Friday, October 1, 2010

Bosnian Crochet and Shepherd's Knitting Videos

There's no sound for these videos, but I was asked how I do it by a couple of people, so hopefully these go some way to showing that.

Single colour bosnian crochet is just a slip stitch through the back of each loop.

Single Colour Bosnian Crochet:

Single colour shepherd's knitting is just a slip stitch through the front of each loop.

Single Colour Shepherd's Knitting

The next video is for bosnian crochet with two colours, for Ross who asked a few days ago. This is just one way to do it. I have also tried doing it purlwise, where I crochet from the back of the work in the old eastern style and "float" the colours at the back rather than "carrying" them (which is like extreme trapping in knitting) as I do in this video. I had a bit of trouble keeping the video centred, but hopefully it's viewable.

Basically I just pick up whichever colour I need from the front or back of the other colour so that it traps the colour that needs to be carried behind the work.

Bosnian Crochet in Two Colours:

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Hooks, shepherd's knitting, and a wonderful package from Tajkistan

On August 7, I started this post and then put it on hold until today (September 6 - don't let the blogger date above mislead you). :-P

At the time I was busy spinning and dyeing one of my Mergelland fleeces, and making a hook for my long-planned Tajik socks.

First the hook which I made according to Flosiepoo's Pen Tutorial:The wood for my hook is from the dead branch of a purple beech tree which I found whilst out walking one afternoon.

To make the hook, I first printed out Flosiepoo's "slim" template to scale and then cut it out. Then on a sunny June morning I sat outside with a small hacksaw, stanley knife and two different grades of sandpaper, plus a nail file. I hacksawed the branch to about 12.5cm as instructed in the tutorial. Then I whittled the hook end roughly into shape, and then the handle. As I whittled, I would keep putting Flosiepoo's cut-out template over my shape to check how close I was to the template. I'd say the whole process took 4-5 hours. But if you undertake something like this on a fine day, it's a very relaxing process.

Later, over the course of a week, I did a lot of swatches to test the hook. What I discovered was that my actual hook was way too sharp, so I had to constantly modify it as I swatched. In the end it looked a lot more like Flosiepoos hook, and a lot less like the commercial Swedish smygmaskvirkning hooks that I see all over the net. These, for example, are useless:

Anyone who has one of these hooks and disagrees should post me a youtube video of themselves actually using such a hook in a project before I will believe that these sorts of hooks are of any use.

If the hook is too sharp, it will constantly snag the plies of your yarn, which is very annoying. Also the heads of those commercial Swedish hooks are way too wide. The aim of the head shape is to allow you to enter the flattened slip stitch relatively gently, without snagging or splitting the plies of your yarn. The shaft of the hook is what does the work to stretch the stitch open for the subsequent pullthrough, so there is no need for such a wide head at all.

Anyway, for those who like the hook but not the thought of making one, Flosiepoos may soon be selling some of her mother's handmade hooks on Etsy, so keep an eye out for that!

Shepherd's Knitting
I've also been washing Mergalland fleece, and spinning, and dying, all for the purposes of making a Tajik-style proto-sock. Tajik socks are unique among Central Asian socks in that they utilize crochet, and/or a combination of crochet and knitting. Tajik socks are created with the use of shepherd's knitting/shepherd's stitch or "schaapherderssteek" as it is known to oldtimers here in The Swamp (that's "The Netherlands" for the benefit of non-Aussies).
Here is my proto-sock when I began:

And here it is as I progressed a little further and began knitting:

The sock is a bit further now and I'll post pictures when I finally get it done (I have no idea when that will be since I have 3 other more urgent projects on the go at the moment).

OK, so what is this "shepherd's knitting"/shepherd's stitch? Well, basically it's slip stitch crochet through the front of the loop, as opposed to "Bosnian Crochet" which is slip stitch crochet through the back of the loop. It's one of the simplest stitches there is but you can do it in spirals and in colour in order to make socks - which is what the women of the Pamirs (in what is today "Tajikistan") do with great skill. From what I have read, the technique became known as "shepherd's knitting" in ye olde days because the fabric produced looks a little like it is knitted rather than crocheted. I can sort of see this when you do it in one colour, but if you start doing it with colour motifs, the motifs have a definite slant to them, so it's more recognizeable as crochet.

