27 April 2016

A Link to the Past

While many of us are interested in the newest developments in knitting, it is also enlightening to look back at the past. Fashions come and go. Something like a miser's purse, which were quite common in the 19th century, might become almost completely extinct. (A quick Ravelry search returned 5 miser's purses finished in 2015 and none yet in 2016. To learn about the history and use of these fascinating and often luxurious objects, read Laura L. Camerlengo's master's thesis, The Ubiquitous Miser’s Purse, which you can download from the Smithsonian Institution here.)

There is a theory that like attracts like. I don't know if that is true. It may be more simply that when people discover you have an interest in something, they send appropriate items in your direction. There is quite a bit that has come my way in recent years, both from friends and family. For example, Jenna the Yarn Pimp gave me this more than 90 years old magazine.

First off, I love the cover. I love all the decorative elements. I don't know much about the history of printing, so I can't speak to how expensive/uncommon the color printing would have been, or why the magazine is a slightly oversized 10½ inches by 13 inches. The whole thing is fascinating. I'm surprised by how many advertisements are for products I recognize — Cream of Wheat (full color, inside the front cover!), Ivory soap, Campbell's tomato soup (in black, white, and lots of red), Fels-Naptha laundry soap, Sun-Maid raisins (in full color), Bon Ami (full color), Lane Bryant (declaring "Stout Women Dress Fashionably Look Slender), Quaker quick oats, Karo syrup (making health claims by stating ". . . contains a large percentage of that most important food element — Dextrose.), and Kellogg's corn flakes. Just the advertisements would give you fodder for a master's thesis in women's studies.

As you would expect from the title, much of the contents cover needlearts. There are projects in sewing, tatting, cutwork, crochet, and knitting. And there are other craft projects, such as bronzing dried flowers. There are plenty of crocheted doilies and edgings. There is a fabulous knitted lace in Oak-Leaf-and-Acorn pattern, at left. (The art historian in me is immediately thinking of the della Rovere oak motifs on the Sistine Chapel ceiling.) I must translate this motif sometime. [Edited to add: Sarah Bradberry has rewritten and charted it here on her site. Hurray!] Of course, it is written out rather than charted, and contains directions such as "narrow," when today we would specify a left-leaning or right-leaning decrease. Other knit items include knitted doily with picot border, infant's thumbless mitten, infant's knitted bootee, cap for a baby boy, and infant's knitted hood. The cover illustration is for the Minnehaha knitted sweater "for a little maiden of six to eight years" and Minnehaha crocheted hat! I am guessing the women reading this magazine are very much multi-craftual. Buried on page 36 are directions for "Trinity Lace (Reprinted with corrections, from February issue)." Without the February issue, I'm not sure what it is supposed to look like.

As this is a women's magazine, there are also articles about child-rearing ("Teaching the Children to Set the Table") and food ("New Pies and Pastries"). And there is a hybrid article about making card table covers (sewing, embroidery) and then how to host a bridge supper (manners, menus). And, of course, several advertisements and illustrations of the latest in flapper fashions.

It does look like someone is adding these patterns to the Ravelry database, although mostly without images. A Google search turns up copies on Etsy and eBay and information on LibraryThing. I'm not sure if anyone has digitized this magazine, or if it is of the age to be in the public domain.

If you do have an interest in this sort of thing, the University of Southhampton has made available their knitting reference library. If I find out about other sources, I'll post them here.

18 April 2016

Knit Along for Georgia FiberFest

As part of my 2016 "full court press power-play" to get reversible lace out into the world, I'm leading a mystery knit-along for Georgia FiberFest beginning this Sunday, 24 April 2016.

The pattern is a super-cute scarf I've named Za-Zing. This is the sort of accessory that will brighten an outfit and keep you warmer without smothering you with heat. The way I prefer to wear it will also hide your neck, in case your face is silently ageless but your neck is loudly proclaiming your last birthday.

As this is a mystery knit-along, I'm not showing off much yet. Here's the teaser photo.

This pattern is fairly geometric. I would describe it as cute, youthful, and sporty.

The yarn is a three-color gradient by Camelid Cottage in a 2-to-1 suri alpaca and silk blend. Each hank is 100 yards, so the total is 300 yards. Some knitting, but not too much.

The pattern is already written. I ended up with 15 clues total, numbered 0 through 14. Clue #0 is already up on Ravelry on the Georgia FiberFest message board. This "preview" clue is about swatching, dividing yarn, and generally getting ready to cast-on and knit. When you purchase the pattern on Ravelry, you'll be able to download the most current version of the pattern. Each Sunday, I will update the pattern by re-posting it in my Ravelry store. Right now, you only get clue #0. This Sunday, I'll upload the pattern so it includes clues #0 and #1. Ravelry automatically sends you an e-mail telling you that a pattern you purchased has been updated. You'll be able to download and see the next clue every time I update the pattern each Sunday.

You may be wondering — 15 clues? Really?

I've broken the pattern down into little digestible bits, sort of like when you cut up a steak for someone who has trouble chewing. I don't want anybody to choke! The first clue is the cast-on. The last clue is the bind-off. Some weeks there is only a little bit of knitting. I think the most you ever do in one week is 60 yards. You don't have to be a monogamous knitter to participate and keep up. And if you are learning new things, you'll be walking gently up the learning curve, not climbing it with pitons and carabiners. Also, if you are late to the party, you'll be able to catch up.