Historic Knitting: Our Boys Need Socks


Red Cross poster circa 1918. Reproduced and available for purchase at The Library of Congress online shop.

As during the War Between the States, knitting played an important role on the home front, providing those left behind with a purpose, and those fighting with a few comforts. The American Red Cross played a vital role in organizing knitting drives across the US.

Below is a link to the socks pattern distributed to volunteer knitters by the Red Cross. This page features a clip of one of the newspapers in which the pattern was originally made available to the public. There are numerous other vintage patterns available on the net.

pattern

Posted in fiber arts, knitting | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

52 Dishcloth Patterns


imageFor some time now, Knit Picks has been posting a free pattern a week for dishcloths. I generally knit the same simple pattern over and over for mine, because after a few uses, a dishcloth tends to look, well, like a used dishcloth. But some of these are pretty enough to give as gifts. I like to use a nice one to gift wrap small items like soaps or shower gel. This site contains both knit and crochet designs.

So, without the proverbial further ado, here’s the link to all these great little free patterns. (Wait, isn’t ” great little” an oxymoron?”)

Posted in crochet, fiber arts, knitting | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Prismatic Scarf


imageWow, this is pretty! It’s also a first – the first time I’ve found a free pattern that I like on my newsfeed on Facebook. The pattern actually appears on the blog Feather And Fan: here’s the link. Definitely going to knit this, but not till I find just the right yarn. It’s near 90 and muggy today, so I probably won’t be doing that for a while….

 

 

 

 

Posted in fiber arts, knitting, pattern | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Knitting News: Amsterdam’s Lace Garden


photo by Jeroen Musch

Anouk Vogel is an award winning Swiss landscape architect who is based in Amsterdam. Among her many avant garde projects is the Lace Garden, located in the courtyard of a city housing block and completed in 2011.    Already nicknamed the Bride’s Garden, the enclosed garden is planted with a collection of white-flowering shrubs, perennials and bulbs that together form a lace knitting its way in-between the existing and new trees. From one side, the garden can be viewed through a standard wire mesh fence with a lavish and poetic lacy twist in it.  One of the most beautiful and surprising things I’ve seen in a long time, and one day soon, I hope to see it in person. While the lace design itself is made from fencing mesh, it’s derived from knitted lace patterns. Inspirational!

Posted in fiber arts, knitting | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

Chiengora: Knitting with Dog Hair


Repost of an article in at modernfarmer.com, written by Anna O’Brien, the veterinarian daughter of a good friend of mine.

