Places to Sit and Knit 4

Hello!

The last instalment in my series ‘Places to Sit and Knit’ was over 6 months ago, so high time for another one. It’s about an hour’s cycling from our home to get to the place I have in mind, along narrow roads and bicycle tracks. We’re cycling through Weerribben-Wieden National Park, the largest lowland bog in Northwest Europe.

It’s lovely, cycling here, but it’s also a warm day and I’m glad we’ve reached our destination. So, where exactly are we and why here? Well, look:

Today’s place to sit and knit is a very special bench in the village of Wanneperveen. The people living here have decorated it with mosaic, showing local highlights. The back shows a ewe with a lamb, a farmhouse, a bell tower and a monument with a stepped gable.

And this is what the front looks like:

We’re in an ordinary street, and the view from the bench isn’t very special either:

Today it’s all about the bench itself, or rather the Social Sofa, because that is what it is. The aim of the Social Sofa project is promoting social cohesion by working on a creative project together, as neighbours, and ending up with a beautiful place to meet and have a chat.

Here are some of the details that these people have so lovingly created together. Several black-and-white Friesian-Holsteins:

A mallard:

And a water lily flower, with leaves in many shades of blue and green, and the date:

I think it’s a lovely place to sit and knit and have a chat.

So, what is on your needles? Do you have anything on your needles at all? If not, why not? Do you feel uninspired or is it too hot for you to knit at this time of the year? What do you do if you’re not knitting? Crochet? Other crafts? Draw or write? Or do you give yourself a break from crafting and creativity? I’m really interested, so do leave a comment if you feel like it. If you don’t feel comfortable with that, just reading my writings quietly is fine, too.

And what have I got on  my needles? Nothing very interesting, really. To be honest, big life events, even good ones, always unbalance me. No matter how wonderful and positive the birth of our grandson was, it had that effect on me, too. For a while I felt totally uninspired. But my hands need something to do, so first of all I finished every WIP (Work In Progress) in the house. When there was absolutely nothing on my needles anymore, I started with some simple and familiar things. First of all the most basic of socks.

Yarns (from left to right): Zitron ‘Trekking XXL’ shade 104, Lana Grossa ‘Landlust Die Sockenwolle’ shades 503, 406 and 501, and Regia ‘City Streets Color 4-ply’ shade 02898.

The Landlust ones have strange memories attached to them. I bought the yarn during a lockdown last year, when non-essential shops were only open by appointment and no more than 2 customers were allowed in simultaneously. It seems like a long time ago. Will it remain a thing of the past?

The next simple thing I cast on for was a stocking stitch Library Vest (with pockets – I love pockets) by a familiar designer. I had some dark blue tweed yarn left over from a cardigan, and was able to get three more skeins (in the same dye lot, yay!).

It’s a really nice project, but I’m writing this on a hot day, with a thunderstorm threatening. And just looking at this picture makes me feel like: what was I thinking, starting this woolly, tweedy thing at the beginning of summer?

And here is the third simple and familiar thing I started – another Thús 2.

I’ve knit this tiny house lace pattern so often now, that I can knit it in my dreams. I’m very happy with this as a summer project. It’s a summery colour, not too big and warm on my lap, and I can easily take it along.

That’s all of my knitting at the moment. I think it’s time for something a little more interesting now, but what? A more complicated knitting project? A detour into another craft? I don’t know yet, but ideas are starting to bubble again.

What do you think, shall we cycle on?

As of next week I’ll be looking after our sweet little grandson one day a week, when our daughter is going back to work. I’ve already spent two days at his home as a trainee and feel fairly confident that I can do it.

I don’t know what this means for my blog, though. I may be able to keep on publishing a blogpost once a week as before, or less frequently, or less regularly, or shorter posts. One thing I do know is that I will keep blogging – I enjoy it too much not to.

For the next couple of posts I have planned some textiles-filled cycling tours. I hope I can find the time and also that you’ll join me again. Bye for now! xxx

Pyrus Blanket

Hello!

Do you do it too – Google anything and everything? Although I was tremendously looking forward to the birth of our first grandchild, I also felt slightly uncertain about my new role as a grandmother, having grown up without grandparents. So I Googled on ‘How to be a grandmother.’

