Thursday, 29 May 2014

Smug summer crochet

Now, I'm rather pleased with this. I wanted to make something in cotton, but I'm not a huge fan of garments in cotton yarn. Then I had a browse through Susan Cropper's book, Vintage Crochet, and saw patterns for those crochet pot covers with little bead things on them which keep insects from falling into your cup of tea... or wine glass! The pattern is by Emma Seddon and she edges them with vintage buttons, rather than beads, which I really like the look of. Mine has buttons from a charity shop so they're not at all expensive to make.
I used DK Sublime Egyptian Cotton, which comes in a 50g ball (115 yards). I should think I've used about half of it - there's quite a lot of crochet in there! Two possible problems: one is that the buttons don't move as easily as beads would long the yarn. This matters because you thread all of your buttons onto the yarn before you start the crochet, so you have to shunt them along rather a lot before you get to the final row when you actually incorporate them into the stitches. This is just a bit of a pain - the end result is worth it, but I did spend rather a long time moving buttons along. The other problem is that, although I religiously counted the buttons onto the yarn, and followed the pattern as closely as I could, I still ended up with two too few buttons for the number of scallops I had when it got to the last row. So, somewhere along the way, it's grown.... I counted the spokes in the first couple of rounds ... then felt a bit lazy and just left two scallops without buttons hanging from them, one on each side. And, for this, I'm fine with that!
I'm now beginning another one in blue. My first one was the "Tumbler Cover" and the blue one will be slightly larger, I think, and is called the "Milk Pitcher Cover". But really, both fit rather nicely over a wineglass:
So, should it ever be nice enough to sit outside, sipping wine - I'll be ready!

Monday, 12 May 2014

A Shoal Of Ganseys

Well, this weekend was brilliant. We went off up to the huge skies and heavy downpours of North Norfolk and I went to the Shoal of Ganseys exhibition at the Sheringham Mo museum. I wasn't sure what to expect as I'd never been to the museum before but I had a brilliant time. For a start, there was no one else in the museum at all! I'm not usually so antisocial that I only enjoy things when there's no one else there, but it did mean I could have a really leisurely browse and take all the (people-free) photos I wanted, without feeling rushed!

The main part of the museum, the ground floor gallery, is home to huge lifeboats - oh, and knitted bunting to honour the gansey exhibits:

The operations manager, Philip, told me about the history of the building and talked me through how they came by the exhibition: partly lent by the Moray Firth Gansey Project, then supplemented with their own local exhibits and patterns. The Moray Firth project looks excellent and you can find out about it here: .

In each huge lifeboat, jumpers are displayed from Scotland, Norfolk and the North of England. The majority of them are jumpers which are worn and holey, which adds to their charm. Then, upstairs, there's a tech point with links to the Moray Firth project and - gasp of excitement - a sample box with patterns from all around Britain knitted up for reference. I thought of Louise of @CaithnessCraftCollective as there was a Caithness sample, as well as this local one:


There's plenty about the history of the gansey, and the information boards go well beyond the basics. There was a really heathy and welcome focus on women's contributions to not only the knitting itself, but the sea-faring life of coastal towns, as well as photos of the 'herring girls' who knitted some of the jumpers, without patterns. I particularly liked the idea of the 'knitting sheath' - a kind of implement to make your knitting portable! It hooked to your belt and had a hole for the needles to sit in. I'm sure there'd be a market for these today! The bulk of the jumper could be pinned to your own belt so that it didn't hang, heavy, on the needles as you sat on the sea wall, or walked around the town:

There's a case of local patterns, too, as well as plenty of description of the different designs and what they symbolised: rib bars to suggest marriage and children; lightening and hail stones; diamonds.

I would heartily encourage anyone to go and see this: it's a fascinating, thought provoking exhibit with lots to see. It's on til the 10th September and you can find out more about it here: