Author: creatingruth

Interpenetrating layers/interleaving knitting

As most of you know, I work for National Museums Scotland, I mainly work in Information Management and look after the staff intranet, and therefore don’t have many dealings with the actual objects in the Collections.

However, I was chatting to Julie Orford, Assistant Curator – Science, and knowing I had an interest in knitting, she told there were a couple of knitting/wool related objects in the Science and Technology collections. This might seem unlikely, but actually knitting is quite a mathematical pursuit, and knitting pattern instructions are a similar style to computer code. There are many knitting groups and knitters online that focus on science related knitting: knitted microbes, knitted DNA, knitting using the Fibonacci sequence or Pi.

Julie showed me some photos of knitted scientific models, here and here, made by Alexander Crum Brown (1838-1922), an Edinburgh scientist in the Museums Collections (not currently on display). He used the process of making these models to explore how interpenetrating layers work together. Some of his work is in other museum and library collections. He also invented the first stick and ball molecular models using double-pointed knitting needles and balls of wool: one of these models is in the University of Edinburgh’s collections, and a pair of his needles are in the Science Museum:

Crum Brown Knitting Needles

Photo © The Board of Trustees of the Science Museum (Creative Commons License)

Julie and I have written articles for the National Museums Scotland blog on Crum Brown knitting: Julie’s article, my article.

The models are triple layer knitting with 3 colours; immediately, I was curious to work out how he had created them. I initially assumed I could use the double knitting technique, where the yarn swaps from one side of the knitting to the other to change colours, and just add an extra layer in. I decided to create a piece of knitting of the National Museums Scotland logo. I created a chart with the 3 layers and colours included, which looked pretty mind boggling!

Original chart

I cast on 3 colours as 3 layers of knitting on my needle, putting in stitch makers every 9 stitches, to help me keep track of the stitches:

Triple knitting attempt

This was fine for the first few rows before the colourwork kicked in. However, once I came to the colours changing it became very difficult to keep track of which stitch was on each layer, and what colour I was knitting on to which colour below. I concentrated and persevered, and then realised I was getting colour blips  disrupting the pattern because I was knitting garter stitch:

Colour blips

which is when I realised this was not the technique Crum Brown had used, as he did not have the colour blips.

I told Julie Brown of my problems, and she brought me the models to have a look at in detail. By looking between the layers, I could see that the strands of wool pulled between the stitches to reach each of the layers, and actually each layer was one colour, and the stitches were swapped around to change the position of them.

Crum Brown stitches

e.g. If you have 3 coloured layers, orange (front), green (middle) and teal (back), and you wanted to change the colour of the next stitch, you would swap the position of the stitches to a different layer, orange to middle, green to back, teal to front.

I also realised from looking closely at the stitches of the models that they are knitted into the back of the stitch, although they are knitted on a fairly loose tension gauge to allow the stitches to move between the layers. The wool used is roughly an Aran weight.

Using this technique, it was too difficult for me to work with all the stitches on two needles, so I decided to try with a pair of needles for each layer. I had 2 sets of double pointed needles in 2 different colours, so I used them, as an easy solution to needing 6 needles the same size, and as my swatch was fairly small so I didn’t need long needles.

Six needles

I also changed the chart. Working from one main chart showing one layer (Layer 1) so I could see when I needed to change colour, and had small charts of the other 2 layers (Layer 2 & Layer 3) so I knew which colour was required on each layer:

NMS Crum Brown knitting chart

Rather than knitting each stitch, then moving it to the required layer, I moved the working yarn ready for the next colour change and crossed the needles to knit from a different layer.

I discovered it was easy to accidentally wrap the working yarn from the middle layer around a stitch at the front or back as I changed colours, which would look like this, and disrupt the pattern:

Wrapped stitch

To prevent this, I always returned the working yarn to its correct position after a stitch, and knitted the stitches in a specific order.

This was the final result:

This is what it looks like in action:

I thought it would be good to share this technique as it was so unusual, and not a technique that a knitter would naturally develop. Here are instructions (PDF) to create this small swatch for yourself:

 

I created a set of rules to follow for each type of working position for a stitch, and I have provided videos and a photo tutorial to follow.