Terribly silly, I know. Still, I found quite a few helpful tips. But also this one: ‘Whatever you do, DO NOT KNIT!’ That really had me in stitches. I’ve been knitting since I was five years old, and now I should stop?! Well, you can imagine that I disregarded that piece of ‘wisdom’.

For most of the things I knit to welcome our grandson I used existing patterns, but I also wanted to design something myself. And after much pondering, sketching and swatching, I came up with the blanket you’ve already seen at the top. Here is another photo of it folded:

And here it is spread out on the floor:

Our daughter’s becoming a mum inevitably made me think back to the time she was a baby herself. From the time she was just a few months old until the age of seven, another mum in our street with a daughter about the same age looked after her when I was working. She had a wonderful time with that family.

When we moved away to where we live now, I made them a patchwork cushion for a farewell present, embroidered with a tree and the words: ‘A family’s love shelters like a tree.’ Obviously I can’t show you the actual cushion, but here is a (slightly grainy) photo from the pattern magazine (Ariadne, June 1991).

I am well aware that not all families provide loving shelter, and also that some have only very few branches. But still, I love the sentiment, and it was what I was thinking of when I knit our grandson’s blanket. I called it Pyrus Blanket for the big old pear tree in our garden – a truly sheltering presence. (Pyrus is Latin for pear.)

The Pyrus Blanket is covered in the pear tree’s oval, sharp-tipped leaves. The branches of our pear tree spread out like a many-armed candelabra – nothing like the straight lace ladders in the blanket.

Those were inspired by an espaliered pear tree with vertical branches in De Fruithof.

De Fruithof is an orchard about 30 minutes cycling from our home with some 800 different historical fruit trees. It also has a 750 metre long espalier pear tree avenue.

I should, perhaps, have knit the blanket in pure white, to represent the pear tree’s blossoms.

But I’ve taken the artistic license to knit it in creamy, undyed wool, because that was what our grandson’s parents preferred.

The yarn I’ve chosen is Drops ‘Merino Extra Fine’ – a 100% wool DK-weight yarn that won’t break the bank, is machine-washable, super soft and shows up the stitch pattern beautifully. It also has the Oeko-Tex 100 Class 1 classification, a very strict standard that guarantees that the yarn is free of harmful substances and safe for babies and infants.

The Pyrus Blanket measures 75 x 100 cm (approx. 30 x 40”). All patterning is done in the right side rows, with relaxing purl rows on the wrong side. The garter stitch borders have a special edge stitch that I learnt from a girl in the hospital where we were both staying as young teenagers. Among the less pleasant memories, I have very happy ones of us knitting long colourful garter stitch scarves.

(For anyone who doesn’t know this edge stitch yet, I’m explaining it in the pattern.)

I don’t know if I would enjoy being called a tree hugger, but as a family, we do have a thing for trees. Our daughter has also painted a tree on the wall of her little son’s bedroom. When it’s not in use, his Pyrus Blanket often hangs on the back of the chair under that sheltering tree (not always so neatly folded, of course).

Well, that’s the story of my Pyrus Blanket. I have written up the pattern in both English and Dutch, and it can be found

here on Ravelry.

As always, thank you for reading. And should you decide to knit a Pyrus Blanket for a new arrival in your life, or as a gift to someone else: happy knitting!

Gift Leaves

Hello!

Do you remember my plan to knit all kinds of things from small bits of leftover sock yarn? My plans often take a long time to grow into something tangible, but after the Soothing Sachets here is the second project: Gift Leaves.

I’m calling them Gift Leaves for several reasons:

  • Because I’ve given myself the gift of time to play around with something not exactly useful.
  • Because I’ve written up the pattern as a gift to you.
  • Because the leaves themselves can be given away as gifts.

I’ve made them in three sizes: Small, Medium and Large:

With a length of approximately 6.5 cm/2.6” (excluding the stalk) the large leaves are still fairly small, but quite a bit larger than the small ones of only 4 cm/1.6”.

Fastening the beginning of the stalk to the base of the leaf to form a loop, the leaves can be used as gift tags.

Perhaps knit from the same yarn as the gift inside.

They can be fastened onto a zipper.

Or used to decorate jam jars with tealights inside for a quick, simple, inexpensive little gift.

