Friday, 25 September 2015

Free Pattern Friday - 'Corrugated Stripes'

This pattern is from the Woman's Journal 7th Book of Knitting and Crochet from 1935. (I think).

This is a scanned pattern from the British Library's archives. Actually it is a picture from my phone, as I forgot to scan this magazine, and quickly took some pics before having to give it back. I hope the text is clear enough.

I chose it because it is a very simple design, suitable for a beginner. It has 'magyar' sleeves (I love that word), which means the jumper is knitted up and over, with the sleeves cast on as part of it. Which also means no sewing up of shoulder seams, or sleeves eased into armholes - hooray!

I have only knitted one jumper in this style before, and loved it. I have also done baby matinee jackets and jumpers in this 'magyar' style, as it was very popular in the 1930s and 1940s.

Image courtesy of Alistair McCaskill

This is a pattern from a Beehive booklet from the 1930s, suggestively named 'Interlude'.

The pattern for ' Corrugated Stripes' is a simple 6 row repeat, with just knit and purl rows. The yarn used is equivalent to a modern 4 ply going by the tension. For a larger size, you could try using a DK weight, but go up a needle size too.

There are so many lovely patterns I want to share from the British Library, but I am finding the scanning very tricky, as Caroline (The Sunny Stitcher) has mentioned before. It is hard to get the bound copies to lay flat without damaging them, and I am so loathe to do that, as many are already in such a fragile state. There is also a problem with glare from the scanner, which affects the text, but by tilting the magazine it seems to help. It is a trial and error process, which I will persevere with; weighting the pages down with tiny sand bags, beads and my hand obscured under black paper!

I hope you like it.


Thursday, 17 September 2015

Rendezvous at the Russian Tea Rooms

I've been invited to the launch party for a book called Rendezvous at the Russian Tea Rooms by Paul Willetts.

Image courtesy of Paul Willetts

The book tells the story of a little-known yet significant espionage episode, most of which took place between May 1939 and May 1940. It focuses on three central characters: Anna Wolkoff was an haute couture fashion designer whose clients included the Duchess of Windsor, and who was also a spy for the Nazis. Tyler Kent was a womanising American diplomat who also doubled as a Soviet spy. Maxwell Knight was an urbane and eccentric spy hunter with MI5. The lives of these three characters became entwined as they moved amongst London's elite society during the first part of World War II, jeopardising the secrets of the wartime government.

Back in January, the book's author, Paul Willets, contacted me about being the model for the cover of the book. Unfortunately, I was in the midst of a horrid chest infection (which has left me with permanent damage to my lungs). I was in total denial about how sick I really was until just before the shoot was about to take place. I let him down terribly at the last minute, with only a weekend to find another model (which, thankfully, he did). I loaned him some dresses that belonged to an actor friend, Emma Bown (below). When he stopped at the house to pick them up, he brought me a huge box of chocolates. Instead of being cross - which he had every right to be - he was so thoughtful and kind. A true gentleman.

Image courtesy of Guy Myhill & Paul Willetts

This is Emma Bown, and she is in the trailer for the book, here.

I'm looking forward to dressing in something from the late 1930s, and having a fun night out. My good chum Simone will be accompanying me, and undoubtedly she will be dressed beautifully, as always. I predict by the end of the evening we will be in Cahoots!


Friday, 11 September 2015

My journalistic debut for In Retrospect magazine

I have become a 'reader' at the British Library, and a 'writer' for In Retrospect magazine.

The former feeds my need to look at vintage knitting patterns all day long. (It doesn't fulfill my need to own them, but I'm hoping that will follow, before I have to re-mortgage the house to pay for them).

The latter is something I have never done before, and it was one of the hardest things I have ever undertaken. Anyone who thinks writing is a doddle is either a natural, a genius, or has never tried. I have so much respect for good writing. Many of my friends make it look effortless, from music journalists to novelists.

Mat Keller asked me to write a piece about the music of the 1930s after hearing me play it at my house when he came to interview and photograph me for his Southern Retro series for In Retrospect magazine. He had also seen the Shellac Sisters in action at the Rivoli Ballroom several years ago. I kept jumping up and changing the song every 3 minutes, and I expect my passion for the hot dance music of the 1930s became apparent, if somewhat annoying. It was really important for me to have the music I love playing while being photographed wearing clothes from that time. (It helped with the nerves, as it was still too early for cocktails!)

Image Mat Keller for the Southern Retro Collection

Naturally I chose to wear knitteds. This is my cable jumper, a Copley's pattern from 1940, worn over my now threadbare 1940's day dress.

Image Mat Keller for the Southern Retro Collection

The hat is a design I haven't released yet, called 'Hat with a Tilted Brim'. It is crocheted in Fenella 2 ply wool, by Susan Crawford Vintage.

Image Mat Keller for the Southern Retro Collection

The wool cupboard, in its untidy state. (Did you notice the moth killer at the back? Oops.) Here I'm wearing a 30's full length floral dress, which is a favourite, and goes very well with my 'Draped Beret'.

Image Mat Keller for the Southern Retro Collection

Here I am on a typical day, lounging on the sofa, reading The Needlewoman, and deciding where to lunch (I wish). I'm wearing The Rose Jumper from A Stitch in Time Vol 1.

I got very nervous when the magazine arrived, but my article was there, as well as the Southern Retro interview. There was a lovely article by Miriam McDonald about vintage caravans, and why they make such a great holiday choice for accommodation. I also enjoyed her piece in the last issue about Jazz Age holidays, which included the hotel I long to visit - The Burgh Island Hotel.

It was grand meeting Mat, and we had a good chat about everything from babies to bakelite, and, of course, 78s and vintage knits.


Sunday, 6 September 2015

New Hat Designs on Etsy

With the E17 Autumn Designers' Market coming up in early October, I have been busy making hats and brooches to sell.

I have now put up some more patterns on Etsy. Here's the link.

I was a bit nervous about A Draped Beret as it is my first design for a beret in crochet, but I have been rigorous with the testing, and the checking of the pattern (over and over), and it is ready.

My little shop is starting to take shape, I just need to add a few more brooch patterns, and I'll be happy with it.

Have a look, and let me know what you think. (If there are glaring errors, eek)!

We had another Mixtape last night, so I need to lie down now and try to recover from the wine.

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