Saturday, 22 November 2008

16th/17thC dyes

Today I have been refreshing my collection of naturally dyed yarn, mostly silk today, but a little wool as well. I've been working broadly from some sixteenth and seventeenth century recipes over at

So far I've done several skeins of madder, one of madder dipped in cochineal, one of cochineal and one of weld:

Now, I'm on a black dye recipe: 
Black Dye Take 1 part 
copperas, 4 parts ground gallnuts and boil with the wool yarn or 
silk for 2 hours. Take it out and let it cool. Put it back in until it is black enough. Finally rinse clean in fresh water
Marx Ziegler's Weber Kunst und Bild Buch of 1677 tr Patricia Hilts available online at 

Will report back in two hours as to the final colour

Monday, 17 November 2008

Fairy Horses Tam

With many thanks to those who test knitted the design for me, I'm pleased to announce that the Fairy Horses Tam is now available as a Ravelry Download priced at just $3.00

Inspired by the

 traditional ballad of Tamlin:  But tonight is Halloween  and the fairy folk ride,  Those that would their true love win  at mile’s cross they must hide.

First let pass the horses black  and then let pass the brown  Quickly run to the white steed  and pull the rider down  (lyrics from the Fairport Convention version)

Graceful horses, more sinuous than mortal steeds, gallop endlessly around the deep headband of this cosy, double thick, stranded colour tam worked in DK weight wool.

The tam is worked in a heavier weight yarn on the undyed version pictured, this balances the thick headband well, whilst the green model uses DK weight yarn throughout. Either is good, the choice is yours.

Tradition associates the fairy horse with the sound of small bells, my green bonnet is finished with a short ‘tail’ ending in tiny silver bells.

Please note, the stranded work on this has a lot of unusually long floats. This does require a little more attention than usual to avoid any tension issues. Apart from this, its an extremely easy hat to knit

Monday, 3 November 2008

Balmoral Bonnet

The Living History Fair was excellent this past weekend, so lovely to see so many friends, and I was very pleased to sell a good number of hats.

Whilst I was away I worked up the pattern for my version of the traditional Balmoral bonnet. This is a Victorian version of the Scots Bonnet and its works up fast on 5mm dpns in aran weight wool. Would make an excellent midwinter present for the kilt wearer in your life! You knit itin the round a bit large then full it down to size, so its a very relaxing knit without too many gauge worries.

Pattern is available through Ravelry downloads for just $3.00

Thursday, 30 October 2008

Dwarven Battle Bonnet- pattern update

Just a quick note for anyone currently knitting the version of this with the red beard. I've just had it flagged up that there is a pattern glitch at row 36- it asks you to cast off 26st, we think its meant to be 40. I'm away from my knitting supplies for a few days so I can't reknit this section and triple check it until then, but if you are doing this version, please bear this in mind and prepare to look at your hat and do a few more cast offs! 

I'm very sorry about this, I thought we'd ironed any glitches out in testing but looks like this snuck through- I'll re-issue the updated pattern to everone who has it as soon as we've got this sorted out!

I'm always grateful to hear of any problems with any of my patterns, I do my best to send them out ready for action but sometimes daft errors escape and it helps so much to hear about them when they show up

Monday, 27 October 2008

Adventures with my sock machine

Just been having another go at doing toe up socks on my CSM. I had a go at doing it this way up a couple of years ago, but I was using silk and it got very snarled up.  Todays attempt in wool was rather more successful, so here it is step by step:

Start by joining in your sock yarn and go straight into making a toe by the usual method (white yarn is waste, cream is the sock yarn)

Then, drop the remaining toe stitches onto the relevant 
needles- this is the bit I was finding hard- wool is indeed much easier but its still a bit of a stretch on my 84 cylinder:

then you just crank on until its time to do the heel, you 
 can just see the line of waste yarn where you would normally have to kitchiner- that can be ripped out once the sock is off the machine.

and finally, more for
 comedy value than anything else, the sock on the machine once the waste is ripped off:

Friday, 3 October 2008

I can knit a Rainbow

As an excercise in reading a lace pattern I've spent a few evenings working on the Zetor Scarf. I used some extremely vintage yarn which sadly had a few weak spots, and this put me off making the scarf more than a very small headscarf size, I also managed to repeat a couple of rows in two places, which threw the pattern out, but I decided not to frog back as this was very much a learning excercise. 

