Category Archives: Knitting

HSF #23: 1917 Cranberry Red Scarf

IMG_9660

Look, I made my scarf!

…and it qualifies for the HSF Challenge #23: Modern History! This particular challenge is to make something historical or historically inspired that is wearable in an everyday context. And a scarf like this: absolutely wearable in my modern life if I choose!

Just the facts:

Fabric: 2 skeins, of unknown length, of probably acrylic yarn.

Pattern: Made by me. (More details below.)

Year: 1910s. (More details below.)

Notions: None!

How historically accurate?: Ideally, it would have been made of angora yarn, but I had the acrylic on hand and didn’t want to spend extra money (angora yarn isn’t cheap, you know!). Acrylic wasn’t invented until 1941. However, the dimensions of the scarf are accurate, the pattern is entirely plausible for the 1910s, and the style is taken directly from an ad from the 1910s. So I’d say 90%.

Hours to complete: No idea. I knit while watching Netflix and didn’t pay any attention.

First worn: In Plymouth, MA the weekend before Thanksgiving while portraying a suffragette (as I did last year).

Total cost: $2.50 for the knitting needles and $1 for the yarn = $3.50.

The color is perfectly suited to the holiday season, being cranberry red just like the fresh berries I used to make homemade cranberry sauce last week. (That was really easy and tasty, by the way–I bought Ocean Spray cranberries and the recipe was on the bag!)

IMG_9662

Cranberry red!

The pattern is moss stitch. I knit an extra row at the beginning and end just to provide some stability. Then, K2, P2 all the way across for two rows. P2, K2 all the way across for the next two rows. Repeat. Super easy. I keep track of what row I’m on in a little notebook with all my knitting patterns in it. That way I know where I’m at while I’m watching Netflix or when I’ve put it down and picked it up on a different day.

The dimensions are taken directly from a 1910s knitted wear ad that Lauren from Wearing History shared on her blog, here. I made my scarf 8” wide and 68″ long so it would provide maximum warmth while being worn. It also helps that it’s acrylic, which doesn’t breath and keeps you toasty. The fringe is about 6″ long and tied into 9 tassels, just as seen in the ad on a few of the scarves (turns out that I had the perfect number of fringe pieces to divide by 9 without planning!).

I had hoped to make these gloves from a 1910s pattern in matching yarn, but didn’t even start them. Perhaps it’s something that I can do next year! I’ve never knit gloves and I’ve only just taught myself to knit in the round, so while the cables in the pattern are not at all daunting, the simple idea of making gloves is. But challenges are fun sometimes! And I’m very pleased with the scarf.

IMG_9658

It was breezy and cold!

Advertisements

1917 Knitted Sweater Of Angorina Annotated Pattern

In the spirit of the HSF #23: Generosity and Gratitude, I thought I’d share an annotated version of my altered 1917 Knitted Sweater Of Angorina pattern. Who knows, maybe you’re thinking of knitting this sweater or something similar right now, and this version of the pattern and these notes will come in super handy as you knit your own sweater?

The original:

knisweofangpic1-1

“Knitted Sweater of Angorina” from the Star Needlework Journal 1917.

My version:

IMG_7359

“Knitted Sweater of Angorina”

Here’s the pattern. I’ve put original directions in [brackets] if I’ve changed them, and included my version before the original version, so you can compare. My version of the pattern and any notes that I have added are in italics.

One of the major reasons I adjusted the pattern in places was in attempt to make it to my measurements (40″ hips, 30″ waist, and 36″ bust). On size 5 needles I was knitting 10 stitches in 2.5″, which was 2 squares of the pattern, and knitting 1″ vertically every 6 rows, which was 1 square of the pattern. If I had knit the sweater with this gauge and the original directions I would have had a sweater body that would be too big: about 12″ too big around and 3″-5″ too long in length.

ABBREVIATIONS: K – knit, P – purl.

MATERIALS: 6 skeins of probably acrylic yarn (of medium weight and unknown length, though on the smallish side, as modern skeins go (and I could have used 7!)); 5mm and 3mm knitting needles; 6 plastic buttons.

