Friday, 30 March 2012

Another UFO completed

I started at the beginning of  the year with this.  Mum and my sister had both attempted the lace edging for a sleeve and given up.  When I managed it, I ended up with the whole garment to knit.  I managed to complete it for Mother's Day.  Not a yarn (acrylic) or colour (salmon) I would choose for myself, but it's done.

For spring wear
This is the third of six UFOs I have targeted to finish this year.

Wednesday, 28 March 2012


Skeleton of a hydrangea flower
I found this while photographing the spring flowers all bright and chirpy.  Somehow this is very beautiful.

Sunday, 25 March 2012


Little splashes of colour
We're having some wonderful spring weather and everything is waking up.  These little miniatures came free last year in a box with something else.  I scattered them all over the garden in a hurry and they are coming up to say hello.   I shall get more, they are very rewarding.

I plant more crocus every autumn, but never seem to get the profusion I hope for.  These have given a good show.  I'll just keep adding some every year.

Primroses - youth and innocence
Primroses have always been my favourite.  There is something inspiring about those pale little flowers standing out against dark green evergreens, spring fresh grass, or dark damp soil.  Hope.

Friday, 23 March 2012

The Sales Pitch in 1952

From Needlewoman and Needlecraft July 1952

Another picture from the same full page advertisement
The page also advertises a table runner and doily.  It doesn't explain how intelligence relates to this array of patterns, but I should think it would have been quite a novel approach in 1952.

Wednesday, 21 March 2012

Life's Little Consolations

Back cover of Needlewoman and Needlecraft
July 1948
I've not been feeling too good (another office bug) and finding it difficult to concentrate. So I'll just leaf through my vintage collection for a while.  Good to think that these patterns still have the power to cheer us up more than sixty years after they were first printed.

Sunday, 18 March 2012

Happy Mothers Day

Embroidery panel from Needlewoman and Needlecraft
April 1950

Friday, 16 March 2012

Attempting a Vintage Knitting Pattern

Swatching for gauge, pattern and colour - with notes
I'm going for the yellow
I'm still thinking very hard about adapting the vintage pattern that Susan Crawford talked us through at her workshop 'Interpreting and Working from Vintage Patterns'.

Dina - Stitchcraft May 1939

The example pattern tells us the model is called Dinah.  At a guess she may be about of perhaps 5ft 8inches height, perhaps more and she has an approximately 32inch bust.  I've calculated an adapted pattern for the back.
My Schematic and Calculations

I am 5ft 2 inches with a 38inch bust and a short waist and the adjustments have been dramatic.    In spite of all the measuring and calculating, will this ever fit me?  And if it does, will it have lost the character of the original design?  I think probably yes.  But I'm still keen to have a go. I've already learned a lot from it and there is so much more to learn. 

Wednesday, 14 March 2012

My Cat Marilyn

Marilyn - extremely comfortable
For a long time I have been trying to persuade Marilyn to curl up in my sewing room because I feel guilty about leaving her on her own so much when I am at work and then leaving her while I knit and sew and blog upstairs.  For years she would not stay with me.  Now it appears that it is acceptable to come with me as long as she can curl up on my chair.  She creeps up onto it, curls up behind me and steadily pushes me until I am perched on the front edge.  We're going to have to find another way.  This isn't working.

"Don't even think about trying to move me."

Sunday, 11 March 2012

People Who Love Books and Knitting

A plain little book in the Pitman Series - 1933
By Osma Palmer Couch

Interesting how often you find that people who love to knit also love books.  They don't just enjoy a good read, they truly love books.  There's something about the tactile quality, I think, as well as the reading experience. 
The Frontispiece
"A sun-room that owes its colourful charm to a bright cross-stitch
design embroidered with wools on monk's cloth, or sand serge"

Anyone following this blog will know I have a bit of a thing about books.  Among it all I  have a bit of a collection of vintage knitting patterns and knitting books,  as well as books on embroidery and dressmaking.  But to see the work of a real collector, take a peek at Susan Crawford's blog.  One can only dream.
Susan Crawford's Books

"A little girl finds woolcraft edges useful for her dolly's clothes"

Friday, 9 March 2012

Spring is on its way

Fair Weather Cloud - Early March
I took a walk at the beginning of the week and even on our chilly side of Salisbury Plain the world is starting to wake up after winter.

