Thursday, 21 May 2015

E17 Art Trail

It's nearly the start of the E17 Art Trail in Walthamstow. For the first time since I've lived here, I am taking part. I'm very excited about it, but also quite nervous. My good friend Helen Reed invited me to join her for 'A Life of Skein'. We're venue number 11 on the programme.

 Photo courtesy of The Wool Kitchen

Photo courtesy of The Wool Kitchen

We will be hosting it over two days. On Friday 5th June from 10am - 3pm, and Sunday 7th June from 11am - 5pm. our aim is to 'Bring you knitting, crochet and spinning for knit and chat in the garden.'

Helen will be showcasing her hand-dyed yarns, of which she has many! In all weights, from lace weight to super chunky (above), and in a myriad of colours, solid and variegated.

I'm using a 2 ply Exmoor Blue Faced Leicester for my Moss Stitch Beret, which I will release as a pattern for the Art Trail.

It's lovely wool to knit with, super soft and fluffy.

Photo by Wozza
The Moss Stitch Beret in 4 ply alpaca.

This version is in an aran weight silk and alpaca blend.

Photo by Mike D

This is a pattern I had almost forgotten about: Pom Pom Beret. I previously released it as a kit with Abstract yarn shop in Walthamstow village, run by Alessandra Rigillo.

I'm using one of Helen's 'urban hand-dyed' yarns for this one: Another Blue Faced Leicester in an aran weight, so it knits up nice and quickly. It is a super easy pattern, perfect for a beginner. It uses only the knit stitch (garter stitch), with some decreases to shape the top. It has to have pom poms - the bigger, the better.

If you want to see more of her hand dyes, take a peek here.

Photo by Mike D

I seem to be big on the hat knitting. Hmm. Here's my 'Beret for Everyday'. This was done in Excelana, which is - you guessed it - Exmoor Blue Faced Leicester! This pattern will be available at the Art Trail, too.

Let's hope lots of people turn up, or we'll be getting through a lot of tea and cakes ourselves! If you are in Walthamstow, please do come and join us and say, 'Hello'. We aren't bitchin' (like in the photo below), we're just knitting nerds. But then, if you read this blog, you'll know that about me.

We won't be dressed like this, either. There will be more wool. A lot more. I hope it's not too warm out.


Friday, 15 May 2015

Free Pattern Friday and a year of blogging

The end of April marked a year of consistent blogging for me. I actually started this blog in 2011, and managed four posts before I let it slide. I still don't really know what my blog is about, but the consistent theme seems to be vintage knitting, interspersed with the fun things I get up to.

Sometimes, I combine the two, like on a day out with the kiddies in coordinating colours. Here's another look at my Victory Jumper, this time with shoulder pads. They just finish it off. I'm so happy with the length of the sleeves, too, just above the elbow. This was a very popular length in the 1940s, as it made it a very wool-saving alternative to long sleeves when wool was in short supply.

The free pattern this month is from the 1950s, and it's a twinset. A longish polo-neck jumper paired with a dolman-sleeved bolero.

I just love her pose on the cover, and the bold blonde highlights at the front of her tousled, bobbed hair. Quite fancy the skirt and chunky bracelet, too!

It is a larger size than usual: 35-37 inch bust. Worked in 3 ply at a tension of 7.5 sts to the inch, it would be easy to substitute a 4 ply for a slightly larger size.

It will be on the Free Vintage Patterns page, too.

I went to another International Club at the end of April, with my friend Simone. We met for dinner, and headed over for an evening of 78s and a live band. There was a vintage photo booth set up in the basement by Hanson Leatherby, a rather marvelous photographer, who specializes in vintage-style photography. I haven't seen any of the shots from that night yet, but everyone had a great time doing it, so I'm sure they will be amusing.

Simone promised vintage knitwear, and she did not disappoint. Here, she's wearing the Miss Marple coat from A Stitch In Time Vol 2, in a very sensible brown shade.

Her jumper is from a 1930s edition of Stitchcraft magazine, in D.K weight wool. She describes the shade as Sea Green, which sounds very 30s to me. She was very kind and gave me some 3 ply wool, in the same sea green shade, and some in cream. I will give it a very good home. I'm still trying to decide what pattern to knit with it. I'm wearing Embroidered With Tiny Flowers from A Stitch In Time Vol 1. I love the enormous balloon sleeves.

