Simple Addition

Oh, I adore this shirt.

I have loved every pattern I’ve made by designer Stephanie Lotven, and, so far, I’ve made a few. My latest is Simple Addition, a simple sweater with lots of ribbing. This is the same sweater I finished two weeks ago but realized I wanted longer, so I frogged my work back and started again. It now measures about 14 inches from below the arm holes and sits just at my hips, a perfect length.

Ripping back how I did meant I could maximize the yardage in the skeins. I ripped back and kept track of which yarn was from the sleeve ribbing, from the front left, from the back, etc. Those yardages wouldn’t change drastically between the two versions, so I used up what was the left over yarn for the body (save a few grams, just in case), and then used the yarns I carefully labelled as each section.

I didn’t aggressively block the sweater, and I’m not sure how the cotton would have taken to being blocked aggressively. I like how the ribbing means the shirt is a little more form fitted than the pattern calls for with less ease. And that’s ok.

I chose this pattern because I had three skeins of Berroco’s Weekend, and the yardage all worked out. The fact that it was a Stephanie Lotven pattern gave me even more reasons to buy and cast on. She has a variety of patterns available, including a number (and a book, actually) all about different ways to use self-striping yarn. She also has a number of really fun colourwork cowls. If you haven’t tried one of her patterns before, please check her out! Safe to say, I’m a fan.

Sunny Baby Blanket

New finished item!

The pattern was Sunny Baby Blanket by Lucie Sinkler. It was so simple but engaging with the 12 rows of knits and purls forming the pattern. I used what might be my favourite, yet sadly discontinued yarn, Berroco Weekend. A LYS is slowly selling their remaining stock of this yarn, and I’ve been quite liberal with my purchasing of it! Six skeins went into this blanket, and it ended up being quite sizable!

It’s a gift, so it was knit with a timeframe. Once I cast off, I had that feeling of ‘What Now,’ as if I don’t already have two sweaters and two socks on the go. I also want to cast on another pair of “Michele’s Mittens” (RAV LINK) by Sarah H Arnold because I lost one while out on a walk. That one still stings…

But, this beautiful blanket, which occupied my mind for just over a month, is now finished and will soon be gifted to the mom-to-be. Very exciting indeed.

“Bern”ing through the stash

After inventorying all my stash and helpfully getting it all onto Ravelry, I turned my attention to trying to find a pattern that would use up a good chunk of stash yarn. I’ve also been a little twitchy for a heavier sweater – heavier meaning heavier weight yarn. The two I currently have in progress are both made with sock yarn, so I was hoping for something that would knit up a little faster.

After refining my search, I cast on Feel the Bern (RAV LINK) by Caitlin Hunter. It’s a free pattern (yay) using between 591 – 1256 yards (yay) of worsted yarn (YAY).

I played with a few colour combinations of Cascade 220 and Briggs and Little Heritage. My dark heathered purple was a must as it had the most yardage left for one of the main colours, and I loved how the grey of the Briggs and Little was more subdued than the other colours I was toying with. I settled on the dark purple, the grey and two more Cascade 220s: a mauve-y heathered pink and a heathered green. I had two different blues I was tossing around, but the blues were more vibrant, while the combo with the mauve and green felt more natural.

As I cast on and got to the colourwork yoke, I sent progress pictures to my friend Victoria. We were both in agreement. This colour combo was the winning combo indeed.

Now, excuse me while I keep making progress on this 50 round colourwork yoke… RIP my patience…

Keeping Track of Hundreds of Patterns

How do you keep track of your patterns? Are you digital and just store them on your computer/phone/tablet? Or, are you like me, and you prefer working off a printed pattern – printed so that you can highlight and mark it up to your heart’s content.

If you’re like me, and you’ve printed off your fair share of patterns, then you might also be like me and are starting to struggle with trying to find a pattern when you want to repeat it.

I keep my patterns in journals, smashbook style. I cut and paste them into spiral ring notebooks, and there I can make my own notes, keep track of sizes, if any mods were made for something that needs to be made twice (like sleeves), and I can also write out any improv patterns I might have tried my hand at. I’ve been using these for almost a decade. Safe to say, this is my method, and, for me, it works.

The glitch in the system comes when I want to repeat a pattern, which is what happened this weekend. I had some amazing Christmas coloured self striping yarn, which I knew would make amazing ornaments. The pattern I’ve used a handful of times is Balls Up ! (RAV LINK) by General Hogbuffer – a few metres of left over sock yarn, a 3″ Styrofoam ball, and a few hours of knitting, and you have a simple ornament for the Christmas tree.

