All posts by Naomi Parkhurst

I call myself a string geek because I like doing a whole range of hand crafts, most of which involve string or yarn: knitting, spinning, sewing, nalbinding, crochet, embroidery, tatting, dyeing, and probably some I'm not even thinking of.

Pinion, redux

I posted this pattern last year, and will be donating any proceeds from December 2010 to help a friend’s friend and his family make it through a personal disaster: he was caught in random violence and needs reconstructive surgery.

Pinion Tam blocked on a plate

This lacy tam is worked from the center outwards. The design spirals outward and flows into a ribbed brim. It looks more complicated than it is–if you know how to knit in the round, purl, knit two together, knit three together, and make a yarn over, you can make this hat.

Both charts and written out instructions (in abbreviations) are provided, along with suggestions for modifying the brim size to fit.

Other materials required include a darning needle for working in ends, about a yard of smooth, thin yarn for making a lifeline, and a plate for blocking (about 10 inches or 25cm in diameter).

You shouldn’t need a Ravelry account to buy now.

If you have a Ravelry account, here’s the pattern page for Pinion.

Thank you!

Fancy Tricot Stitch (No.2)

A stitch from S.F.A. Caulfeild’s Dictionary of Needlework, p. 129, rewritten in modern terms.

Fancy Tricot Stitch
This is a netlike stitch which stretches vertically, but not particularly horizontally.
Original description:
This is a pretty stitch for handkerchiefs, shawls, etc, or as a stripe for a blanket. Cast on a foundation chain the length required. First row–raise all the loops as in Tricot, and work back very loosely. Second, or pattern row–keep the wool to the front of the work, take up the little stitch at the top of the long loop without drawing the wool through, put the hook from teh back of the work between the next two loops, draw the wool through to the back across the long loop, pass the stitch just formed into the one above the long loop without taking the wool on the hook again, take up the next small stitch above a long loop (the wools should be still in front), insert the hook from the back between the next two long loops, draw the wool to the back, and pass this stitch into the last raised, continue to the end, work back in the usual way very loosely, and repeat the second row.

Modern reinterpretation:

Foundation row: Work one row of Tunisian Simple Stitch (TSS) as usual on any number of stitches. Work back as usual, but loosely.

Stitch pattern:

*With yarn in front, insert hook into  the chain loop directly above the second vertical bar. Do not pull a loop through yet.

Now insert the hook from back to front between the second and third vertical bars.
Pull a loop through both this space and the bump on the chain. The yarn remains in front.*
Repeat up to the very last stitch, which is worked as TSS. Work back as usual, very loosely.

Please let me know if you have any questions!

Fancy Stitch 2

A stitch from S.F.A. Caulfeild’s Dictionary of Needlework, p. 122, rewritten in modern terms.

"fancy stitch"

This stitch forms a lattice with the chains peeking through.  It can have a lovely effect when worked with variegated yarn. It biases strongly to the right. (It ought to be okay in the round, though.)

Original instructions from the book:

A suitable stitch for couvrepieds when made in thick fleecy wool and with a large No. 8 bone hook, but which does not look well worked with fine cotton. Make a foundation chain of an even number of stitches, work a row of Tricot, and work back. Second row–Work the first stitch plain, and then put wool round the hook, bring it out at front, push the hook through the next two long loops, still keeping the wool before the work, put wool round hook, as shown in Fig. 221, and draw it through the two loops. Put wool again round hook, thus making a stitch for the one lost in the work, and continue to end of row; work last stitch plain. Draw the wool back through the edge stitch, and then through two stitches, as in Tricot. The second row is repeated throughout.

Make a chain with an even number of stitches, and work a foundation row of TSS and back.
Bring the yarn to the front of the hook, and then over.

Bring the yarn over the top of the hook again; you should now have wrapped the yarn around the hook twice.

Insert the hook through the next two vertical loops.

Bring the yarn back to the front so it crosses in front of those two loops.

Gently pull a new loop back through the two loops.

You now have a total of two new loops on the hook.  Repeat the two wraps and purling the two loops together to the end of the row; work the last stitch as usual for TSS. Work back as usual.