And a medium-sized leaf with a looooong stalk can become a bookmark. Extra special given together with a book, with the leaf colours matching the book cover.

(The book is A Wood of One’s Own by Ruth Pavey, by the way. A gift I received from a friend.)

Solid colours look good. Self-striping yarn works, too, if the stripes are not too wide and the yarn sections used are chosen well. And I think especially some of those ‘busy’ hand-painted yarns are fun for Gift Leaves.

A free download of the pattern with plenty of colourful photos (in English en ook in het Nederlands) can be found

here on Ravelry

Together with a special skein of yarn, a print-out of the pattern might make a nice gift for a knitting friend, too.

Have fun! Xxx

Woad Handbook

Hello!

There is no knitting to show you at the moment, I’m afraid. I’m busy writing up a new pattern and finishing a small and hopefully fun project from sock yarn leftovers that I hope to share with you soon. Until then, I thought I’d write about the Woad Handbook I’ve recently read. (For any of you who have missed my earlier posts about it here and here, woad is a dye plant that gives beautiful shades of blue.)

The word ‘handbook’ suggests a hefty tome, but Oud blauw: wede handboek/Rediscovering Blue: Woad Handbook is, in fact, a slender 15 x 21 cm/6 x 8” booklet.

Despite its small size, it really is a complete handbook. In both Dutch and English it covers everything from a brief history of woad dyeing, to instructions for growing and using woad.

The booklet also tells us about Eise Eisinga, an 18th Century Frisian wool-comber, who didn’t just comb wool, but also traded in it and dyed it. This very interesting person, who as a hobby built an amazing planetarium, has left us his notebooks including his woad recipes. It is fun to try and decipher his handwriting in the fragment that is included in the booklet. The words blau (blue) and Indigo immediately jump out.

Even for people like me, who do not intend to do a lot of woad dyeing, it is an interesting read. And for me just looking at a page with yarn samples of the authors’ dyeing experiments makes the booklet worth having.

This woad booklet is part of the Pleed (pronounced as and meaning plaid) initiative, a community project aimed at using local wool to make things instead of treating it as waste and… well, this is what they stand for in their own words:

My attempt at growing woad wasn’t very successful in the first year. Slugs ate most of the leaves that should have been used in a dye vat. In the second year, the plants unexpectedly flourished and flowered profusely.

Unfortunately the plants do not contain any usable pigment at this stage. It is a biennial plant and only the first-year leaves can be used for dyeing. Never mind, at least I learnt a lot about woad and I will now recognize the plant anywhere. It looks very similar to (and is related to) oil-seed rape, only the leaves have a different shape and the flowers are finer.

My plants are now setting seed. A lot of it.

I could grow acres of woad plants with all those seeds, only I don’t have acres. I’ve heard that the seeds can also be used for dyeing. That might be worth looking into.

The Woad Handbook can be ordered through the Pleed website here (scroll down for an e-mail form). The Pleed people are also organizing an exhibition about the history and future of Dutch wool at the Frisian Agricultural Museum. Information about the exhibition 100% wol can be found here (again, please scroll down). Don’t despair if you live too far away – I hope to visit and write about it sometime during the summer.

Here are a few other links for anyone interested in woad:

I hope this was interesting even for non-dyers. If all goes according to plan, I’ll be back with a small gift for you next week. Hope to see you then!

Joure Wool Festival 2022

Hello!

Together with a friend, I visited the annual Wool Festival in Joure last weekend. We had a great time and (not entirely unexpectedly) saw LOTS of wool. There were bundles of curly locks, bags filled with raw fleeces, and cleaned and carded batts of wool from specific Dutch sheep breeds, like Texel, Dutch milk sheep, Kempen heath sheep and Dutch piebald sheep.

There was also wool from many other breeds of sheep, single or in blends, undyed or dyed.

I remember a time, not so very long ago, when I could only get raw Texel fleeces, and later some merino from Australia. It is amazing how much the wool landscape has changed over the past decade or so, and how much more local wool is available and appreciated now.

I don’t know why, but there was no sheep shearing this year. There were other fleeces walking around on four legs, though.

Don’t they have the sweetest faces?

There was also wool in the form of yarn, of course – machine-spun and hand-dyed, hand-spun and dyed and hand-spun in natural colours.

