Knitting update – Guernsey style jumper

Jumper Back

As you can see from the photo, I’ve finished the back of the Guernsey style jumper that I’m knitting at the moment. I’m now knitting the front section and I must say I’m enjoying doing the pattern.

I don’t own any fancy stitch holders so I just use old nappy pins, I knew they would come in handy one day!

Yes I actually used terry towelling nappies (Harrington squares) for my babies back in the day and washed them in my twin tub washing machine. I feel quiet virtuous about that, especially when I remember that every disposable nappy ever used is still in existence somewhere in a land-fill site – and my kids never suffered from nappy rash!

Guernsey Style knitting

It’s ages since I did any serious knitting, in fact I’ve done very little in the way of crafting since we moved house almost three years ago. So I decided to get stuck into some knitting – a jumper for Jack, and if you think that the word jumper is weird and unknown to you, it’s also known as a sweater or jersey, presumably that word jersey is originally from the Channel Island of that name, just as Guernsey or gansy as they are sometimes known – is.


I think this knitting pattern is called Guernsey style because ‘real’ Guernseys are knitted using a circular needle, that’s something I’ve never used so I was happy to tackle this one which uses the two needle method.

Well, I say happy but to tell the truth I was a wee bit daunted by the pattern because it is set over twenty-four rows and I wasn’t at all sure that I would have the concentration to tackle that, but it turned out to be fairly easy to do. I’m quite pleased with it so far, but I’m not really looking forward to knitting the sleeves, keeping the pattern right at the same time as increasing the stitches might be a wee bit tricky!

Charity/thrift shops – Clark’s Scintilla Silk

I’m not really a big fan of shopping and I would never trail around shops as a sort of hobby the way a lot of women do. It’s bad enough if I am looking for something specific to wear for a particular occasion, so shopping for kicks is just not for me.

I have to admit though to being a wee bit of a charity/thrift shop junkie. I don’t often buy anything mind you but as I always say to myself, you just never know what you might find in one of them, unlike the normal shops which seem to be the same, no matter even which country you’re in nowadays – that’s a form of globalisation I suppose!

Anyway, just before Christmas I was really chuffed to find these boxes of thread in a charity shop in St Andrews. At first I thought they were just empty boxes and I loved the old fashioned design of them, but looking inside I was thrilled to see the balls of thread inside and in pristine condition.

Vintage Threads

Aren’t the colours fabulous?

I think they must have been meant to be used as crochet thread, or maybe for doing very fine silky knitting, such as knickers! I have some old patterns from the 1930s that would use this sort of thread. In fact I think this is when these boxes date from, but they’re a bit of a puzzle. As you can see the manufacturer was Clark’s, a very well known Scottish make, and they are described as being artificial silk for knitting, crochet and art work. But I’m wondering why they are weighed in grams rather than the ounces of the Imperial measures that were used back then? Also the word Colors is spelled in the American way. The box also says Made in Great Britain. Coats/Clark was a company that started up in Paisley in the west of Scotland in 1755. Real Industrial Revolution stuff. In 1864 they expanded the business to Newark, New Jersey, USA as the Clark Thread Company.

I plan to use the threads, maybe in an embroidery project. They’ve obviously been in some woman’s thread stash for many decades, and no doubt she had great intentions of using them too, until she died and her house contents were ‘cleared’ to a charity shop in St Andrews, Fife.

Knitted Scarf

Yes it’s just about that season again, knitting. I’ve not knitted all that many scarfs in my long career of knitting, mainly because I thought they would be quite boring to do, but I enjoyed knitting this long scarf which was done using Aran weight wool on chunky 7 mm needles, so the work progressed really quickly. I found it very relaxing to do, and the pattern is so easy I could watch TV at the same time.


Mind you if I was going to do this pattern again I think I would knit four plain stitches at the beginning of each row to try to stop the edges from rolling in. Not that it really matters when the scarf is on.


Cast on 46 stitches:

Row 1: K2, *P2, K2; repeat from * to end
Row 2: P2, *K2, P2; repeat from * to end
Row 3: Knit
Row 4: Purl

Repeat those four rows until the scarf reaches the required length, which for me was nearly four feet although it doesn’t look that long in the photos. I knitted it for one of the cyclists in my family, to keep those winter winds out whilst commuting, but I think I might be knitting another one for the other cyclist. I like the pattern it’s quite attractive on both sides, considering it’s such an easy peasy knit.

St Andrews Museum, Fife

If you’re looking for something to do in Fife and you’re interested in embroidery/textiles, you should take a look at Diamond Threads an exhibition of work by some members of Dundee Embroiderers’ Guild which is on at St Andrews Museum.

We saw the exhibition by chance as we were visiting the museum, just because we hadn’t been there for ages. I thought you might be interested to see the axe which was used for beheading people in mediaeval St Andrews. Apparently the short handle was ideal for the job as it was easier to get a good aim at the neck and it should have meant a clean swift chop. I’m not so sure about that, fancy having to stand right next to the person who you were beheading!!

Executioner's Axe, St Andrews Museum

An improved method of execution was thought up – The Maiden, which was an early type of guillotine. You can see an original Maiden at Edinburgh, but here’s a photo of it. I hope it doesn’t put you off your dinner!

Knitting – basket weave stitch scarf

What was I doing knitting in summertime? you might ask – not that we’ve had much of summer this year. Well I was teaching Peggy from PA – USA to knit while she was in Scotland and while we were mooching around in a gift shop one afternoon we looked at a knitted scarf which cost £25. You could knit that easily she said, which of course I could.

Mind you that scarf was I believe knitted in Shetland wool which can be quite itchy on the neck, which is probably why whoever made it decided to line one side of it with cotton fabric, quite a good idea I think.

