Thursday, October 27, 2011

My New Favourite Rockefeller

Industriously Works on a Shawl for War Sufferers.
Special to The New York Times.

HOT SPRINGS, Va., Nov. 12. -John D. Rockefeller, Jr., is knitting a shawl of heavy wool. Knitting is a new accomplishment for Mr. Rockefeller. He had never tried it until las night, when he was sitting in the lobby of the Homestead Hotel with his wife, W. H. Cheesebrough, Mrs. Richard Perkins, and Mrs. N. W. Chadwick, the women knitting, as most of them here are constantly doing. Somebody suggested that inasmuch as the Rockefeller Foundation is giving large sums for relief of the war suffers, the men might as well help with the work. Needles and yarn were produced and Mr. Chesebrough made a feeble attempt. Mr. Rockefeller, however, went at the work with spirit, soon got the hang of it, and persevered for two hours. Tonight he was continuing and had about a yard done.

-The New York Times, November 13, 1914

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Back to School Window

This September the kids went back to school, and we at The Loop went back to work. Our job? Teaching the masses to stitch. We are now midway through our Fall 2011 schedule and there are lots of fun classes still available. Lamby recommends needle felting! Our class schedule is posted in the store's window for sneaky peeks and is always available on our website here.

I'm off to teach a crochet workshop tonight. Don't forget that The Loop also offers private lessons. Please phone the shop for more information (902) 429-5667.

Friday, October 21, 2011

When Knitting Groups Go Bad


Idle Gossip on War is Dangerous!

Women can do a lot of talking while they're knitting -and if they don't watch themselves they can do as much damage by their talk as they do good by the warm clothes they knit for the Red Cross.
If the click of their knitting needles is accompanied by thoughtless war talk they aren't nearly as patriotic as they like to believe they are.
No woman can knit enough sweaters to make up for spreading vague and frightening war rumors. Of for circulating stories about people in her community who have always been good citizens, but who happen to have been born in a country with which we are now at war.
Nor can she roll enough bandages to make up for the damage she does by making derogatory remarks about our army or repeating groundless gossip about the men who are running our government.
And she can't devote enough hours to war work to balance the harm she does by kicking about taxes, complaining over the high cost of living, and grumbling over having to give up a few luxuries.

Don't Wall Over Sacrifices
Nor is there any way in which she can make up for her bad effect on morale when she acts as though when she gives up "things" she is making a terrific sacrifice. Any woman who has a man in one of the armed forces is bound to resent such an attitude.
Knitting is a great inducement to talking -so while they knit women should keep their minds on their talking as well as their knitting to see that there is no harm in anything they say.

We, The Women, by Ruth Millett
-The Evening Independent February 9,1942

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

The Story of George E. Hill


Aged Ohio Man Has Made Many Socks and Sweaters for Soldiers.

"Knitting is easier today than it was when I was a boy, and I guess I've improved some in my work, too." is the modest way in which George E. Gill of Dayton, I., comments on his knitting record, which embraces three wars. During the European war, after American intervention, the Dayton chapter of the American Red Cross delivered yarn to him in volume of 20 hanks at a time. Those who knit will appreciate what this means-what a tremendous task confronts the knitter. Undaunted, Mr. Hill "carried on." When he reached his hundredth pair he knitted appropriate designs into the socks and sent them to the president of the United States, who is also president of the American Red Cross. General Pershing, he says, will get the two hundredth pair, properly decorated.
When a boy Mr. Hill knitted for the soldiers of the Civil war. During the Spanish-American war he knitted garments for Red Cross distribution. Long before America declared war against Germany he resumed his knitting activities on behalf of the allies, redoubling his efforts when the youth of our land was called into service. He is indefatigable in his work. In November when the Dayton chapter of the American Red Cross was asked to furnish 500 sweaters for nurses, Mr. Hill completed two in six days, remarking when he delivered them: "I can finish two of them in five days if I'm not interrupted too much."
Although his hair is white with the snows of many years, Mr. Hill's heart is delightfully youthful. He works at his regular employment in the commercial world from seven to five o'clock every week day, and does his knitting in his leisure hours, often arising at three o'clock in the morning to knit a sock before breakfast, as it were. He has made a specialty of knitting two socks simultaneously with one pair of knitting needles.

Ellensburg Daily Record, December 20, 1918

Saturday, October 08, 2011

Using Gauge Swatches as Shoulder Pads in the Vintage Style

Even before rationing made reusing and recycling wool necessary, clever knitters were repurposing their gauge swatches (tension squares) as shoulder pads. A swatch can be made into several different styles of pad. We'll be looking at three: triangular, square, and rectangular.