And then there were things made from wool. Adorable hedgehog mittens, Scandinavian and Latvian inspired mittens, and felted and woven items (click on images to enlarge).

Among all the animal fibres, there was also one plant fibre present: flax. “The Frisian Flax Females are spinnin’ flax into linen” the notice board, decorated with a bundle of flax, said.

Very interesting! Spinning flax into linen is very different from spinning wool into yarn. The flax fibres are kept from tangling by placing them on a distaff. On the rack to the right of the spinner you can see a few of the towels woven from the hand-spun linen.

The spinner keeps her hands close to the flax on the distaff and feeds the fibre onto the spinning wheel in short drafts.

And do take a closer look at the spinner’s traditional cap.

More information about flax, and how it is spun and woven can be found on one of the spinners’ website. It is in Dutch, but if you have Google as a browser, you can right-click on the text and have it translated.

And then, in the midst of all the hustle and bustle of the market, a quiet corner with an elderly couple. She is spinning and he is keeping her company.

They are both made from wool, needle felted and wet felted. And they are part of the project Gewoan Minsken (Frisian for Simply People). Artist Lucie Groenendal portrayed the people living and working in a care home by felting, drawing and painting them.

These are just two of them, with to the right in the photo above a work called Helping Hands. More about this beautiful project can be seen and read on the artist’s website.

I’m ending today’s post with the answer given by one of the people portrayed to the question what makes life worth living:

“Look for the good in people, enjoy the things you do, and know that growing old is a search for a new balance.”

xxx

PS: The general website of Joure Wool Festival can be found here, and a list of participants here.

Wrapped in Stocking Stitch

Hello!

After the red tweedy stocking stitch cardigan I wrote about two weeks ago, I’ve finished another cardigan, again in stocking stitch (stockinette stitch in the US). The design is called Modern Wrapper Fine. According to Barbara G. Walker it is all wrong.

In the introduction to A Second Treasury of Knitting Patterns she writes:

“All-over plain stockinette stitch is dull to look at and boring to work, even for the beginner. Though it may be done entirely by hand, it lacks the inimitable flavor of hand-knitting. A machine can make it very nicely, but the hand-knitter is not a machine and should not try to imitate one.”

“This being so, there is no reason to spend the time and care of hand-knitting on a garment of stockinette stitch. It is a waste of both. The finished garment, which ought to display the knitter’s taste and skill, displays nothing but poverty of invention.” (p. xx)

Oh dear! Was my cardigan a waste of time? Does it display a lack of taste and skill? Let’s take a closer look.

The Modern Wrapper Fine is worked completely in stocking/stockinette stitch, apart from the wide front bands in garter stitch. Back and fronts are knit from the bottom up. It does not have buttons and can be worn open or closed with a nice pin.

It is oversized, with sloping shoulders that are joined with a 3-needle bind-off. Instead of armholes that curve inwards, the fronts and back taper outwards at the top. This means that the sleeves hang very low. In my case they start halfway on the upper arm.

The sleeves are knit from the top to the cuff, from stitches picked up at the ‘armholes’. Sleeve and side seams are closed with mattress stitch. The hems and the sleeve cuff have a small band of reverse stocking stitch.

The best feature of the Modern Wrapper Fine, in my opinion, is hidden at the back of the neck. There are a few clever short rows there that make the neck band sit perfectly. It doesn’t show very well in the fuzzy yarn I’ve used this time, so here is a picture of the MWF I knit years ago in a different yarn combo.

The details:

  • Pattern: Modern Wrapper Fine (here on Ravelry). It is a finer variation on the original Modern Wrapper, which is even more oversized (here on Ravelry).
  • Size made: XS/S. I usually wear size M or L. This garment is really, really oversized. The finished bust in this size is 137 cm/64”. For me that means it has 46 cm/18” of positive ease.
  • Yarn: 7 balls of Rowan Kidsilk Haze (shade 582 ‘Trance’) and 4 balls of Rowan Fine Lace (shade 933 ‘Aged’) held together. There was quite a bit of yarn left over; my MWF weighs approx. 300 grams.
  • Needles: 3.25 mm (US 3) and 3.75 mm (US 5)

This project took me over a year from start to finish. Not because it was so time-consuming, but for the silly reason that I made a mistake in the front band and didn’t notice it until I’d finished the entire front.

