Last year my parents fulfilled a long standing ambition and went on a big trip, travelling through Chile, Argentina and Uruguay. My lovely mum being, well, my lovely mum, she decided that the best present she could bring back for me would be knitting yarn. She knows me rather well, you see…
The yarn in question was slubby, possibly hand spun, probably kettle dyed. The big, pillowy skein was a slubby bulky/super bulky weight in a gorgeous cobalt blue. I thanked Mum effusively for finding room in her suitcase for it and promised I would find something to make for it.
But then…aaargh, what to make?! My burgeoning design career being mainly based around a magazine that publishes accessories patterns, I’m pretty much okay for hats, scarves and snoods. I toyed with the idea of a sloppy sort of vest knitted on huge needles, designed to wear over skinny jeans in an off-the-shoulder 80s way. But I wasn’t sure quite how it would work out, or whether I’d have enough yarn (there was no yardage on the label). The Big Blue bundle of yarn sat there for month after month, admonishing me for not appreciating it as a great gift.
In the end I took to browsing Ravelry’s pattern pages, searching under ‘bulky’ and ‘superbulky’ weight projects. It was there I came across this by Heidi and Anna Pickles, for a really sweet yarn basket/container. I realised that the Big Blue project didn’t have to be a garment and that doing this would mean I could enjoy the colour that had been staring down from one of my craft shelves for months in a different way.
I decided to double up the yarn since the ‘thin’ of the ‘thick and thin’ texture was really quite thin, and used some unmarked needles from my collection that I believe are 12mm. As per the pattern, I then worked in garter stitch until I’d all but run out of yarn, reserving the last bit to sew the two ends together and then along another edge to form the base of the basket.
I haven’t even blocked this, just prodded it into shape and stuffed it out with balls of yarn, but it happily stands up, holding a project’s worth of yarn. You might notice that the yarn I currently have stuffed in there is my old favourite, Rowan Felted Tweed. This is waiting partly to fulfill a birthday promise to my big sister (whose birthday, by the way, is in February- eep!) and also because I’m preparing to launch my Make Do and Mend pattern as an independently published pattern. This will be just about in time for Jubilee shenanigans, so I’m planning a little celebratory bonus, currently under development and requiring the aforementioned Felted Tweed. More news on that very soon, I promise!
This is one of my treasured posessions. Published in 1944 “in complete conformity with the authorized economy standards” it is an amazing window into a difficult world where women used their skill and imagination to keep things together for their families.
Its full of wonderful quotes, including this from the introduction:
This little book is, quite frankly, one for hard times and scarcity of materials, when thrift and make-do are the greatest of all household virtues. We are all passing through such a time now and so I hope that’Economy Knitting and Patchwork’ will help the knitter, the crochet worker adn the needlewoman all equally.
And when the national hard times are over, I believe that this book may still aid any women who are unluckily passing through individual hard times, when sixpences are scarce and each must somehow do the job of a shilling. I have tried, therefore, to choose economical ideas which will not readily date when the wheel of Fashion turns more rapidly again than it is in these days of coupons…
Well, that wheel has spun a fair few times since 1944 and while I wouldn’t pretend that our hard times are even a shadow of wartime hardship, I certainly don’t have much to splash out on materials. ‘Thrift and make-do’ are definitely virtues needed around here, so, inspired by the lovely Butterfly Balcony blog amongst other things I’m doing a bit of making do, using some oddballs, mostly of Rowan Felted Tweed:
I’m planning on making a patchwork cushion cover, trying out some of the knitting stitches in ‘Economy Knitting’ as sample squares.
This first, green, square is in what’s simply called ‘Triangle Pattern’: “An effective design for skirts, shawls and blankets, and looks best in thick wool on a comparatively heavy article.” Personally, I’m really taken by the idea of a cardigan using this stitch and despite the fact that I’m fully embroiled with pattern testing for my ‘Baby Queen Bess’ sweater I’m already turning ideas over for how that would work.
The second, red, square I’m working on is ‘Barred Stripe Stitch’: “A decorative pattern, which looks well on jumpers, jerseys and boys’ or men’s sports stockings.” Can’t see myself knitting any men’s sports stockings anytime soon, but I’m sure it’ll look great on the cushion.
More making-do and mending is planned for the rest of the weekend, so will hopefully have more to share here soon.
It’s not even a year since I completed this sweater from some yarn left over from a different project. It got a good lot of wear until the warmer weather, not to mention a bit of abuse when P, teenager style, pushed his thumb through one of the sleeves just below the cuff. Going through yet another as-yet-unpacked box the other day, searching in vain for lost Christmas stockings, I found it, along with the remains of the leftover yarn. I wasn’t quite ready to give up seeing him wearing it, since it had turned out to be one of those charmed unplanned projects that turn out really well, so I decided it was time for a bit of ‘make do and mend’- something quite refreshing in this season of spending and excess.
When I originally made this sweater, the difficulties of measuring a wriggly toddler meant I made the body and arms too short. I discovered this fact after I’d finished it and tried it on him, but then also discovered that the advantage of ‘top down’ sweaters is that you can undo the bottom edges, pick up the stitches and add some more. This came to mind when I found that P has grown a good few inches in arms and body over the summer, so I needed the sweater to ‘grow’ with him this season.
Here you can see the hole where P had stuck his thumb through the sleeve.
I inserted a circular needle into an unbroken row of stitches below the hole, then frogged the sleeve down to that point.
Then it was just a case of joining in the new yarn and adding a few more stripes and a new ribbed border.
Hole mended and inches added, it should last another season at least. Wonder how many years I can get away with it?!?