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.

Knitting

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!

Brexit, dudefood and hygge

Did you hear that the three newest words to be added to the Oxford English Dictionary are:

Brexit – unsurprisingly, and I’m sick to death of the horrible word.

dudefood – apparently food that men like, I’ve never heard the word but it makes me think of a very hot vindaloo curry, what I think of as macho man food.

and …

hygge – pronounced hue-ga. I had heard of that word before, in fact a few weeks ago there was an article in the Guardian about hygge – you can read it here. It’s the Danish art of living cosily. But obviously the word has links with the English word hug. Apparently there are lots of books due to be published on the subject of hygge and I noticed that the word has reached far-flung Aberfeldy as a shop selling woolly hats and socks and such had the word hygge on a card in their window.

I don’t think there’s an equivalent word in English or Scots although I often think of the Scottish phrase ‘coorie doon’ around this time of the year, obviously it means burrowing down, getting nice and comfy on a cold dark night. The idea is similar.

For me coorie-ing doon also includes getting ready for winter. If I had an open fireplace or a wood burning stove I’d no doubt be making sure I had a huge stockpile of wood. In fact I really fancy having a stove just so I would have a good excuse to wood gather.

As it is I make do with buying in emergency tins of soup, just in case we have an awful winter and there are no fresh veggies in the supermarkets. Well it has happened before!

Whatever the season I always have an old shortbread tin full of a selection of chocolate, but it’s particularly important in winter. I wouldn’t get through the cold snaps without chocolate to keep me going.

I have a nice collection of tartan rugs in the living room, essential for coorying into. The adult equivalent of a baby’s comfort blanket.

For me winter means knitting season, my needles are poised for action and I’ll be plundering my wool stockpile soon. I’m flicking through knitting patterns at the moment.

Any night now I’ll be swivelling the top of one of my tables around, doubling the size of the table top, making it just perfect for a 1,000 piece jigsaw puzzle. Winter is jigsaw season and the first one I do will be of a vintage travel poster – anyone been to Eastbourne?!

I can never understand these people who keep their curtains open in the evening, even when there’s snow on the ground and a howling wind. On cold dark nights I love to get the curtains closed as soon as it begins to get dark, shut the night out, get the kettle on and listen out for the biscuits shouting – eat me!

What about you – what’s your idea of winter comfort or hygge?

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.

scarf

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.

scarf

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.

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.

Finished At Last!

I actually started knitting this jumper last winter so I was determined to get it finished before the cold weather really set in this year. It took a bit of sorting out as I’d left it half done for so long, I couldn’t even remember which size I had opted to knit it in. I’ve used this pattern quite a few times since I originally did it way back in the 1970s when I was a teenager and knitted the smallest size, this one is two sizes bigger but I was a real skinny-malinky as a teenager so it’s not as bad as it sounds.

1970s knitted jumper

The great thing about this pattern is that the jumper is nice and long so it keeps my bahookie (bum) warm and I need that especially as it was freezing last night and it’s only October. We gave in and put our central heating on despite the price hikes (does the price ever come down when the global price of gas goes down? – I don’t think so.)

Anyway, I was determined to finish the jumper before going on to the next knitting project, I have so many sewing projects on the go at the moment and I don’t want to get into the same fankle with knitting too. But it’s crucial that I start on the babies’ bootees and scratch mits which I said I would knit for a baby boy who is due to be born any day now. Laura’s best friend will be his mummy and Laura (our son Gordon’s betrothed) has been chosen as a godmother. How different it all is from my day when the big excitement was whether it was going to be a boy or a girl, and it was deemed to be bad luck to buy anything for the baby before it was safely in this world. He has even been named already!

The other bit of knitting comment I want to make is that I was absolutely chuffed when I was leafing through a pile of knitting patterns in a charity shop a few weeks ago, to find the pattern on the left. It is a copy of a pattern which my mum used ever since I can remember, she knitted my dad the lower right hand zipped cardigan/jacket every other year it seemed. As you can see it’s a pre-decimal priced pattern from about 1950 I think. In fact her copy of the pattern eventually fell apart but by then she had done it so many times she didn’t need the instructions. I don’t suppose I’ll ever knit anything from the pattern but it’s just nice to have it as a reminder. Dad died in 1980 when he was just 55 and whenever I think of him he’s wearing one of those knitted jackets.