This technique has not been tested, and I would welcome knitters to try it, and email me with suggestions of any improvements to the technique or instructions. There is not a written set of instructions of the chart. This technique is not suitable for beginners, but great for adventurous and curious intermediate and advanced knitters.

I did not knit through the back of the knit stitch, like Crum Brown, as it is not my natural way of working the knit stitch, and I didn’t want to complicate my knitting further. I wonder how close I have come to the way Crum Brown created his models? If I am close, it’s quite a tricky technique for someone to create, and I’m very impressed at his knitting prowess. I hope you enjoy knitting like Alexander Crum Brown too.

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Discovering the Baltic

I was lucky enough to be treated to a Baltic Cruise this Summer, and I thought you might enjoy a selection of the more artistic, quirky, and crafty things I encountered. So settle down with a drink and enjoy the ride.

Ruth on board Balmoral

I was surprised how “lucky” statues are a “thing”; statues that you rub, sit on, or throw money at to gain “luck”, on the same lines as wishing wells or throwing coins into fountains.

This is the Old Town cat in Klaipeda, Lithuania, who apparently has a lucky tail!

Old Town Cat sculpture

The whole mouse sculpture, also in Klaipeda appears to be lucky:

Lucky Mouse sculpture

The mouse is quite shiny with all the rubbing he gets, maybe this “lucky statue” trend in the Baltic is the origin of why poor old Greyfriars Bobby in Edinburgh is losing his nose.

In St Petersburg they have a lucky camel!

Lucky Camel sculpture

And a lucky cat in St Petersburg, you have to throw coins onto his ledge to be lucky. It’s quite tricky he’s about 12 feet off the ground:

Cat Sculpture

I don’t know if it’s lucky to sit on Hans Christian Anderson’s lap in Copenhagen, but he’s getting a very shiny knee:

Hans Christian Anderson

The Iron Boy in Stockholm is also getting some attention. He’s Stockholm’s smallest public sculpture:

Iron Boy sculpture

Kind knitters keep him warm in Winter.

I saw some famous statues. The Little Mermaid mobbed by tourists, a view you don’t usually see of her:

Little Mermaid

Also in Copenhagen, by the Radhuset, Lurblæserne (The Lure Players):

43Lurblæserne

The Freedom Monument in Riga:

Freedom Monument

Macabre sculptures: ghostly monks in the Danish King’s Gardens in Tallinn:

Ghost Monk sculpture

The black ghost, emerging from the harbour in Klaipeda:


A skull on the Dragon fountain by the Radhuset in Copenhagen:

Dragon fountain detail

Dragon fountain

Art and other statues in Copenhagen:

Another detail from a fountain, the Stork fountain:

Stork Fountain detail

Stork Fountain

This pretty Tivoli fountain:

Tivoli statue

Glass sculptures in the trees in Tivoli:

Tivoli tree sculpture

This amazing piece of contemporary art, Soleil Levant, by Ai Weiwei in Nyhavn in Copenhagen, looks great from a distance:

01_Copenhagen_03

and is really poignant close up:

19Soleil Levant

Over 3500 life jackets from refugees, the sculpture was officially “opened” on World Refugee day 2017.

I’m not sure if this is art or a cycle path in Stroget, Copenhagen:

Copenhagen streets

Does anyone know? It made me think of an underground stream under the street, I like how it catches the light.

Lovely Polar bear and cubs sculpture, has bulletholes in it from WWII:

Polar bear sculpture

In Stockholm, I liked the Sea God in the harbour area, greeting us as we alighted from our tender:

Sea God sculpture

And this sweet lamb in Storkyrkan:

20Storkyrkan lamb

A frog outside a shop:

Shop sign

Tallinn has a strange boot sculpture:

Long Leg sculpture

Actually it’s a leg, and refers to one of two steep streets to Toompea hill: the Long Leg and the Short leg.

There were some lovely old painted panels in the Old Apothecary shop:

Tallinn Apothecary interior

It still operates as a Chemist shop, but has a little museum room too, and all the old shop counters and fittings.

