Friday, 9 October 2015

Tech Talk With Jude Skeers #9 - Intarsia

Here is the last Tech Talk from Jude Skeers who will be our Knitter-In-Residence in one week! So exciting.
As noted in the first Tech Talk article (posted January 15, 2015) he has sent these articles to Roisin to be shared with us. 
The article was first published in the Australian magazine Yarn which you can see at the store.

Intarsia Knitting
By Jude Skeers

What we know today as Intarsia knitting became hugely popular in the 1980’s. When the Princess of Wales was photographed wearing Jenny Kee’s Koala motif jumper hand knitters flocked to create what at the time was commonly referred to as picture knitting. Before this popularity, Intarsia technique in hand knitting was used in limited styles as in Argyle and a feature in children’s garments. It took someone very famous to launch intarsia as a ‘must-have’ adult knitting fashion.

The word Intarsia is derived from Italian, which according to Wikipedia is “an elaborate form of marquetry using inlays in wood, especially as practised in 15th-century Italy.” Richard Rutt, in the Historical Glossary appendix in A History of Hand Knitting, (1987), writes, “Intarsia 1863. An Italian term for decorative wood inlay; 1957 applied to multicoloured flat knitting in which a separate strand is used for each colour area, the fabric being held together by twisting the two yarns at every colour change, without stranding or weaving on the wrong side of the fabric.” 1957 is the year referenced  in the Oxford English Dictionary. However, the term wasn’t used widely in publication until the 1980’s.

An intriguing aspect when researching Intarsia hand knitting is the lack of reference to it among the major knitting book writers. Mary Thomas who wrote, two reference books, in the 1930’s makes no reference to Intarsia technique. Barbara Walker in the 1960’s and 1970’s wrote seven books on hand knitting including three in her ‘Treasury of Knitting Patterns’ series without including Intarsia.

Authors writing after 1980 began to include the term, Intarsia. Montse Stanley Knitter’s Handbook (2001), originally published as The Handknitter’s Handbook (1986) gave a detailed description, “Intarsia. Also called geometric, tartan, collage or patchwork knitting. A technique used for working totally independent blocks of colour, as in large geometrical arrangements and ‘picture knitting’”. A more detailed description of the technique came with Kaffe Fassett in his first knitting book, Glorious Knitting, (1985). He distinguished the technique of Intarsia from stranded knitting: “Intarsia, where colours are knitted in place and knitting-in where they are carried across the back of the work and either stranded or woven in. Intarsia method creates a single thickness fabric whereas knitting-in creates a double or triple thickness depending on the number of colours in the row.”

Liz Gemmell was one of the Australian knitwear designers who created Intarsia patterned garments in the 1980’s. In her book Knitting for the home (1991), she uses the title Picture Knitting when detailing the technique, but writing in the description “... this method, also called intarsia.” This suggests that term Intarsia wasn’t being widely used in Australia. Liz was one of a group of Australian designers including Jenny Kee, Ruth Fitzpatrick, Michael Glover, Jenni Dudley, Robyn Malcom, Ken Killeen and Yolanda Chommley Smith. They were known for their use of brightly coloured motifs, many of them with a distinctive Australian flavour.

Wednesday, 7 October 2015

Knit Your Own Web - October 31

On October 31st you can join Jude Skeers at the store and learn to knit your own Spider Web...what a great Halloween activity!
Jude has had several exhibitions/installations featuring his knitted webs and sculptures. Read a recent article here with great photos.
And another older article here. 

And here's the web we'll knit. Call the store for info.

Tuesday, 6 October 2015

Tech Talk With Jude Skeers #8 - Slip Stitch & Mosaic Knitting

Yes, the Tech Talks by Jude Skeers are coming faster...because his time with us is coming close fast!
Here is #8 in the series...As noted in the first Tech Talk article (posted January 15, 2015) he has sent these articles to Roisin to be shared with us. 
The article was first published in the Australian magazine Yarn which you can see at the store.

Slip-Stitch and Mosaic Knitting
By Jude Skeers
Slip-Stitch knitting is usually grouped with stranded knitting, Fair Isle, Intarsia and other techniques of colour stitch manipulation. While coloured Slip-Stitch designs have a similar appearance to stranded knitting, which uses two or more yarns in each row, Slip-Stitch has only one yarn in each row and could be seen as the lazy knitters approach to coloured knitting.

Along with ribs and moss stitch, Slip-Stitch is one of the basic knitting patterns. The technique requires slipping one or more stitches between knit and purl stitches. Slip-Stitch motifs are not attributed to any particular knitting tradition. Writing in her 1943 book of knitting patterns, Mary Thomas describes the technique:
“Slip-Stitch Motifs are very simple, but they make the most effective patterns, and permit of a pretty ply in yarn movements. The method consists of slipping a stitch from the left to right needle without knitting it, while carrying the yarn either behind or before the stitch so slipped.”
Mary Thomas uses the term ‘Slip-Stitch Motif’ when the stitch is slipped to the back of the fabric creating a vertical pattern; when the stitch is slipped to the front of the fabric a horizontal pattern is generated which she calls ‘Stranded-Slip Motifs’.