[17 balls of THE AMERICAN THREAD COMPANY’S Article 200 “Angorina” Fluffed Cotton, size 4; two long celluloid knitting needles No. 5 and two shorter celluloid knitting needles No. 3; 6 buttons.]

DIRECTIONS:

For the Basket Stitch pattern: Cast on a number of stitches divisible by 10 and 2 over for the edge stitches. (So the 10 is the repeat of two squares of the pattern, and the 2 extra are for the edges.)

lst Row: Slip the first stitch (this is the edge stitch) , * then knit 5, and purl 5, repeat from * to the end of row ending with P 6, turn (the last stitch is the edge stitch).

2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th and 6th rows: Same as first Row.

7th Row: Slip the first stitch, * then P 5, and knit 5, repeat from * to the end of Row, ending with K 6, turn.

8th, 9th, 10th, 11th and 12th Rows: Same as 7th Row.

These twelve rows form the pattern, which is knit throughout the sweater.

Sweater

Cast on 82 [112] stitches on the long celluloid needles No. 5 and begin to K at the bottom of the sweater,

FOR THE BORDER: K plain back and forth for 14 rows or 7 ridges (2 rows of plain knitting back and forth form a ridge).

Now begin to knit the pattern as directed above.

K 12 [14] rows, then begin to decrease 1 St at the beginning and end of every third row until 10 stitches have been decreased at each end.

There are now 62 [92] stitches left in the row and 42 rows of pattern K.

Continue knitting the pattern for 120 [138] more rows or until 15 patterns or 180 patterns are K in all. (That last section of directions about 15 patters and 180 patterns confused me, so I just sort of ignored it…)

This completes the length of the back.

Next Row: Slip the first stitch, then knit 5, and P5 for 21 [31] stitches (this is for the right shoulder), bind off 20 [28] stitches for the back of the neck, the next 21 [32] stitches left on the needle are for the left shoulder.

Now put the first 21 [32] stitches on to a spare needle or thread (and I added one stitch to make it 22, so I would have a 20 stitches for the repeat of the pattern and one for each end), and continue knitting the left front as follows: K the pattern for 8 rows pattern (this is for the shoulder), then begin to increase 1 stitch at the beginning of every second row, this is at the neck – until 20 stitches have been increased.

There are now 42 [52] stitches in the row.

K the pattern without increasing for 84 [104] rows, then begin to increase 1 stitch every 3rd [7th] row at the outer edge (the outer edge was the end of each 2nd row for me) (the front edge must be straight) for 10 [5] times (that means I knitted in this fashion until I had increased 20 stitches), then K 12 more rows without increasing. (I chose not to knit the final 12 rows: I just ignored that direction.)

16 patterns of 192 pattern rows are now K for the length of, the front. (Again, I was confused by this direction and just ignored it.)

K 7 ridges plain back and forth for the border. (7 ridges equals 14 rows.)

Bind off loosely, break the thread. Now K the right front to correspond with the left front, then sew up the underarm seams (this is the length of 10 ½ patterns or 126 pattern rows from the bottom of the sweater up). (I waited to sew up my seams until I was entirely finished knitting the sweater. As before, I ignored the confusing direction about the number of patterns and pattern rows.)

Repeat the directions from right after “This completes the length of the back…” for the right front of the sweater. I’ve repeated them here, with the changes I made for knitting the right side instead of the left. 

Next Row: Slip the first stitch, then knit 5, and P5 for 21 [31] stitches (this is for the right shoulder), bind off 20 [28] stitches for the back of the neck, the next 21 [32] stitches left on the needle are for the left shoulder.

Now put the first 21 [32] stitches on to a spare needle or thread (and I added one stitch to make it 22, so I would have a 20 stitches for the repeat of the pattern and one for each end), and continue knitting the left front as follows: K the pattern for 8 rows pattern (this is for the shoulder), then begin to increase 1 stitch at the beginning of every second row, this is at the neck – until 20 stitches have been increased.

There are now 42 [52] stitches in the row.

K the pattern without increasing for 84 [104] rows, then begin to increase 1 stitch every 3rd [7th] row at the outer edge (the outer edge was the beginning of each 2nd row for me) (the front edge must be straight) for 10 [5] times (that means I knitted in this fashion until I had increased 20 stitches), then K 12 more rows without increasing. (I chose not to knit the final 12 rows: I just ignored that direction.)

