joining & ribbing

Each of the projects in The Knitting Series are made in-the-round. Any garment you might like to knit that would usually need to be knit flat, then sewn up, leaving a seam, can be knit in a circle on several double-pointed needles. These needles haven’t got an end to keep the stitches on; they can move easily because of this, and they can shift from holding a whole lot of stitches to just a few. It looks quite intimidating to knit on four, five needles at once. I assure you that looks are deceptive; only two needles are stitching as usual and the others hold the work. This is a traditional skill all knitters should acquire. The first step is to join the stitches, having cast them on. (This part is 2.5 minutes and has such a good old melody).

The next step is to start ribbing up the cuff. Ribbing is pretty basic, in this variation, knit, knit, purl. I teach my children to rib little pieces once they can manage plain knitting. If you can comfortably rib, you can do these projects. Joining & ribbing around in circles is only slightly trickier, once you get the hang of it. In fact, I find it easier since I don’t ever reverse (purl, purl, knit). I hope the animations make things very clear for you.

Knitting-in-the-round like this translates to knitting mittens, hats, as you like it. Work along with the other movies in the “Cabled Handwarmers” set, next door at the old schoolhouse (look in the column to your left!). “Cabled Mittens” is out now too, and both projects are in the shop now. If you haven’t already, you might like to watch our first movies on quilting.

writing with handwarmers

short & sweet heather green cabled handwarmers

casting-on

When I was a girl, my grandmother taught me to knit. Foolishly, I didn’t practice, and forgot. When I first lived some weeks in England, three sisters, elders in my sweetheart’s family, were my teachers. They cannot remember ever not knowing how to knit, and grew up at a time when, if your hands were empty, your mother handed you some work. I’m quite envious of learning so young, seeing as I waited til adulthood to take up the habit. My children have started early! You may think I knit very peculiarly, if you’ve not seen English knitting. I’m quite fond of it, particularly the speed and economy of movement – but ignore how I knit, and pay attention to how I cast-on.

For a long time I used one particular method for casting-on (creating the stitches to begin to knit a piece), and then I encountered the stretchy method, and never looked back. This, the third part of the “Cabled Handwarmers” set of old school movies in The Knitting Series, shows exactly that. It’s animated, even (it’s 4 minutes, and has a sweet little melody too). Learn it well, for just about any project, especially to knit the cabled handwarmers and mittens in this series.

What do you think? Work along with the other movies in the “Cabled Handwarmers” set, at the old schoolhouse (in the lefthand column). It’s very quick to buy the pattern to make these at the shop, just download and print! Very useful last-minute gift for a friend who wants to knit-in-the-round. Happy casting-on!

short & sweet heather grey handwarmer kit

short & sweet heather grey handwarmer kit

winding yarn

Okay, let me show you the good old fashioned skill of winding yarn by hand. If you’ve ever admired beautiful hank of yarn but didn’t know how to wind it without some kind of contraption – or if you’ve wondered how your yarn was organised into a skein in the first place, the second part of the “Cabled Handwarmers” set, in The Knitting Series, might please you. Have a look at how I wind yarn into a ball by hand. (It’s 2.22 minutes.)

Such a meditative process. Particularly if you find yourself falling in love with spinning your own! I prefer to pull yarn from the center of a skein, so that it needn’t roll around to unravel. Then I can knit or crochet freely, with the yarn in a handbag, which makes it easy to pick up my knitting at violin lessons, at the park, on the bus, at a café. I’ll also wind yarn like this when a store-bought ball gets knotted up, or is half gone and getting a bit messy. Yarn is happiest loose ’til you’re ready to use it, without tension to stretch it, I’ve been told, and is also easier to send through the post. (Like the appleturnovershop does, naturally.) You might like to watch the other movies in the “Cabled Handwarmers” set, over at the old schoolhouse (in the column to your left).

spring.yarn

knitting preview

Things have been deceptively quiet on appleturnover lately. Behind the scenes my sweetheart and I have been working flat out, shooting four new homemade pictures for the old schoolhouse. We filmed the Knitting Series in my mother’s bright studio in Deep Cove, and like the Quilting Series, the camera looks over my shoulder as I work, to help you see, step-by-step, every method needed to cable-knit and honeycomb-stitch your own handwarmers and mittens.