Overall, I liked the pattern a lot and intend to make it again with a bit more concentration.

I've also been working on historic hats for the next Living History Fair, and much as I try to use up my stash, more yarn keeps coming in from swaps- oops!

Wednesday, 10 September 2008

mmm, squashy

I've recently been rediscovering the benefits of using a spinning wheel to convert 'old' and unloved stash yarn into 'new' and desirable stash yarn.

This started off as three cones of very posh Italian spun wool with a smidge of acrylic, and one cone of eyewateringly flashy 80s vintage lurex, a pleasant short while plying it all together and its an airy, squashy and really rather nice dk weight yarn that wouldnt look that out of place amongst some of the flash designer yarns that cost a fortune.

I've done the same with blends of wool, silk and fine metalic filaments to good effect too in the past. 

Monday, 8 September 2008

Gnome Hat and Beard

Here they are, the latest in my collection of very silly hats. Knit in the round and then heavily fulled, the hats sit low on the forehead and look cute on wearers of all sizes. The beard is detachable meaning the hat can be worn alone if desired, and the lady gnome has braids with ribbons as part of her hat.

Worked in Aran weight yarn on 5mm and 6mm needles, this uses simple stitches and has photo instructions for the loop stitch used on the beard.

As with my last pattern, this is available for $3.00 through Ravelry downloads. Clicking the buy button will take you to a paypal page after which you will be automatically issued a download link for the well illustrated, easy to knit pattern.

The hats in the photo will be listed in my shop in due course, please check there if you are interested in purchasing a ready made gnome hat.

Tuesday, 2 September 2008

Miser's Purse

Made this for Gareth as part of his Regency outfit for the ball in Bath next month. Its a heavy silk that I'm hoping to be carrying in the shop soon, and I'm fairly pleased with it. The rings are temporary in that 'they'll probably still be there in 20 years' sort of way, Gareth plans to make silver rings eventually for it.

Friday, 29 August 2008

Quick and Chunky Socks

I've just written up my quickest, chunkiest, easiest sock pattern into a photo-illustrated article on the ever excellent Downsizer site.

A doddle to make on 5mm needles using aran or chunky yarn, these are great quick knits for beginners.

Have a go yourself, the article is here.

Friday, 22 August 2008

Dwarven Battle Bonnet Pattern

Finally, months and months after it first came out, I've found time to write up the pattern for the Dwarven Battle Bonnet.

Yay! Now everyone can have a beard if they want one :)

The pattern is available for $3.00 and has instructions for both hats shown.

Pattern is written for an average adult head but is easily made smaller by starting with a few less stitches and/or working on smaller needles.

eta: 2/9/08 I've had a couple of people ask if I will make to order- these two sample hats are currently available and I'll put them in my shop at for anyone who is seriously interested. thanks for all the kind words about these
eta: 3/9/08 the blond bonnet has now been sold, the red one is still available

Monday, 18 August 2008


A few months ago I contributed a couple of squares to the now infamous Pratchgan, and on Saturday the finished item finally met up with its rightful owner. Just one pic here to give you a flavour of the wild and wonderful glory that it became, but please do go and read all about it on the blog of the lady who came up with the idea and put it all together.

This has been such a fun project, and it looks like Terry was genuinely pleased with the end result.

Sunday, 13 July 2008

Been busy

Haven't posted nearly often enough recently, its not that I haven't been knitting, just haven't had much spare time to do updates.

Went to the Costume Society conference on Saturday, sadly couldnt make the friday and sunday days, but am going tomorrow. Thoroughly enjoyable as always, no one specific thing to report back on, but I always enjoy the papers and its nice to meet up with other costumey people. I startecd work on a silk miser's purse during the talks, I've been trying out a few silk yarns to try to find some that will work as a substitute for purse twist, and this seems about right on 2mm needles

Just finished this white tam-o-shanter with an undyed brown brim. I was planning on dyeing it blue, but I quite like it as is.
Have also done a couple of statute caps in the last couple of weeks, a few pairs of stockings and more of the Women's Land Army socks. I must confess to also spending far too much time trading yarn on Ravelry, its so hard to resist when people offer yarns I haven't tried before!

