Saturday, September 25, 2010

Heirloom Shawl

Check out my new Heirloom gift page on my Wool Shop. I will choose the gifts for this page based on the statement below.

Welcome to our heirloom range of Hand Made items from Ireland. We expect to build a range of goods from different craft disciplines. All the pieces are made by hand in the homes of art and craft artisans around the county of Waterford on the south coast of Ireland.
The creation of each item imparts unique and individual qualities to that piece of handicraft. The person who creates your heirloom piece will have evolved their skill from family and community, where these skills are passed from generation to generation.
By buying an heirloom piece you are receiving a crafted piece of our community, which you can pass on to your family. You are also supporting a more ecologically sound way of life where people are working in their own homes and connecting with the world through the wonderful technology of the World Wide Web.

Tension Squares

If the tension square you knit is too small, use a bigger size needle. If the tension square you knit is too big, use a smalller size needle.

Knitting yarn information

Remember in most cases a ball band will give you all the information you need to knit your garment, from the yds/mts, to the needle sizes, to the tension. Read all ball bands carefully, they can save you a lot of work.

Switching yarns

If you are using a different yarn than the one sugested, compare the tension square on the recommended ball band to the tension square on the yarn you wish to use.

Can I use a different yarn?

If you are unsure about using a different yarn than the yarn recommended for the pattern, just check the ball bands and make sure the needle size suggested is the same, or check the pattern for the needle sizes.

How much yarn to buy

When you are not using the recommended yarn for a garment, you can judge the amount to purchase by the length of yarn shown on the ball bands .

For example: 100 grams (3 1/2ozs) of wool will have less length than 100grams (3 1/2ozs) cotton.

If 100grams (3 1/2ozs) of wool has 156mts (169yds) and the pattern recommends 10 balls you will need 1560mts (1690yds) of yarn.

If equivalent weight in 100grams (3 1/2ozs) cotton has 230mts (249yds) you will need only 7 balls of cotton 7 x 230mts = 1610mts (7 x 249yds = 1743yds)

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Aran Sweater History

The Aran sweater in Ireland is called an geansaí árann. It is a style of jumper or sweater as they are called in tourist shops, that takes its name from the Aran Islands off the west coast of Ireland It is also known locally as a fisherman sweater. This I think describes the true history of the Aran. In years past it was the wives of island fishermen who knitted these sweaters. They used unwashed, untreated,undyed wool from sheep which retained its natural lanolin oils, this insured that the geansaí would be totally waterproof against the harsh elements of working at sea. It also guaranteed warmth. These fisherman sweaters were never washed in soap and water as this would have washed away the natural oils.The aran geansaí would be cream coloured báinín to start with but with wear and lack of a warm wash the colour would have been a murky grey. Up to the 1970s, the island women spun their own wool on spinning wheels.It has been said that each aran sweater that was knitted on the islands by the different families had its own original, unique pattern. The reason for this is sad in so that if a fisherman was lost at sea and was found, maybe weeks later, on the beach, his body could be identified. by the stitch pattern on his geansaí.The honeycomb stitch is a symbol of the hard-working bee.The cable (a huge part of a fisherman’s life) is a symbol of safety and luck when fishing.The diamond stitch is a symbol of success and wealth.The basket stitch symbolizes a fisherman’s basket and the hope of a plentiful catch.In the past, the majority of aran sweaters and were knitted by hand, today the majority of items for sale in Ireland and elsewhere are machine knit.. There are very few people still knitting sweaters by hand on a commercial basis.Machine-knitted sweaters tend to use wool blends instead of 100% wools and have less complex patterns, since many of the traditional stitches cannot be reproduced this way. They are also the least expensive option. Hand-knit sweaters tend to be more tightly knit, to have more complex stitch patterns and to be longer-lasting and they attract a significant price premium. By holding them up to light, the difference between the machine knit and hand knit is evident.