(For the knitters among you, this is structurally the same as *yo, p2tog*, except for the chaining back part, though the maneuvers to get there are different.)

Open Raised Tricot Stitch

A stitch from S.F.A. Caulfeild’s Dictionary of Needlework, pp. 130-131, rewritten in modern terms.

This is an open, netlike stitch with thick horizontal ridges.

Original description:

A handsome raised stitch used for crossovers, petticoats, and comforters. It should be worked in double Berlin or four thread fleecy wool. Make a foundation chain of the width required, and work a row of Tricot, and then back. Second row–work the first stitch plain, then bring the wool in front of the work and put the hook into the hollow between the first and second loop, allow this to catch hold of the wool at the back, the wool passing from the front to the back over the work, bring the hook back again to the front with the wool on it, put it into the hole between the second and third loops, and let it catch the wool, returning with it on the hook, where there will now be three loops for the one stitch, draw the last made loop through the other two (see fig.248), and retain it on the hook. For the next stitch, put the wool forward, and the hook into the same space as before, between the second and third loops, and repeat from * [transcriber’s note: there was no *]. Work the last stitch as the first stitch, and work back in Tricot.

Modern interpretation:

Work a row of regular TSS (the most basic stitch in Tunisian crochet), and work back.

Bring the yarn forward, in front of the hook.

Insert the hook into the space between the first and second stitches, bring the yarn over  to the back, and pull a loop through.

There are now two new loops on the hook.

Insert the hook between the next two stitches, and pull a third loop through.

Pull that loop through the previous two loops.

*Yarn forward, insert the hook into the last space you pulled a loop through, and pull another loop through. Insert the hook into the next unworked space, pull a loop through, and pull the same loop through the previous two loops.* Work the last stitch as you would for Tunisian Simple Stitch, making sure to not pull it tight, as the Open Raised Tricot stitch grows vertically.

What’s in the works

I am theoretically rewriting my free pirate baby boot pattern.

I am also theoretically deep in the throes of designing and knitting a shawl. That’s going pretty well, but it’s being more finicky than I expected. I got about a quarter of the way, then frogged the whole thing. Then I charted a lot, and did some samples, and then started again with lots of life lines. Thank goodness for that, because I got more than halfway and had to frog another large chunk of it. Not only that, but I dropped down some stitches from there and worked them back up again (but at least I didn’t have to frog another eight rows). I’m making good progress on it, but I’m feeling a little beaten up by the whole thing. I’m charting and taking notes as I go, which is a good thing. I can tell I would never remember what I did otherwise.

I am also spinning for the FOAYSAKALFL (Friends of Abby’s Yarns* Spin and Knit Along for Lace). The idea is to spin a bunch of yarn for knitting something lacey, all to be finished by the end of 2010. I haven’t even finished spinning the yarn for the FOAYSAKALFL, but planning the design started to consume my brain today. I’ve even been sampling the stitch patterns for that and seeing if I can make them flow well. So far so good, and I’ve even been improvising some stitch patterns, which pleases me.

I like using stitch dictionaries, but there are some gaps in what I need for this pattern. Not going into great detail, but I need five different stitch patterns with a particular overall character, and with five different repeat numbers. I found one that was exactly what I needed, two more that just needed slight modifications, and have worked out the fourth. This gives me confidence that I can come up with the fifth on my own. This is all very satisfying.

And then, of course, there’s all my other works in progress. I periodically need to sit down and unravel the things that just aren’t going anywhere, so as to clear out the backlog and free my brain a bit. I have a suspicion that the time is nigh. (Interesting that this seems to happen in the spring or early summer.)

*a Ravelry Group.

Tricot Ecossais

Tricot Ecossais

A stitch from S.F.A. Caulfeild’s Dictionary of Needlework, pp. 128-129, rewritten in modern terms.


  • YO = Yarn Over
  • TSS = Tunisian Simple Stitch
  • st(s) = stitch, or stitches

Chain a multiple of 3 stitches, plus 1.

