Wednesday, 10 September 2014

The infamous pineapple



HSF challenge number 17 is Yellow, and it was probably inevitable that at least one of us would knit a pineapple bag.  Reticules knitted to look like pineapples were a popular 19th century accessory and are well known among the historical costuming crowd.  What may be less well known is that there is a nice, modernised version of an original 1860s pattern available here.

The writer of said pattern, Franklin Habit, has this to say about the pineapple: “I knew with sick certainty that I would have to make one”.  See, this guy gets me.  I felt exactly the same way about it.  But once I’d deciphered the abbreviations, I found the pattern is actually very simple.  All it requires is a bit of manual dexterity and the ability to count.  It’s fun, and even weirdly addictive.

The original pattern called for four shades of green and four shades of yellow yarn, but as Mr. Habit correctly observes wool doesn’t come in that many shades these days.  Not a problem.  I wasn't planning on buying wool anyway because I already had some white lace weight wool lurking around at home.  I dyed skeins of wool in brownish-green, emerald, and yellowy green.  Didn’t like any of them.  Overdyed them with green.  Still didn’t like them.  Overdyed them again with blue.  Finally, I had three similar shades of green that I quite liked.  That took care of the leaves, but there was none left for the bottom of the bag so I had to make up another dye batch when I got to the bottom.

Being lazy, I didn’t make four shades of each colour.  The yellow is all one colour, but I made it variegated because I thought that would look more lifelike.  It’s fair to say the variegated dye effect didn’t come out quite how I would have liked, but it’s okay and it is a nice sunshiny yellow.

I dyed my wool using food colouring.  It’s essentially the same thing as the acid dyes you can buy to use on wool (and other protein fibers).  The main difference is price.  Do your research and don’t be fooled into buying something you might already have in your kitchen cupboard.


HSF details as follows...

The Challenge: Yellow

Fabric: Lace weight wool, plus a scrap of yellow silk for the lining.

Pattern: Franklin Habit's pineapple pattern, available here.  I made mine a bit smaller than Franklin's; this is easy to do because the pattern is just a 16 stitch repeat.  Any multiple of 16 stitches will get the job done.  However, Franklin and I have different interpretations of the pattern, which says to put a drawstring "at the termination of the top leaves".  Franklin puts his drawstring at the top of the leaves, while I put mine at the base of the leaves where they attach to the fruit.  This is purely a matter of personal taste.

Year: 1860s.

Notions: The pattern gives instructions for beading the bag if you want to, but I didn't.

How historically accurate is it?  Not bad at all.  Perhaps 9/10.

Hours to complete: No idea.  I did it on the train in the mornings.  Wellington must be the only city in the world where you can knit a pineapple in public without anyone even seeming to notice.

First worn: Not really applicable.

Total cost: $9 for a set of needles.

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