Thursday, 23 June 2011

Knit yourself a holiday

Yes, I know it seems like we've gone knitting mad on the blog recently but we just wanted to mention this knitting competition  from the sunny Channel Island of Guernsey.

Everybody's heard of the Guernsey sweater. Designed originally to keep sailors warm they've enjoyed wide fashion status over the years (and they still look rather cool with jeans and espadrilles).

In days gone by each family on the island would have its own unique pattern that was passed down through the generations by word of mouth. But the Second World War and evacuation meant that many of these oral histories began to die out.

The competition is encouraging knitters to... re-interpret the original garment, how the family patterns might have looked, or would look today if the tradition had continued and evolved.

The winner will receive an trip for two to Guernsey. The winning design will also be published in a leading UK knitting magazine.

To maintain the Guernsey tradition competition entries should try and incorporate the following features in their designs, drawings or patterns:
• inclusion of the traditional box shape
• British [or Guernsey] wool - four or five ply
• pattern designs for size 10-12.

Designs can be uploaded to the Visit Guernsey facebook page

Guernseys are made of single colour worsted yarn, usually four or five ply, tightly knit using fine needles [as small as size 13 or 14].

The sweater was originally knitted in the round, with a purl stitch to mark the side seam. Patterns are made up of simple knit/ purl combinations, the most elaborate of which would have covered the top half of the body and arms.

Patterns on Tudor knitted stockings produced in Guernsey had names such as Turk’s Head, and Peacock’s Tail, which may have also been used on jumper designs. Jumpers have a boxy shape which means that they can be worn both ways; front and back (originally to prolong life-span).

Other common features include a funnel neck, triangular inserts under the arms and at the neck edge, and side splits in the hem for ease of movement.

Get your needles out.