Post Nineteen: In Which I Follow a Pattern from Initial Idea to (an Almost) Complete Cushion Cover

In this post I would like to take you through the steps that lead me to my latest pattern. It is called Egmont after the street on which I spotted my inspiration.

My knitting machine (Knitmaster 360) has the ability to produce Fair Isle patterns using a wonderfully outmoded piece of technology, namely punch cards. The machine selects which colour yarn to feed to which needle depending on how they are selected by the carriage. This is one of those brilliant bits of engineering which is very complicated but is also possible to see how it works, a fact that I love. It has its limitations though, one of which is that you can only have a pattern which is at most 24 stitches wide, you can repeat it but your idea has to fit into 24 stitches. At first I thought that this would not leave much scope for anything creative and then I started looking at what other people had managed to achieve and some of it was mind bogglingly good. I decided to have a go myself.

On my regular, trying to get the baby off for a nap, route I had been passing a driveway which always caught my eye, it was laid out in a way that was a little out of the ordinary.

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Egmont Inspiration

I could not stop thinking about this seemingly simple pattern. I could work it up into a punch card, it probably wouldn’t take more than ten minutes, I thought.

A day and a half later I had managed to produce something which looked like this.

Egmont Phase 1
Egmont Phase 1

Due to the nature of the knitting I had to adapt the pattern slightly to avoid having long stands of wool (floats) running across the back of the knitting.

Out comes the hole punch and  I load up the machine with some practice acrylic wool. I managed to make this.

Egmont with errors
Egmont with errors

Can you spot the mistake? I had missed a row when I was punching out the card. Also it looks much more beefy than I meant it to, I had the machine set up to knit two rows for every one on the punchcard.

I tracked down problems and adjusted.

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Egmont punchcard

Ignoring the cries of my first born for attention, I ploughed on and produced a cushion cover last night.

Egmont Cushion Cover
Egmont Cushion Cover

It is still awaiting sewing up as you can see from the cushion pad sticking out of the side, but on the whole I am really pleased. Given the limits of the 24 stitch punchcard I wouldn’t be surprised if this pattern, or something very like it is floating around out there already, but that won’t change my sense of achievement at having designed this particular one.

Moral: sometimes setting limits on your creativity can spur your to produce something much better than you could have with boundless freedom of expression.

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Post Nineteen: In Which I Follow a Pattern from Initial Idea to (an Almost) Complete Cushion Cover

Post Eighteen In Which I Consider the Meaning of the Word Gratitude

I am taking up Aplayfulday’s challenge to ‘Love Your Blog’.

A Playful Day

This weeks subject is ‘Gratiude.’

Like many challenges this can seem much more simple than it actually is. So I started where I always start thing that deserves a bit of thought, I went to my bookcase. Some words are easy to use but more difficult to define. It’s a bit like standing at the bottom of a hill and looking up,you know the hill’s there but you see can the shape of it better when it is at a distance, on the horizon. So I pulled down my dictionary for the long view.

I found that Gratitude can mean thankfulness, appreciation of kindness and that the latin word gratus which is also the root of the word grace.

Thankfulness –  I think one of the things I am most thankful for is that I have found knitting. I took it up as a way of passing time while waiting for events to unfold over which I had no control, so it has seen me through waiting for degree results, two house moves and one pregnancy. Not only have I passed time I have created beautiful things (and a good few rather ropey things too). It has taught me patience and has allowed me access to the world of knitters on the web, a great, diverse, and universally kind bunch.

Appreciation of kindness – I have been putting pictures on my Instagram feed of some cushion covers I am trying to work up into items for my etsy shop. I have had so many kind comments about them that it is giving me a real boost in confidence, I have no idea how I could have got this kind of feedback before the internet opened these doors for me but I really do appreciate every like. I see each one as a kindness and I am very grateful for them

Grace – OK so this one is shoehorned in a bit but the word grace makes me think of the things I am most grateful for in this world. It is my daughter’s middle name which helps me to remember just how lucky I am to have her, to have a family and to live in a time and place that allows me to provide them with what they need. I may not always be so lucky and with that in mind I will be donating to the DEC Nepal Appeal to help those in Nepal who are suffering at the moment.

What an interesting mental journey the word Gratitude has taken me, thank you for the challenge APlayfulDay

Post Eighteen In Which I Consider the Meaning of the Word Gratitude

Post Seventeen in which I get a bit of knitting done

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Managed to get a little bit of knitting today.  I will post a picture when it’s off the needles.  It’s going to be a baby blanket for a friend’s new arrival.

Just an ever such short blog today. Time has got away from me a bit so this is the last thing I am doing today before collapsing into bed.
Happy Friday everyone  🙂

Knitting in an effort to avoid housework.

Post Seventeen in which I get a bit of knitting done

Post Sixteen In which I celebrate because I have made a sale.

Just a quick blog today.

I have made my first sale! To a friend of the family but nonetheless it is nice to wave good buy to one of my creations.

DSC_0044 (800x532) DSC_0043 (800x532)I am working on learning to hang hems for another item which should still be useful for a summer project. After a temper tantrum and an early night I think I may be close to cracking it.

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Post Sixteen In which I celebrate because I have made a sale.

