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Heirloom Knitting takes on a whole new meaning when you use your own hand-spun yarn to create a knitted article for your family or friends.
Providing you look after your woollen garments, there is no reason why they would not remain in use for many, many years.
If you wash them by hand, without squeezing or twisting and you protect them from insects (i.e. silverfish and moths), you should be able to pass them on from one family member to another, or from one generation to the next.
© rosipro | CanstockPhoto.com Heirloom Knitting
Pure knitted wool is dirt and fire resistant, hard wearing, easy to clean, and will retain it's 'as new' appearance for much longer than most synthetic fabrics and yarns.
Knitted heirlooms can be anything from a very fine hand knitted lace shawl for your first grandchild to knitted slipcovers for a cushion or a bolster.
So, What Do Most People Mean by Heirloom Knitting?
According to Websters, an heirloom is "a piece of personal property handed down by inheritance for several generations".
An heirloom is considered to be a a great gift or a legacy, and can be anything from an expensive antique to an item of great personal, sentimental or emotional value.
When most people think of this type of knitting, they generally mean one of two things, either knitted articles which make use of old fashioned patterns (usually Victorian), or an article that the creator intends to be passed on to future generations.
An Example of a Knitted Heirloom
My son and daughter-in-law were expecting their first child in December 2007. One of the gifts I made for my first grandchild was a hand-spun and hand knitted lacy shawl.
The fleece was a merino, and I have managed to spin a light airy yarn that is finer than most commercial produced 2 ply baby wools.
Because the wool was so fine, I also needed to create my own pattern. Basically what I did was to knit a test swatch to gauge the tension (number of stitches per inch). From there I multiplied the total number of inches per inch by the width I required for the shawl. I picked a reasonably easy lace pattern with an eight row repeat over twelve stitches.
It took a long time to spin enough yarn to make the shawl and because of the fineness of the wool, it also took a long time to knit but I think the end product is beautiful and there is not another one the same in the world!
© Knitting Naturally | Heirloom Shawl
I rounded my total number of stitches down to a factor of twelve and added two stitches at each end to finish off the pattern. The border is moss stitch, twenty rows at the top and bottom, and an additional twenty stitches on either side of the lace pattern.
(Okay, I will admit that I started the project well before the pregnancy was confirmed!)