We had some fun in the restored pub where the night is held.

Simones' long-suffering pal Gordon took these pics of us clowning around.

On to the next night of frivolity. I'm still wearing pink, and my hair is still curly. Just fast-forward fifty years.

Mixtape was all about the Yacht Rock last month, and it gave me the perfect opportunity to wear a turquoise jumpsuit and my 'Stevie Nicks' sparkly kimono blouse.

My hair got some serious scrunching action, and I wore it to one side with a hair-comb and copious amounts of hairspray to keep it there.

My partner in crime was Magnum P.I. (see what I did there). The 'tache was pretty impressive.

There was dancing and white wine spritzers were sipped langorously.

I hope this photo thing doesn't mess with your head, my phone did it automatically.

Last month wasn't all fun and games. We had to say goodbye to our beloved puss, Mr Tibbs. He'd been with us since 2006, wandering into our garden as a stray, and becoming a very willing house cat. He was an ace mouser, too.

I'm glad I got some pictures of him before he was put to sleep. He was very ill by the end, so skinny.

He lost that eye quite recently, as a result of an infection made worse by the FIV he had. He was such a loving cat, but he shared a house with two female cats who never took to him, so there was always tension. He had a good life though, I think.


Friday, 8 May 2015

VE Day and My Victory Jumper

I finished it just in time, yesterday in fact. Frantically sewing up, voting and baking brownies with my boy, who was off school. He also took these photos. He is five.

Your Victory Jumper, a now famous pattern, put out by the Victoria & Albert museum, and available on their website. On Ravelry, there are over 100 versions of this jumper. It was actually released by Home Notes magazine in June of 1945, so you wouldn't have been able to wear it on VE day. But I can. And I'm very proud to.

I used a vintage 3 ply wool in navy, Beehive Purple Heather. The red was a Cygnet 4 ply, but it is actually closer to a 3 ply in thickness. The white was a 4 ply, pure wool. I was amazed at how far the vintage wool went, only using the 3 balls the pattern called for. Two balls of Cygnet 4 ply, and one ball of white.

I followed the pattern, but was worried it might come out slightly too wide. I kept measuring as I was increasing on the body, and it was coming out at 18 ins. I stopped increasing at 128 sts, but I needn't have bothered as when I came to pressing it, I blocked very lightly, to keep it narrow. It can be pressed wider if need be though, easily accommodating a 36 inch bust. It is shorter than the original, but I like it sitting high on the waist, rather than blousing over. I think I will knit some shoulder pads to square off the shoulders a bit.

I'm wearing a turban from The Vintage Pattern Files. It is a 1940s pattern, and inspired my own version, the Herringbone Lace Turban. This one I worked in aran/worsted weight wool, instead of the 3 ply stated in the original pattern. I'm also wearing my socks and slippers, which are just out of shot! And while I'm at it, the skirt is from Sainsburys. That's how I shop vintage these days.

My son was very interested in the VE Day parties that I told him about, and I showed him some of the black and white (and colour), footage of children packed around the tables, stuffing their little faces. He couldn't understand that there were no treats to be had, no chocolate, and NO bananas, for over five years. To be honest, I can hardly picture it. I've been thinking about it recently, just trying to imagine how ordinary women would have coped. Especially if they had families. Could I have sent my two away from London? To strangers? A few of our clients at the salon have told me their stories of that time, being about the age my children are now. One of the ladies' mothers' wouldn't send her or her brother away, but kept them in Hendon, running from air raids day and night. Another stayed with her mother just out of London, in Herfordshire, where they had WAAFs billeted with them. They weren't out of danger, though. She remembers many daytime raids while at school, which luckily had a shelter in the basement. I think a lot of children would've quite enjoyed missing a bit of school. I know this little chap below would!

The little photographer in the making

I missed a post last week, which was when I would have celebrated a year of consistent blogging, but one of our dear puss cats had to be put down. It was a very sad week. I'll catch up with all that next week, along with some pics of me and Simone at the International Club - the knitwear edition.

I'll leave you with one of my favourite tunes from the end of the war, and a image from one of those VE day parties.

I'm Going To Get Lit Up (When The Lights Go On In London) by Carroll Gibbons & His Orchestra.

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