Friday, December 29, 2017

Free Pattern Friday! - 12-29-2017

Free Pattern Friday!
This lovely was traced from a cheery print on a scarf.  It was but one of many cute designs, but it sang to me the loudest.  From my heart to yours, best wishes for the new year!

Friday, December 15, 2017

Free Pattern Friday! 12-15-2017

Surprise, surprise!  This week's free pattern isn't a tracing, it's a translation!  Take a gander below for my Google assisted translation of the cover project from the Dutch knitting book Bee Bee Toppers.  Also pictured is a scan of the original instructions and abbreviations in Dutch.  Any Dutch readers, please let me know if I got anything wrong!

Probably obvious, but it took me a bit to realize the
numbers in the diagrams are cm and not number
of stitches/rows.  Also, the top picture, the right side
is the back piece, and the left side is the front.  The three
stars indicate this pattern is more advanced and not for
beginning knitters.  Granted, I am not a beginner, but
now that I can read the pattern, it does not seem all
that difficult.
Sizes: Small, Medium, and Large: 82-86, 90-94, 98-102cm in width.
Materials: 1200-1400 grams of medium weight wool yarn, size 6 needles (see My Notes below)
Gauge: With two strands of wool on size 6 needles: 9 stitches = 10cm wide.
Woolmeter: Letter E  (see My Notes below)
Used Stitches: 
    Garter Stitch: knit all rows
    Pattern Stitch (worked over an even number of stitches):
         1st Row: Purl
         2nd Row: Knit
         3rd Row: Knit
         4th Row: Purl
         5th Row: K1 *K1, with the right needle, pick up the purl bump directly below the next stitch (3 rows below) and place it on the left needle. Slip the right needle through the back of that loop and the next stitch and knit together* repeat to last stitch in the row, K1.
        6th Row: Knit
        7th Row: Knit
        8th Row: Purl
        9th Row: K1 *with the right needle, pick up the purl bump directly below the next stitch (3 rows below) and place it on the left needle. Slip the right needle through the back of that loop and the next stitch and knit together. K1* repeat to last stitch in the row, K1.
        Repeat 2nd to 9th row for pattern.

The numbers for the three sizes are given in succession. Where only one number is given, that number is for all three sizes. Jacket is worked with two strands of yarn.

Back: Cast on 47-51-55 stitches and work 6 rows in garter stitch. Then work * 14cm of pattern stitch, 8 rows of garter stitch. Repeat from * until after 3rd pattern stitch section. Work 8 rows in garter stitch. For the armholes: cast off 6 stitches from each side. Continue in patttern stitch until the garment measures 20-21-22 cm from the start of the armholes. Cast off remaining stitches.

Front Pockets: Cast on 14 stitches. Work 14cm of pattern stitch.  Break yarn and place all stitches on a spare needle. Repeat for second pocket.

Front: Cast on 26-28-30 stitches. For each front piece, work as on the back until the first garter stitch section. Work 4-5-6 stitches from the side seam, slip the next 14 stitches onto a stitch holder or spare yarn. Next row, work across, knitting from the pocket piece instead of the 14 stitches on the holder or spare yarn. Continue front until after 3rd pattern stitch section. Work 8 rows in garter stitch. Shape armholes as for the back. Work in pattern stitch until the garment measures 17-18-19 cm from the start of the armholes. For the neck shaping, cast off 4 stitches from the front edge. Work one row, then cast off two stitches from the front edge. Cast off 1 stitch from the front edge three times. Cast off the remaining 11-13-15 stitches. Work the 2nd front in mirror image.

Sleeves: Cast on 32-34-36 stitches. Work 20 rows in garter stitch. Continue as on back, ie. 14cm pattern stitch, 8 rows garter stitch. After the second garter stitch section (excluding cuff) cast off 1 stitch on each side on each row until the sleeve is 12-13-14 cm from the start of the armhole. Cast off remaining stitches. Work second sleeve the same.

Hood: Cast on 52 stitches and work 28cm in garter stitch. Cast off the center 6 stitches and work each remaining half (23 stitches) separately. For each side, cast off 6 stitches at the center edge three times. Cast off the remaining stitches.

Finishing: Sew the shoulder seams, sew the sleeves to the shoulders, sew side and sleeve seams. Close the top of the hood, sew the hood in the neck. Slip each set of pocket stitches from the holders/spare yarn to a needle and work 7 rows in garter stitch. Cast off. Sew pockets and edges to front pieces. Pick up stitches along front and hood (about 8 ½ stitches per 10cm) and work 5 rows in garter stitch. Cast off. Crochet or twist a cord and weave through the hood.


My Notes On This Pattern:
As far as yarn and needles for this pattern: I measured Red Heart Super Saver worsted on the Woolmeter, and it is one size too small. Bernat Sheep(ish) is a closer fit, but still a bit small. Knitting a test patch with the Sheep(ish) I got about 7cm wide over 9 stitches on U.S. size 6 needles. I didn't see any indication in the pattern for what system of needle measurement is used, so I am not 100% certain which size they really mean: a U.K./European size 6 needle is a U.S. size 8 needle, A 6mm diameter needle is a U.S. size 10 needle. I recommend finding a yarn you like, and knitting test swatches with various sized needles until you get the correct gauge.

Google Translate did most of the work, but some of it I did need to try and knit to figure out. Many of the Dutch knitting terms and abbreviations are different than English ones, and so some of it is not a literal translation of the text. I separated out the pocket pieces from the section on the front pieces, because it just seemed to make more sense to make the pockets first rather than stop in the middle of the front piece to do it.  I have not yet knit this project, so if you do, please let me know if there are any glaring errors in the pattern. 

