Archive for the tag 'knitting'


Sunday’s Child: Knit-O-Graf

Knit-O-Graf ad from 1959 McCalls Needlework & Crafts

Knit-O-Graf ad from 1959 McCalls Needlework & Crafts

Knit-to-Fit Snow White Graph

Knit-to-Fit Snow White Graph

Some day, a part of my needlework museum library will include a copy of every Knit-O-Graf and Knit-to-Fit chart published. I’m only up to 2 of each so far.

In the 1950s, knits featuring colorful pictures were all the rage, especially for children. Typical themes included cowboys, poodles, rocket ships, ice-skaters, adorable animals, clowns, and fairy tales. If you could find it on a dish towel, it was probably also on a sweater at some point. This trend really didn’t peter off until, well, ever. These days, you might find some more sophisticated designs for children; grown-up sweaters made small, but you’ll still find sweaters featuring kittens, ladybugs and choo choo trains. On the flip side, we’ve also incorporated more childlike designs into adult wear, giving grownups an in on the whimsical and cheerful that would have seemed too, too gauche not very long ago. This is lucky for everyone involved.

Big names in graphed knitting included the Knit-O-Graf and Knit-to-Fit charted patterns. When I found my first of these, I was ecstatic. Although they were designed for children, and the patterns sized appropriately, the clear charts are quirky and fun, and could be used to easily give a retro vibe to any sweater, whether for child or for adult. I own Knit-O-Graf patterns No. 170 and No. 206, featuring cowboys and poodles, and Knit-to-Fit patterns No. 410 and No. 416, featuring an ice skater and Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. The Snow White design includes a copyright notice for Walt Disney Productions, but it’s hard to tell whether this was an officially licensed design. That whole idea of character copyright and licensing was notoriously weird during the early half of the 20th century.

Knit-to-Fit Ice Skater

Knit-to-Fit Ice Skater

From a technical standpoint, the charts are very interesting. Written instructions are included, but with a basic understanding of increasing and decreasing, sweater construction, and how intarsia works, the graph itself is all you really need. Each of the charts includes instructions for both pullover and cardigan styles, as well as different sleeve lengths and neck options.

Included below is the chart for the figure skater from Knit-to-Fit pattern No. 410. Use it to spiff up an existing garment by working the chart in duplicate stitch, or practice your intarsia chops by adding her into a new garment. She’d be adorable on a sweater, scarf, hat, or possibly even mittens or socks, or on knitted dishclothes and towels. Recharted in a clean digital file, in color for ease of reading, at roughly 5:7 ratio. Choose your own colors, of course.


Notes on copyrights: The Knit-O-Graf charts were designed and copyrighted by Della Delia Fitch and renewed in the 1980s by Nancy Karen Fitch Mott. They are still protected by copyright! They were distributed in Canada by Bouquet Yarns, and in the US by mail direct from the Knit-O-Graf Pattern Company. Knit-to-Fit charts were published during the same time period by Bernhard Ulmann Co, makers of Bear Brand, Fleisher’s, and Bucilla yarns. I cannot find any renewal information on the Knit-to-Fit charts. To the best of my knowledge the patterns are not still protected by copyright, however, designs featuring copyrighted characters may be otherwise protected. I always urge caution when approaching reproduction of such items. If I should be informed, or find information, that the chart I have provided is infringing in any way, it will be removed from the website as soon as possible.

I love vintage clothing, and I love knits, so it should come as no surprise at all that I adore vintage knits. This past season, I worked on my collection of vintage sweaters, focusing on wool. I buy vintage sweaters that most people don’t want because they need repair or are obviously out-dated, and I usually buy them CHEAP. I’d like to focus my Mondays on these sweaters as I get them each washed and repaired. If you do not want to hear a woman wax poetic about knits, these will not be the posts for you.

Vintage pink wool hand-knit cardiganLet’s start with this ridiculously pink cardigan. This is a mid to late 60s hand knit. If you recognize this from a vintage pattern book, please drop me a note; I’ve been hunting and can’t track it down. Special features include a saddle shoulder and paired cable braids on front and sleeves, with little open breast pockets at the top of each of the front cables. It has no shaping to speak of, and I really don’t know how to style it. Open over a white T-shirt and black jeans? Every time I look at I feel different about the color. Half the time I think it is perfect, the other half I make up my mind to over-dye it with purple. At the very least, I think I will update the buttons.

