I’m Back…

Hello everyone!
This will be my first post and it won’t even be about knitting. I’m going to explain in this post how to start a cross stitch project and give you some tips on how I like to keep my projects neat looking.
So the things you will need to start your project is a pattern, Aide cloth, your colored thread, a fine point needle and a scissors. The one I am doing (see pictures) came in a package from Micheals at a very reasonable price with all of this included. If you are just starting out I would suggest getting one of these to try it. As you get better and love it more you can get your own thread containers and buy aide cloth in bulk and do any pattern you like. More on that in another post.
Look at you pattern (or chart) and you will see each square has a symbol in it, these correspond to the colors and type of stitch you will make in that corresponding square on your aide cloth. You should also see faint lines that make up boxes of ten stitches throughout the pattern. These will make it easier to count out your stitches and find where you are in relation to any single stitch in the pattern.
Now find the center of your Pattern (or chart), it’s usually marked by a bold pointer, like this > on the left, right, top, and bottom. Follow all four to the center of you pattern and thats the beginning stitch you will make. Find the color that corresponds to the symbol of that center stitch and prepare it according to the pattern instructions. Most cross stitch projects are worked with two strands so you will have to split them from the natural six strands in each thread.
To do this you will take the end of the thread (cut a length of about 12inches) and separate two of the strands from the other six. But before pulling on them to separate them make sure to secure the OTHER end of the thread, get someone to hold it firm for you or I usually hold it in my mouth :-). Now you should have two strands in your left hand four in your right and all six from the other end in your mouth or secured some other way. Make the string taunt and pull your left and right hand away from each other. It should look like a Y. The reason you should secure the end is because if you don’t the thread tends to spin and turn and you will get a big knot in your thread. As soon as you have them split to about and inch left release the end that was secured and they should just pull apart easily. Thread your needle with the two strands and your ready to start.

Back Side
Now take your cloth that is pre cut to size (if it hasn’t you would have to count it out and cut it with an extra 10 or 15 stitches past the edge of your pattern size), fold it in half (top to bottom) and in half again (left to right) and the twice folded corner is the center of your cloth. This is where you stitch your first stitch. Pull your thread through leaving a tail of about 2 inches which you will secure later. Stitch that first stitch (be sure to notice the angle of your cross (top stitch) since each stitch following this first one has to have that same angle on the top cross, this gives your project the look of conformity) and continue to stitch all the symbols for that colour till your thread is about 2 inches long. Then go through to the back flip your project over and carefully tuck that thread away in the back of your stitches. Tuck away at least one needle length of thread (1 Inch) and cut off the excess. Now go back and thread the beginning of you thread back into you needle so you can get rid of that first tail. Tuck it away as well and trim. You should try to make the back of you project as smooth and neat as the front. Now continue in this color or a color thats directly beside this first color tucking in your thread at the beginning instead of leaving a tail (you only need to do that with your very first thread). Just follow your pattern now and make sure you do the colors closest to the ones you already have done since skipping a bunch of stitches and counting things out works, but increases your chances of making a mistake and being off of you initial mark.
Some project have half stitches like the one I’m doing where you just stitch once in the direction of your top stitch and it gives the project a sense of dimension.
Well thats all for now come back next week for instructions on how to finish what you’ve started. We’ll go over top stitching, adding trinkets, washing and framing.
Take care and have fun!!
Completed Lighthouse

The development of the cotton industry in Nottingham

 

 

Yarn problems

The use of cotton for weaving had been established in seventeenth century Lancashire.  At this time cotton yarn was irregular in thickness and tended to break at thin, weak points.  The yarn was unsuitable for knitting on frames and produced poor quality stockings that laddered easily.  Henson reported that the first pair of cotton stockings were knitted in Nottingham in 1730.

To overcome problems with cotton, framework knitters needed a suitable yarn with uniform thickness and strength.  Yarn from India had the required qualities but London framework knitters found it difficult to work and rejected it.  After this a sample of the cotton was sent to Draper, a stockinger from Bellar Gate in Nottingham.  Draper successfully knitted stockings on a twenty-guage silk frame.  The pure white cotton stockings soon became popular with customers and were sometimes preferred to silk stockings.

The Foundation of the Knitting Industry

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Investing in frames

William Lee Stocking Frame

During the early seventeenth century, knitting frames remained an expensive investment and few were built.  Even in the 1660s, frames could cost as much as £20 to £30 each, more than a worker’s yearly wage.  The hand knitters did not have to pay such high costs and could knit as long as they had a pair of knitting needles.  Demand for the output of hand knitters and framework knitters allowed both branches to expand during the two centuries after Lee’s invention.

 

To make the knitting frame profitable, framework knitters generally only produced high value, fine-gauge garments using silk and fine worsted yarns.  The frame could also be used for long runs of standardised products.  In comparison with framework knitting, hand knitting had low set up costs, new knitters could be taken on without the need to buy or rent expensive frames.  Hand knitting was also cost effective in that it used women, old people and children during the winter months when agricultural work was at its lowest.  It often provided a second income for the knitter and lower rates of pay were acceptable.  The work was also undertaken during the evenings by artificial light, unlike framework knitting which needed daylight to operate the fine mechanisms of the frame.  With framework knitters focusing on high value products, the lower value market was left open for hand knitters to supply.  Hand knitting was also able to compete with the frame by being more versatile in the creation of bespoke tailored garments.
The early framework knitting industry still maintained its centre in London with four or five hundred frames employed there in 1664.  Outside London, the East Midlands had built on the work of William and James Lee.  Around one hundred frames were in use in Nottingham and fifty in Leicester.  A further fifty frames were located in Hertfordshire, Buckinghamshire, Surrey and Hampshire.