The simple technique of slipping stitches opens the way for a multitude of possible variations and permutations. Many patterns have been published with this uncomplicated concept. Stitches can be slipped to the back or front of the work. The number of stitches to be slipped can vary as can the number of rows that a stitch is slipped over.

Single coloured Slip-Stitch motifs are used where the design is about texture, for example to create a ladder or herringbone effect; using more than one coloured yarn puts the emphasis on the variations in colour. Montse Stanley in her 1982 book Creating & Knitting Your Own Design for a Perfect Fit emphasises that slipping stitches is always done purlwise. She points out that a woven look is achieved when the strands are slipped on the right side.

When working with slip-stitch it is good to remember that the technique will tighten the fabric, although the knitted fabric is not as dense as a fabric knitted with stranded knitting using two or more yarns in a single row.

The use of the term Mosiac Knitting for Slip-Stitch motifs can be attributed to Barbara Walker, first used in her ‘Second Treasury of Knitting Patterns’ published in 1970.  Most authors, although not all, have credited the title to her. In her first book, ‘Treasury of Knitting Patterns’ (1986), Walker had a stack of single and multiple colour Slip-Stitch patterns with no particular name. In her Second Treasury, she calls “sophisticated designs in slip-stitch color knitting” Mosaic knitting. In the introduction to the chapter, Mosaic Patterns, which included over forty patterns, she points out that once the slip-stitch technique has been mastered any number of patterns can be created. “Mosaic knitting features a technique of the utmost simplicity and an application as broad as human ingenuity itself.”

Barbara Walker’s 1972 ‘Charted Knitting Designs’ also has a chapter titled “Mosaic Patterns” consisting of over fifty multiple two coloured slip-stitch designs, predominately geometric. In each of her book Walker increased the number and variety of her Slip-Stitch patterns leading to the publishing in 1986 of her definitive book ‘Mosaic Knitting’.
In the introduction to ‘Mosaic Knitting’ Walker writes “Mosaic knitting is a new term in the knitting vocabulary. It describes a novel development in color-knitting techniques and a whole new class of patterns, each different from any pattern that has ever been used before. The term was coined, and the patterns of this class have been invented by the author of this book.”

Most wide-ranging books on knitting, whether they be encyclopaedias, treasuries, essential guides or handbooks, include a section on slip-stitch and mosaic knitting. There are many excellent recent publications with coloured slip-stitch motifs, including ‘Colorwork for the Adventurous Knitter’ (2012), by Lori Ihnen, which is excellent for the knitters wanting to start experimenting with this technique. For the more experienced knitter, ‘Pop Knitting’ (2012) by Britt-Marie Christoffersson is recommended. ‘The Essential Guide to Color Knitting Techniques’ (2008) by Margaret Radcliffe has an extensive range of slip-stitch patterns.

Monday, 5 October 2015

Jude's Tri-Wrap for Karyn

I discovered I've never posted this photo of an interesting 3 sided wrap that Jude Skeers knit for a friend of his. Looks tricky to me!

Jude said, "288 stitches on 10mm needle, decreasing at 3 points.
It is 1.5m on each side."

Thursday, 1 October 2015

Tech Talk With Jude Skeers #7 - Fair Isle

Here's another fascinating "Tech Talk" article from Jude. He doesn't mention this, but Fair Isle is a real place, an island in the Shetland group, way off the north coast of Scotland. If you're a mystery fan, you may have read Ann Cleeves excellent Shetland series in which her main character, Jimmy Perez, is from Fair Isle.

Fair Isle: What’s in a Name
Jude Skeers

Knitting with two or more colour yarns dates to the earliest times of hand knitting. An example of this was a child’s sock from between 400-600 AD, that was found on a site in Egypt. Coloured knitting comes in a variety of techniques, including stripes, slipped stitch, intarsia, double knitting, embroidery and coloured stranded knitting.

While Fair Isle and Scandinavian are the best known of the coloured traditions, most knitting cultures have developed their own style and patterns. They can be found in regions around the world: the Andes in South America, the Cowichan/Salish in Canada, Albania and Bulgaria in the Balkans, Arabia, Egypt and most European countries.

Fair Isle patterns and garments were popularised in the 1920’s after the Prince of Wales played golf at St Andrews wearing a Fair Isle jumper. According to Richard Rutt in A History of Hand Knitting (1987) Fair Isle become part of the Jazz age. He wrote, “Since then Fair Isle has never gone out of fashion. Today almost any multicoloured knitting is called Fair Isle.”  The practice of using Fair Isle as a generic term was well established by 1938 when the American author Mary Thomas wrote  Colour knitting in spite of its long and glorious past has become universally known as Fair Isle."

The English author James Norbury wrote in 1962, “...although there is a tendency to call all forms of colour knitting ‘Fair Isle Knitting’, to do so is quite fallacious.” American author Barbara Walker wrote in 1968, “This type of knitting is generically termed Fair Isle knitting, although such a general application of the term is decidedly inaccurate.” The use of Fair Isle as a generic term is the reality, despite the best efforts of writers such as Norbury and Walker, the main problem being that many knitting writers perpetuate the fallacy.

