Knit 1; Weave 1: Antimacassar
This project came out of a late-night international chat. Rebekkah and I, as well as friends from Canada, Wales, and Australia, get together online to bounce around ideas and generally amuse ourselves. I was talking about my plan for teaming up weavers and knitters to create joint projects for WeaveZine.
Rebekkah and I brainstormed a "silk hankie" project. I would weave the body of the handkerchief, and she would knit the lace border. I chose huck lace and 20/2 silk for the body.
If you've woven with 20/2 silk, you'll know that it creates a wonderful fabric, but is too thick for a pocket handkerchief. With trepidation, I mailed the fabric off to Rebekkah to work her magic. The finished project returned, and was gorgeous. I choose to think of this as a silk antimacassar...because I cannot make myself say the word: doily.
A protective cloth covering the back of a chair or sofa. The term comes from Macassar, a popular hair-oil used in the 19th century. Antimacassars were traditionally white.
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Weave 1: Cloth Body
Warp and Weft Yarns
1800 yards of 20/2 Valley Silk from Webs in white
Wind a warp three yards long with 287 threads. (This will make several cloths.)
24 ends per inch, sleyed two per dent in a 12-dent reed
Note: The following drawdown shows only the first of five diamonds across the antimacassar. For the full threading, see the WIF file.
Weave a one-and-one-half-inch plain-weave border at the beginning of the cloth. This will be triple-folded into a half-inch hem after the cloth is wet finished. Weave the huck-lace pattern to square. (Note: you may find that you need to tweak the sett to accomplish this, depending on how you beat. It is much easier to change how the warp is sleyed than change how you weave.) When you're done with the huck portion, weave another inch-and-a-half of plain weave.
Cut the cloths off the loom. Wash them in warm water with laundry soap for delicates. Swish them gently in the water. Squeeze out the cloths and then roll them up in a towel and press again until the cloths are nearly dry. Iron on low heat with lots of pressure. This will flatten the yarns, making them more lustrous. Be careful to keep the temperature low, or you will damage the silk.
For each seam, fold once and iron flat. Then fold again, pin in place, and iron with lots of pressure. I use glass-headed pins so they don't melt. Hand sew the hems in place using 60/2 silk thread and the invisible-hem stitch.
Knit 1: Lace Border
I began my design process when I received the cloth from Syne...after I got over the experience of holding hand-woven cloth for the first time. Like hand-knitted fabric and handspun yarn, there is a personality and life within handwoven fabric that does not exist in the stuff you buy from stores.
I started by looking at other knitted lace edging patterns, to get an idea of how they are constructed, and what kinds of shapes and patterns might work with the fabric.
The design process involved a lot of graph paper, pencil dust, and swatching. I charted out about a dozen design ideas in total, some of them variations on a theme, and swatched enough of each to figure out whether it would look as good in yarn as it did on paper.
In the end I decided to go with simplicity. I chose a half-diamond edging that matched the look of Syne's woven cloth, and sewed it to the fabric. Sewing the edging on allows the knitter to not worry about gauge, and more flexibility in the type of finishing done on the edges of the cloth. I also think that sewing knitting onto fabric is a less intimidating prospect than trying to pick up stitches through cloth for a knitted-in edging.
- 3-5 grams of 20/2 Valley silk yarn from Webs, white.
- A small amount of scrap yarn. A yard or so should be sufficient. (I used leftover sock yarn. Crochet cotton would work, too.)
- Size 0 (2.0 mm) double-pointed needles. Only two are necessary.
- A small crochet hook. (For the provisional cast on.)
- A small darning needle, to be used for grafting the ends together, as well as sewing the edging to the hankie. (I found that my smallest darning needle was sharp enough to easily go through the hemmed fabric of the handkerchief. A regular sewing needle will work, too, as long as the eye is big enough to thread the yarn through.)
- Materials for blocking. Blocking wires are highly recommended, and at the very least rust-proof pins are required.
Each full pattern repeat should be about 2.8 inches in length and 1 inch in depth when blocked. Blocking is initially done by pinning out the lace, and then misting it. When you later wet block the handkerchief and lace (after the lace is attached), you will be able to stretch the lace a bit further, to comfortably block out to a 1.25-inch depth.
Using a provisional cast on, cast on eight stitches.
Knitting the Lace
The chart provided for the lace pattern only represents “knit side” rows. Those rows are given odd numbers. On even numbered rows (“purl side” rows), simply purl each stitch.
Begin the lace by working the setup row, and then purling one row. Then work 15 repeats of the chart, remembering to purl back every other row. Pay special attention at the end of the chart, making sure that you remember to purl back on row 28 before starting the chart again.
Do not bind off. If you are using needles that will not be ruined by moisture, you can leave the knitting on the needle. Otherwise, transfer the stitches to a small length of scrap yarn.
Thread blocking wires through the yarn-overs on the long, straight side of the lace. Pin the lace out on a flat surface, such that it is 43 inches long and 1 inch high. You only need to pin the larger of the “peaks”. Spray the lace with cool water, and allow it to dry completely before unpinning it.
