Friday, 29 April 2011

The Royal Wedding

Wishing them both well.

Cover of Needkewoman and Needlecraft Magazine, 1959 featuring a spring bride.

Strong Doris Day influence here, and I'm not at all sure about the significance of the budgies on the branch.  Perhaps they're meant to be love birds, but they are definitely budgies.

Thursday, 28 April 2011

Salad Days

From a pattern for knitted luncheon mats - Needlewoman and Needlecraft Magazine, 1950
 We are having the most amazing weather.  Salads are back.  I have a book called '284 Ways of Making Salad' by Bebe Daniels and Jill Allgood.  Published in 1950, many of the recipes are contributions from film stars and celebrities of the day. 

Rex Harrison's Tomato Salad
1/4 cup of finely chopped parsley
5 tbsp of salad oil
2 tbsp of wine vinegar
1/4 cup of chopped green onions
Thyme, salt and pepper to taste
4 to 6 large ripe tomatoes

Mix the chopped green ingredients with the oil and vinegar.  Peel and slice tomatoes; sprinkle with salt and pepper and arrange in a shallow bowl.  Spread some dressing over each layer.

Bebe Daniels was a silent movie star, came over to Britain and wrote and performed in the radio series 'Hi Gang', very popular during the war and 'Life with the Lyons' which ran in the early 50s.   The BBC played it recently on Radio 7.

Tuesday, 26 April 2011

Beginners Purl stitch

Purl knitting and Forget-Me-Nots
If you have mastered garter (knit) stitch, then time to learn to purl.  Once you have these two stitches under your belt, then you can begin to do pretty much anything.

Purl does seem awkward at first and I think many knitters don't look forward to their purl rows.  But, when you've got it, the world's your oyster.  (purl, oyster, good eh?)

Big thing to remember is that where you worked with your length of yarn at the back of the work when you were doing knit stitch, it stays at the front for purl.

Here is a video by the wonderful Judy Graham who just takes it slow and shows you how to do it.  Cast on some stitches, do a couple of rows of garter (knit) stitch, then try this.

Mary Thomas says that Purl stitch can also be known as Seam Stitch, Black Stitch (because of the way it's represented on charts), Ridge Stitch, Pearl Stitch, Back Stitch, Rib Stitch, Left Stitch, Raised Stitch, Rough Stitch, Wrong Stitch. 

Any pattern you are likely to come across these days will call it Purl.

Sunday, 24 April 2011

Happy Easter

Easter is late this year and the daffodils are gone, but the apple blossom is out. 

This poor little tree has had a hard life.  It grows on a strip of land outside my house.  The lower branches were hacked off so that someone could put up a No Trespassing sign on the trunk.  Then a very large delivery lorry reversed into it and pushed it over. 

I grieved for the little tree.  But there must still be some root attached and lying on the ground it has produced masses of blossom this year.  Triumph over tragedy.  An Easter story.

Saturday, 23 April 2011

Saint George's Day April 23rd

Our Earth Closet - A Little Piece of Old England
Saint George is a very military saint.  In England the earliest dedication to Saint George is a church at Fordington in Dorset.

Henry Moule became vicar at Fordington in 1829 and invented the dry earth closet (a composting toilet) after observing the effects of the cholera epidemics of the late 1840s and 1850s and the generally poor state of sanitation in the slums in his parish.

One of his many works on the subject is entitled :
‘The Impossibility overcome: or the Inoffensive, Safe, and Economical Disposal of the Refuse of Towns and Villages,’ 1870;

The principle is to cover waste with earth rather than to flush it away with water.  The practice is even mentioned in the Bible.  Moule went on to prove that the output could be used as a very effective fertiliser in the garden.

Queen Victoria had one of Moule's earth closets at Windsor Castle.  It would have had a bucket of dry earth installed and a lever to tip the bucket when she had done what she had to do.

We have an old earth closet at the bottom of our garden.  It's not quite as sophisticated as Queen Victoria's.
The cat sleeps on the roof.

Moule's system was widely adopted and was used in military camps.  It must have made life a bit better there.  I like to think that as a military man Saint George would have approved.

Thursday, 21 April 2011

Knitted Bag

This is  bag designed by Sian Brown, it's called Swag Bag and can be found in Ravelry.  It's knitted with the yarn double and Sian's pictures show it in shadesof bright green.  I grabbed colours I had in my stash.  
It's knitted on slightly smaller needles than you would expect which makes the bag nice and firm.  Although it isn't necessary to do so, I lined mine and added a button.    I love slip stitches and was intrigued by this pattern.  I did a few swatches in different colourways.
I haven't found the stitch in any stitch directory yet, so don't know what it's called.  For now, it's Sian's stitch.

The swatch below is in  single strands of double knit on 3.75mm needles.  I think 4mm needles might make this look slightly less 'scrunched'.

This swatch is in aran in natural shades on 5 mm needles.

Tuesday, 19 April 2011

Victorian House Decoration - Inspiration for Knit

Knit sample based on the colour plan for a bedroom cornice in my Victorian House decorating book.

Sunday, 17 April 2011

Victorian House Decoration - Inspiration for Knit

The Drawing Room

House Decoration,  Edited by Paul  N. Hasluck
Published by Cassell and Co.  1894    (Bought at an autojumble)
The chapter on colour talks about Owen Jones.
‘Owen Jones gave in the year 1852 this dogma or proposition :- colour is used to assist in the development of form, and to distinguish objects, or parts of objects from one another.’

The book gives an example of a cornice for each room in the house.  Colours are selected to enhance the contours.  I used these as a starting point for some knit samples.

The Author explains why there is no green.

" is not only bilious of temper but almost fatal to mixed combinations."