Another interesting aspect of the shift in meaning has been the use of terms such as Mock Fair Isle and Fair Isle Technique. Pam Dawson in The Encyclopedia of Knitting (1984) writes “Mock Fair Isle knitting, on the other hand, is as new as the technology which made random-dyed yarn possible. The use of one random-coloured yarn to replace several yarns in contrasting colours is an exciting way of adapting old methods to create new efforts.” Mock Fair Isle is more accurately titled Jacquard knitting.  In his recent book, Knitting with the Color Guys, Kaffe Fassett writes that all his two coloured stranded patterns can be knitted with ‘Fair Isle technique’. Many of Fassett’s patterns use this random-coloured yarn technique.

The clearest and most detailed description of traditional Fair Isle patterning came in A History of Hand Knitting by Richard Rutt (1987) “....the early patterns were all strictly horizontal bands of motifs, rarely each more than 15 rows deep. Bands of large motifs were divided by bands of smaller motifs, half or less the depth of the larger one. The separation of approximately circular motifs by four diagonal corners produced the familiar so-called OXO designs. (The X mostly had a vertical line through its centre.)  A second early style of small geometrically patches covering the whole fabric has been called ‘diced’.”

Problems and confusion can result from common use of the title Fair Isle for coloured stranded knitted. Until 2011 in the knitting section of the Sydney Royal Easter Show, Jacquard garments were entered in the Traditional Fair Isle class. This resulted in garments being disqualified and removed from the class. A group of knitters approached the organisers in an effort to find a solution to this problem. In 2012 a new class, Jacquard, was added by the Royal Agricultural Society hand knitting section. The Fair Isle Class being described as, “Traditional Fair Isle should be as elastic as a single strand knitted fabric. No more than two colours in one row. Stranding method plus occasional weaving for long floats. Traditional small border and large patterns (horizontal or vertical), or all over patterns.” The Jacquard Class being described as, “Worked similarly to Fair Isle with yarns stranded or woven at the base of the work. Designs can be geometric or stylised natural forms e.g. flowers, animals. Some of the stitches can be in pattern rather than flat stocking stitch.”

Traditionally patterns were not written, but were taught orally and through working samples. The advent of the publication of knitting patterns threw up the challenge of having to give traditional patterns a title. This was not a problem when patterns were handed down by word of mouth. This problem with language has been a real challenge when it came to coloured knitting.

Can all coloured stranded knitting be accurately described as Fair Isle or Fair Style? Obviously not, to do so is to devalue all the other traditions of coloured stranded knitting. As a result of the way the English language evolves, for some knitters and publishers in the English speaking world the meaning/usage of the title, Fair Isle, has shifted. Through common usage the title has become the generic name for coloured stranded knitting. It is a good indication of the slippage of the term in the language.

Why has this misnomer continued? Blame it on the evolution of the English Language. The question remains, do we attempt to re-educate knitters on the correct titles for coloured or just accept the easy way out and call all stranded coloured knitting Fair Isle.

Cast On Help

Are you taking a workshop (or two or three?) with Jude Skeers? If so, starting tomorrow, Oct 2nd, on Fridays 1-3 pm and Saturdays 10-Noon
Roisin will be teaching the cast-on methods for Jude's Shawl, Moebius shoulder wrap, and full wrap classes.
Drop by as sooon as you're able and be ready to knit during class.

No charge.

Sunday, 27 September 2015

Hat Class With Jude Skeers - October 22nd or 29th

Maybe you are like me, thinking you are not nearly a good enough knitter to take a workshop with master knitter, artist and designer Jude Skeers.. How about the "Hats. Toques, Beanies" one? Roisin assures me less-than-expert knitters will enjoy that one...I'm signed up! Don't delay...class sizes are small.

These are the patterns he'll be teaching, using his own techniques of stranding and slip stitching, and based on Cowichan designs.

Friday, 25 September 2015

Janet's Sweater

Here is Janet showing off her classy knit with Filtes, Australian Merinos. The pictures don't do it justice.  Basket weave stitch on bottom, plain stocking stitch in the middle and a fancy dancy stitch at top (What? You've never heard of this stitch?!).  It's all knit through the back of loop using a Vogue pattern.  Janet has a real skill in choosing the right yarn for the patterns she uses--and knitting a perfectly fitted sweater. Congrats Janet.

Circular Wrap Work Shop With Jude Skeers

Here's an example Jude's Circular Wrap/Shawl he will be teaching in a two-day workshop when he's here (very soon!).  It is knit from the 'outside in', with a choice of two different cast-on's.  It's similar to one of his patterns that Roisin knit and has in the store.  Come check it out.
The workshop will be offered twice:
Workshop One: Oct 17 & 19.
Workshop Two: Oct 26 & Nov 2.
Call Roisin for pricing and to book 604-485-4859.

Crocheted Baby Blanket

A crocheted baby blanket by a nameless customer using Katia Sweet Baby, 100% Acrylic, nice and soft, and easy care.  A lucky grandbaby will be swathed in this generously sized blankie.