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Mostly Knitting Blog

Want to find the new stuff on, or read about my latest projects and discoveries? This is the place.

And So to Begin the New Year

Welcome to the very first freebie of 2019!

This year, Tuesdays will be dedicated to sharing two very important series of leaflets from Scotland and the UK that were brought out by the Needlework Development Scheme over the 1950’s and early 1960’s.

“And So To Sew”, and “And So To Embroider” were released in 1951, near the end of fabric rationing after WW2 as a way to reintroduce skill and originality into dressmaking and embroidery after a decade of scarce materials and “making do”. Each leaflet introduces new skills and projects, with

The first leaflets were designed to be used by schools, but they quickly became very popular with the public. So much so that almost 70 years later they can be found as precious items in needle worker’s collections.

Today we begin at the beginning with “And So To Begin“, a booklet for the classroom with an outline of projects that can be made by students, and tips for setting up the needlework classroom.

And So To Begin by the NDS

Next week I’ll share leaflets 1a (sewing) and 1b (embroidery), and will post at least one of each every Tuesday, along with modern video and photo tutorials for the techniques covered. The early couple of leaflets will cover the basics, while further on you will find projects and patterns for all sorts of interesting and beautiful vintage style projects.

I hope you enjoy them!


(Please note: there were designs I wasn’t willing to share in three of the leaflets so I have edited them with my own samples or motifs, while keeping the style and skills being taught the same. I will note on each leaflet when I have done this).

Saying Goodbye to TAST – the Design Stage

I’d like to show you the sketches for my very last Beyond TAST embroidery sampler. Just like any of my embroideries that I have designed myself, the design process goes through a few stages before I come up with the final concept because almost no-one comes up with a final design without a bit of thinking and sketching first.

The challenge outline was to create something using at least three of the techniques covered in previous Beyond TAST challenges. I decided to base my design on my investigations into filling stitches, pattern darning and line stitches.

Sketches of a rose and a bell jar terrarium

Step 1: I decided I’d like to base my design on a rose. But I didn’t like the shapes in sketch 1.

Step 2: I tried a more geometric approach but it looked too much like a stencil design. Stencils are cool, but not what I want for this.

Step 3: I used similar shapes to step 2 but joined them together to be less stencil like. Now I’m starting to get somewhere I like.

Step 4: I kept the petals round and made the pointy petals into leaves instead. Then I added a calyx and stem, which meant the leaves were now in the wrong place. Hmm.

Step 5: I put the leaves in the right place. Now I like it, but such a rare specimen would be kept safe under a bell jar, right? (or maybe I’ve been watching too many Victorian era episodes of Doctor Who. Naaaa, that’s not possible).

Step 6: Now it’s under a bell jar.

Step 7: I made a Pinterest board with pictures of bell jar terrariums/cloche terrariums. The board quickly became more about the bell jars than actual terrariums and morphed into a conglomeration of things wealthy Victorian era  people in England liked to stuff under jars.

Step 8: Stay tuned…


Wheat Pattern Bedspread Back after 110 years!

Knitted wheat ear quilt square

The first 23 rows of today’s knitting pattern graced the pages of a newspaper way back in 1908, followed by a description of the remaining 200-ish rows and the instruction to send in to the newspaper for the remainder of the pattern.

I fell in love with the wheat stitch in the photo so I decided to see if I could work out the rest. It’s not exactly the same as original as my decrease row didn’t fall on the same number row as the newspaper stated, but I’d say it’s super close. So after 110 years, you can knit the Wheat Pattern Quilt from 1908 again.


Yo-Yo Smocking

I recently came across the term “yo-yo smocking”, while doing some research online. As a long term fan of Clover yo-yo makers, I had to learn more.

I really love the scarves made with knit fabric, and this video by the amazing Nancy Zieman shows how to make them from start to finish. It also covers how to use yo-yo smocked fabrics in a sewing project, and how to make scalloped yo-yo appliqués.


I’m Glad it’s not a Real Spider

For some reason, in the 1890’s many small repeat knitting patterns that were used to knit the centre of shawls were called spider stitches. Stitches a bit like this:

A knit swatch of arachne stitch

Of course, if one had a classical education, one could be all fancy and call them arachne stitch instead, which is the knitted stitch pattern I’m sharing with you today.

The original version had yarn overs at the beginning of each row, to create the chain selvage sometimes needed when adding a border. I’ve included both this, and the more modern way of doing it with a slipped stitch. As always, I’ve updated the language used and added a chart for each.


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