16 patterns of 192 pattern rows are now K for the length of, the front. (Again, I was confused by this direction and just ignored it.)

K 7 ridges plain back and forth for the border. (7 ridges equals 14 rows.)

Bind off loosely, break the thread.

FOR THE SLEEVES (The following directions are what I used for my first attempt at a sleeve for this sweater… I didn’t like the resulting sleeve and chose to take it apart and try again. I’ll include my revised sleeve pattern following these directions for the sleeve I didn’t like. You can read more about why I changed my sleeve pattern and see pictures of the before and after, in this previous post.):

Cast on 72 stitches, and K the pattern for 3 rows, then begin to decrease 1 stitch at the beginning and end of every second row until 5 stitches have been decreased at each end.

There are now 62 stitches left in the Row.

Knit 120 rows of pattern. [K 9½ patterns or 114 rows without decreasing.]

Now slip the stitches on to the No. 3 needles, and K plain back and forth for 18 ridges for the cuff, bind off, and sew up the seam.

Place the sleeve in the armhole, so that the sleeve seam and underarm seam meet. (I waited until all of my pieces were knit before sewing any seams.)

(So now, here is my revised sleeve pattern):

Cast on 72 stitches (I added a single plain knit row, as a transition), and K the pattern for 3 rows, then begin to decrease 1 stitch at the beginning and end of every second row until 5 stitches have been decreased at each end.

There are now 62 stitches left in the Row.

Knit 60 rows of pattern without decreasing. Knit 60 rows, decreasing 1 stitch at the beginning and end of every 4th row. [K 9½ patterns or 114 rows without decreasing.] (Again, I ignored the first part because it is confusing.)

Now slip the stitches on to the No. 3 needles, and K plain back and forth for 10 [18] ridges for the cuff, bind off, and sew up the seam.

Place the sleeve in the armhole, so that the sleeve seam and underarm seam meet. (I waited until all of my pieces were knit before sewing any seams.)

This second sleeve pattern worked much better for me, so I repeated it for my second sleeve.

FOR THE BANDS: Cast on 12 [16] stitches on the No. 3 needles. K plain back and forth for 2 1/2 [4] inches (25 rows), then make a buttonhole as follows: K 4 [7] stitches. bind off 4 [6] stitches, K 4 stitches (this leaves 4 [5] stitches at each side of the 4 [6] stitches bound off).

In the next Row cast on the 4 [6] stitches bound off, thus forming a buttonhole.

K back and forth for 3 1/2 [3] inches (35 rows), then make the next buttonhole.

Continue knitting plain back and forth making 4 more buttonholes so that there are 6 in all, always leaving an interval of 3 1/2 [3] inches (35 rows) between each buttonhole.

(I calculated these measurements and row lengths between buttonholes to fit into the length of the front of the sweater before the V neck starts… in my case, that length was 21″. If your gauge is different you might want to consider changing these directions to suit you.)

(At this point I became very worried about running out of yarn. I wish I would have had enough to make the bands as wide as the original pattern called for… but I had to make them narrower, so my revised pattern will reflect that. If you have enough yarn you should keep the band wide and only adjust for length.)

K 1/2 [1] inch (5 rows) after the sixth buttonhole then begin to decrease 1 stitch at the beginning of every second row until 8 stitches have been decreased.

There are now 8 stitches in the row. Knit for awhile… turns out I knit plain for 45 rows. Begin to increase 1 stitch at the end of every 2nd row until 8 stitches have been increased… in theory that was my plan, but since I was running out of yarn, I just slowly decreased until I ran out of yarn. [K plain for 18 inches or long enough to go around the neck, then increase 1 stitch at the beginning of every second Row until 16 stitches are on the needle again.]

K plain for 21 inches or as long as the wider part of the band with the buttonholes, bind off loosely.

Sew the buttonhole part of the band on to the right front, the narrow part around the neck and the plain wider part to the left front, this should be done very carefully, then sew on the buttons.

Whew! At this point I just need to sew up my seams and sew on the buttons. Yay!