Now, this is also my first serious attempt at mending a sweater. I’ve fixed seams in the past, and even holes, but never with the intention of the sweater being as good as new. One of my previous attempts was a sweater of my husband’s that was worn a lot during our dog’s younger years, and lots of tooth and toenail snags latter was in the throw-away box. But he thought it was comfy, and lamented that it was ripped to shreds. So I mended it to good-enough, so he could slouch about the house in it. He could never wear it to work again, though. With my vintage sweater collection, the goal is to make the sweaters every bit as wearable as they ever were. This sweater had a hole in the back, and a weirdly crusty stain on one sleeve. After washing, the crusty stain turned into a lightly stained hole, and right over a cable, too. I couldn’t find any yarn quite the same pink, but found something pretty close and did a swiss-darning-style mend on the back to make it as invisible as possible, and then basically just tried to reconstruct as well as possible the damaged cable. It’s in a spot that won’t be noticed, and will most likely be taken for a stain rather than a darn, but my mixed-success was successful enough, I think, and will be even more so after another good blocking.



Friday’s Child: Fancywork 1892

Fancywork 1892At a little antique store in Galesburg, IL I found a pair of crumbling newsprint magazines from the 1890′s. I bought them, of course. And here, for your viewing (and printing) pleasure, is the complete page of Fancywork from the October 15, 1892 Ladies Home Companion. Patterns include crocheted infant booties, square lace shawl, greek key lace trim, a knitted underwear edging and most interesting to me, a crocheted passementerie featuring nailhead and pendant beads, and designed to use as embellishment on skirts and dresses. Please note: Clicking on the small image to the left will take you to the high resolution version, which is sized to print at 300 dpi on a legal-sized sheet.


Saturday’s Child: The Rag Rug

When I was growing up, I loved to visit my Grandma Betty’s house. In fact, it was more than a house; it was the family homestead and included a century-old farmhouse, out buildings, 72 acres of sage brush and sandstone hills, a creek, fossils, artifacts, and when I was quite young, the remains of a permanent mining camp. Part of my visual context for that home was the ubiquitous rag rugs. They were the type purchased for almost nothing at Pamida, woven of mill-ends from garment manufacturing and probably made mostly of polyester blend shirt scraps left over from the 70s. They were a riot of color, and I’d sit at the kitchen table or on the edge of the bathtub and just look at them; they were so interesting.

They can also be quite beautiful, in addition to being easy to create and inexpensive. In their purest form, they’ll be made out of, well, rags; long scraps of fabric left from worn-out garments and housewares. Simple looms are easy to make and easy to buy. The rugs I remember were random, but if you’re like me and gravitate to certain colors, your palette might be more sophisticated just by virtue of the fact that your rags are better-related. Or then, maybe not. Of course, rag rugs don’t have to be woven. Braided rag rugs that are then sewn into circles and ovals with planned gradients are also a popular country-style choice, and rugs crocheted in single crochet are also very traditional. Bathroom rugs knitted of absorbent cotton jersey from worn-out T-shirts are a popular modern choice.

And best of all, you don’t need to make a rug in order to get that riot of color! I’ve been looking at attractive ways to use up yarn scraps, and came across some really beautiful patterns that are reminiscent of rag rugs, but actually wind up as blankets.

Karen Janine from Mittens and Makings created a simple scrap blanket with double-stranded crochet. It’s beautiful and easy and HUGE, and I think it’s amazing.

The Beekeeper’s Quilt from Tiny Owl Knits uses tiny knitted hexagonal pillow motifs to create a quilted blanket out of sock-weight scraps that is just to die for. A more significant undertaking than the granny-style scrap blanket above, but stunning when finished.

Last, but not least, a sort of cross between a rag rug and a string quilt; an afghan from Ulli Stuttgart made of bias-knitted squares. Granted the website isn’t in English, you CAN click to a PDF that has instructions in both English and German. The finished afghan is beautiful.

So there we have it. Bringing the beauty and thrift of rag rugs back into the home, one scrap at a time! Go forth and save.

Untitled I don’t actually make very much for myself. In fact, I believe the only two things I own that were crafted by my own hands are my Bedlam hat and the 2nd version of Ruth, and only because I was given it with my Oma passed away. But lately I’ve been going through a flurry of small projects for other people, in a sort of trade-commissions kind of way. Lots of fun stuff, and more to come.

Among the items so far created have been a LOT of crocheted hats. The owl hat pictured left is based on the Child’s Owl Hat by Elizabeth Trantham at Crochet in Color. I modified it to fit an adult and followed the pattern for the facial features. For the same person I also made an adult-sized Kitty hat based on another child’s pattern by Elizabeth Trantham. The final version of the hat has the nose moved up somewhat. Again I adjusted the pattern to fit an adult, and then I just winged the ovals for eyes and nose, made the ears bigger upon request and winged the bow as well. Both hats used Caron Simply Soft in various colors, although the yellow in the owl hat is Caron Natura because it was the closest thing to bright yellow I could find ANYwhere in Lincoln. A very simply crocheted cowl scarf in Lion Brand Hometown, a big beret in Lion Brand Wool-Ease Worsted, from a free Garnstudio pattern, a slouchy hat in an unidentified wool tweed, using a pattern by Adriana Veleda, (although mine didn’t turn out very slouchy), plus numerous coasters and hot-cup sleeves round out the recent finished projects. Currently planned are a couple more Garnstudio hats, but knitted this time, and a big-eared bunny hat/scarf.

