One a week Photo Challenge – Historical

It wasn’t too hard to find a photograph for this subject so here it is:- This is from the displays of things from the Mary Rose. This is a slightly cut down photograph from the original post HERE. A collection of items needed by a ship’s surgeon.

I also looked out this photograph that wasn’t included in the original post: less interesting perhaps but I rather liked it.

More Fair Isle experiments

Because yes, the cowl and hat were in their own way experiments in knitting fair isle.

Now, looking back, I don’t think that my parents were very good teachers, though I learnt a lot by watching them. However my mother knitted too fast for me to learn much by watching and so fair isle knitting was a matter of picking up that you used two colours for a row and twisted them together every so often so you didn’t have long hanging strands but also twisted them back the other way so the yarns didn’t get tangled plus seeing the back of my mother’s fair isle.

As in this photograph. 0548-mothers-fairisle-reverseWhen I tried, even years later when I was an adult and was desperate to learn, what tended to happen was that the stitches were very uneven and the foreground colour tended to pull. As well, I could never sort out a method of twisting the yarn that I could remember, so at the end of the row the yarns were wound round each other many times.

0548-my-fairisle-reverseFor the cowl and hat I let myself have strands across the back for one to three stitches and so there wasn’t the same pulling.

Deciding to put the balls of yarn, one on the right and one on the left helped to remember which was which and I soon started to think of the one on the right as the ‘top’ yarn and the one on the left as the ‘lower’ yarn.

Having later read about fair isle on line I found that this was a distinction that was made.

And thus I learnt to twist the top yarn ‘under’ the other and then on the following stitch to pull it over again and so lose the twist. Doing the opposite for the lower yarn.

Now it was time to see if I could knit fair isle like my mother

In THIS POST I talk about how I was using the English way of knitting for the right hand yarn and the continental for the left, although picking up the yarn continental fashion hurt my wrist.

But now I decided to hold both yarns in my right hand, holding the yarn with three fingers while the forefinger separated the two yarns and the thumb helped with the twisting.

I started with a circular needle as then every row would be knit. 0556-circular-knitting-right-sideI used the checkerboard pattern my mother had used for the knitting bag and some of the patterns from my plan for the hat, including the one I didn’t use. The reverse looks like this. 0556-circular-knitting-reverseI was pleased that it looked as if I had finally cracked it! So I decided to undo my sample and knit up some more fair isle with straight needles. 0556-flat-knitting-right-sideand the reverse. 0556-flat-knitting-reverseIt took me a while to feel comfortable with the purl rows. In the end I decided that treating the right hand yarn as if it was the lower yarn for the purl side and vice versa seemed the most natural.

All I need now is a reason to knit something which requires fair isle knitting! Plain colours next time though so that the patterns show more clearly.

Addendum

For anyone who like me finds the instruction of twisting yarn for fair isle that merely says twist clockwise and then twist in the opposite direction is not helpful enough here is what I do.

When I am using the left hand ‘lower’ yarn and wanting to make a twist, I pull a loop of the yarn back towards me under the other (right hand – top yarn) and use this yarn to wind round the needle, thus moving it above the other. For the next stitch I pull the main part of the yarn and knit with that. Restoring the status quo.

When knitting with the right hand ‘top’ yarn I pull a loop forward under the other yarn and knit with that, then pull the main yarn up and over and knit as normal. This removes any twist.

This way you undo the twist as soon as you make it and so never have to remember what you did last time.

If you want to twist frequently like my mother used to do this is the way I think of it.

If all you are doing is knitting one stitch of a colour in a sequence, you knit as normal. If you are knitting two stitches you knit the one after the other as described above. For three or more stitches: if it is an even number you simply work every two stitches as above. For odd numbers work the first stitch as normal that the rest of the stitches as for an even number.

 

Another peak at my garden

I was pleased to find that the primroses at the front of the middle flower bed are now all in flower. Here’s a closer look.   The same person who gave me the primroses, when she was clearing an area of her garden, also gave me some violets.

They seem to have survived less well. (They were all enmeshed in the primroses when I got them!)

But I was pleased to find that at least one had produced some flowers. In the herb bed some of the scilla siberica that were part of my earlier planting seem to have survived the upheaval.And the taller daffodils are now in flower. But I am not entirely happy with these as they were sold to me as ‘February Gold’ which I love because of the swept back outer ring of petals that these seem to lack.