So anyway, today I decided to finally finish this post because I received a long-awaited package from Tajikistan, which contained two precious items. The first of these, is a booklet/brochure called “Falling Star” by Parpisho Qimatshoyev, and the second is a Pamiri hook (I have been told that these are best referred to as Pamiri since the people of the pamirs consider themselves to have been assimilated by the Tajiks).

Falling Star
This is probably the only publication in existance at the moment which contains images and a few graphs of the Pamiri motifs which appear on their socks. It is not exactly a "book", but instead a 29 page brochure, but it's absolute gold - at least to someone like me who is always on the lookout for beautiful previously unknown Central Asian motifs to incorporate into my crafting. The brochure is written entirely in Russian as well, so unless you are Russian, or curious enough to try google-translating it (yeah, I'm mad enough), it's not the sort of thing you'll be able to sit down with and read with a nice cuppa and some bickies. But my reaction upon looking at all of the pretty photos was "OMG - so beautiful... Wow" followed by drooling and wishing that I could speak Russian. :-D

So without further ado, here is what the cover looks like:

Also in the pic above, you will notice the unique Pamiri hook, which is used to crochet socks. This doesn't come with the book. And here's a cloesup of the hook itself for those curious about how it compares to smygmaskvirkning hooks or Dutch hooks:

Also a sneek peek at one page inside the book - one with pictures of the Pamiri hook used for shepherd's knitting:

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Started prepping and spinning a Mergelland fleece

Today I finished my first skein of yarn from the first of my six Mergelland fleeces. I couldn't find any info on the internet about how people prep this wool for spinning, and this fleece (like the Drents fleece I started with 2 years ago), seems to be regarded by the Dutch as "rough" and fit only for felting amd carpet and weaving. Many of the Mergelland fan sites however, claim that the wool is "easy to spin". That's true, but the actual prepping takes a bit of extra time (as with the wool from most of these heath sheep breeds).

To prep the wool I used combs because this fleece has a long staple length. The basic problem with this wool is that the locks are composed of both hair and a fine underdown. Unlike the locks on a Drents fleece though, it's rather difficult to pull out the course hairs. I started cutting off the course hairs at first, but that was a bit too time consuming. In the end I just combed the locks, planked them, and then spun the resulting top. This stuff wants to be spun really fine too because it's quite longwool-like.

For the next skein, when I plank a sliver I am going to leave off the last bit of the planked sliver before I lash it back on for another combing. I am hoping that this will get rid of much of the hairs.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Mergelland Fleeces

Last Friday I received not 2, but 6 (!!!) Mergelland fleeces in return for my sock knitting. These fleeces are enormous, and I am not sure how they are classified. As a heath sheep, the Mergellanders seem to have a "mixed coat", but not like the Drents Heath sheep that I first learned to spin with. There is less hair on each lock. The wool is also quite lusterous.

Today I started washing one fleece. Here are the fluffy white clouds of joy drying and ready for combing:

In the meantime, I have started to knit a thick Jacob wool hat for my husband so that he will have a new warm hat for the winter:

I spun some of my separated Jacob wool from last week on my Louet, and this time I tried to spin as thickly as I could.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Jacob Fleece

I finally got around to starting to wash a Jacob fleece that's been in my shed since the end of last summer. I have been feeling very guilty about it, so it's a relief to finally be getting into it. The fleece is a two colour fleece, so I began by separating the brown wool from the white wool. Here's a picture of the fleece after I got most of the brown out:Bear in mind that this is a fleece from a Dutch farmer, and around these parts there are no such things as "coated fleeces", or "best-in-show fleeces". The wool comes off the sheep - grass and all, and that's what you get. Check out the lovely crimp though:

And here is the lovely chocolate-coloured wool with sun-bleached tips drying (yes, I have no racks so it just gets hung up):

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Fries melkschaap socks completed

The second pair of socks are now complete, so I can get back to writing my pattern for the goat's head socks at last.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Fries melkschaap socks underway

I split the skeined yarn (pictured in my last post) in half, and dyed one half with logwood. I mordanted the yarn with alum (no tartaric acid) and I added about 6 teaspoons of soda ash to to the dyebath hoping to get a deep purple colour. The dyebath colour did indeed look a deep bluey purple, but the resultant colour on the yarn turned out a sort of lovely steel grey. Next time NO soda ash!

