Phoenix Blackdove

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since Jan 21, 2015
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Grew up in rural QLD. Met a nice gent on the internet. Moved to suburban Adelaide. Still there. Trying to grow things. Mostly failing. Currently grub-staking and saving for various life goals.
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Recent posts by Phoenix Blackdove

Kathleen Sanderson wrote:And actually ON the topic of corsets, LOL!  Has anyone seen a pattern for the combination bra/corset that ladies used to wear -- like my mother and grandmother's generation, probably?  I just did a brief search and couldn't find anything.

Could you describe what you mean a bit more? I’ve seen stays (a predecessor of the corset) that have straps and bra-like pouches for support in various museum archives, but I’m not sure if that’s what you’re after.

Laughing Moon does have this pattern for a Regency/Romantic era (1805-1840) corset that looks a bit like what you’re describing:
1 year ago
As my back and shoulders have continued to have sadness over the past few years, I’ve found myself wondering if a corset or similar would help provide support and/or relief for various aches and pains. Two pregnancies definitely did a number on some of my muscles, and I suspect there’s been some permanent ligament changes since the second one. Add to that all the computer work and I’m not a happy camper. Exercises help, but only so much.

Alas, since I had top surgery two years ago, I’m an extremely non-standard shape for typical women’s corsets. So I started wondering, did men wear corsets or stays historically? If so, was it a vanity thing or a practical thing, or both? If so, could I find a pattern that would work for my post-pregnancy, flat-as-a-board needs?

After a bit of digging, I found this article giving a brief history of men’s stays/corsets/health belts: It seems the answer is indeed, both - different styles for different needs/fashions, but a clear history of back support in there along with the fashionable uses.

The YouTube algorithm also saw fit to grace me with this video. I was delighted to hear the creator say that he was hoping his corset would help his back as well as his fashionable figure.

I need to work down my in-progress pile a bit before I commit to another sewing project, but I hope to get onto making myself a corset before the end of the year. I’ll report back here regardless once I’m able.
1 year ago

Kate Downham wrote:In wool clothing, either wool to knit with, or clothes that are already knitted, is there anything to look for to decide whether it is made for long life?

When looking for knitting yarn - and this is true of the yarns used in  woven fabrics, too, but it’s harder to check - the tighter the twist in the yarns, the longer the fabric will last. A tight twist holds the fibres together more firmly, which reduces abrasion. (Too much twist will also weaken a yarn, but it’s much less likely you’ll encounter overspun yarn in the wild.) I’m of the opinion that any fibre can make a long-lasting, durable fabric, as long as it’s spun correctly and used appropriately (ie stop using Merino for everything, people!).

Tight twist also reduces pilling. Those little balls that turn up on knitted items are made from the short fibres in the yarn, as they work their way free of the yarn they were spun into. Tighter twist = fibres caught more securely = less pilling.

Yarn with more plies (ie more individual strands twisted together to create the final yarn) will also generally be more durable than yarns with less. As you add plies, the yarn gets rounder, which means each individual ply is subjected to less abrasion in the finished garment.

The bad news is that commercially spun knitting yarns are almost universally underspun. It’s cheaper to produce that way. Out of all the people I know who spin their own yarn, I would say that at least half started doing so because they didn’t like the yarns in the shops and couldn’t get the sort of thing they did want to work with any other way.

When I’m spinning my own yarns, I typically spin fine and tight and ply up to the gauge I want for a project. I don’t like knitting with bulky yarns, though, so that’s not a hardship for me.

When browsing commercial knitting yarns I look for:
  • Multiple plies (at least 3) - untwisting a section of the yarn in the skein will let you count them.
  • A smooth, firm yarn construction - fuzziness now will only get worse later in the finished garment’s life, and often indicates low yarn twist.
  • Micron count is sometimes available on ball bands or website descriptions - the lower the number, the softer the fibre. Soft = good for next to skin but more delicate, less soft = sturdier but scratchier ie good for outerwear.
  • If it’s sock yarn, NOT merino. It’s simply too fine to work for something that goes through the kind of abuse a sock is subjected to.
  • The ply direction in the final yarn - depending on which hand you tension the yarn with, the twist will either work with or against you. I knit with yarn in my right hand, so I prefer a Z twist yarn. People who tension with their left hand often find S twist yarns work better for them.

  • As Inge said, a firmer knitting gauge will also produce a longer lasting fabric. Historically, items were knit with smaller yarn and at a tighter gauge than today, because they needed things to last.

    When I knit with any yarn, I use the needle size that makes a fabric I like. This is typically two or more sizes smaller than what the ball band says, though it depends on how I’m knitting it (some knitting styles produce a tighter gauge for me than others). For example, 8 ply/DK yarn’s recommended  needle size is 4mm - 4.5mm. I usually knit it on 3.25mm - 3.5mm needles, and I’d go lower if the situation called for it.
    1 year ago
    - I use large sticks (>20cm) as garden bed edging.
    - Wooden pallets cut in half make good siding for both animal pens and garden beds. Shove small sticks in the gap between front and back of the pallet to make it more solid. Some dirt etc will still leak through, but nowhere near as much as just a pallet on its own.
    - Sticks about 1”/2.5cm in diameter make good pegs for tents or fence ropes or anything else you need a peg for.
    1 year ago

    Freyda Black wrote:I began to learn on youtube but found the teachers required using woolen yarn.  I want to use cordage that either I make from native plants or baling twine , so I can make both natural scrubbies for washing dishes and farm buckets and feed pans, and items like shopping bags.  Can you recommend sources that teach nalbinding for these non-stretchy cordages?


