Friday, April 12, 2013

I’ve just been watching Lesson Two of my Craftsy course – no knitting at all, and no measuring: it was all about taking photographs of oneself and analysing one’s body shape from the result. Most interesting.

I finished the socks last night, wound the Pakokku, cast on.

Zauberball socks have got to be fraternal twins, because the yarn never repeats. These have come out more different than most.

Here is a lesson in How Not to Do Things. I dropped that skein over the back of the chair while it was still as it came from the shop, with the label on and tied in places. It hasn’t been moved since. I had a bit of difficulty as I started to wind, and forgot the First Law. Which is, roughly, the skein is Not Tangled. If you pass the end under a strand, you will tangle it. Subsequent attempts to extricate yourself will make things worse.

I was soon in the difficulty you see. There is nothing for it but to wind a few winds every day for the next 50 years.(In fact, things are not quite that bad. I’m coming on pretty well., but it has taken weeks.) And I hope I won’t forget, next time. Winding the Pakokku was pure bliss.

(The needlepoint cushion-cover was done by my husband's grandfather. He was a surgeon, and believed it kept his fingers nimble.)

Nylon yarn

(Going back to that article in Zite – I’m not going to look up the link again.)

Artificial yarn must have really got going during the war. I remember an article in the Detroit Free Press when I was a child, about the first man to test a nylon parachute – until then, they had all been made of silk. Captured German ones were often pressed into service to make wedding dresses. Silk stockings went out as the war started, and never really came back.

After the war, nylon flourished. I remember a wonderful series of ads on the London Underground from the Wool Marketing Board – this must have been in the mid-50’s, because that’s when I was there:

Boney, after each campaign,
Went home to Josephine again.
This angered Mrs Marshall Ney
Whose husband used to stay away.
Tee-tum tee-tum the Golden Rule:
There is no substitute for wool.

When I was pregnant with Rachel, ’57-’58, I knit a lot of little things in nylon, thinking I wouldn’t have time or patience for careful washing. Sure enough, they didn’t shrink or felt, but soon turned into limp grey rags useless for keeping a baby either cosy or pretty.  I learned to wash wool.

“Machine-washable wool” must have arrived in the mid-60’s, matching my memory of it with the memory of the size of the children I was knitting for. It was sort of slimy, but otherwise lived up to its billing.

What I can’t remember is when the big breakthrough came, the mixtures of acrylic and wool which retain the virtues of both.

Luxury yarns are a whole separate topic – I have a half-theory that they are somewhat linked to advances in colour photography and printing in the 60’s.


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    1. When I was a child, I was born in 1950, we lived next door to a woman who was a chemist for Tennessee Eastman.

      When they developed new fibers they would send them to be woven at a place in the same town ( the textile industry was still going in the southern US in those days). Then our neighbor would bring some of the fabric to my mother to sew up a garment for testing. I remember Kodel polyester especially because our neighbor bought so much fabric that my mother made a jumper for me, an American jumper-a sleeveless overdress. It was dark brown. I was at least 10 maybe older. That would make it about 1960 or 61. I had to delete and edit-sorry.

  2. Was the idea of the ad campaign that Mrs. Marshall Ney had used something besides wool? It must be. I think the advent of the fake fibers was a sad day. I find acrylic to be too hot to wear. Wool is always perfect.

  3. Anonymous5:35 PM

    Jean, just checking blogs after a couple of weeks being overwhelmed by work, and really love the panoramic family header photo - how lovely. Interesting to read your sock posts - I couldn't agree more, sock yarns are so lovely and surprising, and if socks are to be my carry-along, rounds while cooking dinner or visiting, category - then a simple pattern is all I want, will save the interesting stitches for sweaters, shawls and scarves, where they'll be seen. My own solution for thin ankles is ribbing up the leg, not just for the cuff. So interested to see your Zauberball socks and know that I must expect fraternal and not identical twinship - enjoying my first pair in this yarn so far. Please know that your blog gives me far more pleasure than my infrequent comments would indicate - will be a more social blog reader after I retire, not for more than a year hence.
    - Beth in Toronto

  4. Anonymous7:07 PM

    Love the Zauberball socks!

    Beverly in NJ

  5. Have you watched any of Call the Midwife? There are scads of baby clothes, beautifully knitted (mostly) - wool or nylon? Hard to tell. Will narrowing the sock leg around the ankle help, or does that make it too difficult for your husband to get over the foot?

  6. Anonymous6:00 PM

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