NOTE: The average swatch is knit to 10cm (4"). The examples in this tutorial are each of 24 stitches; a neat display device I tried at The Loop. These swatches were of various worsted weight yarns resulting in 18-22 stitches per 4 inches. The average size of swatch was 5" square.
Because they were for display purposes, each swatch was knit with a garter stitch border 3 stitches on either side and 3-4 rows top and bottom. This is an excellent format for a swatch destined to become padding. The garter border allows for easy stitching and stuffing, and also creates an ideal flat surface for placement and stitching to the garment, particularly useful if the pad is to be removed or used in multiple applications. These worsted weight swatches make a big statement but for a more subtle look, use a fine yarn. The point of this technique is that you will have already made the pads by swatching for your project, and since most of your vintage sweaters will have been knit with a fingering or sport weight yarn your pads will be less cartoony than my examples.

As we know, shoulder pads first became necessary to the home knitter in the 1930s so that the shoulder line could be extended gracefully, and girlish puff sleeves could stay aloft. The first shoulder pads were triangular, a perfect job for the typically square gauge swatch.

Your swatch is unlikely to be a perfect square, but this does not matter much. Fold the swatch in half and pin one side as you begin work on the other. Any waste yarn will work for this project; it need not be the same yarn as the gauge swatch. Using the garter stitch border as a guide, stitch generously. Tiny stitches are nice, but not necessary. Do not seam these two edges as you normally would a knitting project. Grafting or Mattress Stitch will ruin the affect. Backstitches, or even a Running Stitch, if you're inpatient will do the job.
Place these stitches in from the edge. The stitches in the photo were placed in the middle stitch of the 3row/3 stitch Garter border. This works to about .25" from the edge. If your swatch does not have a border like the example pad does, place your seam .5" in from the edge. This will create a ridge you can use to attach the pad to the garment.

Stop stitching your pad together an inch or so before the second corner. Use this opening to stuff your pad. Do not cut your working yarn or unthread your needle.
You have several stuffing options. I stuffed the examples above with raw fleece, but only because it was the easiest thing to hand. Polyfilla, cotton baton and fluff will do just as well. Followers of Make do and Mend may take a tip from WWII and fill their pads with scraps of waste yarn....or even sawdust.

Note: If you are using flat sheets of wadding you should cut these to the shape of your swatches, leaving a .5" seaming allowance along the sides to be stitched. In the case of a triangular pad this means that along the third side the wadding should reach the fold of the swatch. In a square pad you will need to leave a seam allowance along all four sides. You will layer the filler to taste, depending on the thickness of the wadding, but start with just one layer.

Whichever material you choose, resist the urge to overstuff.
Pick your needle back up and finish stitching, closing the stuffing gap, and backstitch to secure. To finish, bury your yarn by inserting the needle into the pad and stuffing and bringing up through the middle of the pad's fabric as pictured further down. Now clip the yarn close to the surface.

Square shoulder pads are made in much the same way and will thrill knitters of 1940s patterns. In the sweater patterns of the 40s we see instructions for shoulder pads start to crop up and although some of them are unique to a single sweater, most are simple bean bags of the same yarn as the main pattern. Remember that under WWII's military influence pads were required to both extend the shoulder line, and raise it. In more extreme puffed sleeves, the sleeve head would be totally unsupported but for padding. This is one reason for disappointing, deflated puffs in home knitting.

In this example the two swatches are of slightly different sizes. This is almost always likely to be the case, and it doesn't really matter for this project. Simply pin the two squares together so that the edges match. The centre of one of the swatches will bulge, but that's what we want anyways.

Don't overstuff the square pad either. The amount of filler in the photo above was a good starting point; you may find that you need less padding than you thought. Remember that placement of the pad is going to be very important. Extreme vintage looks are created when the shoulder pad is stitched in. Overstuffing will actually give you less options and control.

A sticky material like raw fleece will tend to ball up in the middle. We want an even stuffing so use your fingers to distribute the filler evenly.

Bury your yarn as pictured.

A single square can also be made into a rectangular pad by folding a swatch in half and stitching. In my knitting I find this to be the most useful pad. The truth is, it has a bit more in common with another type of padding; a 'sleeve head' or 'roll'. This is because its short sides will follow the curve of the shoulder and support the front and back of a round puff. The term sleeve head is problematic! Read more about this in the intro to this padding series:here.

The rectangular gauge swatch can afford to be stuffed generously. The most important aspect to this pad for knitters, is the top seam. If your swatch does not have a garter stitch ridge remember to place your stitching well away from the edge. Along the long sides of the rectangle sew at least .5" in, creating a flat strip. This is what you will use to attach the pad to the garment.

Next we'll talk about the placement of these pads and the different looks they can achieve.

This post is a part of The Quest For Puff Series. Read it from the beginning HERE.

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Going Dutch?

-click to enlarge and read
Scheepjes ad, 1987

I think this is very funny, and had no idea how to pronounce Scheepjes until I read this. Duh.
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