Friday, 28 November 2014

Free Pattern Friday - Girl's Jersey

I have been absent for a couple of weeks due to a virus. I tried to blog last Sunday, but my brain wouldn't cooperate, so I gave up and decided to knit and crochet instead. I'm still adding to my collection of crocheted snowflakes - up to about 20 now, and still going. I keep giving them away! I blocked some on clingfilm-covered cardboard, and they stiffened up nicely.

This is a bit festive looking, so very appropriate for this time of year. If you start now, it could be finished for Christmas.

It is knit in the round, which is unusual for a vintage pattern - I'm guessing it's from the 1950s. Published by Greenock, from the Scotch Wool & Hosiery Stores. Which sounds exactly the kind of place I could while away an entire day, parting with pounds, shillings and pennies. On a slight tangent, I have often dreamt about being in the BBC's wardrobe department - in my dream it is a warehouse, and I am frantically going through the seemingly endless rails of beautiful 30's knitwear. It is all a complete adrenaline rush, and I never seem to be able to get out of there with anything!

Has anyone else noticed that a lot of the knitwear used in the televised Poirot and Marple series was used more than once? I saw a blue cardigan in a fancy stitch worn three times! Once in a Marple, and twice in two different Poirots. Disgraceful!

But seriously, it is a bit slack. I would make it my business never to duplicate a knitted if I were sourcing the costumes. I know they are different productions, but they should do their homework. (You can guess what I've been doing while I've been ill!) I watched Carrie's War the other day with my boy, who was too ill to protest, and he actually quite enjoyed it. At nearly five, he must start his grounding in history. And what better start than a film about evacuees in WWII? It was an excuse to make him realise how easy his life is in comparison with children back then. Next time he asks for a treat, I'll give him an egg.

Carrie's War is jam-packed with wartime knitwear. Ladies' jumpers and cardigans, girls' fair isle berets, balaclavas for boys (which he wants now - hooray)! Every time I watch it, I spot another knitted I hadn't seen.

Anyway, back to the free pattern. I thought I might be able to size it up, but never got round to it, as with most things. If the 3 ply were substituted with 4 ply or double knit you would be able to get bigger sizes quite easily. You would want to lengthen the body and arms too.

Hope you like it. 


Thursday, 13 November 2014

Crochet Snowflakes


I can't believe I've started something for Christmas before Christmas Eve! I'm usually running around like a headless chicken, decorating, writing cards and buying or making last-minute presents. I never seem to learn. This year, though, I'm already feeling very smug - although they are only tree decorations, not gifts. Doh! (I suppose they could be.)

That's probably why I'm enjoying it. I don't know about you, but this Christmas present lark fills me with dread. My mind goes blank when I try to think of the 'perfect' gift for people. I leave all the kids' presents to my husband, he loves it, and starts squirreling things away from about July. Good hubby.

I am just a rubbish present buyer.

But I'm not thinking about that now, I've got loads of time - I need to make more snowflakes for my tree.

Now we have a bit more space in our new house (getting more cluttered every day), I have decided we need two Christmas trees: One for my husband and the children to decorate with tacky coloured lights and mismatched decorations. (Actually a lot of them are lame toys of my husband's which he insists on hanging up - I'm rolling my eyes as I write this). And one for me. Which will, of course, be very tasteful and restrained. I found some snowflake lights in Ikea, to go with my crocheted snowflakes, and I also have some lovely Swarovski snowflake decorations that my in-laws have given us every year since we were married. And that will be all. No tinsel, no baubles, no flashing colours, no tat! I will put it on the little side table next to my sofa, and admire it daily.

I've only made eleven so far; I'm aiming for about twenty-five. I've got plenty to choose from, though, as they are from Caitlin Sainio's 100 Snowflakes to Crochet. It has beginner, intermediate and advanced designs, but even the advanced ones have no more than 8 rounds to work, and most of them only have 4 or 5 rounds. Which makes them really quick makes, and so satisfying. There is a lot of information on how to block them properly, too, along with hints on yarns and hooks to use. I love dipping into it, as I can be holding my finished snowflake in less than ten minutes!

Which reminds me - gotta make more snowflakes!

Just a peek at one of my upcoming posts...a red lipstick review.