There were many props to prepare, and organise, diagrams, storyboards, patterns and notes to draw up. Then we began editing (though my sweetheart is in England just now, so we are using high technology to collaborate!) returning to the intertitles that we loved using in the Quilting Series. For these movies we’ve added the dimension of animation, so another aspect of my art practice has reappeared. Lovely. We’re not drawing so much as writing on the screen, to help illustrate the old techniques clearly. As ever my work is a strange mixture of traditions and technology. I’ve designed printable patterns to take you through each step.

short & sweet heather green handwarmer kit

short & sweet heather green handwarmer kit

short & sweet heather blue handwarmer kit

short & sweet heather blue handwarmer kit

short & sweet heather pink handwarmer kit

short & sweet heather pink handwarmer kit

long & elegant smoke grey handwarmer kit

long & elegant smoke grey handwarmer kit

What do you think of the knitting preview? Watch all the tutorials, free, you’ll find them in the schoolhouse in the column to your left.

patchwork preview

All through my studies of traditional skills, the most unexpected pleasure has been connecting to a long history of people with the knowledge to make things themselves. A pleasure of the handmade is also the tremendous centeredness, rootedness that comes with self-reliance. I love that moment when you really see how something, maybe a kind of food, an object in your home, a thing you’ve encountered your whole life, is made, and find that you can make it yourself. Making a useful thing, the way you’d like it, with great quality of materials and imbued with your personality, gives an object provenance, a story, and connects it to you. Which things in our homes have those histories? The best ones.

I’m so excited to be making movies to teach you this traditional skill in a simple, casual way, by watching me work, like looking over your grandmother’s shoulder. I’m creating an everyday sort of mentorship, learning at home the way the old methods were so often passed on. A patchwork preview:

The first homemade pictures my sweetheart and I made are The Quilting Series. Quilting Squares and Quilting Triangles are guides to patchwork quilting, a small-scale project, one beginner, and one intermediate. They were shot in the studio at Knaves Acre, our old Sussex cottage. You’ve already met the starlet of this series, a beauty at one hundred years old. You can mail-order your own pattern from the appleturnovershop; then check back here to work along with the movies! Watch them in the schoolhouse, in the column to your left.

quilting squares liberty floral project kit

quilting squares liberty floral project kit

original quilting triangles project kit

original quilting triangles project kit

papermaking

Making paper is such simple pleasure. A little circle of friends made some together today. We began, like bread bakers, a day or two in advance, ripping a dozen sheets of paper into small pieces and leaving it to soak in a few cups of water. One family cooked theirs up and spun it through the food processor to get a fine pulp; the others just rubbed the soaked paper for a few minutes, til the fibres came apart, to make a rough, porridgey texture.

papermaking-screen

You’ll need a screen. We had ready-made screens and homemade screens. An embroidery hoop with a pair of fine tights stretched across it works surprisingly well. You’ll also need a tub wide enough to accomodate the screens, and for good measure, a bit of mesh and a sponge to help press the water out.

papermaking-flowers

The children ran round the garden collecting flowers and leaves to add to the paper;

papermaking © elisa rathje 2012

Plucked the petals from their stems and threw it all into the mixture in the tub, with a bit of extra water.

papermaking © elisa rathje 2012

Ready? Here we go. Slip the screen (screen-side-up) under the pulp, and lift it up to catch a layer of paper. If you don’t like the effect, tap it out and try again.

papermaking © elisa rathje 2012

If you choose to, lay the mesh over the pulp on your screen, and press gently with the sponge to release water, frequently squeezing out the sponge. I’m not sure it is necessary, but we admired the look of it after.

papermaking © elisa rathje 2012

Set the papermaking screen somewhere warm to dry for a few hours. It’s far too miserable to leave ours outside, sadly. We’ll pry up our homemade paper with a butter knife, and show you later!