Sunday, 15 June 2008

Dear Cat

Dear cat, this morning I very carefully fulled and blocked a nice new handknitted Tudor hat. It wasn't intended as a bed for you. Didn't you notice how damp it was?

Pointy Hats

I havent posted for ages, sorry about that. Life has been so very busy. Anyway, here are a couple of recent hats:

Sunday, 11 May 2008

This week's collection of hats.

Been a busy week, had the usual manic bank holiday working at the medieval village, then a trip to London on tuesday and wednesday to go fabric shopping for my regency outfit, then work the rest of the week as usual. Still, managed to get three hats finished in amongst that lot.

We have a red cloche hat, a Russula cap in a purple shade, which took far more yarn than the last one I made, and a frilly little headband inspired by seaweed.

Tuesday, 29 April 2008


Wonderwool was great, really enjoyed ourselves. As always, there is so much wonderful work and covetable yarn on display, but I managed to sell more than I bought, just about.

The stall gave me a headache, its a difficult space to fill with those white walls, but it looked like this in the end.

Did some spinning whilst I was there, and came back with 800g of the most gorgeous handspun gotland by Freyalyn, I intend to make something really wonderful with it, just not sure what yet.

Monday, 21 April 2008

Cunningly mismatched socks

Made these on the Autoknitter this morning, and for some reason, even though I used identical weights, method etc, the tension went off and I have vastly different patterning on these. Mildly annoying, still, I'm sure they will appeal to someone and as they are a child size being a bit skewiff will probably be a bonus.

Wednesday, 16 April 2008

Pineapple Regency Reticule

I've been mildly fixated by a silk reticule shaped like a pineapple that is at the Kyoto institute recently, even found a version of the pattern in an early pattern book, but havent had a chance to sit and wrestle with the terminology of the Recency notation, so this is a stopgap variation just to satisfy my desire for a purse shaped like a pineapple. It needs beadwork adding to evoke the diamond shaped pattern of the pineapple body, but I like it so far. Its in pure silk and was lovely to work on, body stockinette, tops in crochet.

Saturday, 29 March 2008

Child size woollen stockings

Most of the output of my antique sock machines is practical woollen or fancy silk stockings for the re-enactment market. Up until now, I've only had the 84 cylinder Imperia, which makes wonderul adult stockings but which can be a bit baggy on anyone with very slim legs or smaller feet. The 'new' Autoknitter has a 60 cylinder, and now that its knitting I took the plunge yesterday and did my first child size stocking, pictured next to an adult size one for comparison.

It may not look like much to those of you used to modern socks in beautiful bright yarn, but this is going to help keep a lot of little people cozy this season, I'm very pleased with the first attempt and think it will be even better once I have the machine properly settled in. At the moment its a little stiff to crank and feels a bit awkward in places, but to be fair to it, I've had virtually no dropped stitches and it has been sat in a box in an attic for 60-70 years.

Wednesday, 26 March 2008

Silk Regency Reticule

I'm going to the Regency Ball in Bath later this year, so being me I've started with the accessories (oops). This is a silk reticule, made on the Imperia in a rather yummy heavyweight pure silk. I'm fairly pleased for a first attempt and Its been given the general thumbs up by friends with a good knowledge of Regency styles. This one will be going to a new home to fund more silk for more reticule experiments :) Its the only catch with experimenting with silk, not a cheap raw material, but the results are lovely.

Saturday, 15 March 2008

It Knits!

Yes, it was all back to front, it now, after a little bit of cursing, knits all the way round the cylinder! Hooray!

Getting a bit stuck

I'm having a go at getting it to knit, but so far I have two specific problems:I'm finding the 'up' motion of the needles is going too high and theyarn is dropping off the latches so they shut closed. If I move the yarn carrier up any higher it misses the needles completely.I'm also finding that the needles don't drop far enough in the cylinder on the 'down' part of their motion to pull the stitch through. So on the odd occasion where I've managed to persuade theneedle to hold a stitch it isnt forming properly. I can see that screwing the tension knob down is helping this, but its not enough.

I've just had it suggested that maybe I have reassembled it incorrectly, so I'm about to take it all apart again and see if it will go back any other way.