Sunday, 9 November 2014

Joan Crawford Dinner Party

I went to a dinner party hosted by Joan Crawford last night, and, naturally, dressed for the occasion. Of course Joan Crawford wasn't there, but she there was in spirit.

This virtual dinner party was to launch the Cooking With Joan Crawford, recipes from the kitchen of Hollywood's greatest star. It is the brainchild of Jenny Hammerton, of Silver Screen Suppers, a food blog, but a very special one as it only features recipes from the golden age of Hollywood. She is also one of my Shellac Sisters, and one of the funniest people I have ever met.

We didn't do the complete menu: We left out the appetizer and dessert, but made up for it with more cocktails (like the Cosmo cocktail).

A demure start to the evening.

The main course was absolutely delicious, the Roquefort topping on the steak was awesomely artery-clogging.

The cat got very excited.

So did we. 

I wore my Joan Crawford over a 30s satin gown (actually, a slip). My husband is wearing a cardigan I knitted for him, too.

We had a blast. I'm just glad there wasn't too much prep and cleanup involved, as the Cosmo cocktails we drank as an aperitif and digestif were lethal!

Thank you Jenny!

Wednesday, 5 November 2014

We're Gonna Hang Out The Washing On The Knitted Line - Part 2

Bored of the knits yet? I'm not. In fact these posts have made me realise I haven't got nearly enough! And these aren't even all of them, but the others are either duller colours, or cardigans (which are tricky to hang on a line).

I've been longing for some colder weather, and at last I can start wearing my woolens again.

I'll start with 'Embroidered With Tiny Flowers', from, you guessed it - A Stitch In Time. I knitted this before the new edition was even photographed. In fact, I finished it just before the first shoot in February 2008, and took it with me. It was a hit with Susan Crawford, and it ended up in the book. I knit it in the first (and only) size from the original pattern.

Unfortunately, you can't always rely on vintage patterns being free of errors, which is one of the reasons I now prefer to knit patterns from updated versions of vintage knitwear. To put in excess of 40 hours into a jumper, then for it to turn out the wrong size is a little infuriating. That's not to say you can't ever work from an original pattern, and even size it up or down, you just need to know what you're doing. I still have a recent example of this on the needles (When Jumpers Go Bad, from June 8th).

The tiny flowers were the first embroidery I had attempted, and they were sweet and fun to do at first. However, after a few hours I realised I wasn't even halfway through. Still, it got done, and I was thrilled with the result. I used Drops Alpaca which is super cheap, and made it for less than £20! Alpaca gets bloody hot though; I've worn it dancing, and I bake.

Here is 'Such Flattering Puff Sleeves', in Jamieson & Smith 2 ply jumper yarn.

This strong mustard shade for 'Such Flattering Puff Sleeves' is long discontinued by Rowan now (Scottish Tweed 4 ply - I was lucky to get it in the sale). One of the simplest knits you could ever undertake, which makes it a really satisfying beginner project. I would strongly suggest knitting shoulder pads in the same yarn, or all that knitting will be wasted without the puff. Also, unlike so many vintage patterns from the 1930s which require 3 ply wool, this calls for a 4 ply. A plethora of yarn choices!

The beret in the middle is the pattern I mentioned being photographed in my last post. It's now almost ready to go, if I can stop stressing about any mistakes and the layout of the pattern. It's not like it's a new design - it's from 2006! It will probably take a bit longer. Grr.

Onto the 'Eleanor Sweater' from 'The Corticelli Sweaters for Spring' booklet. It is one of Iva Rose's copies. I made this with some coned pale grey cashmere. The pink is angora, from Orkney Angora.

I have to eat my words about not trusting original patterns, but then I had no choice, this was made pre-Stitch In Time. I had to hunt around for button moulds, but they really set off the jumper. Such a simple design but so pretty. I haven't worn it that much, as again the heat factor is off-putting. It is the first and last time I have knitted with cashmere. Give me breathable wool please. Cotton's good too...and silk...

Next is my leafy green 'It Cannot Fail to Please'. I've talked about this in a previous post, so I won't go on about it. The pale green beret next to it is rather a good shade to tone with it, though. Knitted in an aran weight alpaca and silk mix, it has such a wonderful sheen and drape, even after years of wear.

