds of Eastern crochet, the version where you use the front leg of the chain, and the version where you use the back leg. The front leg version is also known as Shepherd’s knitting, and the back leg version is also known as Bosnian crochet. After reading the description of Shepherd’s knitting I was fascinated by how it would come out so I had a go.

I worked a length of chain, joined it into a circle, and then worked a slip stitch into the front leg of each chain as I went round. Carry on until you have had enough.

Here is the side which forms away from you as you are working.


And here is the side which forms towards you as you are working.


It looks a lot like knitting, but on its side.

It was quite fun to do, though I am a rather slow crocheter. The finished fabric is not as elastic as knitting, and it does have a bit of a tendancy to bias. I think you could make really interesting things with using bands of this separating sections of knitting. Definitely something to play a bit more with.

Seriously sweet

Thanks to a lovely day of craft stuff last Sunday with Charlie, and the train journeys to and from the Maths in View conference last Monday, the Baby Surprise Jacket (from Elizabeth Zimmerman’s Knitting Workshop) is coming along well, and it is seriously sweet. Progress would probably be faster if I didn’t stop and admire it at the end of each row 🙂 or if Charlie hadn’t brought along the Fire Mountain Gems catalogue for me to drool over. At the conference I finally met Penny (lovely to meet you!), and did manage to do a little bit of knitting while each of the speakers were setting up. A very interesting day, thought provoking stuff.


Just the collar and the rest of the finishing to go. I am doing a 3 stitch Icord around all the edges because I really like the way it looks with garter stitch, and think it gives the whole thing a more finished look.

In fact I am enjoying this so much I think I might make a me-size one next, possibly out of the Wendy Fusion I bought at Ally Pally. I think it would make a good project for over Christmas, a nice lot of it, but doesn’t require too much brain so I can knit while chatting, and also while playing board games.


Hello, I’m afraid Heather can’t come to the blog right now as she has developed an unfortunate addiction to educational physics games. In the interests of your health, do not click on this link, or this one, unless you have already finished all your Christmas knitting, or have managed to work out how to knit and play games at the same time. Heather should return soon, and is hoping to have some actual knitting progress (!). If you would like to leave a message please do so after the tone.


Dyeing solid colours

I borrowed the Baby Burco owned by the West Surrey Guild of Spinners, Weavers and Dyers and have been having an experiment with dyeing solid colours. This is for my next City and Guilds project. Each project has to be inspired by a different one of our art modules, line, colour, texture, shape, and form. My cardigan was inspired by the module on line, and my next project is going to be inspired by the module on colour. There are four projects we need to complete in total, but we can do them in any order we like. Two are garments, a jumper with set-in sleeves, and a jacket or cardigan with sleeves which are not set-in. Both garments must display different necklines. Then there is an accessory and an item for interior use. I am planning to do the jumper with set-in sleeves next, and have been collecting pictures of autumn leaves for my inspiration.

Here is the Baby Burco in action.

I also bought some pH testing strips to test the pH of the dye solutions I was mixing. The The Dyer’s Companion (Companion (Interweave)) says that I should be aiming for a pH of between 4.5 and 5, and as you can see from the strip below, I had a pH of about 2, which could explain a lot of things. I have been doing some more experimenting with how much citric acid I use, and reckon that actually you need relatively little to create the appropriate pH. Citric acid is actually more acidic than acetic acid (vinegar).

I used 4ply weight superwash Bluefaced Leicester wool, and dyed 100g of each colour to give me plenty to play with. My idea is to knit up some samples and try out different colour combinations to see what I like. I don’t have firm ideas yet of what I am doing, so am hoping that doing a few knitted samples will give me some thoughts. It could well be that some of these colours wont be used in the final garment, and that I might add in some others, but at least this is a start. I dyed 10 colours for my first go.

I had quite a lot of trouble dyeing the kind of orange I had first been aiming at. You need a surprisingly small amount of red dye in with the yellow. I do like the couple of much darker oranges too though, and am looking forward to experimenting with all the colours.

I have started a little knitted sample but haven’t got very far yet.

I’m afraid it has been rather dark here, and the colours haven’t come out properly. The paler green near the bottom isn’t mint at all, but rather a paleish grass green. The 2×2 spiral idea is from Janine Bajus, she calls is speed swatching, and it is a nice quick way to get an idea about whether colours look reasonable together or not, without having to worry about the pattern. If you cast on 4n – 1 sts (where n is any whole number) then it will all spiral automatically with no effort whatsoever 🙂 In this case n = 20 so I cast on (4 x 20) – 1 = 79 sts. Big enough to get a proper look at how the colours are coming out, but small enough not to take forever. My plan is to do a few of these speed swatches, or perhaps just one long one, to give me some ideas for colour combinations. Then to work out possible patterns and try them in the most likely of the colour selections.

