More knitting – a shawl/stole

I’ve had some nice fluffy but not itchy Sirdar Kitten yarn languishing in my stash for a couple of years now, so I thought it was about time I browsed my knitting patterns and books to find something suitable to knit with it. I settled on this lacy shawl pattern, although I would describe it as being a stole as it’s just like a big wide scarf. It was recommended as a good design for using up bits and bobs of random yarns, and I might do that at some time in the future.


This pattern looks quite complicated but it only involves two different rows and one of those is just all purl apart from the three stitches at the beginning and end of every row. The only difficult thing about the pattern is the fact that the needles used are massive. I used 12 mm needles and it’s a bit like knitting with a clothes pole. I don’t think I would have liked to tackle using the 15 mm needles that the pattern actually recommended.

GUERNSEY Style jumper

Last winter I started to knit a jumper/jersey for Jack, but I didn’t get it finished before the spring arrived, for me knitting is a winter pastime. I managed to complete it last week and I’m quite pleased with it. I learned a new technique for joining the back and front together at the shoulders, splicing the two sides together using three needles to cast off. It makes a very nice joint, much neater than sewing them together.

This is a sort of mock Guernsey (gansey) type of knit, the pattern is similar to a gansey but it isn’t knitted with a circular needle as those ones are. Unusually the cuffs and bottom edges are done in garter (all plain) stitches but although the pattern says the collar should be done in garter stitch the photo of the finished article is definitely a ribbed collar. I opted to do a ribbed collar too as I think a garter stitch one might have been just a bit too radical for Jack’s liking.


It’s still winter, there’s snow on the ground and I have plenty of wool to use up, so I’ll have to look through my patterns and knitting books to see what I can knit now.

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.