Friday, April 10, 2015


One of my growing research interests is repair, specifically mending of textiles, darning, patching, and other methods. Over the past few years I have sourced and read many books, articles and published research papers on mending, I find the most informative the instruction books from the early 20th century and back into the 19th century. Almost all of them advise that preventative measures, reinforcing worn areas before holes appear is the best method. Today I followed that advice. I have a pair of socks that do duty around house, and this morning I noticed a thin spot in the heel.

It was thin, but not yet a hole. There were thin threads marking each worn knit stitch - this meant I could use Swiss darning as the method of mending. When the knit fabric has worn through - other methods are required to replace the missing area.


I fetched my darning mushroom, this is a formal one, with a spring loaded metal clip to hold the fabric while the mend is made. Stretched over the darning mushroom the worn area is even more noticeable. And the felting of the fabric, this is superwash - and whist it won't felt when washing - the rubbing of wearing will cause the fabric to felt a little, unlike the felting that happens in the wash - this kind of felting happens with feet inside so the socks do t get any smaller. I think in some way the felting probably makes for a sturdier fabric - all those fibers tangled together must be more durable.

There is theory, the idea of what should be done, and there is practice, the doing. When. Worked together - theory informing practice the term praxis is used. My praxis was informed by theory - but I do need practice. Swiss darning over thin felted threads at a sock gauge (8 or so stitches per inch) is not as easy to do neatly as theory implies. Once this kind of sewing was part of many school curriculum, students were breaded on their mending, mine might not pass.

Still, the socks are mended, ready for a few more years of wear. I suspect the darn will feel like a soft lump under my heal but in time will soften and flatten till I no longer notice it. While my darning wouldn't win me any school prizes - it is serviceable, I finished the work by weaving the yarns back through the darned area as further reinforcing, and turned the sock inside out to see the inside, again the mend is visible, but I think neat. My Ravelry notes tell me these socks date from January of 2010, four years of near constant rotation in my sock drawer is a good lifespan, I will be interested to see how the repair performs.

Na stella


Sunday, April 05, 2015



it is Easter, and for us Easter looks like this, a Lindt bunny each (the new flavor this year was hazelnut - who knew? But I stuck with dark which I know and love), and three tablets of Shoc chocolate. WhitE chocolat and lemon, sea salt bittersweet, and coffee shot. Little girl cub got a suit of eggs flavored like cookies and cream and strawberry, elder boy club got an outer of snickers bars - which was even better than he asked for. He wanted 'just a few bars of chocolat as Easter eggs are hollow and not good value'. It is at times like this I am unsure if I have failed as a parent when my kids don't buy into Easter eggs as the only shape fit for Easter chocolate.

I spent a good bit of time knitting, M loaned me a set of DVDs for the original Poldark tv series, from th mid 1970's. All that knitting means the do use knit hat is now done. This was the stage it was at when I finished the first serries of DVDs. I was just about to start the decreases. At this stage I realized that the decreases were at four points every round and were causing a ladder where I I looped the long circular I was using. I decided I could use a crochet hook to work an extra column of stitches to fill the ladder once I beard to the top of the hat. In retrospect I could have simply shifted where divided the hat into front and back so the split didn't line up with the decreases. I didn't have laddering when working in the round, only when decreasing at the start of a needle.

Looping up an extra colum of stitches made the decreases more prominent, it tightened the knit fabric and created ribs, four on each side ( inside and outside), its a nice feature even if not what the designer intended. I know that blocking will make the fibers swell and that will cause the fabric to even out - I'm interested to see if that makes the ribs less prominent.

And just a final view of the inside/outside, being double knit there is no right side just two sides one the inverse of the other. It's. Generous hat, I knit th XL size, and it's a droopy hat on Bear, a new style for him. As a joke I offered to block it flat on a plate, and turn it into a beret. Bear's face seemed caught between two thoughts, one was 'how interesting - is that how a beret is formed', the other was 'bears don't wear berrets'. It was fun to watch, and he seemed relieved I admittd had no plans to turn it into a beret.

More soon, na Stella





Saturday, March 14, 2015

Update - long overdue

Hello, life seems a litte out of sync with blogging right now - two weeks ago elder cub spent several sessions in A&E followed by two nights in hospital. He is ok - we have referrals to specialists and our family doctor is being amazing - as are his school. He has missed several assessments and has things to catch up. I know he is not back to normal - as his is a teenage boy and he is not gaming and online very much. Just as he was discharged I attended Unwind 2015, and taught two classes, and bought more yarn than I intended to. I love knitting events - the people who attend are almost permanent friends - we maybe don't see each other in a year and then the conversation just picks up and continues.