I started this on Sunday at our City and Guilds class, it was good to have other people’s input, and I agree with Fiona that this brown isn’t right, and that a redder brown would look better. I’m not yet sure whether I want a brown at all though, or whether I will have the darkest colour be the dark red, so I think I will do a bit more swatching and thinking before I dye any more colours.

Talking of Sunday, I got my cardi back from assessment and it is all fine (whew!) though I do need to make sure to do more art, and fewer photographs for the next projects.

Christmas Concerts

We are into the season of three-Christmas-concerts-in-one-week here, one down, two to go, but I still seem to be breathing and playing most of the notes in approximately the right places so that is good.

If any of you happen to be in the South West London area in the next couple of days I can recommend two concerts by the Barnes Concert Band (I may just be a little biased as I play 2nd trombone in the band).

On Wednesday 10th December 6.45pm – 8.45pm we will be playing at Carols by Candlelight, at the London Wetland Centre, Barnes. There will be a variety of readings and carols, and some music by a couple of local school groups then we will play a bit on our own at the end. Wrap up warm as this is outside (unless it rains), free entry from 6pm.

On Thursday 11th December 7 – 8.30pm we will be playing at the Community Carol Service at St Michael and All Angels Church, Elm Bank Gardens, Barnes.

If you do come along then come and say hello. I will be wearing knitted hat, scarf and gloves at the Wetland Centre concert, but haven’t yet worked out how to fit knitting into my concert outfit for Thursday. Hmm, definitely a challenge 🙂

Baby Surprise Jacket

I have finally cast on for a Baby Surprise Jacket by Elizabeth Zimmermann for a friend’s baby. Luckily the baby isn’t expected til April so I am doing quite well. The yarn is 4ply weight, 80% superwash merino, 20% bamboo that I dyed a while ago. Here is the progress so far.

The yarn is very nice to knit with and has held up very well to being undone and re-knitted. My first attempt was laughably large. I admittedly don’t have any captive small children around to measure but the first attempt would have almost fitted a small adult. I think my error was adding in way too much ease. I am calculating my own numbers for this since the original pattern is written for yarn knitted at 6 sts to the inch, and my yarn gives 8 sts to the inch. I think it is looking ok so far. I like how the colours are coming out too.

Harrogate Knitting and Stitching Show

On the 20th and 21st of November Mummy and I went to the Knitting and Stitching Show at the International Halls in Harrogate. As has now become our tradition, we had a day at Texere on my way up North. I am obviously having a tools phase, since I didn’t buy any yarn at all, but did manage to buy some nice small sewing up needles, and an interesting tool which has a crochet hook at one and and a needle-eye at the other. I’m afraid I can’t remember what was the proper name for it, but it looked intriguing, and might be handy for weaving in ends.

The show itself was good fun. Smaller than the version at Alexandra Palace, and with some of the same exhibitors, but I think some different, and those that do do both shows sometimes bring different stuff.

We had a very enjoyable time looking round at everything, seeing what is new in the world of knitting, and chatting to everyone. One of the things I enjoy most about these events is the opportunity to catch up with everyone, and see what people are working on, what they have finished, what they are selling. Also since we went back for a second day we had a proper chance to look at the exhibition. Very interesting and varied. As with all art things, there are some things more to my personal taste than others, but the quality of work was very high, and it was particularly nice that a lot of the artists themselves were there and we could talk to them.

Within minutes of entering the show Knit N Caboodle had cured me of my new-found yarn buying reticence and a few little goodies were stashed in one of their lovely purple bags.

Firstly a nice un-subtle sock yarn, this is Schoppel Wolle Admiral ombré in colour 1564, ply weight, 75% wool, 25% polyamide.

Another Schoppel Wolle Admiral Ombré, slightly more subtle, this is colour 1960.

And this one is for Mummy for Christmas. This is as close as I am getting to Christmas knitting this year. Again Schoppel Wolle Admiral ombré, colour 1563.

This one is also by Schoppel Wolle, and is the same yarn weight and fibre, but it is a singles yarn and dyed with long stretches of colour, and is called Zauberball. I am really looking forward to seeing how this knits up. The colour I have is called Tropical Fish, I rather fancy the one called Fuschia too 🙂

In a departure from all sock yarn all the time, I also bought some lace weight. This is Mamma Ocllo, 100% Baby Alpaca in Deep Purple, and you have to feel it to believe how soft it is. I have enough to make a largeish shawl I think, but haven’t yet worked out what pattern to use.

Although I tried hard to give all my money to Knit N Caboodle within minutes of getting into the show, I did manage to save enough to buy the following Jawoll sock yarn from Art Yarn.

And to finish up I bought some lovely postcards of knitted wire shapes on a theme of evolution by Anita Bruce. We were fortunate enough to be able to chat with Anita while we looked at her pieces, which are very interesting and beautiful. I am definitely inspired to do some wire knitting soon.

All in all a lovely if rather tiring couple of days. I don’t know how the exhibitors manage to do 4 days of it. I was exhausted after only two!