Stocking

The industry moves to the East Midlands

Involvement in the knitting industry from this early period started to generate considerable profits for its workers.  A petition by London framework knitters in 1655 noted that raw materials cost only about 15% of the retail price of silk stockings.  The balance of between 8 shillings and 16 shillings a pair was retained by the framework knitters, hosiers and retailers.  The worsted stockings, more commonly knitted in the East Midlands at that time, were less favourably priced at between 1 shilling

and 6 pence and 2 shillings and 6 pence.  East Midlands framework knitters benefited from lower house rents and food prices than framework knitters in London.  These factors together with the lower wages and freedom from guild regulation were important in moving the industry away from London to the East Midlands.

Fancy stockings in Leicester

William Gardiner recorded that around the middle of the eighteenth century ‘The manufacture in Leicester chiefly consisted in making pink stockings for the lower orders; and, for the higher, pearl-coloured with scarlet clocks.  In the dress of men the waistcoat flaps came down nearly as low as the knee; and the stockings made long enough to reach the top of the thigh, were gartered on the outside and the top rolled down as far as the leg….The chief [export] article was white and brown thread hose for Spain, Portugal and the West Indies.’

Saxony Frame

A presentation frame with some metal parts replaced by wood. The design is typical of a frame from Saxony, Germany. A box rail with two drawers for holding needles is located in front of the bench and the frame includes decorative wooden inlay. The machine was presented to Leicester Museum in 1849 by John Biggs and Sons. John Biggs was Lord Mayor of Leicester at the time. It was one of the first exhibits to be put on display at the town’s new museum.

 

The Resurgence Of Knitting

In the age of high tech and ready-made, old-fashioned knitting is making a comeback via social media. We’ll ask why.

 

Knitting is as old as the hills and as new as the wifi, Blackberrry, do-your-yoga generation. Your grandma did, or does it. So – it turns out – does the hotshot next door.

With needles and yarn and the old clickety-clack of fingers flying, it is may be the humblest of clothing crafts. Its popularity has risen and fallen over generations depending, historians say, on national stress and the economy. (See imgages of knitting over the years.)

Right now it’s come back. A way for information workers to make something that feels real. To chill out. To feel back to the land. To make community.

– Tom Ashbrook

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Happy Valentine’s Day Felicia!

Good morning and Happy Valentine’s Day. This is your new vlog (video blog) all about knitting. Each week I’ll help you film and edit a new video post where you discuss the ins and outs of your love, KNITTING. I know what you’re thinking, what kind of present involves the recipient having to do something, let alone having to do something that takes lots of thought and time over and over again? Kinda sounds like that $10,000 we won for our wedding huh? All we needed to do was first spend $2,000 and then the prize was ours, plus payments for the next 5 years on a bunch of stuff we never wanted in the first place right? Well ya I guess it is kinda like that, except instead of just one day of pictures that you pay for for the rest of your life, this will help you work on one of your favorite activities while sharing your talent with your friends and followers in a fun and unique way. You can give lessons to your sister a country away, or simply share your thoughts on the latest purling craze. And don’t worry, I will help you every step of the way with whatever you need. Let’s have fun with it. I love you very much honey and can’t wait to see you down here again.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fC8cPwM_2BM&hl=en&fs=1]

Fashionable Stockings from the 1500s

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The Tudor court

Hand knitting in England expanded as an industry in Tudor times (1485-1603). Knitted caps and stockings were highly fashionable. From the time of Henry VIII, fine knitted silk stockings imported from Spain were part of court fashion. Previously, a piece of cloth was cut to the shape of a leg and the edges sewn together to create a stocking. By the time of Elizabeth I, knowledge of how to hand knit stockings had spread around England and documents refer to the industry in places as far apart as London, Kingston (Surrey), and Richmond (Yorkshire).

The first knitting frame

The increasing popularity of knitted stockings at court and beyond created opportunities for entrepreneurs to make money. In 1589 William Lee of Calverton, Nottinghamshire, successfully converted the actions of hand knitting with two needles into a mechanised process. This was the first knitting frame. Like the hand knitting process, the knitting frame produced a shaped piece of fabric that was then sewn together to create a garment.

Failure to get a patent

Lee wanted to protect his invention by obtaining a patent from Queen Elizabeth. Lord Hunsdon, a courtier, promoted the case for the knitting frame to the Queen, but without success. The woollen fabric produced by the early frame was considered to be too coarse compared with fine silk stockings. The frame was also seen as a threat to the hand knitting industry which might lead to many people losing work. Lee responded to the Queen’s comments and improved the frame by increasing the number of needles per inch from eight to twenty. This knitted a finer fabric. Unfortunately for Lee, his supporter, Lord Hunsdon, died in 1596, dashing any hopes of securing a patent for the frame.

French tribulations

Convinced of the value of his machine, Lee crossed the Channel to France where Henry IV promoted religious tolerance and actively encouraged the development of industry. Lee’s brother James, nine workmen, and nine frames, accompanied Lee on the journey. From a base in the town of Rouen, Lee began to establish his business. A contract was drawn up with Pierre de Caux to supply frames and train apprentices so that production of garments could commence by 26 March 1610. The business seemed to be progressing well, but unfortunately for Lee, the political scene changed rapidly when Henry IV was assassinated in 1610. In the uncertainty, Lee travelled to Paris and died a broken man around 1614.

London and Nottingham

After Lee’s death, James Lee returned from France with eight frames and seven of the workmen. James promptly disposed of the remaining frames in London and returned to Nottinghamshire where Lee’s apprentice, Aston, had continued to work on the frame and made a number of improvements. The route of James Lee’s return resulted in the establishment of two knitting centres, one based in London with the older frames, and one in Nottingham using the newer frames.