Wednesday, 7 August 2013

Knitting down the Gauntlet: Gloves and Purses for a Bride

This post is the third in my series of posts on knitting for weddings, and features a selection of patterns for purses and gloves for the bride. (You can see the other posts on knitting for weddings here.)
Let's look at the purses first. It may take some planning to manage both a bouquet and a purse on your wedding day, but you may want to do it anyway, because you will likely want to freshen your makeup and to have some tissues handy. (Or, if you have second thoughts, bus fare.) The purses here may be used as an evening bag after the wedding, or perhaps as a handy sachet for the bride's dresser drawer. The purse above is the Heirloom Bridal Bag, and the pattern is available for £3.00(GBP).

The pattern for this simple little beaded bag is available for free. There will be a lot of ways in which a bride's purse can be made to go with her dress and/or the wedding decorations: by using similar beading or other notions or a similar lace pattern, or lining the bag with fabric that is in the wedding colours or is left over from some other item or garment that has been made for the wedding.

Here's another beaded bag, the pattern for which appeared in Knitting the Easy Way by Terry Kimbrough.

This Valentine's Day Wedding Bag uses beading and also an elegant silver frame. The pattern is available as a $6 download.

I would want to use a more polished-looking yarn than the one employed in this Bridal Clutch, but it has a cute shape and I love the frame. You can also add beading if you like. The pattern is from the November 2011 Crafty Ever After.

Here's a felted Bridal Rose Bag that may make you decide you don't need to carry a bouquet. The pattern is available for $7.50(USD).

There are so many beautiful glove patterns on Ravelry that you'd be much better off looking for yourself than just looking at the few I can feature here. But, since we are here, I've picked out a half dozen or so I think are lovely. The Terzetto Lace Mitts are quite something. I'd put these with a fairly simple dress that didn't have much lace on it. The pattern is a $7(USD) download.

The Lillyana Fingerless Gloves are simpler and, if knitted in cashmere as shown here, perhaps more suitable for a winter wedding. I did try to find fingered gloves for this post but didn't like any of those I saw and had to settle for a selection of fingerless ones, which after all are better for the ring ceremony. This pattern is available as a £3.00(GBP).

The Armstulpe wrist warmer pattern, with its falling ruffle, might appeal to the bride who doesn't want a full glove. This pattern is available as a $2.90 download.

These beaded wristlets are a little more dramatic and arty. This pattern is available as a €3.90(EUR) download.

The Water Lilies Gloves are a simple pattern that would probably suit the most brides of any of those in this post. This pattern is available as a $4.75 download.

Another pair of beaded lace wristlets. This pattern is available as a download for $2.90.

I don't think a bride will want to wear these Wedding Mittens for her wedding unless there are skis, snowboarding, snowshoes, ice skates, rubber tubing, or snowmobiles involved in the ceremony, but they were too cute not to include. They'd be nice for a honeymoon at a ski chalet. The pattern for these mittens is available for $6(USD).

Tuesday, 6 August 2013

Tank Tops and Toggles: a Selection of Knitting Patterns from 1970 to 1979

This is the eighth post in my series on 20th century knitting patterns (you can see all the other posts in the series here), and it offers a selection of knitting patterns from the years from 1970 to 1979. And I must say researching this post gave me some fleeting yet intense moments of wanting to throw myself under a Donna Summers tour bus. I won't even blame the general seventies aesthetic. Yes, there are plenty of examples of horrible seventies attire and bad hair out there, but you can say that of any decade. All the patterns for this series were cherry-picked. Every set of ten patterns I have selected for this series because they were wearable and attractive by modern standards was the result of several hours spent sifting through a hundred or more patterns that weren't. On the whole, I find more to admire about seventies fashion than those of the sixties. The clothes available for every day (as opposed to disco wear) had neither the prim constraint of the early sixties nor the psychedelic extremes of the sixties but instead achieved a happy medium of relaxed, flattering, wearable style.

