Thursday, October 28, 2010
I came across this book one day at my local secondhand bookstore, The Country Diary Book of Knitting by Annette Mitchell. Published in 1987, the designs in it are based on Edith Holden's book The Country Diary of an Edwardian Lady showing English country scenes in watercolor. The author of the knitting book is described as a teacher and knitwear designer, but I've never heard of her before. Ten other designers also contributed patterns to the book, but their names and what each one contributed are listed in the small print on the last few pages.
The book has designs for every season and all family members. There are accessories and toys. If one ignores the 1980s atrocities that you can't help but see in books published in the 1980s!, there's inspiration to be found. Below are my favorites.
Many of the original yarns aren't around any more, but I thought this sweater could be done in Cascade Yarns Eco Wool, or else in a chunky acrylic/wool blend for more softness. It was originally done in a Sirdar chunky yarn.
I could see this sweater knit in something like Black Water Abbey yarn, which is a crisp, heathery yarn, or else something wonderful like Alice Starmore's Bainin, which she has started offering again. The guy's scarf (same as the woman's above) is the pattern I'm using for my scarf in Fishermen's Wool.
For this sweater, I could see using plain old Cascade 220 because it doesn't require anything fancier. Recently, I saw one nearly identical to this on Ravelry, listed as a new design, which tells me this is a classic.
I would have thought this one was from Meg Swansen or one of her summer campers.
This reminds me of a Kim Hargreaves design in A Yorkshire Fable. It's got huge bobbles on the front, guaranteed to cause any knitter grief.
And the last has many nice elements, though I wouldn't wear them all at once. I love that big cowl, the mittens, and the sweater underneath. All are knit in DK weight yarn, and I don't know what I would use here.
When I see these pictures together, they look so much like pages from a Rowan magazine. A vintage Rowan perhaps, but that's all right in my book.
Update: I returned three of the four skeins of the Fishermen's Wool to Joann's. I'd already knit up about a third of the remaining skein and decided to look up reviews of this yarn on Ravelry. Well, let me say that before this, I was disappointed to see on the label that this yarn is made in China (it used to be made in the US). On Ravelry, there were wildly varying reviews, from "it's okay and a workhorse yarn" to "it's awful and I'll never use it again." The quality control on this yarn seems poor, and people noted weird smells and strange stuff spun into the yarn, like plastic and long hair. I don't mind rusticity, but I do mind stuff in my yarn that's not supposed to be there!
After being creeped out by some of the reviews, I did give my yarn a bath today and it was pretty dirty. I admit to just popping my half-knitted scarf into the bath, still on the needles, to get it clean! We'll see what happens down the road there. But it seems to have bloomed nicely.
All of this by way of saying, it's important to do my research before buying a new yarn!