Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Handknit blankets

While we were on holiday, Pete and I made a visit to Cape Spear, the easternmost part of Canada.  The views (and winds) are incredible but naturally I mostly cared about the knitting in the restored lighthouse.

Can you even tell at this distance that the coverlet on the bed is handknit?

Some time ago I bought an out of print book on handknit coverlets and I am pretty sure it includes this pattern.  It would have been knit in a fairly fine cotton on small needles, definitely nothing speedy, and each curve had to be knit independently and assembled later... which is probably lucky, since who's got needles this wide?  And as you can imagine, that is some serious labour in there - our guide said the best guess is about 800 hours of work.  That's dedication.

Here's a closeup, which the computer turned into a completely inaccurate colour combo so pretty I kept it anyway... it's probably close to what its maker saw after finally finishing it, because it's hard to imagine not losing some eyesight in the process.

Upstairs there was a simpler blanket I could see myself making, if I could only figure out how:

It's just the most basic garter stitch with undyed wool, and a tiny accent in red stripes at the top.  LOVE it.  But how did they make it wide enough?  I can almost make out where they may have sewn vertical strips together, but not what stitch they could have used to make it lie flat and look normal.

Many generations of a single family lived and worked in the Cape Spear lighthouse until it was reconfigured as an automated light station, and I can tell you from the May day I was there, blankets would have been essential.  We are talking windswept.

In addition to the many other reasons I was thrilled to be staying at our wonderful cottage in Torbay, there was the perk of looking out over the eastern coast.  Not so far east as one would be at Cape Spear, but far enough east not to feel at all pressured to join a bunch of friends who thought it would be a great idea to drive out there one morning to watch the sunrise.

As you can imagine, driving someplace to watch the sunrise means driving in the dark, and the road out to Cape Spear is dippy and windy and completely without streetlights.  Plus did I say 'windswept'?  One guy said he was fine till the sun came up and he saw how close they were to the edge.  The edge, unlike the dippy windy road, is vertical and rocky and marked by memorials for loved ones who drowned there.

Meanwhile, we were tucked up inside under blankets, woken by the sun streaming in from the eastern window, and blissfully falling back to sleep.  The only thing that would have made it all nicer was if the blanket was handknit.

Hope you have a cosy day and I'll see you tomorrow!

ps if you're like me, you're wondering how a family raising the next generation of lighthouse keepers on a windswept coastal rock managed not to lose anybody over the edge of the cliff during a rousing game of tag.  Well, I asked.  Apparently the kids just learned from an early age to stay away from the cliff, and they didn't question it.  Smart kids.


Kate/Massachusetts said...

A number of years ago the Yarn Harlot posted a picture of that same Cape Spear coverlet when she went there on vacation. The funny thing is that I found the actual pattern booklet on ebay. I have it somewhere around here! I will try to find it tomorrow and see if its still available is you would like? I tried googling Cape Spear coverlet but nothing came up.

Kate/Massachusetts said...

I found my pattern booklet. It is called "Cape Spear Coverlet circa 1849" and is in both english and french. Here is a ravelry link that seems to be the coverlet pattern:

Mission accomplished! Now, to bed...

Mary Keenan said...

How did I miss that Yarn Harlot post!! Thanks for looking up that pattern for me Kate - they do sell it in the gift shop there, but I resisted owing to the 800 hours thing, which is about how long it's going to take me to unpack into the condo and pack back up again for the house, heh. It is SUCH a pretty stitch though, and I bet it was used by a lot of knitters with love and enjoyment.

Kate/Massachusetts said...

Hmmm....can't you just picture that coverlet knit with leftover sock yarns? I think it would be much prettier that the mitered squares leftover sock yarn afghan that was making the rounds a few years ago. I suspect you've got a bit of leftover sock yarn, eh? :-)

Mary Keenan said...

I've had terrible news about sock yarn Kate: my 'leftover' sock yarn is now my shrinking supply :^( It really would be cool in colourful patches though wouldn't it!