    I wish I could remember where I read it, but I saw someone once propose that cordage may have been the original fibre used to nålbind.

    Their reasoning was thus: cordage, by its nature, is usually made of multiple short lengths of plant material twisted together. Nålbinding requires short lengths of thread/cord. Perhaps the early nålbinders would make a small amount of cordage, work that into their project, and then when more cordage was needed, simply twist it onto the ends left free of the project? This concept could then have later been applied to animal fibres via thigh-spinning.

    All that to say, why not give nålbinding a go with cordage and see what happens? It won’t look or act exactly the same as a piece made of wool, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing - just different.
    1 year ago
    I gave into temptation yesterday, and drilled a 2mm hole in a spare piece of wood to use as a knitting stick with my next pair of socks. It’s hard to measure accurately on such a tiny toe, but the gauge seems to be about 9.5 st/in with the aid of the stick.

    My usual gauge, knitting in hand with 2.25mm needles and this brand of yarn (Bendigo Woollen Mills sock), is 8 st/in. (That’s due to comfort rather than because I think it’s the best gauge for purpose. I think it could stand to be more tightly knit for socks.)

    I measured a pair of socks I made with a thinner sock yarn (Socks Yeah by Coopknits, a US brand) and 2mm needles. The gauge on those is 9 st/in. I didn’t enjoy making them very much. I don’t like the feel of 2mm DPNs held in hand, I find them uncomfortable.

    This new pair of socks, knit with the knitting stick, has been perfectly pleasant to make so far. I haven’t noticed any extra strain on my arms from the tighter gauge, though I’m still figuring out the technique to use the big muscles instead of the little ones. Standing up straight with good posture certainly helps. So maybe I’ll end up with healthier back muscles too…
    1 year ago

    Inge Leonora-den Ouden wrote:
    There's a difference between 'worsted weight' yarn and 'worsted spun'. I think this yarn is not worsted weight. In my opinion it's impossible to knit that weight with such small needles. Worsted spun yarn can be of any weight.
    Here's some info on the meaning of 'worsted spun':

    Having now read through about four years of the archives of that blog, it is indeed worsted weight yarn. The author turned to spinning his own worsted spun, worsted weight yarns to get exactly what he wants for his knitting. His singles (circa 2011 at least) seem to be in the range of 9,000 ypp grist, and he plies up to worsted or even aran weight.

    One of his 2022 blog posts mentions that he was using "2.3 mm needles to knit 4-ply, worsted weight yarn at 6 spi and 6-ply gansey yarn (1,000 ypp) at 7 spi".

    He does state repeatedly that the only way he can knit such large yarn on such small needles is with the aid of a knitting sheath, and the correct needles. Apparently there's some physics involved with using springy steel needles that greatly change things in the knitter's favour, mostly by taking the strain off the wrists and transferring it to the large muscles in the arms and shoulders.


    I just checked my copy of "Cornish Guernseys and Knit-Frocks" by Mary Wright, which is a historical account of guernsey knitting taken in Cornwall (first published 1979). On page 7 she states: "The yarn used for making guernseys is dark navy worsted, in four- and five-ply. It is not, as some people believe, an oiled yarn, but relies on a tight spinning twist and a closely knitted fabric for its weatherproof qualities."

    When I first read that passage, I assumed she meant a worsted-spun yarn in a 4 ply or 5 ply weight, as the terms are used in Australia (roughly fingering and sport weight in the US). Now I'm not so sure.

    Ms Wright talks about needles on page 19: "Knitting needles used for traditional guernseys were made of steel, pointed at both ends, and about fourteen inches (36 cm) long. They were purchased in sets of five. Everyone who remembers this type of knitting, mentions that the needles were 'very fine', with size 16 (1.5mm) being specified at Mevagissey!"

    Even with a 4 ply/fingering weight yarn, 1.5mm needles is impressive. I'd love to knit that yarn and needle size into a swatch and see what the fabric is like. I don't have 1.5mm needles, but I do have a set of 1.75mm steel DPNs that need some rust removal before they're usable. Perhaps that will be my project for next month...
    1 year ago

    It is hypocrisy to pretend to save forests, yet to buy daily newspapers and packaged food; to preserve native plants, yet rely on agrochemical production for food; and to adopt a diet which calls for broadscale food production.

    The Permaculture Designer’s Manual, page 9.

    Jeremy VanGelder wrote:I followed a link from Roving Crafters to A Fisherman Knits and he swears by knitting sheaths. He uses them with worsted wool that he spins himself to make weatherproof socks and gansey sweaters.

    I had a poke around this website, and oh, lawdy! What a wonderful blog! I can’t wait to sit back and read the whole archive.

    The thing that stuck out for me during my brief perusal was not the worsted weight yarn - it was that it was being knit on tiny needles (2.3mm) for that weight. Most knitters nowadays use ~5mm needles for worsted (10 ply over here).

    I can’t help but think the knitting belt helps considerably with that. The closest I’ve ever come to a similar feat was knitting 8 ply (DK) wool into a sock on 2.75mm DPNs (usual size is 4mm). That made my hands cramp something fierce if I went too long, but the socks wore well for not being a sock yarn.
    1 year ago