I think there are two factors that made my seventies pattern research slightly scarring. The first one is that the materials available in the seventies were generally ghastly — horrible stiff, scratchy, synthetic fibres in awful colours — and garments can only be as good as the materials from which they are made. The shapes of seventies clothing were generally good, and if I re-imagine seventies designs in modern fibres and colours they suddenly look very desirable indeed. It was the fabric used that made the leisure suit such a byword in tackiness, not the basic style of it. The second contributing factor is that the seventies were a bad time for crafting. Needlework is of course traditionally the province of women, and given there were many more women in the workforce in the seventies than there had been for decades, women simply had less time for such things. The crafting industry inexplicably responded by dumbing down crafting kits to make them more desirable, and again, the fibres and colours available in the seventies were wretched, so the result was not pretty. So while the clothing design of the seventies wasn't too bad (save and except for a few bad styles such as the hot pants above), the home décor and accessory patterns were often really freaking terrible. I saw patterns for matching toilet seat and toilet roll covers, for lampshades described as "Tiffany-style" that probably had Louis Comfort Tiffany rolling in his grave, for pointless and retina-burning mobiles, for driving gloves and steering wheel cover sets (why?!?), and for some truly frightening dolls and toys.

All that said, I did find a pretty good set of clothing patterns, and I hope you like them. Unfortunately although I do my best to include at least one menswear, one child's, and one home décor pattern in each post of this series, these seventies-era patterns are almost all women's patterns because I just couldn't find anything I liked for any of those categories. But look on the bright side... I have not included a link to the hot pants set pattern above. You're welcome.

When I began to work on this post, I thought I should try to find a poncho pattern for it, because they were so archetypically seventies. It didn't happen because I dislike ponchos and didn't find any that gave me any reason to change my mind on that point. However, seventies designers also seemed to favour knitted coats. This duffle jacket pattern originally appeared in The Australian Women's Weekly in June of 1972 and is available as a free pattern. If I were making this jacket, I'd probably replace the toggle fastenings with something else, though smaller toggles would probably look current enough.

This halter top pattern originally appeared in Mon Tricot Fashion Edition's Spring/Summer 1973 issue. There actually isn't a pattern available for this piece, but who needs one when this pattern is simply two tube scarves knitted long enough to fit around the wearer and then sewn together? I adore the colours of the contemporary version of this design.

This open front jacket design originally appeared in The Australian Women's Weekly in March of 1974, and is a free pattern.

I love all the clever detail in this turtleneck pullover, and think it would look pretty amazing done in a solid colour with a handpainted yarn as the contrast colour. This pattern appeared in The Australian Women's Weekly, in February 1977 and is a free pattern.

This hooded jacket appeared in The Australian Women's Weekly in February 1977, and is a free pattern. To update it for modern wear, I'd raise the dropped shoulders, consider another kind of fastenings than the toggles, and ditch the blanket stitch, especially at the top of the sleeve, because it makes the coat look like something from the Bride of Frankenstein's trousseau. Instead I'd finish the garment with a picot edging, which could always be done in a contrast colour if desired.

One of the things that has really struck me as I have worked through this series of posts was that baby knits have consistently remained very traditional. Every decade produced remarkably similar-looking lacy baby blankets, and lacy, ribbon-trimmed bonnet, bootee and sweater sets, and they are still commonly available patterns today. I expected something different from the progressive seventies, yet they had embroidered bunting bags and ribbon-trimmed surplice baby sweaters as well. This baby jacket, which originally appeared in Needlework and Craft in Spring 1979, looks as though it could have been created at any time in the previous five or following three decades. This pattern is available for free.

This is the Rorschach Sweater, designed by Elizabeth Zimmerman. It appeared in Needlecraft for Today in November/December 1979 and is available as a $1 download. The pattern includes directions for knitting the sleeves cuffed or belled, and it's possible to go with one tab or none at all, and to omit the belt.

The sporty-looking stripe is so common in seventies fashions, probably because there was such a upswing of interest in physical fitness. This top rather looks as though it were made to go with striped-top sweat socks pulled nearly to the knees, but I think it would look much less so if the colours were updated. The pattern is available from the Vintage Knitting Lady for £2.00, or you can get a PDF for £1.50.

Quite like these little tie-top tanks. The pattern is available from the Vintage Knitting Lady for £2.00, or you can get a PDF for £1.50.