UntitledIn addition to the kilt hose about which I posted last week, this week I also made a gift for Kit’s violin teacher, Miss Jentry. She had a baby in July; a little girl named Penny, for whom I knitted a little jacket. That’s somehow become my thing. Babies get books and a hand-knit jacket from me. For Penny I chose a vintage cotton by Conshohocken. Its soft and similar to Bernat’s Cottontots in texture, and a lovely purple that is both bright and soft. I chose a modified version of this vintage pattern, which has a round yoke with a sort of knitted popcorn effect. The yarn knitted at gauge on size 9′s, and the resulting fabric is exceptionally soft and flexible. I will give the sweater to Miss Jentry at Kit’s lesson next Wednesday.


Thursday’s Child: Kilted

Untitled I’ve made a pair of kilt hose before. They were uncomplicated, like the man for whom they were made, but they were fun to make and fun to gift. Now I’m into another pair of kilt hose, much more intricate than the last pair. Eventually I’d like to make kilt hose for all of my kilt-wearing friends (which is a lot), the order based on an algorithm that takes into account how often they wear kilts, how close to them I am and how much I think they’d appreciate a hand-knitted gift.

So, these hose involve cabled knotwork on the front and in the calf shaping as well as cables and detail columns, and a folded cable cuff with picot edging. They’re beautiful, and they’re coming along very well. They’re made in Cascade 220 Superwash in a heathered tan chosen to go best with a kahki Utilikilt.


Friday’s Child: Bathing Suit

Time for another free pattern! This one comes from a knitting/crochet booklet I bought without part of the cover. There isn’t a copyright date on the front cover, the back cover is missing, and I’ve never seen another copy of it with which to compare. Based on the model designer and the style shapes, I’m dating it to the early to mid 40′s, although it’s possible it’s a late 30′s booklet. I can find no copyright renewals for the copyright holder or for the designer. That all out of the way, the pattern is an adorable knitted bathing suit. No gauge is given, but I can tell you that the Shetland Floss would be a fingering weight wool or wool blend. Download the PDF here.


Friday’s Child: Bedlam

It’s Friday, which means free pattern time! We’ll start with one that’s been around for a little while. It is a knitted hat pattern I call Bedlam. It was born of a strange combination of lackadaisy and ambition. You see, it was cold out and I wanted to take my dog for a walk. I’d been knitting for about five years, and was actually quite startled to realize that I didn’t have a hat. I live in Nebraska, and it gets very cold here. I have a basement full of yarn and a wide variety of skills to use it. It seemed like the universe was mocking me. That’s when ambition struck. I could just make myself a hat. It couldn’t take very long, especially if I used a bulky yarn, and I had plenty of stash I could use. I dug out a skein of Brown Sheep worsted and opted to use it doubled, and then I started knitting. I knew I wanted something more complex than stockinette, and cables are an easy way to add interest to hat. But that’s where the lackadaisy struck. I hate counting rows. I know it’s something I have to do, but I still hate it. I don’t know why. But then I thought, who cares if I count rows? I don’t have to count rows if I don’t want to, so there. The results are interesting and attractive, I think. But my dog never did get a walk that day. By the time my hat was finished, it was also windy and turning dark. Poor dog.

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Monday’s Child: Ruth and Ruthie

Ruth and Ruthie

Ruth was my mother’s mother. She was a beautiful Bavarian woman, dignified and aristocratic, with refined tastes. She spent her childhood in the elegant environs of Nuremburg, Germany, the only child of wealthy parents. WWII changed many things about her life and her lifestyle. The years following saw her in love, the wife of a rancher in Wyoming, and just a handful of years more saw her a widow struggling to raise her three children in a somewhat inhospitable clime. But she did not lose her appreciation of fine and beautiful things, and that appreciation and recognition were gifts she passed to her children. Like most women of her generation, my Oma crocheted and knit. Many photos from her youth feature gorgeous and skillfully-wrought knits, and in her later years, when she was no longer able to handle her needles or hook, she was still inspired by luxurious yarns and fibers, beautiful colorways and the craftsmanship of knitting.

