Thursday, August 07, 2014

Another satisfactory day. If the current rank of yowes, on the Rams and Yowes blankie, were just normal yowes, I'd finish them off today. But since they're the last ones, they have legs, and won't be completed until tomorrow. (They are being knit upside down, also because of being the last ones.) And that still leaves a little six-round finishing-off motif to be done.

Once I am through the agony of swatching, calculating numbers, and picking up stitches for the border, I'll have to switch to full-time blankie-knitting, I think – instead of sinking back into blissful Unst Bridal Shawl time after doing three rounds. The border, done properly in full, is nine four-round stripes outwards followed by a turning-round and then nine more stripes, inwards, on lots of stitches. Plus finishing, including applied i-cord around the outer edges. Two months may scarcely be enough.

Archie asked the other day, when was I going to knit him a sweater. That's the sure-fire way to get one. I'll get my knitting-for-men books together and pick out a couple of possibilities. I'll have a look at the new Rowan book the next time I have to go up to fill a prescription (and probably buy it). And then present Archie with a short list of possibilities when he's next here.

Once Rams and Yowes have been put out to pasture – will it ever happen? – I should be able to work out a peaceful routine which will combine Archie-knitting and Shetland lace. Do I see some more madelinetosh in my future?

It occurred to me during the peaceful UnstBridalShawl period last night, that I may have acquired enough yarn that happy day in Jamieson and Smith last September, to last, literally, for the rest of my life. I bought the lace yarn I'm currently knitting – admittedly, I've had to supplement it with a further order. I was given the Rams and Yowes blankie. I bought some of their newish Shetland Heritage yarn with a Fair Isle vest in mind – that's when I mean to get back to work learning to use a Shetland knitting belt. And more or less at the last moment, Kristie persuaded me – it wasn't difficult – to get the yarn for Kate Davies' Northmavine Hap as well. The pattern is in “Colours of Shetland”.

The yarn is still stowed in the supplementary carry-on bag I had to buy in Lerwick to accommodate it.

Add Archie to that, and my yearning for the Queen Ring shawl, and I might as well clear out the stash cupboard this morning. Retaining a few sock yarns, perhaps.

And here is a further excitement: I have long been interested in finding the source of the phrase “Kitchener stitch”. This morning, I've seen it. (Scroll down a bit, until you see Lord Kitchener.) It remains to be discovered exactly what the pictured publication is. Until the internet made us all one, the phrase was strictly an American and Canadian one, not in use in the UK. EZ was puzzled by it in her early American knitting days. It would be nice to discover that that leaflet was (say) a Canadian Red Cross one.

There are sources listed at the end of the article. I will pursue them.


  1. "Some knitters even specialised in reworking others work before the garments were given to The Red Cross."

    This struck a cord with me. My mother, Elsie was a young teenager in rural Nova Scotia during WW2. Her mother belonged to a chapter of the Women's Institute who were knitting socks for the war effort. As my grandmother did not knit, she had my mother knit several pairs of socks for the next meeting.

    The woman in charge was excited over the quality of the work and the neatly grafted toes. She appointed teenage Elsie as quality control for the socks produced by everyone else. When Mum got tired of picking back and re-knitting unsuitable toes, she suggested it would be easier if the socks were knit up to the toe, left on the needles, with the ball of wool attached and brought to the next WI meeting for her to finish them.

    As I child in the 60's, I remember women who would still bring their socks to our house for Mum to finish the toes.

    Kitchener stitch was not a term my mother knew - it was grafting to her.

  2. P.S. This lady is planning a series of first world war linked blog posts, she volunteers at the knitting archive of the UK Knitting and Crochet Guild
    Also I loved the image of your blanket going out to pasture and roaming free :)

  3. Ellen1:27 PM

    Somewhere along the way, I leaarned to swatch the border on the knitting itself. Making a good guess at the ratio for picking up the stitches, I pick up about 20 stitches, and knit back and forth for about 2", which generally takes very little time. Its usually very apparent that the border pulls in or flares out, in which case I can measure and adjust as needed. It has the added advantage of telling me if I actually like the border and pickup method, or whether I ought to go off on my own with it (which, more often than not, I tend to do). In the end, it generally saves a lot of time.

  4. Gerri1:53 PM

    Am I mixing things up? Hadn't Archie asked about a sweater earlier and you began the pattern scouting? Either way, it is so GREAT when someone asks for knitting!

  5. Lucy Neatby teaches that one of the reasons for making a swatch beforehand is the usefulness when estimating the borders or trims on projects. One is able to see the flare or pulling in if the wrong ratio of stitches are picked up and with very little time invested. It makes perfect sense...

  6. Lynne in Florida3:46 PM

    An article you may find of interest regarding the origin of the Kitchener stitch.

  7. I think you should consider the blanket edging as a casing. Pick up from both the front and then the back of the steek, separately and knit as many rows as you need to encase it. on each side. Then join the stitches, one from the front and one from the back and knit them together and add a second strand of yarn and do a ribbing in doubled yarn. It will give a nice weight to the edging, as the folded edging would do....but you might finish it in only ONE month and be able to get back to the shawl.... You can stripe the ribbing if you desire...or just change colors after the casing. I did this on a baby blanket and it came out great....

  8. =Tamar10:49 PM

    I'm sorry they didn't show an actual page of the knitting pattern that used the phrase. Until I see it, I won't believe it. Neither article actually talks about the phrase itself, only the use of the grafting technique, which was known earlier. I don't believe Lord Kitchener himself had anything to do with it directly; originally it was the Kitchener _heel_ (which was shaped with decreases rather than a three-needle bind-off) and the _Queen Mary_ _toe_ which was originally decreased to a round toe and then the name was shifted to the shaped and grafted flat toe that was offered as an alternative.
    The earliest reference I've found to the Kitchener toe is April 1916 (New Zealand, Evening Post, Women in Print), and there's no way to tell which toe was called that. The technique wasn't called "Kitchener Stitch" until May 1918 in the Sheboygan Press (Wisconsin) according to the OED.

    1. That's fascinating, thank you for sharing. I wonder if it was named in tribute to him? I've just found a reference to grafting toes in a book from 1900 (The Second Book of Hows), earliest I've seen so far

    2. =Tamar3:55 PM

      I'm sure you're right and it was named in his honor, first the heel and then the toe as well. Kitchener's name was firmly connected with the idea of an improved sock from the start; it's only the details that shift. I believe that some of the problems with irritated feet were due to the use of heavier yarns that were still tightly twisted; the older technique of finishing with a three-needle bind-off was not a problem when the thread used was as fine as that used for modern dress socks. Some handknitted 19th century stockings are astoundingly fine-textured.

  9. The best thing of all would be a sight of that actual leaflet. It doesn't have to name the finishing of the toes as Kitchener stitch, but if it asks for them to be grafted, for the sake of the soldiers' feet, then that alone is enough for the name "Kitchener Stitch" to arise and come into common use.

    1. =Tamar4:20 PM

      Agreed, I want to see and read the leaflet page. All the Kitchener-approved Red Cross patterns and articles about them that I've found required one of two specific toe patterns, round or grafted. However, none of them gave the reason and none of them used the term Kitchener stitch even when they referred to a Kitchener toe.

  10. Anonymous2:42 AM

    Jean, what about doing a Fair Isle vest for Archie? As he gets older, he will treasure it more and more. best, Mary in Cincinnati