But, the question was, what journal is that pattern in?

So, before settling in to knit the ornament, I turned to a project that was long overdue – inventorying my knitting journals. I created a Google Sheet where along the top, I have each knitting journal, and down each column is a list of which patterns are in that journal. I’ve highlighted the patterns that I know I’ve made time and time again so that they are easier to find. By making it a Google Sheet, I can access it from different devices.

Oh, and I found the pattern. It was in Knitting Journal 5.

Red Cross Society World War I Sock

I love finding knitting references in old newspapers.

Back up. I love reading through digitized newspapers. When I find knitting references, it makes it even better.

Port Perry, Ontario is a small town on the shores of Lake Scugog, and it is located north of my hometown. The local historical society recently digitized and made their historical newspapers available online, and the search term ‘knit’ wielded a whole slew of interesting search results.

The following appeared in the Port Perry Star, 7 June 1916, on page 1.

Directions from Red Cross Society for the use of cotton in the knitting of soldier’s socks:

“Official instructions for knitting socks in the mixed cotton warp and woollen yarn:

“Materials required; No. 13 needle 4-ply Scotch Fingering (grey), about four ounces; four-eighths grey cotton warp, 3 ply; cast on 64 stitches (cotton warp). Rib for one inch (two and two if possible).

“Break off cotton and knit woollen yarn for 1 ½ inches (this is to make the cuff elastic; join the cotton again and rib for 1 ½ inches; knit cotton warp plain for 4 ½ inches; break off cotton and start knitting plain again with wool, and continue for 3 ½ inch, which will finish the leg; finish the ankle and foot in wool in the usual manner.”

With this mixing of yarn, one lb of wool is sufficient for eight socks, and one pound of cotton for 16 socks.

Port Perry Star, 7 June 1916, page 1.

The needles called for simply say No. 13. If a bell gauge is being used for this measurement, Colleen Formby notes that this size would be the equivalent of a US1 or 2.25mm needle. I’m assuming the “4-ply Scotch Fingering” is simply a grey fingering/sock weight yarn, and while the “four-eighths grey cotton warp, 3 ply” has me somewhat at a loss, I’m also assuming they’re calling for a fingering/sock weight yarn.

The Oshawa newspapers had also published directions for knitting socks, but while the instructions from Port Perry recommended using two different yarn types, the Oshawa newspaper simply said to use wool. The two different types of yarn and the reasoning for switching back and forth, to increase the stretchiness, was both interesting and, admittedly, something I hadn’t heard of before.

It’s also interesting to me that the directions, as printed in the Port Perry newspaper, assume the knitter knows what they are doing if they are instructed to “finish the ankle and foot… in the usual manner.” I know I was nervous turning my first heel, and the second sock I ever made was the WWI sock from the Oshawa newspaper. I remember calling my grandmother to make sure I was reading these heel turn instructions correctly. Turning a heel is serious business. However, if I was handed needles and yarn today and told to make a pair, I certainly would know how to make my heel and foot in a usual manner. Most knitters have their own sock recipe in their back pocket and know what to do. Perhaps these instructions of simply finishing in a usual manner are not so out of place in 1916.

In an academic journal, historian Sarah Glassford remarked, “Turning the heel on a Red Cross sock, for instance, required four needles, and no rough or protruding seams that might hurt soldiers’ feet were allowed” (“The Greatest Mother in the World:” Carework and the Discourse of Mothering in the Canadian Red Cross Society during the First World War).

The caveat of discouraging the rough seams to protect feet was a large part of why the grafting the toe became popular (this technique also know as the Kitchener Stitch – I’ve written about Lord Kitchener and the technique named for him in a previous post; I think I might need to revisit this as there has been great discourse as to the namesake and his actions during the Boer War, especially around the policies of concentration camps. As I said, a post for another day…)

This pattern came from the Canadian Red Cross Society. I was able to find a bulletin for the Canadian Red Cross from April 1916, and deep within the publication was the same sock pattern. It was advised that no other materials (yarns or needles) be substituted, and that if you wanted a cone of cotton warp (which would make about eight sock legs), it could be obtained for 25¢ from the Supply Department of the Canadian Red Cross Society at 77 King Street East, Toronto.

I’m not in a rush to try making this pair of socks, nor do I think I eventually will. The needles, yarn, and stitches called for would make a pair of socks that would fit me, and if anything does get me to try it, it would be to see how the two materials work together. Curiosity more than anything would get me to cast on.