Friday, June 17, 2011

It's only been 10 months

Finally back on the interwebz, as they used to say somewhere at some point in time.

Apologies if you experience weirdness upon visiting the blog. I've been tinkering with a pre-designed template (because I'm too lazy to master html), but it came with some crap that I didn't want, and I haven't been able to disable it all yet. And I'm not entirely pleased with what I'm getting, but hopefully this is at least legible. Let us all pray to our various deities, or wish really hard (for those who eschew the gods) that I'll find it in me to fix it for once and for all.

The main reason for the long silence was that I was employed from September 2010 until April 2011. The job was a soul-consuming madness-inducing tribulation –but nonetheless I was working my ass off, in addition to the hellish commute (most of that time the round trip from the job was 2 hrs 40 minutes), simply trying to stay employed. All for naught, of course – everyone they hired in September they laid off just over six months later.

It’s taken me a few weeks to get things sorted, and to get in the knitting groove again. So I’ll have some things to post over the next while -- I've had more time to look through Australian newspapers for lots of old crap, er vintage & Victorian knitting patterns and the like, as well as  some 1930s stuff (‘cause that’s when the best designs were done if you ask me, or even if you didn’t).

'The like' consists of a novel written by Mrs Mary Elizabeth Braddon, author of "Lady Audley's Secret", one of my favorite Victorian novels, a rather lurid tale. Elizabeth Klett does a wonderful reading of it that you can access at Librivox. I know that some of the Librivox recordings are painful - in fact, some qualify as torture, but I assure you, Ms Klett does a fine job of reading this tale. It was a wonderful thing to listen to during a cold winter, knitting up shawls.

Good grief, have I digressed and in a most meandering fashion! The point is, I found an 1883 novel of Mrs Braddon's in one of the Australian newspapers, so I'll be posting it over the next few weeks. I haven't read it - it could be a real dog. If so, I'll be sharing the pain with y'all fine readers.

I have also knitted up a couple of lace patterns found in various fine down-under fish wrappers. One is from the Launceston Examiner dated 28 November 1893; it's from a ladies' column. It looks like shark fins more than anything else. Yes, yes, a variation on sawtooth edgings... but if you hold it with the points pointing upward, it looks like a line of baby shark fins.

A Young Reader: The following is an easy edging suitable for Shetland or other wool shawls. By Butterfly.

Cast on 3 sts.
Row 1: Sl 1, k 2.
Row 2 & every even row: Sl 1, knit across.
Row 3: Sl 1, yo, k2.
Row 5: Sl 1, yo, k3.
Row 7: Sl 1, yo, k4.
Row 9: Sl 1, yo, k5
Row 11: Sl 1, yo, k6
Row 13: Cast off 5, k2.

To continue in this way, do not knit a 'Row 14' but instead start again with Row 2. The instructions said to repeat from Row 2, but didn't include that last bit, so my first time around proved quite entertaining. The slipped stitches at the beginning of each row do not reduce the stretchiness of the edging - indeed, I cannot emphasize enough exactly how freaking stretchy this is. I chose to knit it in garter stitch - many olde timey edgings were, and of course that helped with the stretchy. Sample was knitted on US 6/4 mm needles with some fingering weight yarn. I blocked the bejeezus out of this edging.

The next is from the North Australian Supplement dated Saturday, 28 April 1888, and was found in the "Household" section.

Imitation English Thread Lace

Cast on 9 sts.
Row 1: K2, yo, k3, yo, k2tog, k2.
Row 2: Knit plain.
Row 3: K2, yo, k5, yo, k2tog, k1.
Row 4: Knit plain.
Row 5: K2, yo, k1, k2tog, yo x 3, sl 1, k2tog, psso, k1, yo, k2tog.
Row 6: K4, k1-p1-k1 in the 3 yos, knit plain the remaining sts.
Row 7: K1 ,k2tog, yo, k2tog, k3, k2tog, yo, k2.
Row 8: Knit plain.
Row 9: K1, k2tog, yo, k2tog, k1, i2tog, yo, k3.
Row 10:  Knit plain.
Row 11: K1, k2tog, yo, sl 1, k2tog, psso, yo, k4.
Row 12: Knit plain.

Again, I worked this in garter stitch for the sample. The pattern calls for 'knit plain', which I generally take to mean stockinette, but again, since I've seen many older edgings worked in garter, I decided to start with that. Sample is worked in Knit-Cro-Sheen (probably - unmarked thread, but the same weight) on US 3/3.25 mm needles for that extra-lace look. Actually because that was the first size that came to hand....

I thought this was an interesting lace - I've seen lots with big holes, but the thread/needle combination created something fairly impressive. And I have no idea which is the 'top' and 'bottom' edge of the lace; no illustration was provided, so I chose the side with the most shape as the 'bottom' edge. I didn't try to get a straight edge on both sides; I suppose one could use it as an insertion but since the pattern is different on the two edges I chose not to try that experiment.

I've also pulled some recipes from the Launceston Examiner, and hints for a woman about to be engaged from the North Australian Supplement in case someone out there is seeking personal advice from 1888.
Woman's World (by Butterfly.) Pudding Recipe.
I am told that the pudding you require is an Austrian (...); its name is Weichzel(?) strudel. The paste is made with egg and flour, and rolled out to the thinness of paper on a clean linen cloth. Have ready cherries (stoned), and spread them on the paste; sprinkle with fine sugar, nutmeg, and a little cinnamon. Then roll as for a "roley-poley" until the roll is between 2-1/2 in and 3 in thick; bend or twist it into a coil; place on a baking-tin well buttered, and put a little butter on the roll. This is often made with apples, sliced and cut into small pieces, when cherries are not in season.  {NB - the type was difficult to read at the beginning of the recipe, hence the parentheses.}
I suspect one could simply go to the grocery store and purchase some filo dough to use instead of experimenting with pastry recipes, but I haven't tried this one, so experiment at your own risk, folks!
Rice Waffles. - One cup of boiled rice, one pint milk, two eggs, butter the size of a walnut, half a teaspoonful of soda, one teaspoonful of cream of tartar, one teaspoonful of salt, flour, sufficient to make a thin batter. Bake in waffle irons.
Chocolate Cake. - Beat up 1/4 lb castor sugar with two eggs, then add very gradually the yolks of six eggs, two small cakes of chocolate grated, a little lemon peel, 1/4 lb of ground almonds, the whites of six eggs previously whisked to a stiff froth and 1 oz of flour; pour the mixture into a buttered mould, and bake.
 I haven't cooked up these either - the chocolate cake recipe certainly isn't the typical modern chocolate cake; I'm certainly curious to make that one. As for the rice waffles - well, let me know how that one turns out, okay?

The advice for engaged women (jpeg on the right, bottom row) is rather long & fairly uninteresting unless you have a mind sufficiently dirty to render the phrase "with a servant behind" mildly entertaining.

Jpegs are included below in case you think I've made a typo (or in case I have made a typo).