Colour plan for drawing room cornice

Friday, 15 April 2011



I am a real sucker for buttons. I love them.  They don't need to have a purpose - I want them anyway.  At the Knitting and Stitching Show, Bath and West there was a stand I had not seen before.  A very kind and knowledgeable lady selling vintage buttons.  Oh My Goodness.  I was a like a kid in a sweetshop.

Jars of buttons
I haven't yet seen the shop in Bath, but must get there.
Jessie's Button Box is at the Bartlett Street Antique Centre, 7 Bartlett Street, Bath and stocks collectors buttons, buckles, belt clasps and cufflinks.

Wednesday, 13 April 2011

Also at the Bath and West Knit and Stitch

While at the Bath and West Knit and Stitch last Saturday I visited the RKM Wools stand (as I do every year). 
RKM Wools

Always lovely and friendly and very interesting to talk to, the gentleman there has a real enthusiasm for his trade.  Among his offerings was this "ggh" Soft Kid.  (70% Kid Mohair, 25% Nylon, 5% Wool).

I bought camel, soft dark green and a 'sludgy' red.  Thinking slip stitch in 3 colours.  Maybe a cropped waistcoat.

Monday, 11 April 2011

Knit and Stitch Show - Bath and West

On Saturday I went to the Knit and Stitch Show at Bath and West Showground, Shepton Mallet.  This show is not too far from me and I go every year, but increasingly it has been taken over by card making and each year there is less and less for the knitter.  Some yarn suppliers remain faithful to it and my Mum and I had a wonderful time at the Black Sheep Wools stand where the lovely Black Sheep people pile all the yarn on the floor and let ladies rummage through.  Such fun.

Black Sheep Wools

I bought (at really good prices)   :
Rowan Yarn Classic Alpaca Soft in a mustard colour
Sirdar Balmoral (a Wool, Alpaca, Silk mix) in purple
Rowan Purelife in a colour something like raspberry sorbet.

The lighting in the main hall is a bit tricky and these photos do not do justice to the colours in the heap, but you get the idea.

Saturday, 9 April 2011

Warren Hastings Gloves

On a recent trip to the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford I saw a couple of pairs of Warren Hastings' gloves apparently knitted for him around 1780 when he was Governor General of India.  Said to be knitted in Kashmir they are made in a very fine yarn with intricate patterns.

I've started a scrapbook of design ideas for gloves, fingerless gloves, mittens and fingerless mittens with a bit of wristies, wrist warmers and arm warmers thrown in.  So far I have made up a pair of fingerless gloves (based on the colours of a Heinz baked bean tin and the beans) and a pair of wrist warmers.  Both of these were very good as test pieces, but so complicated it would be impossible for me to write a pattern anyone could follow. I learned an awful lot from doing them, and gave them away as presents so nothing wasted.

Thursday, 7 April 2011

Garter stitch bag

I found a stone in an Oxfordshire field that veins and patches of reddish brown, black, grey and silver.  Sadly, I didn't bring the stone home and the photo I took was fuzzy.

However, thinking about the colours and about garter stitch and all the things you can make with a straight strip of garter stitch, I made a 'dolly bag'. 

Using DK yarns I cast on 45 stitches with a silver yarn, knitted two rows and then used a cream slub (lumpy yarn), reddish brown and grey in single row stripes, carrying the yarns not in use up the side of the work. 

This is easy.  When you are doing stripes you don't want to have to cut and rejoin yarns any more than is absolutely necessary.  So, at the side of your knitting when you start a new row, tuck the colours you are not using over the colour you are using, so that they are carried up the side of the knitting until they are needed again.

If you are going to do single row stripes, always use an odd number of colours and then when you knit each row, you are back in the right place to pick up the next colour you need.

When I felt the strip was long enough to make a bag, I knitted two rows in silver and cast off.

To make a fastening I plaited  a little of the brown and cream, but included a little black this time and sewed the middle of the plait down near the top of the bag.  I covered a button in a small square of knitting in brown and black to add a little interest and fixed this over the spot where the plait is sewn down.

At least two of the yarns I used had a high cotton content and a tendency to stretch.  Since garter stitch is stretchy anyway, I will need to line it so that it holds its shape.

Tuesday, 5 April 2011

Sewing bits and pieces

A few odds from my collection of vintage sewing bits and pieces.  They aren't valuable, or even particularly rare, but looking at these makes me happy on a grim old rainy day.

Sunday, 3 April 2011

Mother's Day - My Mum

Happy Mother's Day to Mums all over the world.

My Mum who has severely impaired mobility due to stroke also has the patience of a saint and made this beautiful piece of embroidery, then gave it to me. 

Friday, 1 April 2011

The Felted Jumper

So, more about the jumper I felted.  Here's where we left off.

The sleeves are off and I blanket stitched around the armholes with a very close buttonhole stitch at the underarms which seemed to be a weaker part.  
I measured across the bottom of the jumper and allowing for turnings cut out an oval shape from one of the sleeves to make a base.
I drew a line around the jumper on a big piece of paper and used that as a pattern, again allowing for seams, to cut out 2 pieces from some spare curtain lining I had hanging about.  I did the same with the base. 

I sewed the felted base shape to the bottom with very strong button thread from my old 'odds box'. 
I hemmed the upper edges of the lining and joined the front and back then sewed the base lining on at the bottom.  Adding the base to both the felted and the lining parts was a bit fiddly and a lot of adjustments needed to be made.  Then I put the lining in and slip stitched it in place.

I had some very lovely wooden handles given me by my sister.  These had been waiting for some special project for a long time.  I fed the neck of the jumper through these and sewed them in place with button thread. 

Yep, it's a knitting bag.  Already full of yarn for the next project.