Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Warm Weather Knitting

For those of us in the northern hemisphere, the weather is hotting up. These past few days, we have had a British heatwave (which those of you from warmer climes may rightly chuckle at). With temperatures reaching 32°c (90°F) over the past few days, and set to continue, somehow a chunky wool jumper just doesn't seem the most comfortable item to be knitting or crocheting right now.

 Call of the Sea! Image copyright Arbour House Publishing

So, what to do when you've got the urge to knit, but the temperature is against you?  There are a few tips that will allow you to keep your hooks and needles going if you don't have the luxury of air conditioning.
  1. Wash your hands before starting to knit or crochet, and regularly throughout, as your hands warm up (I'm sure you do this anyway)
  2. It might help to knit or crochet using cotton or cotton blends rather than wools if you find your wool starting to felt in the heat of your hands.
  3. Knitting smaller items is a bonus, so you don't have a lot of knitting sitting in your lap, heating you up. This also works well for larger garments - knit jumpers or cardigans in flat sections rather than in the round.
  4. Use an electric fan (or switch on your air conditioning if you're lucky enough to have it)
  5. Take it slowly - don't rush through.
Of course you could also sit and knit in your bathing costume, but I for one don't think I'll be doing that!

 Lost in Music cover up by Susan Crawford. Image copyright knitonthenet

A nice pattern to knit in the hotter weather, and that you'll be able to use at this time of year as well, is our Lost in Music cover up by Susan Crawford. It's a lovely, versatile shrug, which is worked flat. The original is made using a cotton yarn, but it would really work well with most 4ply weight yarns (fingering weight). It's also a surprisingly quick knit which means that you'll easily have it done to last out the rest of the warm summer weather.

It measures approximately. 153cm (60 inches), not including cuffs and can easily be lengthened if you need it a little bigger - it makes a great stashbusting project and would look great with cuffs in an accent colour.

Whether you decide to knit a cover up or crochet a hat for the autumn, keep cool and enjoy your summer making time.

Happy knitting
Ingrid x

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Woolfest: 2011, with a recap of 2010 too!

Yes! We shall indeed be at Woolfest this Friday and Saturday on stand D79, so if you are coming along, do come and see some of our lovely vintage garments in real life.

For those of you who either haven't heard about Woolfest, or aren't in the vicinity of the Lake District, here's a review of what we got up to last year, when we attended as visitors.

 Woolfest bunting. Image copyright Giles Babbidge Photography
On a blazing hot Saturday at the end of last June, the knitonthenet team travelled up to Woolfest at Cockermouth in Cumbria. Set in the hills of the Lake District it was a beautiful setting for a great day out. It was my first time visiting Woolfest (I’m usually at the other end of the country) and it was different to any other knitting or yarn event that I’ve ever been to.

The show took place in Mitchell’s Lakeland Livestock Centre, which is a large purpose built barn and livestock auction house. As you might guess, there were lots of sheep, some angora rabbits and even some alpacas on show in pens for everyone to admire. 

 Woolfest venue. Image copyright Giles Babbidge Photography
Earlier in the week, there had been a number of Woolfest Masterclasses led by Galina Khmeleva and Helen Ritchie, held at nearby Higham Hall. The importance of local yarny businesses was apparent in the Wool Clip display area, and we were especially encouraged to support them as the recovery from the previous year’s devastating floods continued. 

 Roving. Image copyright Giles Babbidge Photography
There were row upon row of stands selling everything that the spinner, dyer, weaver, knitter and crocheter could ever want and far too much to list here. There was a brilliant selection of yarns on offer from John Arbon, Natural Dye Studio, Texere Yarns, Tall Yarns and many more. There were knitting accessories from p2tog, and some brilliant sheepy accessories from The Herdy Company. Fibre was available from many British breeds including Teesdale, Gotland and Shetland sheep and there were plenty of the sheep there in person too.

 Sheep. Image copyright Giles Babbidge Photography
In the demonstration area, there was a chance to have a go at making rag rugs, hand spindling, watch Herdwick rope making and even have a sit down at the Cumbrian Knitting Café. We were all invited to knit a triangle of bunting to add to the long string already displayed at Woolfest (see picture, above). They hoped to be able to encircle the building by this year! We'll let you know if their plan worked.

  Egg cosies. Image copyright Giles Babbidge Photography

One of the highlights of Woolfest is the sheep auction: that’s both livestock, and textile sheep too (separately, of course!) I was lucky enough to see the textile sheep auction, which raised money for the charity Farm Africa. It was carried out just as a normal sale is, with the auctioneer, Adam Day shouting ninety-to-the-dozen as there was a frenzy of bidding. 

 Knitted Sheep Auction. Image copyright Giles Babbidge Photography 
At the end of a long, but very enjoyable day, we all had a lovely ice cream made with sheep’s milk (what else?) I’d highly recommend trying some if you're there this year. 