As you can see here in a photograph I took of the ones in a pot in the front. And my latest addition: some golden sage to replace the broad-leaved sage that was getting a bit old and was out of proportion in my tiny garden. Not that my younger daughter considers it a garden to her it is little more than a ‘patio’ and there is some merit in her opinion I suppose.

One a week Photo Challenge – Spiral

Finding it hard to find time to join in with this years Photo Challenge but here are a couple of photographs on the subject of ‘spiral’.

Not the best photograph maybe but then we were in process of going down the stairs and not meant to be stopping! The better spiral one though.There was a mirror in the centre at the bottom.

This is the one I shared as part of my Danube trip. Same staircase looking up rather than down. Perhaps you can see how that creates the reflection in the previous photograph.

I myself am rather partial to multiple spirals. Like this bedcover my mother made for me. And the cloth I made for my dining table. Snowflake cloth

Do you remember the seahorses?

Three months ago I made some crochet seahorses 0535-all-four-seahorsesFrom this pattern, though the lavender one is my own hybrid mix of the two patterns.

I wanted to display them somewhere and thought they would make a perfect hanging for a bathroom.

With all the other things I have been wanting to make it has taken a while but finally:-

Here is the hanging display all set up on my bathroom wall.  0555-sea-horse-display

Monthly Montage January

I suddenly realised that here it was March and I hadn’t done a Monthly Montage for January or February.

So here at least is January’s.

In January I was able to show you the Womble and little bear I had made as Christmas presents. I also did a review of my more recent offerings for Monochrome Madness and the knitting & crochet and other crafting I had done in 2016. I told you that I was only planning to post once a week in order to leave more time for other things but managed to finish my temperature scarf and a fair isle cowl.

Garden update

The weather has been fairly wet lately but last Thursday it was bright and sunny and going out into the garden I realised that just everything was springing into life. So I went out and did some necessary pruning and took a few photographs.

Last Autumn I planted a clematis on the right hand side of the garden. It is called Diana’s Delight and as with all the clematis I planted, shouldn’t get much bigger than a couple of metres.0553-clematisI have just pruned it as they say you should and hope to get an even better showing this year.

Before Christmas I planted an apple tree. I bought it mail order as I couldn’t find what I wanted at the local garden centre and it had more branches than I expected but it looks good and sturdy. It is a self-fertile Cox on M27 rooting stock. The same as I had before.

I took this photograph in February after I had pruned it. 0553-apple-treeAnother photograph I took in February was of the Lenten rose I had just planted. 0553-helleboresYou can also see the two Christmas roses I had planted before Christmas that were now dying off.

These are on the left side of the garden in the shady bed. 0553-shady-bedYou can see that the Lenten rose now has more flowers.

At the far end are a couple of clematis I planted before Christmas. I have put eggshells round (as I do) to discourage slugs from having a nibble! One of these should be grapefruit scented. I wait in hope! The bare patch next to them is where I should have lily of the valley later.

In the forefront are snowdrops and pulmonaria. 0553-snowdrops-and-pulmonariaWhen I lowered the height of the bed I replanted all the snowdrop bulbs I found and replanted any pulmonaria seedlings I found around the garden. (They do seem to seed themselves, even at quite a distance away!)

However with using up the earth I removed from the bed elsewhere, I see that I have a couple of snowdrops show up under the apple tree. 0553-snow-drop-under-apple-treeThe right hand, sunny, side of the garden is beautifully colourful now. 0553-sunny-bedsHere is a closer look at the herb bed. 0553-herb-bedYou can see the rosemary and thyme in the middle and now I have crocus and daffodils. The touch of red on the left is the remains of some winter pansies I put in to avoid having a bare patch where some lavender will be planted.

The best looking crocus are in the other small island bed though. 0553-crocusThere are lots of other things as well.

This is a photo I took when the sun was really bright. 0553-small-bedOn the right you can see the garlic and one of the three Christophe alliums that I am very fond of. 0553-garlic-and-aliumGarlic is about my only culinary crop because it is so easy. Mind you I just take a few cloves out of the fridge and they don’t grow very big.

In the foreground above you can see my patio rose: Dream Lover. It should be bee friendly and scented!0553-patio-roseThe spikes and the slate are to discourage cats from doing you know what!

The middle bed at the back is the least interesting to look at, at this time of year but this is the sedum that I reduced and replanted. 0553-transplanted-sedumI also replanted the primroses that someone gave me last autumn. 0553-primrosesMaybe I should have put them in the other way round. The flowers don’t want to look at me!