The pattern stitch was especially tricky to figure out. In the end, I just took some spare yarn and knitted up what I thought the text was telling me to do. It is actually a lot easier than it sounds. Similarly with the pockets. The process is hard to describe in words. There are a lot of great knitting instruction videos available, you can find a few on this pocket technique here.

Monday, December 11, 2017

Monday Vintage Craft Book Feature: Bee Bee Toppers (Netherlands ~1970's)

Another of my many needlework hobbies is the collection of vintage craft books.  Found in dusty corners of second hand shops, in pride of place in used book stores, these old tomes often contain beautiful nuggets of crafting wisdom, and a heaping helping of vintage charm.  Reviving the techniques, tips and retro projects is just one more way for us to bring back the wonders of the handmade.

This is the first of a new series of posts, sharing my fabulous book finds with you, so you too can keep an eye out for these gems on your crafting journey.

Bee Bee Toppers Breiboek - published between 1971 and 1980

The cover page featuring actress Joanna Lumley

I found this book in a local thrift shop, among a stack of other knitting books.  It is relatively small, 31 pages of color photos and about the same number of instructional pages in the back.  I could find no copyright date, but several of the sweater models are actors from the BBC TV series "The Onedin Line" which ran from 1971 to 1980.  The actors names are also nearly the only English words in the book.

Published in the Netherlands, and almost entirely written in Dutch, this book is nonetheless a trove of goodies even for someone who doesn't read the language.

In addition of British actors, this book also featured
racing driver James Hunt, Dutch footballer Rudi Krol,
 and pictures of Gali Atari with the singing group
Milk and Honey (which may date this book to 1979
when that pairing won the Eurovision song contest)
Despite, or perhaps because of, it's age, many of the sweaters are stylish and interesting without being cringe-inducingly retro.  I particularly like the jacket on the cover, and will likely be using a translator app liberally to try to figure out how to make it. 

The really neat thing about this book though, is it's 'Woolmeter'.  Illustrated on the front cover, the actual meter is included on the back, with both metric units and inches.  Instead of recommending a certain brand or style of yarn, each of the patterns gives a number on the meter for the size of the yarn used.  The knitter then takes the Woolmeter to the store and finds a yarn they like that matches the number.  Even with a modern pattern, you could take this Woolmeter and measure the recommended yarn, and then find an alternative that matched it's size and weight.

Not being a Dutch speaker, and not having used a translater app yet, I can't speak to the quality of the instructions, but they seem pretty thorough and include several diagrams.

As a bonus, there are a few pages that are worth the 1$ I paid for the book just for sheer giggle factor alone:

In all seriousness, if you happen to come across a Dutch knitting book like this, think about picking it up just for the Woolmeter.  If you aren't a Dutch speaker, translating the patterns may be more trouble than it's worth for some vintage knitting designs, but the Woolmeter made this book worth the space on my shelf.  I found it for cheap at a thrift store, and even just looking through the pictures of celebrities and old designs was worth the cost.  Having included a tool to easily measure yarn size and weight makes it far more valuable than just as a novelty.

Besides, who doesn't like diamond check stirrup pants?

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Before and After

The former lives of three of the newest additions to my Etsy shop:

This elegant lacy shrug began it's life as a table topper.  I rescued it from a thrift store.  It was presumably discarded because it had a few snags and loops pulled.  They didn't mar the pattern, however, and the extra loops gave me enough yarn to sew up the sleeve seams.  It must have been fate.

This snazzy skirt started life as a window valance.  It looks OK there on the window, but not near as good as it looks wrapped around a waist.  Those crystal bead grapes especially, swing much more prettily on a set of hips than on a curtain rod.
This charming skirt began as a charming tablecloth.  Unlike the other two above, I didn't know immediately what to do with this one when I bought it.  Then I picked it up by the center and saw how it flowed, and just like the valance, knew it would look much better on a moving person than a static table.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Pride of Place

 At long last, it is finished.  Over two years in the making, though admittedly much of that time was spent dragging my feet.

Truly, the difficult part was finding a mat that would fit both the embroidery and the frame.  In the end I had to cut a larger size mat to fit the frame.  Then, because no project is ever that simple for me, I felt the need to paint the mat to better suit the embroidery.

The end result is that I finally have a piece of embroidered art in my home that is of my own handiwork.  This long awaited creation finally gets it's place in the center of the mantle.  Perhaps sensing the gravity of this occasion, even Nessie is making way for it.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Old is New

When I was in high school, my mom started cleaning out her closet of things she'd kept from decades before.  Since I was nearly of a size with her younger self, I claimed several of her old things before they hit the donation pile.  The blue t-shirt with the bamboo and bluebird was one of my absolute favorites.  I wore it until I grew out of it, and held onto it for years trying to find some way to enjoy it again. 

Old linen handkerchiefs and napkins remain among my favorite things to embroider on.  The fabric is so smooth and even, it is a joy to place each stitch.  They are also very beautiful when embellished with a new monogram.

I like to wonder about the makers and owners of the original pieces I reuse; what did they have in mind for it?  Would they like what I've done to it?  My mom, at least, was happy with the fate of her old t-shirt.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

All Is Roses

I've had the rose hankie for years, looking for the perfect use.  It's machine embroidered, but pretty anyhow. With Valentine's Day nearing, inspiration struck and it became a cute little hanging.

For some reason that bitters bottle set into the candle holder with the pearls spilling out makes me think of a doll sized bottle of champagne on ice.

I picked up the little Ball And Claw bitters bottle at an antique store thinking it would make a great magic potion bottle.  Later I'm watching Grimm, and see a Hexenbiest make a magic potion in the same little red bottle.  Clearly the props staff thought similarly.

Every time I look at that pillow with the diamonds and the giant rose, I can't decide if I love how over the top it is or not.  Maybe next time I need to photograph it atop a stack of Harlequin Romance novels.