Note: I arrived at the length of 43 inches by measuring the circumference of the handkerchief, and adding 8 inches to that circumference. The lace will match up to the handkerchief at a 1:1 ratio for most of the circumference, but at a 2:1 ratio for 1 inch on either side of each corner. This will allow the lace to turn the corner without puckering or pulling in. To determine what length your lace should be, measure the perimeter of your handkerchief and add 8 inches.
Preparing the Lace for Sewing
Once the lace is blocked and dried, place pins in it to aid the proper placement of the lace on the handkerchief.
Measure the sides of your handkerchief. It’s possible that your handkerchief will be perfectly square, but it’s also possible that it will be rectangular. The handkerchief I used was slightly rectangular, measuring 8 inches on the short sides and 9.5 inches on the long sides. The instructions I will give assume a handkerchief with these measurements. After these instructions, I will give more general instructions for figuring out the placement of the pins on handkerchiefs with different measurements.
Place a pin in the lace at the 3 inch mark. (This marks from the midpoint of a short side to 1 inch from the edge, where the corner shaping will take place). Place a pin 4 inches after that. Those 4 inches are for turning the first corner. Place the rest of the pins as follows: after 7.5 inches, after 4 inches, after 6 inches, after 4 inches, after 7.5 inches, and after 4 inches. There should be 3 inches left after the last pin and before the end of the lace.
Choose which side of the lace you want to be the “right” side. I chose the reverse stockinette side, because I prefer the way that looks. If you prefer the stockinette side, then use that side as the “right” side. Pin the beginning of the lace, right side up, in the middle of one of the short sides. Pin the next pin (the first one you placed in the lace, 3 inches in) one inch from the corner. Pin the next pin 1 inch after the corner. Continue around, pinning each pin 1 inch before or after the corners, until you reach the end. Once the corners are pinned you may want to pin down the lace along the edge in other spots, to help keep it secure. I also placed pins in the middle of each corner, to secure the middle of each corner gather of lace (4 inches) to the middle of each 2-inch corner section of the handkerchief. Doing this makes it easier to evenly sew the lace to the corners.
The last step before you begin sewing is to graft the ends of the lace together. Carefully unravel your provisional cast on, placing the stitches on a knitting needle as you go. If you placed the end stitches on waste yarn, put them back on a knitting needle. You will have 7 stitches on the beginning end (where you had the provisional cast on) and 8 stitches at the other end. Using the Kitchener stitch, graft the ends together. At some point treat two of the stitches from the end with 8 stitches as one stitch, so you end up with the same number of stitches for grafting.
Attaching the Lace to the Handkerchief
Cut a long length of yarn for sewing, and thread it onto a small darning needle or larger sewing needle. Begin somewhere along the side of the handkerchief, to allow yourself some space to get used to the sewing before you tackle one of the corners. The needle will go under and up through the yarnover loop, under the handkerchief, and up through the top. Aim to attach the lace about 1/8– 1/4 inch from the edge. (As close as you can reasonably and consistently get to the edge is fine.) Bring the needle around and up through the same yarnover loop, up through the bottom of the handkerchief and through the top once more. Continue in this fashion, whip stitching through each yarnover loop twice.
When you reach your first corner marker, you will need to begin sewing the yarnover loops closer together. Previously you had about one inch of lace per inch of handkerchief. Now you have about 2 inches of lace per inch of handkerchief, so the loops will have to be twice as close to each other. Once you have moved past the end of the corner pin, you can resume sewing the lace to the handkerchief in the 1:1 ratio. Because the stitches are closer together on the corners, I only stitched through each yarnover loop once in those areas.
Continue around the entire circumference of the handkerchief, taking care to evenly distribute your stitches around the corners.
After you complete sewing the lace to the handkerchief, weave in all the yarn ends on the wrong side of the handkerchief. If you have a hem, you can easily and securely weave the ends into the underside of the hem, without them showing on the right side of the handkerchief.
Soak the handkerchief in cool water for about half an hour. Gently squeeze it out, using a towel to absorb excel moisture.
Block the handkerchief by first pinning out the handkerchief, and then blocking out the lace. Block each of the larger points of the lace to about 1.25 inches away from the handkerchief edge, easing around corners. At this point you can remove the pins in the handkerchief itself, and just leave the pins in the lace.
Remove the pins when the handkerchief is completely dry.
Rebekkah Kerner lives in Keene, New Hampshire, occasional home of massive numbers of pumpkins and political candidates. When not surrounded by gourds, she spends much of her free time knitting, spinning, and designing. She can sometimes be found in the wilderness, but none of the ten bears she saw last summer were able to convince her to change her blog name from Bowerbird Knits. "Bears" just isn't as catchy.
Syne Mitchell is the editor of WeaveZine. She is the kind of person who asks twenty-something college students to put a doily on their heads—while she is holding a camera—and somehow gets away with it. She blogs in a lackadaisical fashion on WeaveGeek.