Knitted Scarf

As you can see I’ve knitted my version of the scarf, a sort of basket stitch using just plain and purl stitches in multiples of five. I haven’t decided how best to attach the fabric to it though. Should I sew it on or use that iron on stuff to bond it on – or what? – any advice gratefully received.

The Great Tapestry of Scotland

Last week we went to the Scottish Parliament where The Great Tapestry of Scotland is on exhibition, it’s the longest tapestry in the world apparently. I meant to visit it this time last year but didn’t get around to it, due to pressure of house selling and too many people viewing our old place. It was my old family friend Isabel who recommended that I visit the exhibition, I knew that it must be good if she was impressed because she’s a really great embroiderer herself.

Of course it isn’t a tapestry it’s an embroidery, but then neither is the Bayeux Tapestry a tapestry, there seems to be a tradition of misnaming such things. I took quite a few photos of the panels which were of most interest to me, but I haven’t sorted them out yet. Meanwhile, you can see images of the panels here.

The tapestry has been wandering around Scotland for the past year or so and nobody seemed able to give it a permanent home but I just heard on the Scottish news tonight that it is going to be on permanant exhibition at Melrose eventually. I’m so glad I saw it in Edinburgh as Melrose isn’t exactly central.

The author Alexander McCall Smith was the chap who came up with the idea of a ‘tapestry’ depicting Scotland’s history and the artist Andrew Crummy designed it with the work being carried out by hundreds of embroiderers from all over Scotland.

Below you can see the first stitch being put into the design.

Elephant Fabric Wallhanging

I have one of those Victorian houses which is described as being a one and three quarters villa, which means that the upper storey has sloping coombed ceilings in places, cottage style, it’s just the way it was originally designed.

But it means that there are quite a few places where you can’t hang pictures on the wall, due to the angled slope, so I’ve made a virtue of the design by displaying fabric which I love so much that I can’t bear to cut it up for craft purposes or for making into something small like cushion covers. I just keep the material intact and back it with some thin wadding/batting and lining and sometimes sew around outlines in the design to accentuate it.

I also love elephants and have quite a collection of them made mainly from wood, china and soapstone too, so when I saw the fabric below I just had to buy it. I sandwiched the three layers of materials together to give it some weight but I didn’t fancy sewing around the many motifs, I decided to use buttons to embellish the designs and tie the layers together, so my button tin was raided and this is the result.

Some embroidery

Cottage Embroidery

It’s a while since I let you see any of the crafts which I’ve been getting on with this winter – yes I know it’s officially spring now but it honestly doesn’t feel like it does it?

Anyway the thatched cottage embroidery is a really traditional design, embroideries like this were very popular in the 1930s but this one is from around about the 1970s I think. No, I haven’t had it hanging around the house all these years, I bought it just a couple of months ago, it was someone else’s unfinished project, in fact the only thing they had embroidered was the trees, I’m not sure if I’ll keep them as they are though. They are supposed to be laburnums and I think I might be able to do something which looks more like laburnums. I’m going to tackle the thatched roof next and by the time I get that done it’ll be well on the way to being finished.

I always have to have a lot of crafty stuff on the go at once, so that when I’m not in the mood to do a particular project I’ll have plenty of others to choose from. This is one of the other embroideries I’ve been doing. As you can see it’s a very different design, although most of the stitches which I’ve been using in the two embroideries are very similar.

Jacobean Embroidery

The fabric which I’m using is a remnant of curtain material in a closely woven faux silk, although it’s quite solid it’s easy to get the needle through and is perfect as an embroidery background.

I ironed the design onto the material, it was one of those tracing paper transfer ones from the 1930s this sort of design was very popular in then, although of course the Jacobean designs were first used in the Stuart times of the 1600s. There was another surge of popularity in the hippie times of the 1970s, with each era putting their own spin on the subject via the different colours which were fashionable at the time. My colours are a bit crazy, but I want it to look cheery.

Unfortunately the transfer ink is yellow and I was determined to use the yellow material as a background, so it has been a bit of a pain in the neck seeing exactly where the design is at times, but I’m getting there and I hope to be finished it fairly soon, which is why I’m putting it in a blogpost really, it’ll galvanise me into action so that I can do another post about the finished projects!

Read On My Kindle

I downloaded Samplers and Tapestry Embroideries by Marcus Bourne Huish from Project Gutenberg. It’s a very old book on needlework and although the writing is a bit stilted compared with books like that nowadays it’s still worth taking a look at it if you’re intersted in the history of needlework. You can download it here.

I also downloaded The Love Letters of Henry VIII to Ann Boleyn, which you can read here.

I think there are 18 letters written by Henry and only one from her and that is just because he had written a reply on a letter which she had sent to him. If you’re at all interested in that period of history you should have a look at them. They are a very quick read indeed and it’s a bit like eavesdropping. He can’t ever have expected his letters to be read by all and sundry hundreds of years later.

It’s easy to forget that Anne Boleyn strung Henry along for years, determined to marry him and not be just another passing whim for him, as her sister had been. She was certainly no dimwit but obviously stupidly believed that she would always be able to manipulate him. She ought to have realised that as his wife she was going to have to be like Caesar’s wife and be above suspicion, and she should have knocked all her silly flirtatiousness on the head, then she might have kept her own! She gave him great ammunition but I doubt if she was ever actually guilty of adultery, she surely wouldn’t have been that daft.

I doubt if it ever occurred to Anne that she was really putting her life in danger, it’s not as if he had previously chopped a wife’s head off, in fact he had gone out of his way to get rid of his first wife Catherine legally, when he could have had her done to death any number of ways and not have had the finger of blame pointed at himself.

He’s always thought of as being a monster but I think that as kings go – he could have been a lot worse. Not that I would have wanted to be married to him mind you!