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Category: Knitting

Knitting a Jumper – A Man’s Ideas

From the Brisbane Courier, January 15th, 1925

Knitting a Jumper.

A Man’s Ideas.

A DOCTOR recently said that knitting soothes the nerves, and that a woman who knits never loses her temper. She can’t do it, or she’d strangle herself with the wool. I can foresee the day when the 50,000 spectators at a football match will keep themselves calm by knitting socks all the time, writes the well-known humorist, Robert Magill, in a London journal.  Then  knitting is so useful. You could spend your time knitting your own waistcoats  or socks. Or you could make a nice warm cover for your motor-bike to sleep in, or a tobacco pouch, or a little fancy waist-coat for your fountain pen.

You might even go so far as to knit yourself a valve set, or, better still, you might knit the wife a jumper as a present. It would serve her right for some of the horrible things she gives you.

We will presume that you’ve got the needles and the wool, and a guide to the subject. The instructions in the book will read something like this:

“Cast on 164. Work one in pl K. * K 4 p 33 k 4. Repeat to end of row. (*Sats. Only.) K 2 tog b m. (refreshment car). Tension sl. Kt 4 to Q 6. Mate and win in four moves.”

Now this, although as clear to a woman as a list of racing results is to a man,conveys absolutely nothing to his so-called, intelligence. A word here and there he can translate.

Thus “pl K” means a place kick for a foul, and “p 33” means page 33. “Tog” is easy. It’s what you wear.

“Tension sl” is what the sergeant-major used to say to you, but it doesn’t mean for a moment that you have, to slope needles and present arms with them.

“Repeat to end of row,” is what your wife always does when you have a slight disagreement over breakfast.

The best thing to do is to ignore the instructions and start right from the beginning. First of all you make a loop in the wool, and fix this on one of the needles. It needs a little practice, but you’ll soon learn. Next you push the other needle through the loop.

The loose end of the wool has now got to be looped over the second needle. It helps you to distinguish between the needles if you tie small labels on the ends.

As you’ve already got the wool in one hand and the other needle in the other, the only thing to do is to hold the second needle between your knees. I usually stick one needle in the ground like a wireless mast, so that I can walk round the beast.

The game now is to fiddle round with the right-hand needle until you have managed to pull the loose end of the wool through the loop. It sounds impossible, and, in fact, it’s as difficult as picking up a live eel with a poker.

The wool simply will not come through. You can’t go round to the front and push it through, and if you haven’t got a trained worm who could crawl in after it and fetch it back, as a fox terrier does a rabbit, the only method is to seize it with your teeth. Only, don’t swallow the needles. They cost money.

You now have a second loop through the first. Pull the needle out of it and lay the needle down where you can find it again. The second loop has to be twisted and hooked over the end of the same needle as the first one. Place a cork on the end to stop the loops coming off’. You have now done one stitch.

After a rest you proceed to do another, in the same way. It comes easier in time. I know fellows, experts at the game, who can knit ten stitches in one morning.

Presently you will have a row of stitches one behind the other, but you can’t make a jumper out of them.

What you have to do now is to fasten another of stitches on to the first. It is done by knitting a stitch, but leaving it half done while it is in the air.

There is a peculiar push needed here, and if you don’t do it properly you’ll find that you’ve carefully unknitted your beautiful piece of knitting into, a nice long piece of wool.

On the other hand, if you’ve pushed properly you’ll find at the finish that the knitting has somehow transferred itself on to the other needle while you weren’t looking.

This is what is called plain knitting, although, when you look at it coldly and critically, you would call it anything but plain.

In a jumper, of course, you will need that handsome ribbed effect that looks as though you could strike matches on it, and this is done by alternate plain and purl.

To purl you do all that I have been telling you the other way round, which you have probably been doing all the time.

And that’s all there is in knitting. Now you can get a music-stand and fix the  book of words up in front of you, then take the two needles, one in each hand, and the wool in your pocket – and persuade some girl to do it for you. After all, between you and me and the gatepost, what good are girls if they can’t do a simple thing like knitting?