Kidsilk Haze is notoriously difficult to unravel, and it took me a long time to pluck up the courage to fix the mistake. In the end, the combo of these two yarns wasn’t hard to unravel at all.

So, was this project a waste of time? All I’ll say is that for me, knitting big panels of stocking stitch in these two lightweight yarns was like meditating. For the rest I’ll let the pictures speak.

Now that I’m taking up sewing again and am looking for suitable projects to make, I find descriptions on other maker’s blogs very helpful. And also pictures of the finished items worn by ordinary people (not photo models.) I hope my descriptions and pictures will be helpful in the same way.

The yellow-flowering plant in the background is woad, the dye plant I grew as part of a community project. I was going to write about it, too, today, but on second thoughts I’ve wittered on long enough already and it really deserves a post of its own. I hope to come back to it soon.

Bye for now! Xxx

May 2022 Miscellany

Hello!

The other day, a friend wrote that it is like Mayvember in her part of the world, the Pacific Northwest of the US (waving at you P!). In the Netherlands it is more like Maygust – warm and very dry. Here are a few unconnected things I’ve seen and done this month so far. No, wait, not entirely unconnected. The common denominator seems to be wool – what else?

Lambing Season
The Sunday before last we were lucky. On our walk we happened to pass the sheep fold at the very moment the shepherd was gathering the flock for a walk. The ewes with the youngest lambs were staying at home, with several daring lambs high up on a bale of hay.

The rest of the flock was peacefully grazing in the field where they spend the night.

But in a matter of minutes the shepherd and his dogs had gathered them all together and were driving them towards the corner where the gate is.

Here they are all ready to go out for their day job:

Well done, boy!

The flock’s job is eating grass and young trees. Without them, the heathland would soon become a forest. Thanks to the sheep, we can keep enjoying this beautiful open landscape.

It is not just about the landscape, but also about the reptiles, birds and plant species depending on this habitat. I love gazing around at the open space, and also getting on my knees looking for special plants. This is one of them:

We call it Heidekartelblad. I looked it up and found out that it is called common lousewort in English – rather a lousy name for this far from common plant, don’t you think?

Blackbird Tragedy
The blackbirds have been flying off and on with worms and trying very hard to chase the magpies away, but alas… On Sunday morning we found the nest empty, bar one unhatched egg.

Magpies and their chicks need to eat, too, but still rather sad. It’s early enough in the season for the blackbirds to build another nest. Let’s hope they’ll hide it better the second time around.

Spinning Wheel Extension
My husband has made an extension for my spinning wheel to accommodate a second bobbin rack. Unfortunately the block I bought at the manufacturer’s a while ago didn’t fit onto my particular model. Fortunately my DH has two right hands and this is what he came up with.

The aluminium strips of the new extension slide around the lower bar of the spinning wheel. So there was no need to drill into my precious wheel and the extension can easily be removed when not in use. Now I can make 3-ply and even 4-ply yarns.

Knit leaves
I have been knitting leaf prototypes for a small project I have in mind.

They’re all different: Stocking stitch, garter stitch, different increases and decreases, long or short vein, different sizes and shapes. There is one among them that is exactly what I was looking for. (To be continued…)

Farmers Market
After a 6-month winter break the Farmers Market was back last weekend. It’s was so nice, chatting with the stall holders again, looking at the fresh produce and young plants for vegetable gardens…

… and trying (and buying) some homemade chutneys and dressings.

There is also a spinner and knitter selling her hand spun yarns and her colourful hand knit socks in children’s and adult’s sizes, each pair unique.

I wonder if other people realize how many hours of knitting and spinning the wares displayed on her racks and in her baskets represent. I do, and I’m in awe.

Well, that’s all for today. Back to my own knitting and spinning now. Bye!

Finishing Time

My knitting is out of sync with the seasons – again. The garden is bursting into flower and the blackbirds’ eggs have hatched.

Don’t those naked little chicks look vulnerable? I hope they’re going to make it. Their nest isn’t very well hidden and there are magpies about.