Recycled jumper

Recycled jumper

At last, I managed to get around to sewing up the jumper which I knitted last year using wool from an old ripped out jumper. I was really just practising to get back into the way of it again. I used to be quite an expert knitter but I gave up when I had my children because I just didn’t have the time or the concentration to do it.

As you can see the wool is a really dreary grey colour, but grey wool always makes me laugh as it reminds me of my granny. She thought that grey cardigans were useful for wearing around the house. Well I know what she means now as she had a Victorian house, as I have now, and they aren’t half dusty but I don’t suppose it shows up against grey!

This jumper was knitted mainly in rib but there is a panel in the middle of reversed stocking stitch. I don’t know why I did that other than that I was just following the pattern, but I don’t really like reversed stocking stitch.

Anyway, I used the Stitchcraft pattern, it’s a 1953 magazine which I bought from ebay. I adapted it slightly so there aren’t so many buttons in my version.

Honestly, it’s quite a normal shape but I photographed it on my bed and obviously it wasn’t flat enough!

I’ve discovered that knitting wool seems to have become really expensive since I last bought some over 20 years ago but I got some reasonably priced stuff, from ebay again and I’m hoping to do something a bit more attractive next time.

Knitting a hat.

I finished knitting the hat from the pattern which I downloaded from Ravelry site, however it didn’t turn out as I had expected it to. The pattern is called The Natural.

Despite the fact that I actually made it longer than recommended, I still found the finished article to be much smaller than I had expected.

It was perfect for a 5 year old but no good for my husband as when it was stretched to fit him it wasn’t thick enough to keep his head warm.

So that was a bit of a disappointment and I’ve started another one just using one of my old tried and tested patterns.

Knitting

I was taught to knit by my mum when I was about 5 years old using teeny wee needles. Then at about the age of 7 we had to knit a tea cosy at school, a truly hideous thing. The boys did raffia work while the girls knitted.

In the 1970s there was quite a resurgence in craft work, it was all a bit hippy-ish I suppose. So knitting really took off again and I got right into the pointy sticks and became quite proficient at it.

My pride and joy was the Fair Isle jumper which I knitted for my husband around 1980 and it is still going strong after all these years of careful washing.

Fair Isle Jumper

So as you can see I wasn’t bad at knitting and the wool wasn’t too expensive then so I did quite a lot of it even although we were pretty skint (poor) back then.

Later on in the 80’s, the boys arrived with just 19 months in between them and as you can imagine there was quite a fair amount of cot blanket, bootees and matinee jacket knitting going on. Certainly for the first baby anyway – then a strange thing happened and my brain seemed to be – well I can only describe it as being ‘hijacked’, and suddenly I couldn’t concentrate on anything much beyond feeds and nappies. Our first boy hardly slept at all which didn’t help matters.

So boy number 2 hardly got anything knitted for him and the matinee jacket which I did manage is a very much plainer effort than his brother’s.

After that I just gave up for a long time and have only recently picked up the needles again, but I was really shocked to see how much knitting wool had gone up in price. I can understand that there are a lot of processes that a sheep fleece has to go through before you get to a ball of wool, but I know for a fact that the sheep farmers are getting pennies for the fleeces. It seems such a shame when they have all the hard work and worry of the sheep. In fact the farmers are being fleeced.

So what with me trying to tidy things up in the house and get rid of stuff or use it up in some way, I decided to knit with the left over bits of wool which have accumulated in various work baskets over the years. And as I’m trying to knit my way back up to Fair Isle and Aran standard again I decided to start back at the beginning with squares with a slight difference, just to make them a bit more interesting.

Wool Squares

These knitted shapes are actually described as “shells” and I found the pattern instructions in a 1940s knitting book called Modern Knitting Illustrated, which has patterns for everything that the well dressed war time person needed. Including knitted knickers (very itchy I imagine).

Use a size of needles which suits the left-over wool which you have and cast on 41 stitches and knit about 8 rows in garter stitch. Still working in garter stitch, knit 2 stitches together each side of the middle stitch, which you should mark to make life easier for you. I slip a safety pin onto the middle stitch which you can pull on to help you decide when you should be knitting 2 together. Knit the next row straight and continue in this way, decreasing in the middle of each alternate row until 3 stitches remain. Knit these 3 stitches together and fasten off.

The shells can then be sewn together to form a pattern or just randomly and it is more decorative than just plain squares.