Sunday, 16 November 2008

knitting books for children

Two posts today. This book was bought from the the Book Depository as part of my Christmas present for Miss Eight. I taught her to knit, but I think this will be a help to her as her mum does not knit at all. Miss Eight is a very bright little thing and is a good reader, reading well above her chronological age. This has instructions and some designs to appeal to today's children. It's well set out with clear print and bright pictures and good illustrations.. Lots of ideas for projects too. It's published by Coats Crafts, Uk and is almost 100 pages. ISBN # is 1-904485-69-3. The price is marked as 8 pounds, sterling, but I bought it, a big hardcover children's book and two soft cover children's books, along with the lace book in post below for $52 Australian. Considering the horrible exchange rate currently inflicted on us and also the expensive price of children's books here, I think I did quite well, specially considering the free postage too. My order of multiple books was delivered over four days, so I was glad I didn't pay the individual postage costs.

long lacy summer

Bells' Long Lacy Summer unofficial KAL continues and there are some beautiful finished objects already. This is more work on the Fern Lace scarf, started about a week or so ago. The pattern is a repeat of twelve rows and I try to do some everyday. It's progressing, but slowly as I'm rationing my knitting time over several projects. I can at least see that the ball of wool is now definitely smaller than when I started. It took a lot of knitting for me to see a difference in the ball. I suppose I could weigh it to see how much was left. There was, I think, a bit over 400 metres in the skein.

Sometimes I can knit one or two repeats and they go smoothly. It's not a difficult pattern at all and the arrowhead pattern comes from adjusting the start point on each row. Otherwise, the rows are identical. However, I find that some repeats I tink back often because I find the last few stitches are not right. I count but still make mistakes. Were I doing a shawl, I would have markers between pattern repeats, but there are really only fifty-four stitches I'm dealing with.

It's nice and soft and will feel good to wear, although I bought it as sock wool. It's not a colour I normally wear near my face. Love all those gumleaf greens, olives, light browns, even khaki, but they don't suit my complexion. Still, a scarf may be OK.

I ordered some Christmas gift books from the Book Depository. It has free postage worldwide and even with the current abysmal exchange rate I got good value. At the last minute, I added this book which is a reproduction of a much older book. It wasn't expensive at all, and I thought I would get some lace help from it. It has quite an introductory section which sounds vaguely old fashioned but I can see will be quite useful. There are chapters and patterns for using two needles and also for circulars. I doubt I would make any of the actual patterns as they stand, I really am not into duchess sets, large supper cloths knit with silk or fine cotton and more along the same lines. However, there are definitely some patterns which could be adapted fora a stole, scarf, shawl etc.

As I said, it is a reproduction, so is in black and white, like the original. Book imprint has information about the book. It was first published in 1954 by Artistic Needlework Publications, England, with copyright held by the author in 1953. Another corrected edition was brought out in 1972 by Dover Publications, Mineola, NY. What I bought is a reproduction of this edition. ISBN for anyone interested is 0-486-22904-1. The second edition has an interesting dedication. It would seem as if the author and her husband were refugees after WW II. It reads in part, To England, refuge through the centuries or the persecuted, the proscribed, the people without a country...

Wednesday, 12 November 2008


One scroll sock from More Sensational Knitted Socks almost finished. I've used some more of Katie's lovely wool and am pleased with this one. Photos soon.

My little blue sweater from Interweave Knits with its lacy panels has hardly been touched this week. Despite this I've cast on, somewhat late in the action for a February Lady Sweater. I've dilly-dallied about this but finally succumbed. So not much there for a long lacy summer. Perhaps the "lacy" part has turned into "lazy" already and it's still only November.

I have made progress on my lacy fern scarf, so all is not lost as far as lace goes. I've now done about 12-14 inches of it and am pleased with it. However, there are just so many times the same colour, same pattern, same wool can be photographed and I think I've passed that. I try to do about three pattern repeats (36 rows) a day, hopefully more. This means I am about a fifth of the way finished, although that's really a guess as I'm using 100 gm of sock wool instead of laceweight and 3 mm needles. I'm really playing finished length and amount of wool by ear but it should be fairly long.

Monday, 3 November 2008

crafts and beauty

Wow! The second post here in a day. Someone must be on holidays. LOL

Lynne has a post on crafts, beauty and usefulness. There are several comments but I wanted to write more than was suitable for a comment. So here goes.

She said that many people regarded crafts as being "artsy" and needing to be useful, whatever that may mean. I disagree with that assessment in many ways, although I can see where they are coming from. Why should something that is useful not be beautiful too? I think of many classic pieces of furniture in different styles, all useful and all having some beauty of their own. It takes not much more to design something which is not only useful but is also beautiful, well made and a pleasure to hold and use.

