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laurel challenge -- knit a cushion documentation - when you don't know what to do...
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laurel challenge -- knit a cushion documentation
The Challenge: Knit a cushion inspired by the two knitted silk cushions found in 13th century Spanish tombs, as described by Bishop Richard Rutt in his _A History of Handknitting_.

Knitted Cushion Challenge Requirements

The cushion must:

• Be a minimum of a minimum of 12" by 12".

My cushion is __" x __", before stuffing.

• Be hand knit, either flat or in the round using any type of knitting needle in any gauge.

My cushion was knit in the round, using a __" size __ circular Addi Turbo knitting needle. In period, double pointed metal or wooden needles would have been used. I'll change this if I don't use an Addi.

• Be made of wool, cotton or silk yarn but unnatural fibers are acceptable if the knitter cannot afford or handle the natural yarns.

My cushion is knit using three colors of handspun wool: the dark grey and the lighter grey are spun from New Zealand rovings (possibly Corriedale, 8 ounces of each) purchased at Pennsic from Brushy Creek Woolworks, and the cream-colored yarn is spun from approximately one pound of medium grade UK Blue-Faced Leicester roving, purchased from Copper Moose, in Vermont.

The yarn was spun on a Kromski Mazurka castle-style single treadle spinning wheel at a ratio of 8:1, primarily using Scotch tension, as double drive proved too difficult to adjust for a consistent grist. The singles were spun using a semi-worsted method, as loftiness was not a priority for a cushion, and the commercial rovings were not prepared with a true worsted yarn in mind. The 2-ply yarn averages __ wpi for the dark grey, __ for light grey, and __ for the cream color. The skeins were washed using shampoo and dried unweighted.

The yarn was spun on a spinning wheel as a concession to the amount of time it would have taken to spin and ply 32 ounces of wool on a spindle: I could have spun the yarn and knit the cushion in the time available, but I would have had to abandon another, equally interesting and important project. In period, depending on location, I would have used a low or high-whorl drop spindle, with combed fiber.
insert samples of yarn and roving, where possible

• Be patterned with colors or with the use of purl stitches against a knit background.

The cushion is knit entirely in stockinette stitch, using Fair Isle-type stranding. The main color (cream) was carried in the right hand, while the contrasting color (one of the two shades of grey) was carried in the left hand. The gauge of the piece is __ stitches x __ rows = 4 inches.

• Use Period designs or original designs based on a Period style.

I started to chart one of the grave cushion designs for my gauge, and realized that they were far too large to be knit so coarsely. I then flipped through Here Be Wyverns by Nancy Spies for inspiration, and saw a great many linear and diagonal diapering patterns from Moorish tiled floors and walls, and from illuminations. I combined the idea of these motifs with a hallmark I developed based on the Norse runes Othala (often indicates one who is consumed by an ideal or vision, perhaps inspired by the past), Gifu (gift), Tir (success in competition, motivation), and Eolh (fortunate new influence) to develop the pattern I used for the cushion. insert images of the runes I decided, based on the alternating rows of different contrasting colors described in medieval knitting by Rutt, to alternate rows of the motif knitted in dark grey/cream and light grey/cream.
insert chart here

• Be stuffed and may be stuffed with non-Period materials or a pillow form.

The pillow is stuffed with a __x__ pillow form. I would have liked to use wool, but had none suitable for stuffing.

• Be completed and closed shut.

The cushion is sewn shut, top and bottom, using a mattress stitch. The end is woven in at the bottom, but only pulled inside at the top.

• Have a tassel in each corner.

The tassels are made from leftover yarn.

need to remember to have Wolfie take pictures of me spinning the BFL and knitting the cushion

Biblio: Rutt, Spies, Wiseman (mattress stitch), Amos (spinning)
Supplies: Brushy Creek, Copper Moose, Kromski, Skacel (Addi Turbo), Clover (yarn needles)

i feel: creative creative

5 trips or shoot the rapids
tpau From: tpau Date: September 20th, 2004 06:48 am (UTC) (base camp)
i feel inadequate :(

well ok, not really, but i am not makign my own yarn for hte project :)

i ahve been planning on doingthis one, but i have nto actually looked into it deeply yet. any idea on where i cna find useful patterns for knit/perl designs that were used in period? i hve totally no period knitting resources (and i knit funny, do you think that would matter for this project?)

tashabear From: tashabear Date: September 20th, 2004 10:10 pm (UTC) (base camp)
The only period knitting resource I can think of is very likely to be Rutt's A History of Handknitting, and only the one chapter that deals with knitting prior to 1500 (I think). Not sure where there's a library copy, but Mistress Rose Otter might be of help to you -- you're more likely to see her than I.

Knit/purl patterns seem to be a later period thing; look to the Gunnister finds, and possibly the stockings of Mary Queen of Scots. Eleanora of Toledo's stockings might have some purls in them as well. From what I've read, they didn't strike on purling till quite late in period (how they made heel flaps is anyone's guess).

I'm not sure what you mean by knitting funny; if you end up crossing your stitches, that might qualify as "Eastern Crossed Knitting" and is a perfectly valid and time-honored method. If that's the case, though, you should probably note it in your documentation so they know it was done on purpose. ;-)
tpau From: tpau Date: September 21st, 2004 06:30 am (UTC) (base camp)
funny = not jsut eastern crossed, but i think reversed eastern corossed...
tashabear From: tashabear Date: September 21st, 2004 12:17 pm (UTC) (base camp)
Now I'm going to have to look that up... (I think there was a description of it in a recent Interweave Knits, if I could just lay my hands on it.)
tpau From: tpau Date: September 21st, 2004 12:21 pm (UTC) (base camp)
i knit going in through the front of the stitch, and my yarn is in my left hand.

i purl going in through the front of hte stitch, and the yarn is alos in the left hand but in front.

it is kind of the combination of eastern corssed and combination, or somethign liek that. my stitches don't untwist when i purl...
5 trips or shoot the rapids