HSF #23: 1917 “Knitted Sweater Of Angorina”

IMG_7359

My “knitted sweater of Angorina.” (Thanks to Mr. Q, who consented to take pictures of me with no hassle on my first ask!)

And here’s the image from the pattern, for comparison.

knisweofangpic1-1

“Knitted sweater of Angorina” from the Star Needlework Journal 1917.

This is my entry for the HSF Challenge #23: Generosity and Gratitude. This challenge “is not about a particular item or aesthetic, it’s about celebrating the generosity of spirit and willingness to help others that makes the historical sewing community great, and giving credit and thanks to those who have contributed to our collective knowledge without expecting payment in return.”

My special thanks goes out to the person, or people, who took the time to put this knitting pattern out there on the internet, for free! I wouldn’t have been able to complete this project with the pattern, obviously. Thanks!

As it is, I’m really pleased to be done knitting and putting together this sweater. I’ve been using my sew time to knit, which has been a nice change and fun, but I do miss sewing! So now it will be back to sewing, which is good, because I have a lot of projects I’m working on!

Also, this sweater was a bit stressful… It started out on a relaxing note, but after completing the front, back, and one sleeve, I realized that it was taking way more yarn than I expected and I started to get worried I might run out before finishing the sweater! So as I was knitting my brain kept trying to think of ways to conserve yarn and wondering if there would be enough. I actually wound up completing unraveling one sleeve in order to knit it with less yarn… and thank goodness I did, because I barely had enough yarn to get as far as I did, and that was still with alterations to the original pattern to accommodate my dwindling yarn pile. You see, after knitting the front, back, and the two sleeves, there’s still the buttonhole/neck/button band to be knit, and you need enough yarn to stitch the seams! The sweater is quite long, so these things take more yarn than you might think. I used up literally almost all of the yarn I had…

IMG_5014

The first sleeve before it was unraveled and re-knit.

IMG_5015

The new sleeve shape with alterations to the pattern.

IMG_5019

Sewing up a side seam. The front, back, sleeves, and band are all knit separately, and flat, and then seamed together, creating side seams, armsceye seams, underarm seams, and a seam to join the band to the front/neck opening.

IMG_7364

These are literally the only pieces of yarn I have left… The longest is about 6″!

Here are the facts:

Fabric: 6 skeins, of unknown length, of probably acrylic yarn.

Pattern: 1917 Knitted Sweater of Angorina.

Year: January-March 1917. Here’s a blog post about the history of knitting in WWI that explains why the months are so specific.

Notions: Heavy thread to sew on the buttons, and 6 plastic buttons.

How historically accurate?: Acrylic wasn’t invented until 1941 and as fas as I know plastic buttons of the sort I used weren’t in use in 1917, but as a historic costume I’d give myself 95% on looking right, even if the materials aren’t 100% historically accurate.

Hours to complete: Oh goodness… mounds. It took me the entire month of October, and that was working on the sweater for 2-4 hours almost every day.

First worn: For pictures! Hopefully I’ll get to wear it later this month for an event.

Total cost: $2.50 for the knitting needles, $3 for the yarn, $1.50 for the buttons… total = $7! Now that is a project total I’d love to have more often!

Things I’m proud of in this sweater? #1: It’s the first sweater I’ve ever knit! #2: I was really careful to keep the pattern perfectly knit, sometimes taking out 5-10 rows after noticing I had made a mistake, so I could go back and fix it (let me just say that un-knitting, like seam ripping, is not nearly as exciting as knitting or sewing!). The end result is that the pattern is perfect everywhere… yes, I’m a perfectionist. #3: I did a really good job sewing up the seams, especially on the front band. #4: I learned out to knit a button hole! It’s not that hard, really, just casting off one row and on the next, but it does take your brain a little bit to figure it out. As I went along my button holes became neater and neater, as you would expect. #5: The band fits nicely around the neck opening and is a lovely way to finish off the sweater edge.

IMG_0596

Where front meets front band. See that seam? Nope, you don’t, because it looks like I knit it all at once! (ooo, and see my button holes?)