There was a giant astronaut monkey in a park in Riga:

1Sam sculpture

He’s 12 metres tall, his names Sam and he was created by a Russian artist.

There were cats on top of the buildings – this is the Cat House:

35Cat House

36Cat House

And funky stencil graffiti in the streets:

21Art Nouveau district graffiti

At the harbour in Klaipeda, there was a statue of a boy, waving his hat at matching girl statue on the other harbour arm:

24Boy sculpture

He had his dog with him:

23Dog sculpture

Most of the statues were naked in Oslo:

In a distinctive naturalistic Scandinavian style.

Of course the Norwegian playwright Henrik Ibsen was clothed:

29Ibsen sculpture

And the trolls:

19Olso trolls

They were outside many of the souvenir shops.

There was a scary medieval carving embedded in the walls of Olso Cathedral:

18Olso Cathedral sculpture

And just over the road from the cathedral, randomly, some chickens:

20Olso Cathedral and chicken sculpture

Since I was in Olso, and the iconic painting, The Scream, by Edvard Munch, was in the National Art gallery, I popped in to see it, and found it lived up to expectation, and I enjoyed seeing his other works there. Outside the Munch room was a small sculpture by Vigeland, you can see the crowds in the room behind me drawn to The Scream:

07_Oslo_11

There is a large park of his Gustav Vigeland’s sculptures in Oslo, and the statue of the man carrying a women in the selection above is also by him.

There were more paintings by Munch and other artists, in the Radhuset; the main hall is covered with murals:

The bench seats had gorgeous wool tapestry cushions on them, and were very comfortable. The whole building has amazing art incorporated into it:

I have a friend who lives in Olso, and he took me to any amazing place off the beaten track: Hausmania is a squat with a bar, nightclub, artist’s studios and is crazily and creatively decorated:

I loved this piece of graffiti, I saw too:

71Oslo graffiti

Olso’s Opera House is very impressive, photos don’t do it justice, it needs to be walked around and on, to appreciate its style and beauty:

10Oslo Opera House

It’s iceberg appearance is mirrored by the sculpture, She Lies, in the harbour, just off the Opera house. The first ship behind it is the Balmoral, the ship I sailed on.

14She Lies sculpture and Balmoral

The most revolting art I found on the trip was made from amber; there’s a lot of amber in the Baltic, and really I think they should have resisted the temptation to create these pictures:

23Amber chip picture

24Amber chip pictures

Shudder!

These amber bunnies are a bit of an acquired taste too:

7Amber rabbits

I loved this art jewellery amber necklace though from the Amber Museum outside Klaipeda:

8Amber necklace

I succumbed to the amber madness, and now have a more modest necklace and bracelet.

Onto the crafts! I hadn’t particularly looked out for knitting and craft shops on the trip, bu I’m naturally drawn to them. I also couldn’t spend too much time in them, as I had company. These are what I found:

Knit by Marie Victoria in Gamla Stan, Stockholm

31Knit By Marie Victoria shop

Sweden was a bit pricey for me, so I had a brief scan around, and managed not to be tempted to buy. There were a few Scandinavian brands I recognised, and I came away with an impression of an overall soft dusty pale heathered palette, it felt very refined, calm and tasteful in there:

Cute craft shop in Gamla Stan with quirky handmade dolls, toys, ceramics etc, out of my price range, but lovely:

11Stockholm craft shop

It also has a Viking gravestone embedded in the wall, and an old cannon:

12Viking gravestone

Riga has a fantastic yarn shop, Hobbywool:

33Hobbywool

A series of little rooms in an old beamed building, with all sorts of nooks and crannies to discover yarny delights and crafts, there was plenty of local breed wools, and a large range of kits to make the local Latvian mittens. There were nice little gifts decorated with stitch patterns, and a whole section of handmade crafts by local makers. I saw a gorgeous simple cobweb weight natural dark wool shawl there with a slight halo; exquisite work.