This style of hat is so very seventies and yet would still look right today. The pattern is available from the Vintage Knitting Lady for £2.00, or you can get a photocopy for £1.99 or a PDF for £1.50.

Monday, 5 August 2013

Patricia Waller's Beautiful, Sick Crafts

Anatomically correct aliens. A suicide bomber Sponge Bob Squarepants. Superman splattered against a wall. A teddy bear speared on the horn of a unicorn. A raped Minnie Mouse. Chilean-born, Germany-based artist Patricia Waller's crocheted art pieces are nothing if not a challenge to the viewer's mindset and expectation that at least some of the narratives in this complex and troubled world of ours can be relied on to be simply and comfortingly cute and cuddly.

Waller's work is immaculately crafted from a technical perspective, which almost makes it more chilling, as though it were a meticulously planned massacre.

You can view more of Patricia Waller's work on her website.

Sunday, 4 August 2013

Do Ewe Knit While Watching TV?

An animated short by Juraj Kubinec. Apparently even sheep like to watch TV while they knit. It's a shame there wasn't better programming for this sheep's knitting time, but maybe that's why it finished its project so quickly.

Saturday, 3 August 2013

The Wool Paintings of Cayce Zavaglia

You probably admire the meticulous detail and realism of the painting above. As you should, but it's not technically a painting. It is, strictly speaking, a piece of embroidery. Artist Cayce Zavaglia trained as and was a painter until she got pregnant with her daughter, and consequently decided she no longer wanted to use oil paints because of the turpentine and fumes that inevitably accompany working in oils. Instead, she began "painting" with wool.

Zavaglia initially found it frustrating to no longer be able to just create any shade or tint she wished as one can with paint, and resolved the problem by learning to layer different coloured stitches in order to create the illusion of the specific colours and tones she wanted. Her stitchwork mimics drawing techniques in their direction and layers to create a visual depth, volume and form. Her pieces are entirely hand-stitched, can be as large as 1' x 3', and take as long as six months to complete. She uses a single ply of wool or acrylic yarn, as well as cotton and silk threads, and works mainly on linen.

Zavaglia still considers herself a painter and finds it difficult not to refer to her works as "paintings", but also considers her work an "unabashed nod to the tradition of tapestry and her own love of craft". You can see and learn more of Zavaglia's work on her web site.

Friday, 2 August 2013

Phat Knits

Dutch designer Bauke Knottnerus has created a series of furniture pieces he calls Phat Knits, because what they really are is giant knitted pieces. Phat Knits can be used strictly as art pieces, or as functional rugs or furniture. They mold to the shape of the person lounging or sitting upon them and are reportedly quite comfy.

Phat knits - Bauke Knottnerus from MoMu Fashion Museum Antwerp on Vimeo.

You can see the production of one of Knottnerus' pieces in the video above. It takes two PVC pipes and two able-bodied young men to knit one of these pieces and the process seems more like gator wrestling than knitting. I don't know where Knottnerus gets his fibres, but they don't look like anything that would be available at your local yarn shop, and the whole process takes more open space than you probably have in your home. Check out Bauke Knottnerus's web site to see more of his Phat Knits and his work in other mediums.

Thursday, 1 August 2013

Bridal Bo-Peep has Sheared Her Sheep

If anyone thinks you're slightly yarn-mad for say, knitting a wedding dress, you can always tell them about the bride who made her dress out of shearings from her own sheep. Louise Fairburn, a sheep breeder from Lincolnshire, England, used wool from her favourite Lincoln Longshire sheep, Olivia, to make the wedding gown for her 2009 wedding. The dress, which was almost entirely of her own design, took a spinner and a dressmaker a total of 67 hours to make.

The whole wedding was sheep themed. The groom's and groomsmen's waistcoats and the bodices of the bridesmaids' dresses were made of embroidered wool, the bride carried a Bo Peep-style crook, the ring bearer's cushion was made from a fleece, the felted cake topper (above) included a pair of sheep, there were sheep-shaped chocolate favours for the guests, and the wedding dinner featured lamb dishes. The Daily Mail has the story here, and has an interview with the bride, in which Louise Fairburn discusses the process of making the dress, and claims the dress didn't feel hot or heavy.