Pussy Willow buds breaking out
Buds on the beech, pussy willow beginning to appear and the lambs tails out in force on the hazel.

Lambs tails on the hazel
I saw an ancient coppice, heard a woodpecker hammering at a tree, watch jackdaws play chase through the beechwood and the rooks home-making.  I heard a lark rise up into that beautiful sky. 

Wednesday, 7 March 2012

Vintage Yarn

I wonder how to use this
I have a lot of vintage yarn and am always looking for opportunities to use it.  One that particularly intrigues me is Patons Beehive Bouclet.  A 3 ply 92% wool, 8% nylon.  The bag full that I have is a wonderful soft turquoise colour.

I experimented with the stitch in the vintage pattern we studied at Susan Crawford's 'Interpreting Vintage Patterns' workshop.  I cast on 32 stitches with the needle sizes given in the pattern and knitted 9 rows of 2x2 rib and 4 repeats of the pattern.  It doesn't come up to the tension required for the Sweater pattern, although that could be remedied.
Nice and knobbly, but doesn't show up the pattern

Unstretched the stitch looks rather effective although the stitch definition isn't clear because of the boucle.  The sweater has a lot of negative ease - it's made smaller than the wearer and is intended to stretch in wear to show off the laciness.  Somehow it loses something when the boucle is stretched like this. 

However, it was a pleasing experiment and I found that the ribbing does look rather good in the boucle, so will maybe look for an all over rib pattern for it.  I would dearly love to find a pattern for this yarn to see what they would have made with it back then.

Sunday, 4 March 2012

Unravel - avoiding temptation

I avoided temptation
After I had finished the workshop at Unravel I looked to look at each stand (several times) and I didn't buy any yarn.  My resolution held firm.  However, when I made this resolution, nothing was said about patterns, or buttons.

The Textile Garden stand had me hyperventilating with the absolute wondrousness of their buttons.  I bought a silver coloured kilt pin for the next ribbed waistcoat I plan to make.

At Ida's House stand I succumbed to a Bakelite pin box, some buttons and a buckle.

The buckle - I love the styling and the crazed effect

Old plastic buttons, a pale lilac that doesn't show well on screen
In need of a bit of a scrub

I bought five of these tiny 8mm buttons. 
They look almost as if they will burst into life.

Friday, 2 March 2012

Susan Crawford

Swatching the stitch we looked at with Susan Crawford
I am on a yarn fast.  One of my 2012 objectives is not to buy yarn until some of the stash has been used.  So, I made sure to book myself on a course at Unravel therefore minimising the time I would have to be led astray among the wonderful stalls of colour and squishiness.  I figured even with the course fee it would be cheaper. 

I booked myself onto 'Interpreting and Working from Vintage Patterns' with Susan Crawford.  What a knowledgeable lady, not only about knitting, but about social history and all things vintage.  And although we all got too interested in home front issues of the war and the austerity period just after, and we all talked too much and ran out of time to knit, I learned a lot.

I came home and straight away swatched the stitch from the vintage pattern Susan shared with us.  She showed us how to dissect the pattern, look at what it tells you and what it doesn't and all the pitfalls and assumptions you shouldn't make.  I had several attempts before I mastered the stitch.  All down to terminology I think.  If you strictly interpret the yfwd printed in the pattern as a yfwd, you run into trouble and suddenly lose about 5 stitches.  I learned a lot just from battling with that.

Susan helped me understand a few things one of which is that I'm not far off in the way I look at vintage patterns.  I just needed someone with her experience to articulate a few things I hadn't quite grasped.  I had a good time and am inspired to start to use my collection in a practical way.  Susan gave me confidence.

Try the link to Susan's blog to see how she gets her inspiration for her knits and her books and the wonderful things she creates.
Susan Crawford's Blog