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Memorial Day Knitting

Happy Memorial Day Weekend!

So what does Memorial Day have to do with knitting?  A lot, in fact!

Memorial Day started as a day to honor soldiers who lost their lives in the Civil War, and later it was expanded to include the fallen in all wars.

Sojourner Truth knitting, 1864

During the Civil War the government issued socks for the soldiers.  They were awful, and soldiers quickly learned to write home to their wives, mothers and sisters to send them good-quality, hand-made socks.  The Spring 2012 Knitting Traditions magazine has an excellent article on Civil War sock knitting, as well as two patterns for socks originally published in 1864 and 1865.  The magazine includes the original patterns, plus versions updated with modern knitting terms.

WWI Poster, 1917-1918

The knitting tradition continued through all of our country’s wars.  The American Red Cross especially encouraged knitting during WWI and WWII.  There is a page on their museum website with some really interesting and original knitting patterns from World War II.

You don’t have to go back in history to help our troops this weekend.  A number of groups provide an opportunity for military charity knitting.  Socks for Soldiers, Inc. is a good one, and Ravelry has charity knitting groups including We Care Stitchers and Soldier’s Angels.  You should also try your local knitting guilds and church groups.

When knitting for soldiers the military often requires 100% wool.  Wool blended with a polyester, and even some wool that has been “Superwash” treated, will melt when exposed to fire – causing major skin burning.  I often recommend Brown Sheep Nature Spun 100% wool to knitters making helmet liners and hats for our troops in the Middle East – nights are cold over there!  I also like to recommend Suzy the Shepherdess fingering weight 100% wool yarn to those knitting socks for soldiers – and all sock yarn is 15% off through the end of May!

Knitting for hospitalized soldiers (afghans and lap blankets are popular) often requires acrylic so that they can hold up under rigorous hospital washing.  I recommend Berroco’s Comfort and Knit One Crochet Too’s Nautika, both acrylic and nylon blends.

Have a great weekend!

Go formal or go casual! Create an elegant shawl that works with an evening dress or a pair of jeans …

Knitting takes us back in time to our grandmothers who knit before us – regardless of whether your own grandmother sat in front of the fireplace knitting or was too busy to ever actually pick up a pair of needles. Franklin Habit’s (photographer and knitter extraordinaire) latest creation was created in memory of his own maternal grandmother – Giovannina (read more about her on Franklin’s blog – The Panopticon).
Giovannia Bua Palmeri, 1960s
The Giovannina Stole has the formal ornateness of an Italian grandmother’s “frontroom,” at the same time it exudes a modern style that will make you look great in a comfy pair of jeans. The yarn is Skacel’s Filigran … a single ply merino wool that is buttery soft and has terrific drape. I like the simple elegance of the Filigran forest green color, but if green isn’t your thing we have a great selection of other colors to choose from!
The construction is based on the method used by Orenburg lace knitters: the shawl is knit in one piece with the edging knit at the same time as the center. This technique allows the pattern to be adapted to any width or length that you choose. Best of all, when you’re done you are done! … none of the dreaded “I’m done except for the edging!”
Read more about Franklin’s inspiration for this shawl, and be sure to checkout the lacy pattern and Filigran yarn … a perfect project for summertime knittin’ and fall nights on the town!

To Knit or Crochet? – that is the question!

If you’re indecisive, the Pin-Me-Up scarf kit is going to be a challenge … knit or crochet?  Which of the 4 yummy colors will go with my jacket?  … AND I get a choice of shawl pins!

Always on the lookout for great new stuff, we found these shawl pins and had to pair them up with a fashionable one-skein scarf project for fall.  The knit version was so effortless, I had to crochet one too!

The Pin-Me-Up Scarf kit contains the knit and crochet pattern and 1 skein of Malabrigo merino wool yarn … enough to make either a knit or a crocheted version of this simple neck wrap.  The yarn is worsted weight, knit on a size US 9 needle or crocheted on a size US I hook.

The kit is available in 4 colors … including “Lettuce”, “Applewood”, “Pagoda” and “Azul Profundo”.  Where do they come up with these names?  Azul Profundo … hhhmmmm … I instantly recognize that as a dark denim blue.  The knit sample in the picture is made from the “Pagoda” (red), and the crochet model is made from the “Lettuce” (green) colored yarn.

Choose either the “Off Center Circle” or the “Waves” shawl pin.  Both of these shawl pins are made of highly polished rosewood … the “Off-Center” is about 2.0″ across, and the “Waves” pin is about a 1/4 inch larger.  The accompanying shawl stick measures about 4.25″ in length (use the shawl stick by itself as a simple, elegant shawl closure too!).

Both the knit and crochet versions of the Pin-Me-Up scarf are fun and easy to make … checkout the details and put one together that’s just for you … also makes a great gift … you decide!