Knitting samples: a touch of Fair Isle and a bit of Swiss Darning

It has been my aim with this blog to try to complete and show one item of either knitting or embroidery each week. Sometimes other things get in the way and, having completed nothing in the week, I fall to talking about a book which I’ve found stimulating to thought or inspirational to design/making. (When my cupboard was really bare my husband’s hand made birthday cards have from time to time made their appearance and rescued me from the dread of the blank screen!) This week I was, however, buoyant with having got on with things and I felt I had achieved a lot. Sadly, when push came to shove and it was time to document my week’s production, I realised that although I’ve got a lot of ideas down on paper, all I’ve actually finished are a couple of knitting samples. Well, here they are.

Fair Isle sample bases on a design in Marie Wallin’s Once Upon a Time (collection 4)

The Fair Isle band is a sample for a jumper for the now-full-time-in-nursery-school grandson. The design for the decorative band was taken from Once upon a Time by Marie Wallin (collection 4) but I adapted it for Debbie Blisss Baby Cashmerino yarn quite simply because, with so many ends of balls left over from other things, I can have fun experimenting with colour with no additional expense. The small person also likes the yarn because it is gentle on a skin which has been known to find even Shetland wool a bit scratchy. Because the pattern calls for thicker wool and bigger needles than I was using, the change in scale has a very different look.

Sample flower – an attempt at Swiss Darning

The second sample, a pink splodge on pale blue, is an attempt at a flower which came from playing around with colouring pencils on graph paper. I tried knitting this in Fair Isle, but the strands of wool trailing behind became tangled and the stitches too tight – not a good look. I then knitted a plain square to which I added the design in Swiss darning  and this was a lot better.  Of course, those of you who have done this sort of thing before realise that translating a sketch into knitting has its pitfalls. Each knitted stitch is not a perfect square – like that on the graph paper – because the knitted version is wider than it is tall, and this makes your lovely well proportioned design rather short and fat. But this technique is at least flexible, even on a sample, for it allows you to add another row or two top and bottom to help restore the proportions of the original design – and this is what I did. The flower is still a bit of a blob but – and that’s the point of doing a sample – I shall come back to it and work on a bit more detail.

Collection of knitting patterns: Marie Wallin’s Once Upon a Time (collection 4)

My husband now works as a volunteer for Cheltenham Art Gallery and Museum (The Wilson) and he has recently picked up on the blog he started when I started mine. He is particularly keen to highlight individual items in the gallery’s collection and to  document details as to provence, history, etc  which his research has thrown up. Although it is over 30 years since he was director of the gallery, his interest has never waned and coming into contact with items he himself  bought is like meeting again a whole host of long lost friends. If you would like to explore The Wilson’s collection do follow this link. (Not all posts are about the paintings and works on paper.)


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Monogram for a baby boy


Monogram of 4 letters for a baby boy (hand embroidered by Mary Addison)

Last week  brought a lovely bank holiday weekend with weather to match and although we did enjoy a stroll through the Suffolks Bank Holiday Market, just 5 minutes up the road, what a bit of spare time and a boiling hot day really excite in me is the chance to get some curtains washed. Large pieces of fabric which had once upon a time swept round a big square bay in my London house but which had never been washed (dry cleaned once at an astronomical price) were soon waving in the hot breeze, battling to steal the sun from the ever ripening apples whose space they were energetically invading… and all dry by close of play in the Test Match. With the cricket going well and the weather blissful, I could retire contentedly to my Lloyd Loom chair beside the bedroom window and begin a monogram – my first embroidery since our arrival in Cheltenham.

Monogram of 4 letters for a baby boy (hand embroidered by Mary Addison)

Babies will keep being born – and  a good thing too – and as anyone who follows my blog knows, I like to mark these events with a monogram. This one is for a little boy born in February and as with all the ones I do for boys I do try to be a bit minimalist. The arrangement of the letters is the most important thing. Many parents are opting for 2 Christian names followed by the mother’s surname and then the father’s, although the children will be known by the latter. In a world where professionally the mother continues using the name she began with – and where say her passport continues to be in that name – it’s prudent for the same name to also appear on her children’s passports too. In practice I doubt whether the different names cause problems, but you can see how they might …anyway, if for no other reason, it’s rather gracious to acknowledge the other strand of your heritage in this way.

Monogram of 4 letters for a baby boy – detail of border

The letters are in a lovely dark aubergine colour and each letter is outlined in backstitch  (a different colour for each letter) – three strands for the outer edge and two for the inner, because it just looks better that way. When I’m sure of the date of birth I’ll add that. A square frame would have been nice but it will have to be rectangular.

(The Test Match was a real nail biter with either result possible until sometime after lunch on the fifth day. The English captain’s sporting declaration produced both exciting – and at times boring  – cricket but the West Indian cricketers were worthy winners to level the series at one win each. Roll on the end of the week and the next match. All v. good for the hand sewing.)

For other monograms for little boys see here,  here & here.

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