With spring well on its way and warmer weather around the corner, I’m finishing some warm and woolly knits. It has happened before, my knitting being out of sync with the seasons, but this time I have a very good excuse: Several months ago I dropped everything else to knit baby things. Now our grandson has more than enough to keep him warm for the time being, and there’s finally time to finish other projects.

The first one I’m tackling is a red tweedy cardigan. All parts are knit separately, including the button bands. That means a LOT of seaming, and I’ve done it in stages. Before I started the actual seaming, I pressed the individual parts, covered by a damp tea towel.

As I hope you can see in this picture the edges of the stocking stitch fabric roll inwards terribly. Pressing them flattens them out and makes seaming easier and neater.

As you can probably also see in this picture, there is something in the oven. It’s a batch of my Very Healthy Oat Squares (recipe in this older post; please scroll down).

Over the course of several days, I meticulously sewed on the button bands using mattress stitch. It’s a time-consuming job and I did a little every day.

Then I realized that it was going to take ages this way. So on a day when I had a to-do-list from here to Tokyo, I decided to take a different approach and alternate my chores with bursts of seaming. It looked something like this:

Clean bathroom and sink, sew right sleeve cap.
Replace light bulb, empty wastepaper baskets, water plants, fold laundry, sew left sleeve cap.

For a knitting connoisseur, the sleeve caps are lovely, by the way. Due to a special way of binding off using slipped stitches, the slope isn’t stepped as usual, but nice and smooth.

Dust and hoover downstairs, sew right underarm seam.
Catch up with e-mails and admin, sew right side seam, etc.

Granted, it wasn’t the most exciting day of my life, but at the end of it I had tackled many items on my list and finished the seaming of the entire cardigan. Time for a bubble bath…

… for the cardigan. (Should have taken one myself, too, instead of a quick shower.) And then, after drying flat, the final touch: buttons. And here it is, my simple but sophisticated tweedy cardi:

Entirely in stocking stitch, it looks very simple. What makes it sophisticated is the attention to detail: A-line shaping, sloping shoulder seams moved a little forward, smooth sleeve cap, customized sleeve length, side vents, a few short rows above the hem so that the cardigan ‘hangs’ better, and the careful finishing, of course. The cardigan is also knit at a looser gauge than normal for the yarn, which gives it a nice drape.

I’m particularly happy with the neatly sewn on button bands.

And also with the perfect sleeve length and the way the cardi fits around the shoulders.

The pattern’s name Go-To Cardigan is well chosen – it really is a cardigan to wear every day. Because of the A-line shaping, it is particularly flattering for pear-shaped people like me. The pattern can be found here on Ravelry and here on the designer’s website. The yarn I’ve used is Rowan Felted Tweed, shade 150 Rage. The pattern range goes from XS to XL. I’ve made size S, while my usual clothes size is M/L, EU 40/42 (UK 12/14).

To close off, I’d like to show you our ‘orchard’,  where these pictures were taken. It hardly deserves to be called an orchard, with just one apple and one pear tree, but it sounds nice. The pear blossomed early in spring and we’re now enjoying the apple blossoms.

Under the fruit trees in our tiny orchard, we’ve created a wildflower meadow with native plant species. Our meadow is also tiny (just a few square metres), but from spring into autumn there is always something flowering. This is what it looks like at the moment (click on images to enlarge):

Enjoy your weekend and hope to see you again next week! I don’t know if I’ll have another project finished by then, but we’ll see.

Sewing with Double Gauze

Hello!

I’m in the finishing stage of several knitting projects and hope to write about them here soon. Meanwhile, I thought I’d share a simple sewing project with you. I used to sew quite a lot, but what with one thing and another I have hardly sewn anything for ages.

It’s so nice, having my sewing machine and basket of sewing tools out again. I’ve treated myself to some new, nice and sharp glass headed pins. A simple pleasure.

Out of practice, I’ve decided to start with something super easy: some double gauze squares for our grandson (who is thriving!), to be used as towels, changing mats, swaddle blankets etc.

I only knew double gauze fabric in the form of white diapers. You know, the old-fashioned ones with the woven-in squares. But when I started looking at fabrics again, I discovered that double gauze is hugely popular and comes in lots of lovely prints now. I chose three leaf prints. Here is a close-up of one of them:

Now that I’m on to the subject of leaves, look what’s hidden between the leaves of our honeysuckle – a nest with five beautiful blue blackbird’s eggs.