Things that make me call this sweater “wonky” or “original” or perhaps just simply “hand knit”? #1: That I had to cut corners because I was running out of yarn. The part of the band that goes around the neck is not as wide as the pattern calls for. And the part of the band that should have the buttons sewn to it is, well, non-existent. I literally ran out of yarn. #2: Because the button part of the band is non-existent, the neckline isn’t actually symmetrical… the side with the buttons doesn’t widen to be the same width at the button hole side. So the neck V doesn’t quite want to center, and the buttons/button holes wind up being slightly off center, too. (Honestly, though, I don’t think other people would notice those things if I didn’t point them out…) #3: Even with my sleeve alts, the sleeve is still rather large around (can you imagine if I hadn’t re-knitted them?!?) and they are a little long, even with a cuff. #4: Now that it’s finished, the sweater is rather heavy and prone to sagging some in places like the sleeves. Oh well!

IMG_7365

See the side with the buttons? Yup, no band there!

IMG_7361

Looking at my slightly loose, and rather long, sleeve.

For a first try at knitting a sweater, and using a historic pattern, I’m calling this one a  success!

Knitting For Victory

My 1917 “Knit Sweater of Angorina” is finally complete! But, you’ll have to wait until my official HSF post to see it. In the meantime, I want to share a little bit of history that relates to knitting in WWI and, by extension, my new sweater.

WorldWarOneKnit07

World War I Red Cross poster encouraging knitting, ca. 1917

World War I started on July 28, 1914 and ended on November 11, 1918. The US entered the war on April 6, 1917. After the US joined the war, it didn’t take long before conditions in the trenches prompted the Red Cross to put out an urgent call for knitted goods for soldiers in the summer of 1917. Their immediate need was for one and a half million each of knitted wristlets, mufflers, sweaters, and pairs of socks. That’s a lot of knitting!

This section is quoted directly from historylink.org essay 5721:

The need for the socks was paramount: The trench warfare conditions under which the war was fought meant that soldiers spent weeks or months entrenched in wet and in winter freezing conditions.

For American soldiers in the trenches or on the march in France, warm socks made all the difference. The boots these soldiers wore (the 1917 Trench Boot) were made of heavy retanned cowhide with thick soles. Although in theory water-repellant, the boots ripped out at the seams fairly quickly. They had iron heels and five rows of hobnails (to prevent slipping) hammered into the soles. These hobnails conducted the cold from the frozen ground directly to the soldiers’ feet.

An improved version (1918) called the Pershing Boot added an extra sole and thus extra warmth, but a soldier could not bend his foot in the rigid boot and his feet remained cold, sore, and often wet. These boots were not insulated in any way, and soldiers took to wearing two pairs of thick wool sock. This required them to wear boots two sizes larger than their regular size. Allowing for wear and tear and the prudent practice of changing socks often in order to avoid contracting trench foot (a fungus), the need for a continuous supply of warm wool socks was endless.

As you would expect, not everyone could knit very well, so the quality of knitted goods being sent overseas varied, but a sock is a sock, even with dropped stitches and other mistakes, and it will still keep a foot warm! In support of the war effort, people began knitting everywhere: work, school, while on public transportation, at church… People who couldn’t knit were encouraged to buy yarn for those who could, and children were encouraged to do whatever they could to help their family members have time to knit. Personal knitting was looked down upon for being selfish, because it didn’t support the war effort or the soldiers.

This section is quoted directly from historylink.org essay 5721:

By mid-1918 the need for socks was so severe that the Red Cross begged knitters, “Don’t make sweaters … every pound of yarn that can be secured should be used for knitting socks” (quoted in MacDonald, 218). Some knitters conserved wool by using cotton yarn for the legs and wool for the feet. Wool was the best fiber for moisture absorption. Other knitters, stymied by the somewhat complicated mystique of turning the heel (i.e. knitting a heel flap and then picking up stitches along its sides to knit a gusset, forming the heel-shaped portion of the sock) began knitting heel-less tube socks. These drew praise from soldiers because they were more comfortable than socks with lumpy, poorly made heels.