Tallinn brought the motherload of crafts! After I’d enjoyed a morning exploring the cobbled streets and defensive walls of the old town, I walked into the Town square and discovered a huge craft market taking place:

39Tallinn Market

These guys were in traditional dress, selling products made from honey:

35Tallinn Market stall

I was keeping my eye out for fine lace shawls, as Estonia is particularly known for this, from Haapsalu in Estonia, but I didn’t see any. However, there were these beautiful hand knitted traditional gloves and mittens:

36Tallinn gloves

They were pure wool, (I asked the knitter):

37Tallinn gloves

We had a little bit of a stilted sign language knitting chat, with lots of smiles.

There were women demonstrating their embroidery prowess:

03_Tallin_04

Lovely work, but I was a bit too shy to talk to them, they looked quite formidable.

There were quite a few stalls with embroidery on them. Despite everything being set up to make the most of the tourist industry, I thought the crafts were authentic and good quality, and quite reasonable/cheap prices.

I was keeping an eye out for quirky items, as I had experienced some quirky illustrations in computer games from Eastern Europe, and in Polish theatre posters, and hoped I might see some of this sensibility in art/crafts etc.

I bought a cute White Rabbit wooden badge from a local illustrator, Lucky Laika:

White Rabbit badge

There was a crazy knitted window display:

12Tallinn shop window

Then I discovered the Art Doll shop and museum:

49Art Dolls shop

I didn’t go into the museum, but the shop was magical, and slightly creepy

48Art Dolls shop detail

03_Tallin_10

I fell in love with a quirky grey plaid bear holding a bell, who has joined my slightly scary doll/toy collection:

Eugene Bear

I’ve named him Eugene, after Eugene Onegin.

The Art Dolls shop was at the end of St Catherine’s Passage, which is another great place for handmade items:

44St Catherines passage

The right hand building has small makers workshops and shops: quite a lot of fashion, and some ceramics. The passageway itself has a lovely atmosphere, despite the tourists:

45St Catherines passage detail

You come out of the passage to what is referred to as the Sweater Wall, this initially sounds promising, but seemed like manufactured mainstream jumpers, with some traditional styles thrown in. I wasn’t even tempted to look:

50Sweater Wall

At that point I stumbled across Domus Linum:

52Tallinn Fabric & Wool shop

Which I initially thought was just a fabric shop, but I spied the wool through the door and went in, and came away with 100g of Lithuanian Lace weight teal coloured wool, at only €5, to make my own Estonian style shawl with. There was actually quite a lot of yarn in there, but I didn’t have much time to stop and look, as my friend was waiting outside. I definitely want to return to Tallinn again!

So I’ll just round this post off with a selection of architecture shots, a lot of doors, and decorative manhole covers:

Copenhagen:

Gamla Stan, Stockholm:

Tallinn Old Town:

Art Nouveau in Riga:

Oslo:

 

I’ll be back with a post about what I discovered in St Petersburg soon.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

More Yarn – Edinburgh Yarn Festival 2017

Another year has passed and it’s Edinburgh Yarn Festival (EYF) time again. So enjoyable to be volunteering and catching up with everyone involved.

 

Here are some of the stalls setting up on Thursday afternoon. It takes a lot of work to get all the yarn on the stalls ready for opening on Friday morning.

EYF17SettingUp

That’s Kate Davies Designs stall setting up at the end of the walkway on the right.

 

This is Java Purl and Di Gilpin’s stalls:

Java Purl and Di Gilpin

 

Estelle at Midwinter Yarns unpacking:

Midwinter Yarns

 

Thursday night, I was at the knit night at Akva in Edinburgh and was getting my first view of knitters parading their beautiful knits:

Colourwork shawls

 

It was a good opportunity to catch up with friends and meet new ones:

Sigi and Hikaru

Sigi and Hikaru

Knitters are generally friendly in herds, and Sara and Helen came over for a chat

Sara and Helen

and told us about their yarn festival, Yarningham in Birmingham. Only in its 2nd year, and the photos of their 1st year really reminded me of EYF’s 1st event.

 

And Friday we got to see all the beautiful yarn; a complete feast for the senses:

 

 

 

Wool Kitchen close up

Wool Kitchen

 

 

Love the rainbow array of kids’ dresses across the stand.

 

Incredible examples of designers work:

Lucy specialises in Celtic knotwork shawls and blankets, she’s been a feature of EYF for the last 2 years; it’s amazing to see how her designs have developed in style and complexity.