The Jan Sweater. Image copyright Arbour House Publishing.
So, don't forget - we're on stand D79 this year. If you're there, we'd love it if you'd come and say hi to Gavin and Susan, browse the books and kits, and take a look at some of our beautiful garments from A Stitch in Time volume 2 (that's The Jan Sweater above.)
Happy knitting
Ingrid x

Labels: ,

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Tea Garden Dress: A Stitch in Time Retrospective

 Tea Garden Dress images copyright Arbour House Publishing

This lovely knitted dress is a real head-turner. Originally published in the Sun-glo Knitting book in 1943, it  appears in The Square Look section of A Stitch in Time, volume 1. It was originally knitted in a solid colour, Soldier Red and its style reflects the military look of the time (mid World War Two.)

The Tea Garden Dress is knitted using 4ply yarn; the garment in the book uses a pure wool tweed in two contrasting shades which really lends itself to the herringbone pattern of the skirt. It comes in two sizes and the change is made by using different size needles. If you're interested in why it was done this way and not graded in the usual fashion, there is a really interesting article on Susan's blog about grading vintage knitting patterns here.

The dress has a lovely breast pocket detail, button openings, a Peter Pan collar and knitted shoulder pads. By using two distinct stitch patterns, there is enough going on to keep the knitter's interest over a larger garment. The Tea Garden Dress is knitted flat, in pieces, starting with the whole back of the garment. Having said that, it could easily be adapted to a skirt and top, if liked too. 
You can really put your own stamp on the dress with your choice of buttons too. Do you have a stash of beautiful vintage ones? 

A little behind the scenes fact: the dress in A Stitch in Time that you see modelled by Theodora was also knitted by her.

The Tea Garden Dress works well in different colourways - both keeping the striping and going for a solid colour.

A great example from Ravelry is IreneVienna's Tea Garden Dress where she has used a brighter blue and a laurel green colour for her dress.

Other colour combinations that might work well are pinks and greens, a soft yellow and blue contrast, or autumnal colours.

Image left courtesy of IreneVienna; image below copyright Ingrid Murnane

Have you knitted a Tea Garden Dress? Perhaps you want to now! If you haven't already got a copy of A Stitch in Time volume 1, you can buy one from the knitonthenet shop by clicking here.

Don't be without one for visiting your local tearooms or rose garden!

Next time we're going to have a retrospective of the bathing suits from A Stitch in Time. We've been chatting about making them over on Ravelry recently. Do pop over and have your say.

Happy knitting
Ingrid x

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Animated Knitting

Here's a lovely children's stop-motion animation from Charlotte Blacker that recently won her a prestigious animation prize from the Royal Television Society. The Little Red Plane tells the knitted story of a boy and his cat who deliver parcels by air, throughout the land.

As well as working on her animation for 6 months, Charlotte stayed up til about 2am each night knitting the characters and pieces needed for the film. That's dedication!

I'll be back with another post in the A Stitch in Time Retrospective series later this week.

Happy knitting
Ingrid x

Labels: ,

Tuesday, June 07, 2011

Another Stitch in Time Photoshoot

I always find it fascinating to hear what goes into the making of a film, tv programme or as we do here at Arbour House, a book. Some might call me nosy, but I bet you are all there watching Dr Who Confidential or the making of Human Planet too.

We had another photoshoot for A Stitch in Time volume 2 during this past week, and for those of you who would like to see a little of what went on, here are a few behind the scenes shots. Obviously (sadly) I can't yet show you the actual garments as that would spoil the surprise, but here's a glimpse at the people involved and a taste of some of the locations that we used.

We had an early start. Our model, Theodora, had her hair set in curlers the previous day and came up on the train in a very fetching headscarf. She's getting ready for a set of 1930s photographs here, and pinning her hair into curls.

It was a beautiful day for the all-day outdoor shoot that we had planned, so great for photographs in the local public gardens. Here are Susan and Gavin getting some shots of Theo's 1930s look and what will be, I'm sure, a most popular cardigan.

As well as Theo, Susan and Gavin, our intern, Daisy and I were both on hand to help in the production of the photographs. Daisy (above) was assisting Gavin with all of the cameras and photographic equipment that we took from location to location with us, whilst I (below) did the clothing changes and made sure that Theo's hair stayed in place and that the garments sat properly whilst the photos were taken.

This was taken at the seafront and marina. There was a lovely turquoise and white boathouse that we were using as a backdrop.
Of course, all of the garments have to be shot in locations that lend a vintage feel, and the one that you see being set up, above was in the palm house of a botanical garden. The lady looking after the plant sales was very interested to see what we were doing.

 With such a sunny day, it would have been a shame not to take some shots by the seaside. We set up on the end of the local pier to take photographs of one of the quintessential garments of the book. There were quite a few other people enjoying the sunshine, but in the English way, they didn't ask what we were doing and pretended we weren't there at all!

It was a most productive day's work and afterwards we all had a good look through the day's shots on the tv screen and Susan made us her fabulous pasta. We didn't get up quite so early the next day!

I hope that has given you a bit more of a glimpse into what goes into just one day of book production (notwithstanding the research, knitting, pattern writing, laying up of the pages and the many other jobs!)
If you missed our recent film of a previous photoshoot, please do click here to watch that too - it really makes it come alive.

Of course, you can still pre-order the book from the knitonthenet shop by clicking here too.

Happy Knitting
Ingrid x

All images copyright Ingrid Murnane.