girls like boye’s

i want one…not the needles of course, but the t-shirt. and is there some reason they stopped running this ad?!?

girls like boye's

from McCall’s Needle work and Crafts, spring 1978 – see the whole ad here.  i think this song should be the soundtrack.

p.s. and if you needed any further incentive to make the tabouli mentioned in my last post, here’s a picture of my most recent batch.


sweet yarn

while cleaning the yarn room this week, i found these two little gems.

chadwick's red heart sock and sweater

chadwick’s red heart
‘ready-to-knit pull-out skein
save time – no winding
100% virgin wool 3 ply 1 oz

and the sweetest part:
chadwicks's red heart sock and sweater
why didn’t red heart keep this up?!? come to think of it, why did they ever quit making wool…

lovely little ball of vintage angora
vintage angora
vintage angora
it might need to be made into something for the babe.

have a fabulous saturday!


i was very silly to think that there might not be much blogging this week.  my mother-in-law (katie) arrived yesterday and already there has been yarn gifting.

love the labels on this one!! there’s certainly a sweater lot of this, although i don’t think i’ll be making myself a sweater out of it ;)

although my current place in the world lacks the vintage yarn i used to find, katie found a batch for me in alaska.  woo hoo!

8 skeins of the baby wool, 7 of the wool/moahair, and 5 of the wine red

buttons sorting.

got these a while ago at a craft swap, along with the yarn below, but never got around to sorting them yet!

finished object showing

katie’s most recent shawl, i spent last night wrapped up in it while too tired to move
katie's shawl
katie's shawl

later today there will be yarn store journeying! i love vacation at home.

bernat diamond sock pak

we’re back from our mini-vacation, and although i’m not full functioning yet, i have something i needed to show you all right away.

bernat diamond sock pak
reads: Bernat diamond sock pak in wonderful meadowspun yarn
smaller print: the easiest, most popular pattern of all… in the short length men like

google-ing brought up nothing except maybe some of these on ebay at one point or another.  i found this historical gem in a lovely little antique store in clarion, pa.  they sold it to me for a dollar.  i think they were happy that the right person found it :) i was ecstatic.

bernat diamond sock pak

Anne L Macdonald, in No Idle Hands says that in the 50’s, “Argylers were still in full cry, elaborating on the ‘traditional’ Scottish patterns by knitting diamonds within diamonds and combining diamonds with plaids and stripes. Argyles were so popular for high school cheerleaders that the going rate was $20 a pair for handknit ones.” that quote totally reminds me of my interview with Sue and her answer to how she stared knitting… i must remember to ask her if they were argyles…

bernat diamond sock pak
reads on both sides: 12 DIFFERENT COLOR COMBINATIONS TO CHOOSE FROM – see other side…
this side: This pak contains 2 1/8 ounces of yarn… sufficient to make one pair of short length diamond pattern men’s or boys’ socks in any size up to and including size 12. Easy-to-knit instructions inside.
the other side: This is meadowspun… the yarn with the cashmere-like feel… 50% virgin wool for softness and warmth… 50% Dupont Nylon for lasting strength and easy washability… anti-shrink, anti-stretch.

in her chapter on the 1950’s, Macdonald mentions just such kits as these. i wonder if the kits continued to exist after the craze was over? i have at least one sock booklet from the late 60s or early 70s with argyles in it… but did the kits still exist?  i know they weren’t as wildly popular as the 40s and 50s.  anyone?

bernat diamond sock pak

if this kit does happen to date back to the 1950’s, this next quote from Anne L. Macdonald is apt.  the yarn inside is 50% wool/50% dupont nylon. (click here for more history of nylon).

“Argyle-knitting teenagers were humored by one authoress’s jaunty introduction: ‘You all know what I’m doing!  Knitting.  And I love it… knitting all the time.  Right now I’m turning the heel of a pair of argyles-they’re gray, red and navy.  I’m sure he’ll like these…. Socks, socks and more socks!  He just can’t get enough of them.  Socks prove that a little goes a long way.  Probably he clings to the precious wool, but maybe he’s taken up nylon, and if that’s his liking, nylon’s your meat.  It’s a great advertisement, too, with socks so easy to carry around, and knit.’

She never clarified what was being advertise, but with nylon as the ‘meat,’ someone’s trap was baited!”

in the 1940’s, nylon was only used for re-inforceing by most.  by the time of these, it was better respected and not only did it make it into the yarn, but ended up being 50% of it!!  this kit is, of course, never to be knit – but is destined to ride out its time as a precious piece of knitting history.

turn of the century

when i found out that my friend vivian had knitting/crocheting tools made by her grandfather and great-grandfather, i asked if she would bring them in to show me so i could blog about them. she estimates them at around the turn of the century into the early 1900s. a few of the embroidery hoops might not be handmade.



if you want a closer look at any of them, click into flickr by clicking on the picture and then click the ‘all sizes’ button above the picture in flickr.


i love the double ended crochet hook.