 

The stunning colours of Amanda Perkins’ crochet blankets:

Amanda Perkins

Amanda Perkins

 

Birdie cuteness from Sue Stratford:

Sue Stratford

Sue Stratford

 

My friends and I were examining an amazing shawl from one of the festival goers:

All the Stitches

I think it is coming on Ravelry soon – “All the Stitches”, knit in the round and then steeked.

I saw the same lady from the knit night, now wearing a colourful coat. I think she is a German designer, but I don’t know who she is, and the shawls from Thursday and the coat are her own designs, they remind me of Kaffe Fassett’s work.

Colourful coat

 

Friday night was Ceilidh night, and despite a busy day, heels were kicked up. Sadly not mine, as I’ve still got a bit of a sore foot from my foot operation last year.

Ceilidh dancers

Ceilidh dancers

Ceilidh dancers

Ceilidh dancers

Dancers I recognise are Jon from Easy Knits, Aimee from Le Bien Aimee, Nathan Taylor and my friends Kersti and Emma, and Cathy from Knitmastery.

 

On Saturday there were yet more opportunities to shop, knit, drink tea, and have photos taken in the Knitmastery booth.

Here is me in my Gujarati Diamond shawl:

EYF Photo booth Gujarati Diamond

And in the Lotus Crescent shawl by Kieran Foley I’ve just finished knitting:

EYF Photo Booth Lotus Crescent

(Thanks to Edinburgh Yarn Festival and Knitmastery for the use of the photos; photographed by Malena Persson.)

My friend Ruby, who was volunteering at the festival with me, is an amazing knitter and spinner, and she was fascinated by the spinning wheels on Spin City’s stall; and owner Louise was so friendly and helpful:

Louise - Spin City

 

I was delighted to meet Kate Atherley in person, she is Technical Editor for Knitty.com, and I previously worked with her online to prepare my Evangelina socks design for publication. I bought her marvellous book, The Beginners Guide to Writing Knitting Patterns, and she signed it for me.

 

I had chatted to Nathan Taylor, Sockmatician, last year at EYF, so it was great to renew our friendship, he was very helpful with some advice on a design I’m working on. He’s such a good egg, but maybe a little too obsessed with yarn?

Nathan Taylor

I like to think he’s praying to the God of yarn here. Such an amazing double knitted shawl he’s wearing.

 

And the festival just would not run at all without the helpful volunteers (I’m blowing my own trumpet here).

The Information Desk on Saturday afternoon, with Kersti, Catherine, and Oom (left to right)

Volunteers 1

And the Info Desk head honchos, Fiona and Hannah (left to right):

Volunteers 2

And of course thanks to Mica and Jo for thinking up this brilliant event and executing it so wonderfully.

I think it was a particularly warm, friendly and colourful one this year.

All the Yarn – Edinburgh Yarn Festival 2016

I am just surfacing from volunteering at Edinburgh Yarn Festival 2016. What a fabulous time I had. I took quite few photos, but my camera was playing up, so my apologies for the poor quality, but you still get a great feel of the event.

I was checking people into workshops for most of my volunteer time, but on Thursday I help with the marketplace set up, and thought you might like to see some behind-the scenes-photos. I was acting as a runner essentially, and was dipping in and out of the marketplace; it was exciting to see people unpacking and all the colours of the yarn emerging.

Loading bay

Marketplace set up1

Marketplace set up 2

Marketplace set up 3

Here is Lindsay Roberts, aka The Border Tart, and her helper, setting up the Blue Moon yarn stall, bit of a way to go yet:

Border Tart set up

This is the Pompom Quarterly stand unpacking:

Pom Pom Quarterly set up

And this is Weft Blown, with some of their beautiful weaving hanging up:

Weft Blown set up

 

Friday was the start of the Festival proper, and I was there bright and early to check people into their workshops at the Water of Leith Centre. However I had plenty of time to explore the marketplace for real, after my sneak peek the day before.

I loved how Emma Lamb had decorated her stall and displayed her crochet, it all looked very cosy:

Emma Lamb 2

I love the way she puts colours together, those crochet flower garlands are exquisite.