1: Sk 1 chain. *YO. Pick up one st in each of the next 3 chains. Pinch the YO in the hand not holding the hook and pull the last three sts on the hook through the YO. (This leaves the three sts on the hook.)* Return as usual.
2: Skip the first vertical bar. *YO. 3 TSS. Pull the last 3 sts on the hook through the YO.* Return as usual.
This is very similar to some maneuvers from knitting, like passing a slipped stitch over another one.

(I expect the name has very little to do with the stitch’s national origin – the name means Scottish knitting in French.)

Josephine Tricot Stitch

Josephine Tricot Stitch

A stitch from S.F.A. Caulfeild’s Dictionary of Needlework, p. 130, rewritten in modern terms.

This stitch has fewer similarities to knitting than the other Tunisian crochet stitches I’ve tried. It makes a nice mesh.

Special abbreviation:

JTS: Insert hook in a stitch, pull a loop through, and chain one.
Repeat in the same stitch. Pull a third loop through the same stitch,
and then pull a loop through the last three stitches on the hook.

Original version (but with modern terms):
Start by making a chain the length you want, plus three.

Row 1: JTS in the fourth chain from the hook, repeat in every chain to
the end. Return row as usual.
Row 2: Chain 2, then work a JTS in each chain space. Return row as usual.
Repeat row 2 as desired.

If you find that the start of the row is a little too tall, try doing
1 chain instead of 2.

I found that I could get a version that draped more softly if I added
some extra chains, like this:


Start by making a chain with an even number of stitches, plus one.

Row 1: JTS in the third chain from the hook, repeat in every other
chain to the end. Return row: Chain 1. *Chain 1, pull a loop through
the first 2 stitches on the hook.* Chain 1.
Row 2: Chain 1, then work a JTS in each chain space. Return row: Chain
1. *Chain 1, pull a loop through the first 2 stitches on the hook.*
Chain 1.
Repeat row 2 as desired.

This stitch pattern lends itself well to being fringed. Omit the last
return row and knot two pieces of yarn through each stitch.

Dictionary of Needlework

So I have a Dover reprint of S.F.A. Caulfeild’s Dictionary of Needlework. (Dover gave it a new title: Encyclopedia of Victorian Needlework. It’s a fine reference work for its time. This means it’s full of terms for various bits of needlework that have different names now, and what we would probably now consider bogus bits of history. Probably large portions of it are accurate; I’m not well-read enough to know all of which bits are which.

If you can decipher older terminology (or are willing to give it a try), there’s interesting designs in it for knitting, crochet (including Tunisian crochet), tatting, needle lace, bobbin lace, embroidery, and lots of other stuff. It’s hard to figure out what the needle sizes are, and I find the weights of yarns indecipherable. (I haven’t bothered to do the research yet; I imagine there’s a historical reproduction group on Ravelry that would be able to help me out.) It’s an English book, and so the crochet terms are closer to the modern English crochet terms (i.e. English double crochet stitch = US single crochet stitch).

If you live in the US, you can see a complete scan of the dictionary from the University of Michigan library:

(Yes, Caulfeild is spelled with an “ei”, not an “ie”.)

figuring the percentage of a circle that’s been made

Okay, say you’re knitting a doily from the center outward and you know how many rounds the whole doily is. It turns out that that there’s a fairly straightforward way to calculate when you’re halfway done (or whatever). You can’t just say “I’ve knit 30 rounds out of 60, I’m halfway done”, because the number of stitches per round keeps growing.

Here’s the easy math: take the number of rounds you’ve knit so far and square that number (multiply it by itself). Take the number of rounds you’re going to knit and square that. Divide the former by the latter, and that’s the percentage.

30 rounds out of 60 means

(30 x 30)/(60 x 60) = 900/3600 = 25% or a quarter done.

There’s more detailed math below, but here’s a good rule of thumb:

Approximately half the yarn will be used when about 70% of the rows have been knit. It turns out that this works for any geometric shape where the knitting starts at a point and increases at an even rate.

(I don’t know that this works for pi shawls.)

Continue reading figuring the percentage of a circle that’s been made