“Check your tension”

good warning

so. i didn’t find anything too bad looking through my collection of old patterns. mind you, i did not read them all the way through and there could be very funny things in the patterns themselves. the old booklets i have from Patons have the following in a box marked ‘GENERAL INFORMATION’ about checking tension:

The garments in this book are worked to the exact tension given. They are closely knitted to insure a firm fabric that will wear better and keep its shape longer than a loosely knitted fabric. Check your tension. Before beginning your garment take the wool and needle specified. Cast on 20 stitches. Work 20 rows of stocking stitch and compare with the tension given in the instructions. All given tension in Beehive instructions is measured over stocking stitch. If your tension is too loose try a size smaller needle. If your tension is too tight try a size larger needle.

under that was this line: Be sure to work to exact tension give if you want your garment to work to correct size.

One Bernat book had this to say about their book:

Every effort has been made to have the knitting directions contained in this book accurate and complete; however we cannot be responsible for variance of individual knitters, human errors, or typographical mistakes.

guess that one didn’t get an errata. here’s their part on tension


The term “STITCH GAUGE” is the most important part of all knitting directions, since the sizing of any knitted garment is planned on this gauge. You MUST work to the gauge which is given or your finished work will not be the size indicated in the directions.


Cast on approximately 20 sts, using the yarn and needles which will be used for the body of your work. Work in specified pattern stitch for 3 inches. Bind off all sts. Block this knitted swatch and then, using a ruler as a guide, count the number of sts to 1 inch…

The rest is similar to the Beehive one, recommending to go up or down a needle size, although they do stress at the end that “The IMPORTANT THING to remember is that the size needle used does not matter, as long as your stitch gauge is correct.”

one Spinnerin Magazine also had similar instructions, but went on a bit about the size of needles used:


People knit differently. Some use aluminum needles, others use plastic; some use 14 inch needles, others use 10 inch; some knit tightly, others loosely. A needle size is given for each pattern with a gauge. The original garment was made on that size needle and at that gauge. BUT YOU, PERHAPS CANNOT GET THE SAME GAUGE ON THOSE NEEDLES. Therefore, since the garments has been charted TO THAT GAUGE, you must get the gauge, REGARDLESS OF THE SIZE NEEDLES YOU FIND YOU MUST USE.

Spinnerin actually goes into the math of why, if your gauge is off, your garment will not fit. Beehive also told you how you might go about adjusting their patterns – in 2 or 3 sentences, granted, but it was still there!

can you feel the angst of the pattern producers? it’s a never ending battle with us naughty knitters :) at least they weren’t acting like the designer from the late 1800s in the historical example from my last blog post.

maggie's hat

my current gauge dilemma is this hat for my roommate – of course i’m not using the recommended yarn. i did, however, get gauge, but it’s a hat so it needs to be stretchy too and it wasn’t stretchy enough. i ripped it out two repeats into the pirate pattern – the people at knitting group were pretty mortified. up the needle size and this is into the second time and i’m still not sure if it’s right. might be destined for a second rip and an even greater needle size – but the colors are perfect!  and they must be used for this hat… you know how it goes.

pattern writing history


today i thought i’d bring Anne L. Macdonald’s historical voice into the mix of thoughts on pattern writing. for that, i’m referring back to quotes i made from her book, No Idle Hands: A Social History of American Knitting, in earlier blog entries.

in this blog entry Macdonald talks about how patterns were passed from generation to generation in unwritten form… 1830 to 1986. i don’t know about you, but 1986 does not seem that long ago.

this entry quotes Anne L. Macdonald on gauge towards the bottom of the entry. gauge was first mentioned in 1870 – which is also not really that long ago. how could patterns work without gauge? hmmm. i think they often didn’t. or successful knitters needed to be more intuitive to make them work. i remember from reading A History of Hand Knitting by Richard Rutt that some of the first published ‘knitting’ books were actually needle point patterns… very intricate and wouldn’t work for knitting at all.

anyhow, i must admit i’m fascinated by how recent pattern writing is and truly it gives us some idea of why it has taken so long to work out the kinks. i also don’t really think there will ever be one standard way to write a pattern and, i must admit, i kind of like it that way. write what suits you. for me and my teacherly nature, i’ll try to make my patterns a bit more easily accessible. for fleece artist? those west coasters don’t know how to read patterns.

happy new years day!

p.s. those long papers with sticky notes on them below the books are my book in progress!

p.p.s. tonight may see me going through some of my older patterns to see if i can find a glaring example of this craziness… stay tuned.

valentines day

in october – or at least you’d think so by the color combos i have for you today.

first off, i was very surprised by how very generous in your definitions of one-of-a-kind were!! not that i expected you to be all hard core or anything :) thanks for your input and know that my mind is assuaged by your responses. last night i even embroidered another hat in a line of hats.

my push for the week on the knitting front has been to flesh out the colors/shapes etc. of each size 0-6 mo, 6-18 mo, and 18 mo-4 yr. i’m trying to up my quantities to 8 each – the current tally is at 8 for the smallest, 7 for the second size, and 4 for the largest. this whole plan is about to be disrupted completely as our roommates are going to NYC for friday and saturday and i’m going to take this opportunity to dye!! yay!