Emma Lamb 1

Joe’s Toes stall was very eye-catching, they had created a felt fireplace:

Joe's Toes 1

They sell their own components to make your own felted slippers: great idea, and great colours.

Joe's Toes 2

Every time I walked past the Wollmeise yarn stall, the vivid colours made my mouth water – I seem to have a synesthetic reaction to colour. However once the marketplace opened I could barely see the yarn through the crowds of customers:

Wollmeise stall

Here’s what the fuss was about:

Wollmeise

I was chatting to Wollmeise owner, and she was saying she no longer sees the colours as everyone else does, she just sees imperfections as she strives for newer better colourways.

Lindsay Roberts did me proud displaying both my shawl designs, Gujarati Diamond and Dreaming Daisy, prominently on her stall. I headed around there regularly in case anyone needed any pattern support:

Border Tart stall

Jess at Ginger Twist kindly had my new sock design, Fair Flooer, displayed with her sock yarns on here stall. Lots of lovely bright colours on her stall including Jess and a customer – Redheads unite!!

Ginger Twist

More bright colours in abundance on the Rainbow Heirloom stall:

Rainbow Heirloom Yarns

With beautiful designs from Tin Can Knits, that’s the Vivid Blanket on display:

Tin Can Knits

Which you can buy in kits in their clever colourways.

 

One of the new discoveries of the festival for me was the daughter of a shepherd stall. It was the first stall with a queue on Friday morning, and a lot of the people queuing were designers and other stallholders. This is all because of the story behind the stall, from Rachel Atkinson, whose Father was offered a pittance for the wool from his flock by the Wool Marketing Board, and decided to get the wool spun and sell it directly to knitters. This was the first blog post she wrote about it, read the whole story in these posts.

 

On Friday night there was a ceiligh:

Ceilidh 3

It was a good opportunity to relax and kick up our heels:

Ceilidh 1

Ceilidh 2

Edinburgh Yarn Festival organiser, Mica and knitting pattern designer, Ysolda led the way:

Mica & Ysolda

 

So we were all ready to do it all again on Saturday. Time to consolidate and complete purchases, and chat to old and new friends.

Sigi, one of my fellow volunteers, proudly showed my her Style Award ribbon bestowed on her by the knitting pattern designer, Stephen West. She is wearing a Stephen West Shawl and jacket.

Sigi Style

I caught designers, Kate Davies and Amy Detjen hanging out on Ysolda’s stall with stall holders, Becca and Sarah:

Amy, Kate, Sarah & Becca

Alison and Laura in matching Carnaby skirts:

Carnaby Skirt

I was introduced to the Sockmatician, Nathan Taylor, in his beautiful shawl, one of his unpublished designs:

Nathan Taylor

Although the festival was very much an international affair, I felt there was a strong emphasis on British wool. I got to chat with Louise Scollay, who does the Knit British podcast, and Isla Davison, from Brit Yarns, and Carol Christiansen, from Shetland Museum, all of them passionate about British wool and our knitting traditions, techniques and culture.

 

Of course, I did some shopping. I was fairly restrained.

I wanted to make a Utilitarian Sweater in Tunisian Crochet, it’s a 2 colour design, and I had just been given 2 skeins of Baa Ram Ewe Titus in the Wesley Bob colourway (red), and I was looking for a second colour. I found it on Easy Knits stall, Big Boy, in a lovely hand dyed burnt orange. I bought a crochet hook while I was there, and started the project during the festival:

Big Boy and Titus yarns

I had a yearning for an unusual self-striping sock yarn, and was also keen on some of the new splashy dyed yarns, and found a lovely hand-painted Colour Scroll sock yarn on Skein Queen’s stall. This is it unrolled:

Skein Queen colour scroll

I eventually succumbed to the pull of Wollmeise and bought a vivid blue/green mermaidy sock yarn. I also bought a purple Alpaca Tweed from The Border Mill, good to support a local company, and I wanted to replace my own pair of Camellia wristwarmers, as I have worn them out by wearing them so much.

My Haul

 

Roll on next year!! 10-11 March 2017