Autoknitter renovation, part one

The Autoknitter has been looking at me reproachfully from its box for a couple of weeks now since I first got it, so today I relented and made a start on cleaning it up. Can't do too much today as I have sock orders coming out of my ears, so the Imperia has first call on my time, but I did take off the original test sock, take apart the cylinders, give everything a wipe over and re-oiling, and to my great delight so far its all turning smoothly, sounds good, and the needles look as if they may be up to at least getting the machine started. I've got the 60 cylinder on it at the moment, I'm very hopeful of getting this working and getting some smaller socks made, but I really need to settle down with the instruction manual before I attempt to thread it up, I've already spotted that a few things work a little bit differently to the Imperia and I'd hate to snarl it up through nothing more than overenthusiasm.

I've told myself for every sock I crank today on the Imperia I can spend half an hour fiddling with the Autoknitter, there is a very slim chance of getting it threaded by this evening if all goes well. Watch this space!

Monday, 3 March 2008

Look what I have!

I'm soooooo excited, I have a new toy to play with. This was an extremely generous gift from a friend who found it in an attic. I'm overwhelmed at how good people are to me :) It needs some tlc, but nothing that can't be sorted out, just need to find the time to play with it now!

Thursday, 21 February 2008

Hats hats hats hats hats hats

I have hats floating before my eyes, been hatting frantically and we think we might just be about ready for the LARP fair this weekend. We've even bought a satnav system to help us get there in one piece! Anway, here are a couple of recent wossnames for you, the little sister of the Dwarven Battle Bonnet, and a pointy hat with detachable fully poseable felted dragon.

Monday, 11 February 2008

Rainbow Welly Socks

Made on my Circular Sock Machine then dyed after finishing, I did the dying for this batch in the microwave. Worked really well too, I normally use pans on the stove for these dip dyed socks but I'm pleased with the clarity fo the colour on these.

Sunday, 10 February 2008

Monmouth Hats

There are a lot of patterns for Monmouth Caps on the net, none of them really work to my mind. I base my interpretation partly on the excellent description of the type in the article in Costume by Kirsty Buckland, but mostly on first hand personal examination of the surviving cap at the Nelson History Museum in Monmouth. Every time I knit one I try a slight variation, and after a dozen or more hats I’m starting to feel that I’m getting very close to replicating the key features of the original. I’m sure I can improve further though, I’m hoping to go back with my best efforts to compare them directly to the original again and see if I can refine further. Funny little hat, its amazing how constantly fascinated with this one I am.

Thursday, 7 February 2008

Rib Tickler Wristlets

I made these for my sister in law's birthday, and the pattern is now available to download. They are a complete doddle to do, there are only four rows per mitt that you need to pay attention to, and those use simple cable type stitch manipulation to make the sections of ribbing smooth into each other nicely.

The really nice thing about these is that they use less than a skein of yarn and can be worn either way up or even inside out- the pattern is identical if you use a cast on and off that looks much the same.
Do let me know if you find any errors in the pattern or if you can think of a better way to represent the stitch manipulated rows, but its all pretty simple stuff. Just right for cool spring mornings.

Monday, 4 February 2008

Big Skeins

I needed a way to wind really long skeins for some dye projects, so Gareth kindly made me this today. It winds skeins 1.5m long/3m around, do I can do wider stripes in variegated yarn.
I've tried it for one skein so far, a red and dark grey custom dyejob as part of a trade, just need a chance to do some for my own use so I can try how it all comes out.

Monday, 28 January 2008

Pointy Hat and Stash tidying

I had a to do list as long as my arm for today, but I had to put it on hold to do something about my stash, it was about to implode badly and I had visions of having to excavate the cat from underneath it. So, I spent the afternoon bagging, cataloguing and listing a lot of it on Ravelry. Have to confess I ground to a halt when I reached the coned yarn, I just couldnt face photogaphing and listing all of that, so that can wait for another day. This is just the start of it, at this moment I have 14 similar boxes stacked, and thats just the bit that lives in that room.

I also felted/fulled this pointy hat. We went to my parent's for Burns night so I needed something easy to knit in the van.

I intend to give this a hatband of oak leaves, which I think will look rather nice.

Despite the vast stash I had to order wool today, had a commission in and none of the right stuff in stock, typical!