Well, back to double gauze fabric. As the term indicates, it is made up of two gauzy layers of cotton fabric. I don’t know how it’s done, but they look sort of basted together with small stitches.

Before starting to sew, I first zigzagged the edges of the fabrics to prevent them from fraying, washed them at 40 ˚C, put them in the dryer and ironed them. I expected them to shrink considerably, but to my surprise they hardly shrank at all. (I measured them before and after.)

Double gauze does look shrunk when it comes out of the dryer, and all shrivelled up, but it straightens out when ironed. In it’s shrivelled-up state it looks really nice, too, actually, so it’s not absolutely necessary to iron it.

I experimented with scissors and rotary cutter and found the rotary cutter easiest for cutting this fabric.

I made my double gauze squares 1 m x 1 m, adding a 2 cm seam allowance on all sides, i.e. cutting out 1.04 m x 1.04 m squares. I folded the fabric 1 cm to the wrong side, then folded it over once more and ironed the seams,

pinned them, and then sewed all seams at a foot’s width from the sides.

And here they are, three simple squares:

I really enjoyed sewing with double gauze fabric. It is very soft, light, squishy. Squares like the ones I made are not just suitable for babies – they’ll also make wonderful lightweight, quick-drying travel towels. A large rectangle would be great for a beach towel and/or sarong. And I think double gauze will be lovely for summer dresses, skirts and tops, too.

But my next project will be something for our little grandson again: a set of sheets for his pram from an adorable double gauze fabric with a woodland animal print.

I hope to be back with a post about some knitting next week. Bye for now and take care!

The Sewing Machine

Hello!

This is the sewing machine I inherited from my mum, a Singer, above with its wooden case and below without it.

I have happy memories, sitting side by side with mum, with me turning the crank and her sewing.

My mum was also a knitter, but she loved sewing even more. She sewed many, many dresses, skirts, blouses, trousers, jackets, curtains and other items for her family and home.

I love sewing, too, but am first and foremost a knitter. My daughter is like her grandmother, and sews more than she knits. I have had the old Singer serviced and am passing it on to her, but for the time being it still lives in our house.

One of the reasons I’m writing about this now is that I’ve lost my knitting mojo for a bit and don’t have anything interesting to show you. Another is that I’ve recently re-read The Sewing Machine by Natalie Fergie.

The novel is set in southern Scotland and spans over a century. It starts with the mass strike at the Singer factory in 1911, moves through the 1950s/1960s, briefly visits 1980 and ends in 2016. There are several protagonists. What binds these people together are family ties (with interesting twists) and the fact that sewing machines play an important role in their lives in one way or another.

One of the things I loved about The Sewing Machine, apart from the sympathetic cast of characters, is that it is filled with period details, like descriptions of interiors (especially kitchens), clothing, and what people did for a living. The author must have done an enormous amount of research. This doesn’t make it into a dry history book, though. Not at all! The details are cleverly woven into the fabric of the story.

If you love sewing, I think you’ll enjoy reading The Sewing Machine. I certainly have. And it wasn’t just a great read – it also made me look up the serial number of my mum’s sewing machine: H 957 200.

I’d never thought of doing that before. I know that my mum bought it in the late 1950s or early 1960s, and had always just assumed that it was from that period. Turns out it is from 1906!!! I could have known that she would never have bought a new one, but that it was so old – I had no idea!

My own sewing machine is a modern one…

… with extra feet for various purposes, lots of different stitches and three buttonhole options.

It can do far more and is much faster than my mum’s old machine. But I wonder if it will still be sewing in 116 years’ time. For me, my mum’s old Singer will always remain THE sewing machine.

I know that many of you are knitters, but do you sew, too? What type of machine do you have? What do you do with it: sew clothes or other things, embroider, quilt? Do you have special sewing-machine related memories you’d like to share? I’d love to hear them!

If you happen to have an old Singer sewing machine, too, and would like to find out how old it is, there is a list of serial numbers on the website of the International Sewing Machine Collectors’ Society here. If you have a different brand, visiting the website of the ISMACS may be worthwhile, too – it contains loads of interesting information.