Post Fourteen In Which I Discuss the Book I am Reading At The Moment

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Have been reading E M Delafield’s Diary of a Provincial Lady and it’s a hoot! I am finding it very modern despite it having  been first published in 1930. I find from reading the introduction that she changed her name to distinguish herself from her mother (also a writer) De la Pasture. This tells you everything you need to know about her sense of humour, and mine. I am going to quote from the bit on the back cover which made me want to buy it.
“January 22nd – Robert startles me at breakfast by asking if my cold – which he has hitherto ignored – is better. I reply that it is gone. Then why, he asks, do I look like that? Feel that life is wholly unendurable,and decide madly to get a new hat.”
I have since reading it wanted to investigate growing bulbs in bowl just because she mentions it a few times.
Sorry this blog is a bit light on knitting the evil forces of housework are winning out this week.

Knitting in an effort to avoid housework.

Post Fourteen In Which I Discuss the Book I am Reading At The Moment

Post Thirteen The Idle Knitter Underground

Sometimes things just fall into place, and you get the inescapable idea that the universe is trying to tell you something.

I had a fairly clear idea of what I’d call my baby, we had a girl’s name and a boy’s name ready, but we kept an open mind too, I’ve heard babies don’t always suit what you’d like to call them, and this is exactly what happened after my Tiny Trouble Maker was born. At some point in the hazy days after she was born my husband looked at her, and asked “Alice?”, and after a thorough check for any silly permutations or acronyms, Alice she became.

This slotted in nicely at Christmas. I had been looking at those beautiful and over the top editions of Alice in Wonderland and musing to my Dad that it would be nice to get one for Alice and write in it for her. Dad went very quiet and changed the subject which seemed odd to me as Dad will usually egg me on to spending if it’s on books. It turns out he had an unbound copy of the original Alice manuscript up in the loft dated 1979 from his time working in the print trade. He had it bound and gave it to Alice as her first Christmas present. it is a thing of beauty.

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It was here I found out the story was originally called “Alice Underground.”

Then I happened to catch a very interesting radio programme called “The Story of Alice”  on Radio 4 which was all about what happened to the manuscript after Lewis Carroll’s death. And finally into my inbox drops an email from Etsy announcing a competition  ‘Redesigning Alice’ all to do with Alice Underground to celebrate the 150th anniversary of this work. Now I know I’ll not get anywhere with this competition, the standard will no doubt be very very high but I feel a bit like the universe is telling me I should at least try.

Post Thirteen The Idle Knitter Underground

Post Twelve – In Which I Ponder The Evolution of Knitting Patterns and My Own Struggles With a Baby Cardigan

I have been thinking a lot about knitting patterns lately. Even though they are very restricted, standardised and mathematical there is a lot of art involved in writing them. I am not just thinking of the creativity required to design and make a beautiful garment or accessory, the actual process of writing them clearly and in a way which is easy to follow is so hard. I make this observation from the point of view of someone who is not trying to write from scratch one but merely rewrite one for the one specific size I would like to make.

Thinking about this lead me down a tangent of contemplating what a knitting pattern really tells you about the time in which it was written. As a university history student I remember the truism that every piece of writing is a mirror of its own times. I have come to think that this is especially true of knitting patterns. Post war patterns in the UK, are on the whole, succinctly worded. This is possibly because paper was scarce but also because there was possibly someone around to ask if you’re not sure. These patterns assumed more knowledge on the part of the knitter than modern day ones do. Thanks to the fascinating work of people like Susan Crawford  who ‘translates’ these patterns for modern wools and modern figures the great garments these produce are still accessible to us.

The assumption of quite a high level of knitting skill is still evident in the way Swedish and Norwegian patterns are still written today. The hand knitting project I am working on at the moment is ‘Rusila’ by Elsebeth Lavold  from ‘Viking Knits and Ancient Ornaments.’ and it is most refreshing to have just a few lines of instruction for the knitting of the back.

As a beginner starting out however I loved the row by row written patterns. They guided me by the hand, they whispered in my ear that everything would be alright and they helped me produce some of the best knitting I’ve managed to date. To this day when a pattern says ‘work as the chart for X rows’ my first reaction is, “I can’t do that.” Then I remember I can and I plough on.

And what of this pattern I am rewriting? First I need to tell you I am a magazine addict, so when I started down the route of machine knitting I went out to find magazines. I subscribed to one and bought old 1960’s ones on the internet. I have at last found pattern I would like to try. A baby cardigan that I want to adapt. The original pattern is a bit lacy at the bottom so I have removed that and replaced those rows with plain knitting. I’m doing ok but there are a good few mistakes in the pattern, which considering I was just copying the text, is actually pretty impressive. In my defence the pattern is pretty inconsistent, sometimes it mentions decreasing on the left of the work, or on the armpit side (these are both the same side).

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I have managed to produce this, but I am not convinced it will sew up well. I will update when I have tried

So I marshal my conclusions thusly:

Modern patterns are a great help to the beginner

The way they are checked closely and carefully is brilliant

Everyone who writes one is a genius, not in the Apple sense of the word, more in the Times crossword sense of the word.

Someone who writes a whole book of them should earn free coffee at their coffee shop of choice for life.

Post Twelve – In Which I Ponder The Evolution of Knitting Patterns and My Own Struggles With a Baby Cardigan