The Feather and Fan Comfort Shawl Free Knitting Pattern

I’ve been doing a little tidying here and there on including adding charts to one of my most popular free knitting patterns, the Feather and Fan Comfort Shawl.

The Feather and Fan Comfort Shawl with free knitting pattern

I designed the Feather and Fan Comfort Shawl way back in 2004. It was only intended to be a swatch, but it was so much fun to knit I just kept adding colours until I ended up with a full size shawl.

The shawl can be knit with any yarn, at any gauge and in any size so it’s not only fun to knit but a great stash buster too! I hope you find the new charts useful, and if there are any other patterns you’d like to see charts added to, please let me know.


Lace Knitting. Still…

If you’re a regular visitor you might remember that two weeks ago I said I had almost finished knitting all the usable patterns from “The Ladies’ Guide to Elegant Lace Knitting Etc” from 1884.

Well, I’m still knitting.

My current pile of completed samples looks like this:

A lot of 19th century knitting
A lot of 19th century knitting

No, I wasn’t slacking, I have a very good reason for not being finished yet! I re-read the book. Specifically a section of the book that I thought didn’t have much of use to today’s knitters. It turns out that I had missed some really great stuff so I knit that too. Specifically, all of the blue things. And a beige thing. They’re worth the wait, honest.

I’m currently on the very last 22 repeats of a very skinny edging and then it’s just a matter of a little sewing, a lot of blocking, some photography, a little website coding and then I’m done. I swear! I most definitely will not be knitting samples of the stockings that say cast on 196 stitches with yarn so thin you can’t find it any more on size ridiculous needles. Or the mittens that have you cast on 96 stitches for an infant (OK, I may be making that up but it is a ridiculously large number of stitches for a mitten that’s just going to get chewed and slobbered on).

To be totally truthful, I was tempted to knit the entire beige thing with the original size silk thread on size insanity needles because it’s very pretty but I thought a dk weight sample was more realistic since that (or thicker) will be what most modern knitters will use to make it anyway.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have 22 repeats of a 9 stitch wide edging to go. I’d better get to it before you all start thinking I’ve just been swiping these images off Google Images or something…


A Matter of Scale

I’m so close to finishing knitting the samples for the Ladies’ Guide to Elegant Lace Patterns Etc that victory is in sight at last! I just have one tidy (table runner thingy), one afghan (I’ll just be knitting a sample), and the fringe on another tidy to go.

At the moment I’m knitting the very last edging, which is actually the first edging from the book and one of the largest.

Here it is next to one of the smallest for scale.

Lace from "The Ladies' Guide to Elegant Lace Patterns, Etc" 1884
One of the largest edgings from The Ladies’ Guide to Elegant Lace Patterns Etc, next to one of the smallest.

Whilst it has you cast on 50 stitches and work 32 rows per repeat, it’s actually quite easy to knit because it has a lovely rhythm to it. This is a good thing because I still have another two repeats to go 😛

I’m not sure what I’ll be doing with all of my samples after I’ve finished blocking and photographing them for the website. I had planned to frame them but there are just too many. Perhaps some kind of archival book?

Any ideas?


Still Knitting Lace!

I just realised it’s been ten days since I posted about updating the lace patterns from The Ladies’ Guide to Elegant Lace Patterns Etc. 

I’m still knitting! In fact, I’ve been knitting lace in every spare moment, and sometimes all day (I’m looking at you, pointy forty-plus stitch lace on the top right)!

Lace from "The Ladies' Guide to Elegant Lace Patterns, Etc" 1884
Some unblocked lace edging samples from The Ladies’ Guide to Elegant Lace Patterns Etc, 1884

I have eight and a half samples to go, then I’ll be uploading all the patterns with corrections, updated language and stitch maps, wherever possible. Wish me luck, one of them starts off with fifty stitches!


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