And underneath the fuchsia I found that there was still one of the Springtime cyclamen I planted a few years ago. 0553-spring-cyclamen

I hope you enjoyed a little Springtime peak at my garden. I must go out soon and buy the lavender and a daphne I want, as they become available.

 

Just add a Hat!

After I made the cowl, I decided to offer it to my daughter as I still have all the hats and scarves that have featured on this blog and much as I love the cowl, I wasn’t sure if I really needed it.

However, I also had about half the yarn left and thought that it would be fun to make a hat to match the cowl. My daughter said that she would like a hat as well so I only hope her head is the same size as mine! 0553-hat

Now when I say match, I wasn’t going to use the same fair isle patterns as the cowl except for the rib. Google is always good for ideas and I copied out some of my favourites.

Traditional fair isle patterns normally have vertical or horizontal symmetry or both but some of the designs on the cowl only have rotational symmetry so I wanted to incorporate some of those. 0548-chart-for-cowlI am very fond of the Greek Key pattern so I included that early on for the hat.

Although I worked on the design on my computer, I copied it out onto squared paper to use a guide.0553-new-pattern

In the event I decided not to use both of the blue zig-zag on green parts of the design and replaced the second with a smaller purple on green section. (I didn’t use the last red and green part at all.)

Now what have I learned in the process of making this hat? Well a couple of things!

Firstly

If you are planning on making a hat it is much easier if you start with a pattern.

I started with the idea that the cowl although it slipped over the head easily was quite snug so the same number of stitches would be a good place to start. I did use a smaller 3.75 (UK 10) circular needle for the rib but it was not until I had got fairly far on and was wondering if now was the time to start decreasing that I thought a pattern might help to make sure I got it right.

So I spent hours trawling through fair isle hat patterns on Ravelry only to find a whole variety of needle sizes and tensions even for DK yarn and a wide range of stitch counts and increasing and decreasing. None of them that fitted in with what I was doing!

I found a decreasing look that I liked in the photographs which involved: skip two stitches, knit one, pass both slipped stitches over.

However I did not like the look so much when I had knitted it so it had to come out. I had also chosen six decreases a round and since it seemed best to have one of these decreases mid back where the row changed, I didn’t like the slight point at the front.

Now life was so busy last week that I didn’t feel up to taking a photograph so you will have to imagine.

So I undid back to before the decreasing (more on this in a moment) and tried again.

This time I chose seven decreases a round – easy as 19 x 7 is only one more than 132.

But then came the moment of truth. The hat was going to be too big! 😦 I was a bit unhappy that I had to remove the purple and green bit that I had thought of as leaves and a sort of parallel to the leaf pattern in the cowl but it had to be done! So using the same method I had used before I decided I would have to reduce the length by a couple of inches.

Here is a quick photograph I took with my phone at Crafty Coffee on Friday when I was just beginning to pull out those two inches. 0553-ready-to-undoSince the method I used is something that worked well. I thought I would mention it for anyone who finds it helpful.

This is the second thing I learned

Risk free way of undoing several rows without doing it stitch by stitch.

I heard (reading US blogs I think) of people putting in ‘life lines’ when they were knitting in case they needed to undo part of it later. I wasn’t sure what they were but it gave me an idea.

I took a needle and a piece of thin string and carefully went under the front part of every stitch on the row I wanted to go back to. (I chose a row where I was only using one colour.) I counted the stitches to make sure I had the right number then took a circular needle and threaded it through the same stitches and counted again. I then felt confident enough to remove the original circular needle. Finally I removed the string. In the photograph you can see how it looked just before I removed the string. I then undid the rows and sure enough when that was done all the stitches were neatly on the needle ready for me to start knitting again.

I added in a couple of rows in blue and then decreased after a red row. Originally I had thought I would just use two or more of the colours as stripes for the top but then I realised that I needed to continue the fair isle patterns to make the top as thick (and warm!) as the rest. 0553-top-of-hat

This time I decreased by a combination of K2tog through back loops and a normal K2tog.

And here are the hat and cowl together. 0553-hat-and-cowl

I still have about a quarter of the wool left but I don’t think it would be enough for mittens!

Make you own Orchids!

There are many sorts of orchid but when researching what I could make all those months ago when I wrote my first post about it, I decided to try to create the Moth Orchid – Phalaenopsis.0551-spray-of-orchidsI wasn’t sure if anyone would be interested in how I made the spray of orchids but since someone has asked I have decided to share what I did. I am not sure whether to call it a ‘pattern’ as my patterns are normally things I feel anyone could make and I am unable in this case to tie down a rigid method, more just a description of what I did.