  Hair of the Dog: Wear  Your Best Friend

Move over, sheep. Adios, alpacas. You don’t need a pasture or hay to make soft, lovely yarn. Just a lowly pooper-scooper. Clothing and other items made from dog hair, sometimes referred to as chiengora (chien is French for “dog”), isn’t a new niche fad—in fact, it’s been around for centuries. The Salish, indigenous North Americans who lived in the Pacific Northwest, were known for making blankets from dog hair. Nowadays, considered a luxury fiber by those who spin it, dog hair has yet to make waves on the commercial market. Instead, commission-based spinners craft individual keepsakes as long as you supply the hair. Most spinners working with dog hair were lured into the craft by their interest in spinning and the convenience of having their own (hairy) dogs. Such was the case with Doreen Kelly, of West Seneca, N.Y. A spinner for 12 years, Kelly has two Collies and “an endless amount of dog hair,” she says. Doreen Kelly spinning dog hair with her two Collies / Courtesy Doreen Kelly The so-called “double coated” breeds of dog are the best for making yarn. Breeds like the Collie, Old English Sheepdog, Burmese Mountain Dog, Samoyed and Golden Retriever have a dense, soft, insulating undercoat beneath their water-propelling outer coat made of stiff and much thicker guard hairs. The undercoat is mostly what is naturally shed, ends up on your couch, and can be turned into items such as mittens, scarves, pillows and blankets. Is there a dog breed above all others that makes the best hair for spinning? It doesn’t seem so, although everyone has her favorite. Patty Kruthers, a spinner from Bethlehem, Pa., once had a Briard named Britty who was her inspiration to knit dog hair. “Briard hair is primo to spin,” Kruthers says. But with commission work, other breeds are showcased, too. “Samoyeds make particularly nice yarn,” she says. “It’s a nice length and it’s not pure white; there’s a lot of variation in the color that you don’t really notice until you spin it. It’s a beautiful yarn.” Of course, even variations in coat quality within a breed can make a difference. “Between my two Collies, my female has a very soft coat but the male has much coarser hair,” Kelly says. “Like people—some have very fine hair, others very coarse.” Structure influences function and with fiber it’s no different. Sheep wool is known for its stretch and shrinkage, which is due to the natural crimp of each individual fiber as well as the presence of microscopic barbs. “The reason wool shrinks is because those little barbs that are on the hair catch on each other and keep catching. That’s why the item seems to get smaller and smaller,” Kelly says. Dog hair can be up to eight times warmer than sheep wool. In contrast, dog hairs have neither crimp nor barbs, which means no stretch and no shrinkage. However, you may not want grandma to re-knit you that sweater a la Fido just yet—dog hair can be up to eight times warmer than sheep wool. “Dog hairs have a hollow core that acts like insulation,” Kelly says. “If you wanted to make a sweater with all dog hair, it would be really, really hot to wear.” Spinners describe the care of dog hair items as similar to things made of wool. “I wash dog hair the same way I would wool,” says Kruthers. “You treat it like you would any good wool garment.” Another striking element to knitted dog hair is its halo, a knitting term for the soft fuzz that outlines an item. Angora rabbit fur has a similar feature, which adds to softness and is considered luxurious. Many spinners liken dog hair to Angora rabbit. “If you held an item made of dog hair up to the light, you would see this beautiful fuzz that sticks out,” Kelly says. This halo also adds to dog hair’s warmth. The Briard dog, Britty, who got Patty Kruthers into spinning dog hair / Courtesy Patty Kruthers It doesn’t take too much dog hair to make a small item. “If you have a brown paper grocery bag full of dog hair, that would probably be enough to knit a scarf,” Kelly says. “That would be about six ounces.” One serious grooming session with a brush—or vacuum behind the couch—may be enough to make those mittens you’ve always wanted but spinners warn not to use hair shaved from a dog. “When you clip, you get stubble along with the long hairs,” says Betty Kirk, who teaches classes on different types of spinning and weaving in Lemont, Illinois. Perhaps part of the reason dog hair may never be mainstream is a certain reaction to having a clothing item made from dog hair. Fiber length influences the strength of the yarn being made. Dog hair about two inches in length is ideal for spinning. “If the length of the hair particles is too short, it ends up being a very weak yarn,” Kruthers says. “The longer the hair is, the stronger the yarn you will make.” Individuals interested in an item made from their dog’s hair can mail the hair to spinners who will then clean the hair, spin it to make yarn, and then knit the yarn into a final product. “People like it as a memento,” Kirk says. “Sometimes I’ll get a panic email saying someone’s dog just died.” As for what the future holds for the chiengora enthusiasts, it seems it will stay a niche market. “I think it’s a thing, just not a big thing,” Kirk says. “Like, don’t dump your whole inheritance into it because you won’t become rich doing this. But, you’ll always have a little niche.” Perhaps part of the reason dog hair may never be mainstream is a certain reaction to having a clothing item made from dog hair. “Usually people think it’s pretty cool,” Kirk says. “But once in a while they think it’s gross. You can just point out that your silk blouse is made from worm spit. I’d rather have dog hair.” 1234 1A bundle of the dog hair yarn / Courtesy Patty Kruthers 2A pair of mittens made from the hair of a Samoyed / Courtesy Doreen Kelly 3Kruthers makes a winter scarf from the hair of a Shetland Sheepdog / Courtesy Doreen Kelly 4A coin purse made from the hair of a Husky / Courtesy Doreen Kelly Part of the stigma is from the incorrect assumption that something made from dog hair will therefore smell like a dog. “People don’t understand that if you have a wool sweater, when it gets wet, it smells like wool, not like the sheep in the barnyard,” Kirk says. Likewise, wet yarn from dog hair smells like wet yarn, not like wet dog. “I just think it’s cool because it’s such an odd thing,” Kruthers says. “My dog Britty may be long gone, but her garments live on. Everyone has too much dog hair lying around anyway. It’s very comfortable and very pretty.” This sort of thing might make one wonder what else out there could be spun. Domestic cat hair reportedly can be used, but what about something more exotic? “I’ve spun a lion’s mane,” Kelly says. “It was from a circus and someone wanted to make bracelets for the employees. That was pretty neat.” CULTUREDOG WEEKWOOL Related

Posted in crochet, fiber arts, knitting, spinning | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

Textile History: The Oldest Trousers in the World


 

 

 

 

 

 

Yes, pants. The earliest known pair anywhere. Business Insider just posted an article about an archaeological find in Western China, the graves of two nomadic horsemen that are about 3,000 years old. The researchers, from the German Archaeological Institute, say that this discovery supports the theory that trousers were initially designed for riders to provide them with the protection and freedom of movement that tunics, gowns, and loincloths simply cannot. They speculate that the men in the graves were herders and warriors, judging from the goods buried with them, such as a wooden bit and a bow.

“Each pair of trousers was sewn together from three pieces of brown-colored wool cloth, one piece for each leg and an insert for the crotch. The tailoring involved no cutting: Pant sections were shaped on a loom in the final size. Finished pants included side slits, strings for fastening at the waist and woven designs on the legs.” The team calls them “a ground-breaking achievement in the history of cloth making.”
Read more: https://www.sciencenews.org/article/first-pants-worn-horse-riders-3000-years-ago#ixzz33RgheVT5

 

Posted in fiber arts, history | Tagged , , | 4 Comments

Textured Cowl


imageLion Brand has recently come up with some pretty cool new yarns, and some pretty new patterns to go with them. It’s not just Homespun anymore.  This past winter, I crocheted two of their Simple Cowl using Unique, and this pattern is so quick and lovely (and warm!) that I plan to make more as gifts.  Now they’ve released a new one, Textured Cowl, that uses Landscape, knitted on size 9 US circular needles. The diamonds within stripes effect is created with a slip stitch. The pattern is available right over HERE .

Posted in fiber arts, knitting, pattern | Tagged , | Leave a comment