I started these socks with a motif from Anna Zilboorg's Magnificent Mittens book, and knit half the sock before deciding that it looked quite aweful in steel grey and white. So yesterday I frogged it and started again. In the end,I figured I'd just do motifs to match the ones in the first pair of socks, so these will be kind of "his and hers" matching socks.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Gearing up for another pair of socks

Back in January I spun and knit a pair of socks for a friend of my mother-in-law, which were these:

I had also agreed to knit a pair of handspun socks for his wife, and I finally finished spinning for them today. The yarn I spun for them is a 3-ply fingeringweight yarn from a Fries Melkschaap fleece:

I have a rough idea in my head for a pattern for a simple pair of stranded socks in two colours for this yarn, so I have to halve the yarn that I have here and dye one lot before I can get started, and that will probably be later in the week.

Meanwhile, I am still slogging along on a pattern for my goatshead socks, but I fear that the next project will have to take precedence since I am supposed to be getting 2 new fleeces in return. Most farmers are now shearing too, so I have to get a move on to keep my promise on this second pair of socks.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

The Goat's Head Socks are "finished"

The socks are finished in the sense that I now have a "protosock" and a proper sock to wear.

I just have a few videos left to edit to go with the pattern.

ETA: pattern for these is up.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Turkmeni Goat's Head Socks: Video of three colour carry and dominance order

After a mini conversation on ravelry the other day about colour dominance when purling from the purlside wrt multiple colours, I decided to vlog it on my youtube channel. The video is about 3 colour carries, and this is it:

Friday, April 2, 2010

Turkmeni Goat's Head Socks Update

Update on my Turkmen socks - I have finally finished one sock:
I have to say that a three colour carry using the old eastern style of knitting is easy relative to doing it continentally (with or without a yarn guide).

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Turkmeni Goat's Head Socks

Ha! Another post for 2010! :P

I am currently knitting a toe-up sock with Turkmeni motifs. The motifs are from a pair of Turkmeni slippers that I now own, and they are of great interest to me as a knitter who enjoys stranded knitting. I am reliably informed that the motif on these socks is known in Turkmenistan as "the goat's head" - kind of reminds me of the Turkish "ram's head" motif. But the thing that excites me is that the pair of slippers I own were knit with the yarn tensioned around the neck in the old eastern way, and utilize a 3 colour carry. The great beauty of knitting with the yarn tensioned around the neck is that multiple colour carries are easy, and instead of it being annoying to look at the floats rather than the pattern, it is fascinating to see how carrying the colours in a particular way affects colour dominance.

Anyway, as the slippers do not fit me, I have charted the motifs and I'm now in the process of creating a pair of socks (not slippers) which use the motif on the slippers.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Bosnian crochet in Colour

This maybe the only post that I make this year because of my infrequent blogging habits, but I have been inspired by a couple of posts on Ravelry, the most recent being this one.

By shear coincidence, over the last couple of weeks I've been experimenting with Bosnian/slip stitch and other forms of crochet. My chief interest though is in Bosnian or slip stitch crochet which I blogged about a couple of years ago (in another rare post). Over the last year or so I have been collecting images of crocheted socks from Central Asia which utilize this simple but much ignored crochet stitch. Much as I would like to post images here, I am going to refrain because it would probably be a violation of some form of copyright.

Instead, here are some images of my own. These are test swatches that I crocheted using colourwork slip stitch crochet and motifs I have seen in eastern socks:
The above is slip stitch (aka Bosnian) crochet through the back loop carrying three colours.

In the following image the black and white section is slip stitch crochet through the front loop in two colours.
I am hoping to one day crochet a pair of Tajik-style socks in this manner, so just doing a bit of experimentation for the time being.

I have also made myself a couple of crochet hooks for the purpose. Here is a picture of one of the hooks:

It doesn't have the thick handle like on pjoning hooks, but the head of the hook is relatively flat so it slides nicely into the slip stitches which tend to lie rather flat. I am thinking of putting a nice fimo handle on it, but it seems ok to use as is. I made this hook from a "twig" from our privet (or maybe even box) hedge that my husband pruned earlier this year.