Of course this barely skims the surface and does not even begin to touch the definitions of both "useful" and "beautiful." There will be as many definitions of these ideas, I imagine, as there are people asked to define them.To me, a beautiful painting or sunset or piece of music is not only beautiful but useful. The sunset with its ephemeral beauty has gone forever, the music will need to be played again. However each brings rest and relaxation and re-creation to me. Is that not a useful thing just as a pair of socks is useful to keep feet warm? It's all very subjective.

Tied in with this on her post is the idea of creativity. I believe probably most of us are creative, although some of us have often stifled the urge to create in whatever form takes our fancy. Many crafts make use of the ideas of recycle, reuse, repair and obviously this is a very good use for them. When my boys were small they often had holes in the legs of their overalls and jeans. These needed repair if the items were to be still used. Often a patch was the best way to repair. I'm not very good at drawing, but I decided early on that I would be imaginative in my repairs. Not much more effort and a pleasure to the eye. So one knee might have a large cat on it in soft suede lather offcuts for long wear. The other undamaged knee may well also be adorned with a small mouse. A jumper to which the two year old had taken scissors was repaired by an applique in pictures being sewn on, after the original hole had been darned. What might have turned into something to wear in the garden was kept good and extra warm.

I also feel that even when we knitters use others' patterns we are still being creative. The garment I produce is unique. To someone else's creativity, I have added my sense of colours, my choice of wool. What I produce is unique. Even my actual knitting is unique to me.

However, I can also design my own pattern to start with. I don't just throw a sock together purely because I need a sock. Apart from anything else, the time invested makes me disinclined to "throw something together." I choose wool, needles and pattern to fit together. I love making my own designs for lacy socks and enjoy mixing different stitches. I don't really have the skills yet to design bigger items with any accuracy, but can adapt patterns to what I want.

Knitting to me is not only useful but also an expression of something which is deep inside me, a longing for beauty expressed in my life in many ways.

I think my feelings on this are probably closely tied with my ideas on education. Here is where I may well part company with many. I know some in my own extended family strongly disagree with me . I'm a teacher, a High School teacher of languages, Latin, French, German and I also occasionally taught English when the school was shortstaffed. Since leaving teaching in schools, I have continued teaching and speaking, both adults and students. Different topics to languages, but still teaching. I have also done some writing, nothing really published but some used in statewide conferences etc. I love teaching and I know I am a good teacher. Results tell me this but more important to me than results are the comments I get from students about enjoying my teaching, seeing things they never saw before, suddenly understanding something etc. I have two diplomas, one with honours, two degrees, again one with honours status. I would dearly love to start a PhD. but things do not work that way at present. I also have most of a four year course in agriculture done, useful perhaps? The course was changed in such a way I could not complete it at the time. I'm no stranger to education.

I strongly believe that vocational training should not be available at school. I even think that practically any tertiary course would be better with a liberal arts component. I see too many who cannot think, cannot research, cannot string two words together in a logical sequence, have no idea how to reason or present an argument. All these things are a major part of education. With these skills, practically anything can be learnt. I could write a thesis on this so will stop here.

Perhaps there should be more emphasis on developing creativity as each is led. Who knows? We may then have more commonplace good which are both beautiful and useful and well made which is in itself something beautiful.In the meantime. I intend to concentrate on producing items which are not only well made but useful and beautiful, however that is defined is. In that way, I hope to produce satisfaction in the user. I know that knitting with this emphasis in mind will satisfy me deeply and produce joy, wonder and a sense of fulfilment.

Thanks, Lynne for raising the topic and helping me think a bit more about it.

fern lace scarf

After my abortive attempt yesterday at an apple, I frogged the lot. The apple and the chart worked fine. It's just that the colour did not work and I did not think the apple was well enough defined just by using purl on a stocking stitch background. I'll consider further moves.

So last night I was contemplating something more lacy for Bells' Summer of Lace. I'm doing the sweater from Interweave Fall edition but am used to using thicker wool for lace and find that quite easy. I think it's the laceweight that throws me. I like to feel something more substantial in my fingers.

The wool I had frogged that afternoon is three ply sock wool. Not quite laceweight, but much more that way than Patons Jet.So I looked back over my downloads from Ravelry and liked the look of the Fern lace scarf. Off I went. Ah, some satisfaction. I did one pattern repeat of twelve rows last night.

This morning was a lovely morning, some sun, some cloud and a pleasant temperature. I went downstairs and sat under one of our several jacaranda trees which are just beginning to come into bloom. I think I'm going to really like this scarf. There are nearly 500 metres in the skein. I'll see how long I go, although with a light scarf, longer may be snuggly wrapped several times around.