Silver green -stray cat yarn


I've finally finished the socks I cast on way back in June 2014. Given these are for younger cub, who is a 12 year old nearly as tall as her dad - it was a bit risky leaving finishing these for so long. Lucky that the socks are a little bigger than intended, so thee is even growing room in this pair. And once she has finished growing - they will fit me! I worked an afterthought heel, working decreases every third round for three rounds, then every second round till I had two sets of 12 stitches left. Right now they look a a little 'flappy' but I'm sure with a block and a wear they will be more foot shaped.



I taught a class on double knitting, and thought since I had finished my samples for teaching I really should have an exciting project on the needles to inspire the students. So I begun a hat, cheese head. I worked a little more ribbing to make the hat a little less lean

And I have been all inspired by students who are wanting to include beading in their current design work, so I've been reminding myself about tambour beading. This wee heart took just over and afternoon - and I am slightly surprised at how easily it was to resume beading and sequins. Totally beaded and sequined and backed with felt - fresh lavender inside.

More soon, a new project. Well two projects - and stash to share.

Na Stella


Monday, February 16, 2015

Variation and control

Today's post is all about variation, I'm knitting the Baby surplice jacket, which is a variation on the famous BSJ or baby surprise jacket by Elizabeth Zimmerman in 1968. I like that, that EZ, as she is known to many knitters, developed a clever pattern and then continued to adapt and play and explore how else the ideas and shaping techniques could be used. I think that level of variation is to be admired, and explored.

I began to knit this with a different yarn, a sturdier yarn, but a few cm's in realized that newborn garments would only be acceptable if soft. Sturdy scratch yarn wasn't going to work successfully. So I switched to a soft Schoppelwolle, in a colour way called flower. It's so pretty and girly - I love it but find it almost too much, the colour repeat is bands of 2 bands of pink and one of leaf green separated by a white. It's so pink and green it's almost too much. The way increases are used to shape the sleeves of the Baby Surplice jacket results in the stripes emphasizing the shaping.


When folded up the increases above form a cute little sleeve. And the decreases set a few stitches in from along the front edges made for a simulated edge band. At this point in my knitting I realized I didn't want the tips of the shoulders to be green - I was happy with the green around the chest .... but not so sure I wanted green elsewhere. Problem was the pink section of yarn had ended and the next row would be knit in green unless I did something to alter that. So I wound off the next colour change and resumed knitting with pink.

Once the shaping is worked the garment is folded and the edges grafted, or sewn or otherwise joined somehow. EZ suggests either grafting or an icord cast off, and the simplest method is simply to cast off and then stitch the edges together.

The jacket is worked in garter stitch - which means that grafting is a little trickier than usualbecause the two edges being joined must be a purl and a knit and one side is grafted as usual the other in reverse. I grafted my shoulder seams, they are technically correct but the tension is not a perfect match for the rest of the knitting. I am hoping that will even up a little with wet blocking.


Before knitting this project I had cruised projects listed on Ravelry, there were so many variations, one I particularly liked was a soft rolled stocking stitch edge. Usually I prefer icord, but I realized that with the colour shifts in the yarn the icord would shift from white to pink to white to pink - whereas a stocking stitch rolled edge would be a constant colour along the edge.

Right now I am knitting the i-cord ties which extend from the front points. Again I am controlling the colour, making sure I pick up with yarn that is at the same point of the colour shift as the rolled edge, strong pink. Here I am happy for the I-cord to shift colour as the yarn changes.

Once I had decided to control the colour shifts it was easy, I decided the sleeve cuffs needed to match - so wound off pink until I had enough white to knit both cuffs. I decided the edge needed to be pink - so wound off until I had a string pink section. In the background you can see the yarn I am avoiding for now.

I've been knitting for years, decades - and sometimes I am surprised at the limits and constraints I've assumed when I knit. Before this project when knitting with variegated or self striping yarn I never even thought to alter the colours - for some reason I accepted I had to knit with the yarn as manufactured. Now I've made the leap to adjusting the colours to suit my aesthetic and the project - and its kind of a surprise that it has taken so long to do that. I'm prepared to accept I am a bit slow in working things out sometimes - but always surprised when I discover where or what I am slow about.

Take care - na stella