i still haven’t figured out the whens/wheres of dyeing in the new living situation so i’ve been hoping for an opportunity to slip some in. expect some color this weekend – if i find some containers to mix my dyes in that is… any ideas about that? i used to use my old glass peanut butter jars.

valentines day hat
so named by my friend amanda in vancouver
i tried to give it pompoms, but they ended as bean bag fodder. i guess donegal tweed just doesn’t like being made into pompoms.

valentines day hat

this hat is very interesting to me because it’s an example of the doodling i’ve been doing since high school making its way into a hat. this also happened with one of the book hats. i believe that all people who are active drawers/poets/imagers of some sort have a ‘vocabulary’ of images built up over time and these hearts are one of mine. my drawn ones were generally much more scribbley though, traced over not very carefully several times with a ball point pen. but they did exist in clumps, growing all over the pages of my sketchbook in college. i remember sitting in the university center between classes with my friend brenda.  i was filling a sketchbook page iwth hearts and she said ‘most people can’t even draw a heart and you’re sitting here drawing them upside down!’ i still use hearts as images in both my poetry and my art (not that i’m doing much of either right now…), but in different ways… they’ve become a deeper, more meaningful image than they were when i was in high school or university.

valentines day hat - flat

donegal tweed homespun
my hand dyed recycled sweater wool

adult medium/large

valentines day hat - top

and a matchy matchy small hat
be my valentine hat

be my valentine hat

my hand dyed recycled sweater 70% angora/30% nylon
cascade 220 wool (heathers i think)
thrifted wool (red – a bit less orange than it looks)

0-6 mo.

be my valentine hat - angled

i’m curious about your vocabulary of images. if you’re an image person, what images keep coming back to you, gathering meaning over the years? or even, what image have you found yourself drawn back to from earlier days?

transitional yarnings

from this roving, to this yarn, and now to this hat

star topped handspun hat

truly a transitional hat. this one has been with me in various forms since my last dye session in vancouver all the way until tuesday’s knitting group at knit one. have i mentioned that i like having stability and routine? in fact, i have a theory that we all do, we’re all still 3 years old inside :) i love that knitting can be a part of my stability even when everything else is up in the air. it calms, allows me to create, and gives me time to think/pray. poor benjamin is not so lucky in his chosen outlet. he couldn’t wait to get on an organ when we finally got to pittsburgh and into our new house. he did some composing along the way, but it’s just not the same thing. wish organs were as transportable.

thinking about this topic makes me remember all of the women through the centuries who built knitting into their everyday lives. those who knit for and through wars, those who finally got their relaxing moment when they picked up their knitting at the end of the day. as maxine, the professor who over-looked my thesis pointed out, it very well may have been a way of creating a life, transforming what the day is. pulling oneself up by the yarnings, so to speak, and, from my perspective an activity that interacts with oneself, other humans, and creation and through that brings life back into focus.  it, of course, doesn’t do that every day… but i am thankful when it does provide.

star topped handspun hat - flat

and with that last thought, i present the

star topped handspun hat

my hand dyed handspun wool
with a little border of some recycled sweater wool from my friend laurie

size 6-18 mo, but i think it errs on the smaller a bit

star topped handspun hat - front

speaking of up in the air and transitions – three new things to me that completely blow my mind: cicadas, cardinals, and glow bugs. and not so new, but handspun tassels also blow my mind. anything new to you right now?

star topped handspun hat - topping

knitting self-knowledge

early early knitting found while packing. and i mean really early – maybe 2003? remember when i was talking about the try everything and anything phase of each new knitter? this was part of mine. i had a debbie bliss book and debbie bliss yarns were being closed out at a local yarn store so i thought i’d try one of the patterns. ah the days before knitting self-knowledge :)

this one is even pre knowing how to do a knit stitch really. for at least the first year of my knitting life, i knit through the back of the stitch. see the twists?

here are five opinions i have now that made this purse not such a good project for the knitter i was to become:

1 – i don’t like sewing in a bajillion ends – now i carry the yarn up, or spit splice, or choose a different pattern. i dare not show you the insides of this one.

2 – yarn can be splitty, especially soft yarns like this merino when knit on size 3 US needles.

3 – seaming is not very fun. i’d rather not do it unless i have to or love the project beyond all else. i do not and did not ever love this project that much.

4 – super soft fragile wools like merino? for your neck, body and head. that said, i’ve seen some beautiful purses out there, but they probably were not knit in merino.

5 – knit on a circular this one would have taken less time, wasted less wool, and been much more pleasant.

i’d love to invite you into the conversation. what was one of your early knitting projects and why does it not fit who you are as a knitter now?

i think i’ll pack mine – or maybe i should give it to susan to felt?

p.s. hilariously, i told you in the earlier post from above that i’d actually frogged this purse. ha!

p.p.s. if you’d like, there are also some good stories and lessons learned in the comments under the first time i brought this up.