This is aimed at confident crafters who can make sense of what I write. (On this occasion I have written only in UK terms)

I used Ricos Essentials Cotton, DK weight, in white. The cotton has a sheen which gives the flowers a bit of a glow. You will also need a small amount of red and also green yarn for the stems.

I used a 3.5mm hook, though I crochet fairly tightly, so you may prefer a 3mm hook. Anyway since the size of the flower is not critical, use whatever size you feel most comfortable with and that gives the best result.

Did you know that when you make a slip stitch, you can either make it so that pulling the tail tightens the loop or that you have to pull the main yarn to tighten it? Surprisingly, I didn’t realise this till recently. For this pattern you need to make your slip stitch so that pulling the tail tightens the loop. I achieve this by holding the end in my right hand. (But I wouldn’t want you to think I am trying to “teach my grandmother to suck eggs” if all this is second nature to you.)

[I have added some charts at the bottom. They have been made relatively quickly and I have used my normal trick of mirroring the stitches so the diagonals on the trebles won’t all go the right way but I thought they might be of some use to some people.]

White Orchid (make 4)

Central circle and column.

Column appears to be the most common term for the nobby bit in the centre above the two side petals.

I found that making a circle of twelve htrs worked best. I used a magic loop but any other way of starting would work as well as this part should not be seen in the final flower.

At the end of the 12 htrs, slip stitch into the first st then work 4ch, and dc into second ch from hook and the two after that, then ss into start. Pull firmly and sew in ends.

This excrescence will naturally curl up

Side Petals (make 2)

Start: 2 ch

Row 1: 3dcs into second chain from hook.

Row 2: 1 ch, 2dcs into first dc, dc into dc, 2dcs into last dc.

Row 3: 3 ch, 2trs into first dc, 2trs into next dc, then tr into next, 2trs into next and 3tr into last.

Row 4: 1ch, (dc, htr, tr) into first tr of row below. The 2trs into each of next two stitches. Now you work what I call a half double treble (hdtr) into the next stitch. (See below for explanation). Then a dtr into eah of the two central stitches, a hdtr into the next, 2trs into each of the next two stitches and (tr, htr,dc) into the last stitch.

Now continue down the side of the petal working a slip stitch into the side of the end of the three rows below. Then a final ss into the starting chain.

Followed by: 2ch, tr into starting chain, 2ch, ss into starting chain.

Now work up the other side of the petal making a ss into the side of each of the three rows.

The way I finish off is how I often finish off these day which is to extend the remaining loop on the hook until it is long enough to give a good length of yarn and cut in the middle. I then thread it on a needle and pass the needle under, in this case, the first dc of row 4. I then thread the yarn back where it came from and sew it securely into the back of the petal.

This gives the appearance of an unbroken row of stitches round the edge of the petal.

0552-side-petalI leave the starting yarn to sew the petal on to the centre of the flower later but pull it to tighten the starting chain.

[Hdtr: I make a dtr in the normal way except that when there are three loops left on the hook. I pull the yarn through all three.]

Rounded Sepal at the top

(I discovered that this part is a sepal and not a petal as I originally thought of it.)

Just two rounds this time.

Start: 7ch. (Remember to make the slip knot so you can tighten it.)

You will be working into the back loops, then back up the other side into what have now become back loops if that makes sense.

Round 1: dc into second ch from hook, then dc into each of the next four chains. When you get to the starting chain, I work 2dcs before the knot then one after it, making three in all. You are now working down the other side. Work five more dcs, one into the one loop of each chain. Then a ss into the turning ch.

Round 2: ch1, then dc into first dc, htr into next, tr into each of next four dcs. Then 5trs into next dc, tr into each of next 4 dcs, htr into next, dc into last. Ss into start. Tighten starting chain and sew in end securely. Leaving a good length of the yarn at the other end to sew this sepal onto the centre later.

Pointy Sepals at the side (make 2)

Just two rounds again.

Start: 6ch. (Remember to make the slip knot so you can tighten it.)

Round 1:dc into second ch from hook, then dc into each of the next three chains. When you get to the starting chain, I work 2dcs before the knot then one after it, making three in all. You are now working down the other side. Work four more dcs, one into the one loop of each chain. Then a ss into the turning ch.

Round 2: 2ch, tr into first four dcs, (tr, dtr, tr) into next dc, then tr into each of last four dcs. 2ch, ss into turning ch of first round.