For our first Monday’s child, in honor of that love of beauty and elegance, I’m resurrecting my very first knitting pattern; a bolero jacket. Inspired by a photo from a Norwegian knitting magazine, I designed and knitted the jacket for myself out of Joann’s Sensations Licorice in a beautiful red colorway, and I wore it twice. The second time, my Aunt Marge told me my Oma would love it, so I slipped it off and gave it to her to take to Oma with my love. At that time, Oma was wheelchair-bound due to advanced MS and was often chilly. Sweaters either were too bulky and got bunched in the chair behind her or were too light to keep her warm. She loved the jacket and was delighted that I had learned to knit. She asked for another in shades of blue and green to compliment the other half of her wardrobe, and I knitted it for my Knitting Olympics project in 2006. My Oma passed away two days after Christmas in 2007 and the original red wool jacket was not found among her things, but my Knitting Olympics version in blues and greens was returned to me. Wearing it is like getting a hug from Oma. In her honor, I’ve named the bolero jacket Ruth. The modification for a shrug is Ruthie

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Craftster Be Awesome Swap

I recently participated in the Craftster Be Awesome Swap. My partner was the fabulous PinkMafia.

Lothruin to PinkMafia:

PinkMafia received a pair of modified Lolita Legs, from Knitty. Although the pattern calls for Elann Esprit, I used the comparable (but higher quality, I believe) Cascade Fixation in black, because that is what I had.

The original Lolita Legs lace up the back. Now, this is an interesting idea in a sock, however, I really do not like it in this application. If the stocking were solid, not net, I might like it better. Also, the stitch pattern tends to twist and the lacing up the back of the stocking necessitates persuading the fabric away from this natural tendency. I, personally, think the twist is very flattering to the leg. Meanwhile, the reason for using the stretch yarn is that you avoid having to do significant shaping, but that also means that the lacing looks poorly, because at places it is very wide and others almost overlapping. In short, if I were going to make a stocking that laced up the back, there are many ways in which it would be different than this.

And, if I were going to knit these stockings, there are many things I would change, and, in fact, did. I read a number of others’ experiences with modifying out the back laces (thank you Ravelry!) and then set about it myself. First, I allowed and accounted for the natural twist in the fabric. I started with the toe as written, and worked to the heel. Upon reaching the heel, though, I found that the original “back” of my work (between needles 1 and 4) was approximately a quarter turn off. I essentially adjusted the position of the “back” by simply designating that now, this needle, formerly needle x, was needle y (Honestly, I don’t remember exactly what needles got adjusted to what, but I have faith that you’ll know just what I mean when you get there and see it for yourself.) Then I worked the heel as written, and up to where the pattern calls for the split for working back and forth. At this point, I believe my work had twisted almost a half-turn, and again I adjusted the “back” by designating the needles differently. (And yes, I believe this gave me, over all, about an extra 3/4 round, but the nature of the stocking doesn’t make this obvious.)

The place in the pattern that calls for the split is essentially the same place where, in most long-sock patterns, you would begin shaping for the calf. Having worked it with very stretchy yarn, not SO much shaping was necessary, but I did do some at this point. I added 4 stitches on either side of the new “back”, essentially adding in two new repeats of the stitch pattern. I found the method I used made a really subtle increase that blended ALMOST seamlessly into the stitch pattern. The pattern rows are either “*YO, k2tog*, repeat to end” or “*YO, skp*, repeat to end”. It doesn’t really matter on which of these rows you work the increases. Whatever works out for your measurements. On either side of the new “back” (I worked them all four in a row, not at the beginning and ending of the round), instead of working a YO and decrease, across two repeats of the pattern I worked YO, k1, YO, k1, YO, k1, YO, k1. It’s as simple as that.

After that I just knitted and knitted until I had almost used up all my yarn. Each stocking took almost exactly one ball of Cascade Fixation, which made the figuring easy. The top of the stocking I made narrower than in the pattern, and a trick I used for a good loose castoff (a stumbling point, it seems, with the stretchy yarn) was to cast off with a crochet hook roughly twice the size of the needles I was using. PinkMafia has worn them with a garter belt, and as you can see, they look fabulous on her:


Fishnets 2

PinkMafia to Lothruin:

And what did I get in return, gentle readers? A bustle and little hat in teal silk. PinkMafia is a burlesque performer, and does her own costuming (it is amazing, and you should check it out on Craftster!) and she created for me a gorgeous little ensemble. What with Cory working on his portfolio and all, we took the opportunity to combine pictures for posting in the swap gallery with a professional-style photo shoot, and the results can be seen at this gallery on Cory’s website. (Yes, the rest of that costume is pieces I already owned, including the gorgeous Victorian-style corset and that amazing black crinoline.)

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