The Seattle Red Cross operated a knitting machine that produced long knitted tubes. The tubes were cut into 27-inch lengths and the toes purled together by hand. “When the knitting machine is once ‘set up’ with gray yarn, it knits and knits and knits.” (The Seattle Times, December 2, 1917)

In September 1918, all American yarn retailers were ordered by the War Industries Board to turn over their stock of service yarn (any yarn in khaki, gray, heather, natural or white) to the Red Cross. For the next six weeks all yarn for war-effort knitting was available only through the Red Cross. This was done to ease the yarn shortage and to allow Red Cross knitting to continue uninterrupted. 

…The so-called War To End All Wars ended on November 11, 1918, when Germany surrendered. In the war’s final months, the American Red Cross turned its attention to the devastating 1918 influenza pandemic… Many [knitters] foreswore gray and khaki yarn for good, or so they thought. These same knitters would be the first to pick up their needles in December 1941, to once more “knit for victory.”

Quite an interesting bit of history, I think. Given this information, I can confidently say that my sweater would have been knit early in 1917, before the US joined the war. I encourage you to click through to historylink.org to read the entire article I’ve quoted here. It focuses on knitters in the Seattle, Washington area, but I’m sure reflects what other areas would have been like as well.

Brushing Off My Knitting Needles

I’ve brushed off my knitting needles and am attempting to knit my first sweater! Not just any sweater, though, this sweater pattern is from 1917.

knisweofangpic1-1

“Knitted sweater of Angorina” from the Star Needlework Journal 1917.

This most recently started project has me going in a slightly different direction than in my previous knitting adventures. I taught myself how to knit in college (it was a popular thing lots of my friends and I did). I would often knit in class (and I had awesome professors who realized that I actually paid more attention while I was knitting because it kept my brain engaged during lectures and discussions). Mostly I knit scarves… so many, in fact, that I ran out of people to give them to. Then I started on afghans and pillows. I loved to figure out complicated patterns and cabling… But I never could figure out how to knit in the round (to make hats and such) and I never wanted to deal with sizing and non-rectangular patterns to create a sweater. I’ve since been taught how to knit in the round, though I haven’t tried it yet, but this is my first attempt at a sweater!

I decided to knit a sweater for an event I’m likely to attend in November for which we’ll be wearing WWI era clothes. That’s what sparked my interest in looking for knitting patterns from that period. I found the pattern I’m using through Ravelry, but in searching the internet for other patterns I came across other resources for period knitting that I’ve included at the end of this post. I also came across a pattern for a 1922 sweater that I’m hoping to try eventually (and assuming this one isn’t a complete failure!). It’s a more complicated pattern that uses two colors, so that will be new and exciting… some day.

I was further spurred on my knitting mission by coming across knitting needles and skeins of yarn for 50 cents in the bargain attic at our local fabric store. The yarn is a lovely cream color and super soft. I’m guessing it’s acrylic, but it had no label and I haven’t bothered burn testing it, so I’m not certain of the fiber content. I figured that for about $3 I could take a chance on knitting a sweater. If it works out I can always buy more expensive (or normally priced, haha) yarn later and make another sweater. Oh, and did I mention that the pattern I’m using is free??? Love that price!

Here’s my progress so far:

IMG_4893

The back of the sweater. I’ve still got about 6″ to go, but you can see that it’s starting to look like something!

IMG_4894

Here’s a close up of the basket weave pattern. It’s just knits and purls in sets of 5 stitches.

I’ve been  knitting rather than sewing for the last week or so and it has been a nice change, plus it’s really neat to see the sweater starting to turn into something. As I get further I’ll post more about my progress.

Here are some other early 20th century knitting pattern sources I came across:

http://www.historylink.org/index.cfm?DisplayPage=output.cfm&File_Id=5721 (a history of knitting related to WWI, specifically in Washington State: it’s quite interesting!)

http://blog.caseybrowndesigns.com/2010/10/vintage-knitting-resources/ (links to vintage knitting patterns from the 1900s-1950s)

http://freevintageknitting.com/women.html (vintage 20th century sweater patterns: looks like mostly 1930s-1960s patterns but they don’t have dates, just images)

http://www.hjsstudio.com/patterns.html (has a variety of patterns from WWI and WWII)

Oh hey, and wordpress just reminded me that this is my 200th post on this blog! That’s pretty exciting!