Finish off as sepal above.

Red Petal or Lip

Now using red yarn ch4, ss into third ch from hook, ch2, ss into starting ch, 3ch, tr into starting chain, 3ch, ss into starting chain, 4ch, ss into third ch form hook 2ch, ss into starting chain.

This should give a wide central piece with two thin side pieces that should arch upwards either side. 0552-lip

 

The petals and sepals have a natural tendency to curl and I felt that when arranged they did so in an appropriate way so I did not try to stiffen them at all just adjusted them with my fingers at the end since they will not be being touched in use. However if you want to experiment with stiffening feel free.

0552-orchid-charts

Construction

The first thing I did was to attach the rounded sepal to the central circle behind the column. I then attached the two pointed sepals symmetrically at either side. They should stick out at an appropriate angle for an orchid which meant that there was an angle of about 90deg between them and one or two stitches of the edge of the circle. The sepals need to be secure.

I then took the two petals and attached them to near the centre of the circle so the narrow part was just below the column. These I sewed on with reference to pictures of orchids so they overlap both upper and lower sepals.

Finally, I threaded both ends of the red yarn of the lip into a needle, threaded the needle through the centre of the circle secured the ends either side at the back so it wouldn’t swivel then for speed and simplicity just tied the ends together in a double knot and cut off short.

I do not consider sewing things together to be one of my strong points so if you have a better method of getting the same result that is to be recommended.

Stems and attaching Orchids

When I made some knitted roses (from a book) I made a knitted I-cord for the stems and had thought to crochet something for the orchids but couldn’t quite see how. In the end the fact that I had very little green cotton yarn decided me on a simpler choice.

I had bought these flower wires 0229-flowerwirewhen I made the roses and thought I could also use them for the orchids.

Part 1 (make three)

I took my jewellery pliers and bent over the ends to make a small loop. I left it open and made a slip knot in the green yarn leaving a very long tail. I then wound the tail yarn tightly round the wire working upwards towards the loop. When I had enough I slid it round so it filled the loop closed the loop with the pliers and tied the end to the main part of the yarn the other side of the slip knot. I used what was left to sew the loop on the back of the flower. But first I continued down the wire with the main ball of yarn, winding it so the wire didn’t show, until I had enough for the curving stem behind the flower. I then cut the yarn and took a small piece of sellotape which I wrapped round yarn and wire (50/50) to hold the yarn in place.

Part 2

For the fourth orchid I did as above plus working extra to cover the gap between the stem of the end and adjacent orchid. When I came to the end I didn’t cut the yarn and used a paperclip to hold it in place.

Attaching the flowers.

I laid each wire to the back of a flower with the loop behind the centre circle and the rest of the wire pointing upwards behind the rounded sepal. I sewed the loop in place at the back of the circle (using an extra bit of white thread when I found I didn’t have enough green!)

I then bent the wires in a curve for the individual flowers stems followed by a 90deg bend for the part between the individual stems. If that makes sense. Obviously I let the yarn covered section extend just beyond the bend.

The fourth orchid was the front one (so in a sense the first!) and I took one of the other three and laid the wires against each other, so that the stems were spaced correctly and started to wind the yarn round both wires, covering the last of the green and the sellotape for the second flower. I added a third flower and then a fourth at suitable intervals then continued winding the yarn round the wires until there was no more wire left. I was not too bothered about the appearance of the stem, though I tried to make it neat, as it would be inside the vase. I think that I bent the last of the wire up and tied the yarn to stop it slipping. I am sure you can make a better job of it!

Finally

I arranged the flowers so that they overlapped each other with the end one in front as you can see in the picture. 0551-closer-view-of-orchidsI straightened the petals and sepals and pulled the wide part of the lip so it was horizontal.

It is possible that the individual stems should have been a bit shorter and that I should bend the flowers forward more so they don’t show.

I leave that to your judgement. There are plenty of photographs of orchids online.

[As always do let me know of any mistakes. I have put this together fairly quickly.]

 

 

 

 

A Spray of Orchids!

Having made two crochet orchids the week before last, I made two more this last week and then combined they into a spray 0551-spray-of-orchidsthat I will put on my kitchen windowsill along with my African Violets and Cactus. 0265-morningwindowsillOn the left so they arch over the violets. 0551-orchids-on-windowsillHere is a closer look. 0551-closer-view-of-orchidsThey are far from perfect but I am very pleased with them and will enjoy looking at them.