Fall Knits: Color Theory Cowl

Image of Color Theory Cowl

Isn’t this pretty? Saw this pattern a few days ago in the Lion Brand newsletter.  I don’t especially like to do stranded knitting, and don’t usually wear cowls, but this one is so pretty that it keeps coming back to mind. So, I think I’m going to make at least one, as a Christmas gift, and possibly one for myself. The yarns are new, two of merino and two of cashmere. Knit in the round, on 16 inch size 6 (US) needles. Everything you need is available here.


Textile Terms: Spinsters of the world, Unite!

Remember playing “Old Maid” as a kid? Who ever got stuck with the old maid card was the loser and received a lot of taunting. The proper term for old maid is spinster, which means a woman beyond the usual marriageable age who is still single.

But what does the “spin” in that word refer to? Since at least the 14th century, any person who did wool or flax spinning was called a spinster, gender, age, and status notwithstanding. As late as the first half of the 20th century, it was considered inappropriate for any woman to live alone. In many families, an unmarried female relative, be she cousin, aunt, or sister, would be taken in, and to “earn her keep”, was often assigned the task of spinning. So how did it become a rather demeaning term? Through common usage, it’s believed.

Some famous spinsters from history:

Jane Austen * * Louisa May Alcott * * Emily Bronte * *  Helen Keller * * Greta Garbo * * Florence Nightingale * * Queen Elizabeth I * * Diane Keaton * * Oprah Winfrey * * Condoleeza Rice

Hardly a boring, sexless bunch!

Add your favorite spinster!

Knitting as Art: Extreme Knitting, 1000 Strands

What, you may ask, is Extreme Knitting? Apparently, it’s using gigantic (fence post size) wooden needles and hundreds and hundreds of yarn skeins. Other than creating an art piece, and a very large one at that, there seems to be no other practical use at this time. The leader of this new movement is Rachel John of England, who runs an organization called Extreme Textiles. The following video shows a record breaking knitting feat performed at the Unravel festival in 2006. It runs about 6 minutes. I wonder how much the final product weighs…..

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Knitting equivalent weights for cone yarns

Prices for cones of yarn are much more affordable than smaller skeins, but I never understood how they compared to knitting sizes. Here’s a chart for quick reference.

2/24 weight yarn: 5,960 yards per pound, “lace weight” .
2/20 weight yarn: 5,600 yards per pound, “lace weight”.
2/18 weight yarn: 5,040 yards per pound, “lace weight” .

All 3 of the above are useful for lace work, handknitting, machine knitting, crochet, etc.

2/8 weight yarn: 2,240 yards per pound, “fingering weight” .

3/8 weight yarn: 1,490 yards per pound, “sport weight” .
4/8 weight yarn: 1,120 yards per pound, “DK” weight .

These 2 yarns fall into the category of “DK” weight. Cost effective, good for hand knitting.

18th Century Documentation for Knitted Mitts

1765 Notice from Royal Society of Arts

From Museum Rusticum Et Commerciale: Or, Select Papers on Agriculture, Commerce, Arts, and Manufactures, by the Royal Society of Arts, 1765, page 393:

Premiums offered by the Society for Encouraging and Improving Manufactures

1. Knitting Thread Lace For the greatest quantity of Thread Lace, not less than six yards in length, nor less than two inches and a half in width, knit with needles, and made by one person ; the goodness, clearness, and fineness of the work, and beauty of the pattern, to determine the preference; Thirty Guineas, The above thirty guineas to be divided according to the merit of the candidates ; to be produced on or before the first Tuesday in January, 1766.

1. KNITTING MITTS. For the greatest quantity of Mitts made of thread, in imitation of lace, and made with knitting-needles, fit for womens wear ; not less than one dozen pair; each pair to be not less than fourteen inches in length, made by one person ; the goodness, clearness, and fineness of the work, and beauty of the pattern, to determine the preference; Twenty Guineas. The whole sum to be divided in proportion to the merit; to be produced on or before the first Tuefday in January, 1766. N. B. The persons who gain any of the above premiums to leave one yard of the lace, and one pair of mitts, as, the property of the Society.

Article courtesy of alwen at Ravelry.


Knitting Books: One More Skein, by Leigh Radford

One More Skein: 30 Quick Projects to Knit
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

One More Skein is divided into four sections, containing patterns for adult hats, gloves and scarves, some unusual garments for babies, a collection of bags, and household items. Each project requires a couple of skeins of yarn, with the exception of the blanket pattern, which would be great for using up leftover yarns in different colors. My personal favorite is the linen placemat pattern. The appendix includes instructions for specific knitting techniques and a list of suppliers.

While author Leigh Radford has introduced some original design elements, as a lifelong knitter, I find this collection a bit too basic. On the other hand, it would probably be of great interest to beginners or those looking for some quick, easy, and attractive gifts.

Beautifully photographed by John Mulligan.