Tuesday, 6 April 2010

Lots of dollshousing, and a book review

I spent the entire Easter long weekend working on my Greenleaf Fairfield dollshouse kit, which some people are following on my separate blog here.  This included a trip to Hobbycraft, where I mostly bought stuff for the dollshouse, but I did throw in one ball of Sirdar Juicy yarn.  I'm going to crochet down the long sides of my Sirdar Juicy Lace Stole because I find the edges tend to roll in.

In the evenings, I have been piecing the back for the Stack and Whack quilt top out of leftover whack fabric and the Y2K collection.

I have also made a start on my Clapotis which I need for the Clapo-tea-party event at Knit Camp this summer up in Scotland.  I am knitting mine out of Paton's Linen Touch which I got on sale at the Internknit Cafe in Farnham a while ago.  It is 74% cotton and 26% linen and has a nice crisp feel without being as harsh as some linens.  This is my first Clapotis, and I was thinking about knitting a half width, but have decided to knit the pattern as is and go for a shawl look.  In case you don't know what a Clapotis is, it is a pattern by Kate Gilbert published on Knitty.com which has something like 14,650 projects on Ravelry, for a shawl or scarf with an dropstitch lattice pattern on the diagonal.

In between the easy knitting on the Clapotis, I have been trying to sort out the stitch count for my Freedom Spirit sleeveless vest.  I ended up knitting the ribbing several times.  The original pattern has a deep band of close fitting 1x1 ribbing which would not do my middle aged dumpling figure any favours.  I substituted a band of broken rib but had to start over a few times before I got enough stitches to fit comfortably.  Once I had it finished, I tried it on again and decided I didn't like it.  So I ripped that and reknit the band in the twisted rib that I used on my Rico Poem Warm Ears Hat and Mittens, which is nice and stretchy, but I had to rip that and reknit it twice before I ended up finally with 189 stitches which goes comfortably around my ample middle.  Unfortunately, 189 stitches bears no relation to the actual pattern, which has a rib pattern of K5, P1, and a central cable panel.  Add to this my inability to count a given number of stitches and end up with the same number twice in a row, and you have several hours in front of the tv mumbling stitch counts and moving stitch markers.  I think I am finally there.  The twisted rib pattern is based on a K2, P1, so I am blending that into the K5,P1 pattern and have inserted a few stitches to bring the cable pattern up to its correct count.  Of course, I may now get a few inches knit and find out that it isn't fitting me at all.  Luckily this is a DK yarn so it knits up quickly.

I wanted to do a book review because I just finished reading through a great little book I really enjoyed.  It is called "Jane Austen's Sewing Box:  Craft projects and stories from Jane Austen's novels" by Jennifer Forest.  I have a paperback and the ISBN is 9781741963748, published in 2009 by Murdoch Books.

This is a beautifully produced book on thick quality paper, with copious full colour illustrations including fashion plates from the period, artful closeups of Regency furniture, domestic paintings and engravings.  Each chapter discusses a different aspect of life during Austen's time, with an emphasis on women's domestic activity and particularly on their craft pastimes.  The narrative is supported with pertinent excerpts from Austen family letters and from Jane's novels.  Then a pattern and instructions are given at the end of the chapter.

For example, a chapter with a pattern for linen pillowcases talks about preferred fabrics at the time, and how Cassandra and Jane Austen made their brother's shirts, and what the fashion trends in clothing were.  Another chapter with a pattern for a tapestry cushion discusses interior design trends and has quotes on the hobby of 'carpetwork' or tapestry.  Chapters include patterns for a letter case, pillowcases, workbag, paper flowers, purses, Huswife, Carpetwork, a muff and tippett, a pincushion and thread case, a transparency, bonnet, reticule, knitted rug and muslin cap.

I have never been able to read the Jane Austen novels (I'm hoping that is something I will grow into) but I was a huge fan of Georgette Heyer's regency novels as a teenager and still re-read them occasionally.  I've enjoyed the Jane Austen television and film adaptations, I just find the books themselves really difficult because all the action takes place in the dialogue.  But I learned a lot reading this book and enjoyed a glimpse into the lives of our crafting fore-sisters.

2 comments:

swooze said...

Thinking of you! Have you selected your outfit for the first day back to work?

Daisy said...

Thanks for the book review, that's definitely going on my list of must-reads!

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