Let's look at the Copley's wartime jumper again. The pattern calls for 3 ply 'Excelsior' or 'Climax' wool. I'd certainly get excited if I could get my hands on that wool now! I knitted it in 'supersoft' lambswool from the Handweaver's Studio. It's not actually soft - it's quite scratchy, in fact, but I don't mind. It holds its shape better than softer yarns. The colour I used is no longer available, and I recently bought some to try out the tension for a skirt. It's not strictly a 4 ply, but nearer a 3 ply. I wouldn't recommend it without stringent tension swatching. You have been warned.

It comes on cones - what is it about me and cones? I couldn't get enough of them back then. I took along my 1940s floral dress to the shop to match the colour so I could pair them up.

(Sorry, but this is one of the only pics I have of me wearing it!)

I knitted some shoulder pads for it, even though the original doesn't have them. I think
it suits the short-sleeved version. The velvet ribbon finishes it off (along with some badges).

To finish: 'The Rose Jumper', a very special knit for me, which features on the cover of A Stitch In Time.

The silk and big sleeves make it quite heavy on the washing line, but it is a beauty.

I'm a bit knitted-out now, so I need to rest before Saturday when I am going to a Joan Crawford dinner party - a virtual one! - to mark the launch of the Joan Crawford cookbook by Silver Screen Suppers. I'm particularly looking forward to making the Joan Crawford cocktail. And taking some funny pictures of the cooking and drinking while wearing my own Joan Crawford.

I hope you liked my knitted washing line. I've enjoyed doing it, and writing about it.


Sunday, 2 November 2014

We're Gonna Hang Out The Washing On The Knitted Line - Part 1

I haven't had a chance to photograph many knits recently, I've been trying to finish a few designs. One is almost ready to share, and I did get my brother and my long suffering husband to take some shots of it. I'm now in the process of uploading it to Ravelry, which seems to be much more complicated than it should be, but then I am no expert on these things - I'm still finding my way around this laptop. Here is the song this post is based on if you want to have a listen:

We're Gonna Hang Out the Washing On The Seigfried Line

I wanted to try some more outdoor shots, so these were taken in the morning in my garden. I was constantly trying to outrun the sun, but this is a bunch of knits old and new - all vintage patterns, of course, except the hats, which are my original designs. Naturally I want them to look vintage, but the proof is in the wearing.

Some of you might recognise this - it's Starring Stripes from the wonderful Zilredloh's blog. Finished at last - I only started it in March! I am so pleased with the colours, I got an almost perfect match to the original. It did come out slightly big, but I thought it might, with my use of a 'sportweight' wool, (which I think is equivalent to a heavy 4 ply? Please correct me if I am wrong). The main natural shade is 3 ply but the rest are all 4 ply. So it does make a difference. Luckily the jumper is worn with a little ease, so I can get away with it. Next to it you will see a hat to match. I couldn't resist, I had just enough yarn left. It is one of my new patterns called 'Hat With A Tilted Brim'.

Please excuse the camera phone pic. 

Didn't quite outrun the sunshine here... The yellow 'blouse' is from The Lux Book, 1940 I think. Knitted it years ago, it's a teensy bit snug now. My good pal Wozza shot it for me back in 2008.

In the glamorous location of Cannes - sorry, Cafe Rouge in Southgate.

This wool is from a cone, 3 ply or finer, turned out too short for Long Torso T, but great with vintage sailor pants.

Here it is being worn with a flying baby. At a 78 record fair, obviously.

Back to my washing line. On the left is another knit from A Stitch In Time Vol 1 - 'Such a Debonair Little Jumper'. Knit in a fine alpaca, it is super soft. On the far left, you can just see a grey hat with a jaunty bow, and in the middle another hat in Fenella, in shade Chalk. These are two more of my 'Hat With A Tilted Brim'.

Here is 'Such a Debonair Little Jumper' with ribbons threaded through (left), or accessorised with vintage dress clips and a baby Gladstone. (Right).


I'll leave you with me cheesing it up at The Blitz Party after a few too many Gin & Its. This little magenta beauty is from a 1940 Copleys leaflet. I know it is from 1940 because the original owner pencilled it at the top in very neat handwriting - Feb 29th 1940.

I'll show you the rest of my washing line in my next post, and a bit more about this Copley's creation.


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