Friday, 26 August 2016

Crofthoose book cover in meadowsweet dyed yarn

Yesterday was the day for the Diss Guild of Weavers, Spinners and Dyers Challenge to be presented at the meeting. 
This year it was a lovely title - book cover! But why is it always a challenge that I complete at the last minute. Well, I did have a whole day to spare this year! 


I have been collecting ideas for the book challenge ever since the title was announced about a year ago. I decided I wanted a functional book that I would use often. I had thought about making a 'quiet' book for my 3 year old grandson. His elder brother inherited his father's ( our son) and I thought - well still think- it would be great to do a different one for Isaac. However, I didn't want to do just the cover for the challenge and haven't factored in enough time this year to do the whole book. It is still on my 'to do' list. 

This was not the only challenge I had on my mind. I need to knit this year's Shetland Wool Week hat.  Two years ago I used colours of seaweed from Skaw beach Unst (numerous  posts of Aug to Sept 2014) as inspiration to naturally dye my own Shetland  fleece (from  Jamieson and Smith) spun wool. The hat got lots of comments and in fact by sheer chance was shown on the front page of The Shetland Times newspaper! So I have something to live up to. I could not get any inspiration for an original hat. I loved this year's design - crofthouses by the patron Ella Gordon.(1) 

As I finished the Meadowsweet jumper I had inspiration for both the hat and the book. I would knit the hat and the book with meadowsweet dyed yarn, then I would have a matching jumper and hat to be worn during Shetland Wool Week and a notebook to match. These would all have their story which is what I love about the things I make. 

But this gave me a problem. I had only used  30 g of the separate colours for the yoke and although I thought it unlikely that all the remaining yarn would be used up by the hat I wasn't sure. ( More about the hat in a later post!) so I had to knit the hat first and manage to fit in making the book cover too. 

I decided I would make a knitted cover for an A6 sized notebook. This provided me with an opportunity to stretch my brain mathematically. So working from a tension square I had to work out how many crofthouses would fit across the book and how many repeats would work for the vertical. I didn't want any  crofthouses that were roofless. 

While I was waiting to finish knitting the hat I did fit in making a calico book sleeve to attach the book cover to. Fortunately a few years ago I made a cochineal book cover for an A6 book, so I had already worked out the techniques needed and the order of construction. 

The knitting was completed with the aid of a punchcard knitting machine in the same colour combinations as the hat. This piece of knitting needed blocking and drying before the next stages. These penultimate two stages, in my mind are crucial in any project - the weaving in of ends invisibly on the back and the edging details. 

It is much neater to split the yarn into the separate plies to hide in the knitting. It takes longer but the finished effect is easier. One of the yellow meadowsweet plies has been woven in here:

Both the bottom and top of the piece had 'waste knitting' to aid in picking up the stitches. I had employed the reverse garter stitch technique before and was happy with this again here. I use the term ' reverse' garter stitch because ordinary garter stitch with colour changes like this would show the colour changing row on the 'right' side of the piece. So some more planning needed to get the desired result. 

Finally the book cover was complete, with 24 hours to spare! 

I was glad I waited for inspiration for the book cover as I absolutely love the result, but I am determined to use it and enjoy it. 


One of the things I really like about MK is the uniformity of the stitches. However, MK makes knitting different and not easier! 

(1) Ella Gordon is Patron of Shetland Wool Week 2016. More about Ella and the pattern can be found on their website. 

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