Sunday, November 27, 2011

Holiday Knitting III

You may, my dear readers, think that I have more UFO's than FO's.  I actually have more UFO's than FO's in the last two years.  But yeah, I indulge in startitis.

Upon visiting my LYS in Hilton Head, I discovered some colorchanging Crack Kidsilk Haze and decided that the college roommate/long time friend needed something knit from it, for Christmas.  I decided on Wisp.   

The colors don't come across very well, but are done  by Kaffe Fassett.   The intended recipient and I went to hear him speak years ago so there's a little synergy there.

There is a reason that we joke about Crack Silk Haze, to wit:

Sami with crack silk haze, better than catnip, although perhaps a bit more soporific.

Here's Fiona, reclining on a knit pillow (one reason I love her is that she matches all my furniture...)

I adopted a new cat today;  it's owner passed away.  He is sequestered in the spare bedroom.  I locked him in so that the girls wouldn't pester him.  Pictures to follow, once he stops hissing at me and comes out from under the bed.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Holiday Knitting II

OK, so, I am working on a birthing for a Santa. Specifically, Gail Budd's Knit Father Christmas. Here we are so far. He is a breech baby; feet first!

He will be for a little neice and nephew for Christmas. This is a fun pattern.  Stuff as you go.

I am using Paton's classic wool from Michael's.  I really like it for this project, although it'll be hand wash.  There is no good skin tone, so I am hoping for the best with a length of the aran color (used for the "fur" trim, above) and a warm potfull of teabags:

I have had the yarn for this fellow since last Christmas, after the pattern attracted my attention. Here's the link; it's a freebie.

I am also interested in knitting this Theodora, a pattern by Helene.  

Theodora has her own travel blog! Another holiday concept:   do Theodora's traditional Icelandic costume in white, and turn her in to a St. Lucia doll.  Do check out the Theodoras on Ravelry and the lovely variations...

All this thought about dolls has put me in mind of teddy bears. Once upon a time I had a yard sale. I was  trying to seriously downsize and sold some 16" Boyds Bears, with little sweaters that I had knit for them, I had purchased patterns by Judith Shangold, some of which are available here. I really wish I still had the bears and their outfits. 

Do I need to own replacement teddy bears NOW? NO. Do I need to own a stuffed sheep with a hand knit sweater? Gosh, that's harder. How about a Boyds rabbit to grace the Easter dinner table? Heck, harder still...

So the new rule is: I can buy them but must give away to neice and nephew. MUST. GIVE. AWAY. With of course hand knit garments...

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Civil War Sock Knitters

I recently listened to an interesting podcast from public radio.  Walter Edgar is a professor of history at the University of South Carolina and  he has a public radio program on all topics South Carolina.  

We all recall Mary Chesnut from Ken Burns' Civil War series on PBS from 1990, right?  And Mary's diaries were often quoted;  Julie Harris read the quotes.  Mary was a South Carolina blue blood. She was the wife of General James Chesnut, an  aide to Confederate president Jefferson Davis. Several different annotated versions of her diaries are available at AmazonHere is a nice synopsis of Mary's life and writings from Elisabeth Showalter Muhlenfeld, her biographer.  Dr. Muhlenfeld also edited and published two of Mary's unfinished novels.

On the particular podcast I listened to, Dr. Edgar (we treat him with great reverence down here) was interviewing Julia A. Stern, author of Mary Chesnut's Civil War Epic.  She is a scholar from Northwestern University who has published a book, which considers Mary's so-called diary to be more of a nonfictional epic.  This she helped to realize by examining earlier less simplified versions of Mary's complex work, and delving in to its details.

To add to my interest, in a more recent podcast, Dr. Edgar interviewed a descendent of Mary Chesnut, Martha Daniels.  Apparently Mary had a vast collection of photographs.  At some point, the photographs were separated from her diaries. Amazingly, the photographs were located (on ebay!!) and purchased by Martha's family.  The description in the podcast of Martha's Grandmother recognizing unlabelled individuals in the photos brought tears to my eyes.  The photographic collection is donated to the South Caroliniana Library at the University of South Carolina, and a new edition of the diaries combined with the photographic images will soon be published.

Here is the SCETV link to Walter Edgar's Journal Podcast;  scroll down and you can listen to these two podcasts, or locate them on itunes!

Well and yes, of course, Mary was a sock knitter.   The more I read about knitting, the more I realize that small garments:  hats, mittens, and socks are the items often knitted through history, as larger garments are perhaps more easily made of woven fabric. Marys quote: " I do not know when I have seen a woman without knitting in her hand. 'Socks for the soldiers' is the cry."

Here is a link for an authentic pair of Civil War socks, suitable nowadays for reinactors!  More discussion is here.  I am trying this pattern using some Guernsey wool that I have had in stash for waaaaay too long;  see the photo, above, of the one I am working on.  I will avoid second sock syndrome as it is a holiday gift!  My gauge is a little larger than that called for.

Yahoo's Civil War Needleworker's Group has a collection of sock patterns as well, but you must be a group member to join (that's easy, however).

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Vintage Knitting FO: Grandma Helen's Knitted Scarf,

 I enjoy a rousing bonnet drama and am so glad to have streaming Netflix.  Recently I learned about Elizabeth Gaskell when I watched Wives and Daughters and North and South.  For me, North and South was quite interesting in viewing the scenes in the Victorian England's cotton mills.  Imagine the lung disease with the little cotton fibers flying...apparently, the middle class who grew rich owning the mills was frowned upon by the elite.

I am listening to an audiobook of another of Gaskell's novels, CranfordGaskell's writing is gentle and readable. It's quite delightful,  full of points on material culture, scrimping on paper and candle use, on the part of the firmly middle class who have lost their fortunes.  Lots of mentions of knitting, crocheting, new knitting stitches, and obtaining wool yarn from that wild and uncivilized place in Scotland, Shetland.

Speaking of vintage knitting, I finished Grandma Helen's Scarf

The pattern is available for free;  check on the "Free Patterns" link at the right.  It would make a quick holiday gift knit. Let me know what you think!