Thursday, 8 December 2011

Skyrim cross stitch

Proving very popular with the lovely Etsy folk: a FUS RO DAH cross stitch sampler. If you don't play The Elder Scrolls V - Skyrim, then you are probably staring blankly at the screen, or trying to work out the anagram.

To those in the know, FUS RO DAH is a mighty dragon shout, and just the sort of thing deserving of a sparkly gold frame and delightful cross stitch sampler. If you'd like one for your wall, head on over to my Etsy shop.

Thursday, 24 November 2011

Mabel Lucie Attwell knitting patterns

After yesterday's post about 1920s baby and maternity wear, Marigold (from Mellow Fruitfulness blog) pointed out that the illustrations were very similar in style to Mabel Lucie Atwell, and she also told me that Atwell had designed knitting patterns for Jaeger. And here is one! Children's Woollies, published circa 1925, featuring Atwell's Jaeger Twins on the cover.

Originally part of Leach's Sixpenny Knitting Series, this hard-to-find pattern is now worth slightly more than sixpence. A copy had been sold at Bloomsbury Auctions this year as part of a small collection of children's books for £400. Better start saving, or praying to the Jumble Sale Fairy...

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

1920s baby clothes

Weldon's Simple Baby Clothes and Materity Wear - a broadsheet-sized home-dressmaking magazine from the late 1920s, and a fascinating glimpse into the glamorous world of what the well-dressed tot and ma were sporting.

"Surely there is no more delightful task than preparing an outfit for the Little Stranger. The wee garments are so dainty and easy to make, and as we stitch into them all the best wishes in the world, we wonder perhaps if we are working for some small boy or girl who will one day become a national hero or heroine."

Long, simple gowns were de rigeur for the newly arrived Little Stranger: "Dainty and protective with bonnet for Miss, or Hat for Master."

Styles for older children echo the adult fashions of the 1920s - I love this little cloche hat. "Dainty frock in Ayesha or washing silk and Coat and Bonnet of velour, etc." Ages 6 months to 2 years.

Children aged 6 months to 5 years could wear this elegant hat: "Fashion votes for a silk or satin Bonnet, with gauged crown and cuff brim, to match her coat, and she will be so smart. A tiny daisy spray from transfer No 14102 will be pleasing on the brim".

Mummies, of course, were not to be outdone in the maternity fashion pages. Long, flowing dresses and coats to accentuate the 1920s ideal androgynous figure, and not a baby bump in sight.

"I'm eight months pregnant, you know."
"It shows, my dear, you are looking simply elephantine."

Monday, 14 November 2011

Brown jumpers

Brown autumn jumpers. Here, two 1970s families model a variety of shades of brown, from yellowish to deep russet. Perfect camouflage if you are planning on hiding in a pile of leaves and jumping out and scaring people.

Children always look slightly uneasy in knitting patterns like these. You can tell that those people aren't really mummy and daddy. That little girl on the Templetons pattern is thinking "I'm holding a stranger's hand!" The little boy on the Ladywood pattern is having to pull off the double whammy of putting his hand on a strange girl's shoulder while looking amused that fake daddy is looking at fake mummy. Give him an Oscar!

Christmas orders

Last posting date for Christmas from the UK to the USA is 9th December, by airmail. I'm already getting busy so if you'd like a custom knitting or cross stitch order, please let me know as soon as possible, I would hate for anyone to miss out!

Wednesday, 19 October 2011

Fingerless mitts

Here's an evolutionary dead-end from the Glove family tree. These fingerless mitts from Bestway have an opening for a thumb, the index finger, and then the remainder of the fingers. The modern evolutionary forms of the fingerless glove have only a thumb-hole and a finger hole, or finger-holes for every digit.

Why did this form of glove never really catch on? I suppose there's no real advantage in having just one finger enclosed. Unlike this scooter glove, where the enclosed finger gives you more control over your throttle, the poor Bestway fingerless mitt had little to offer humanity and can now only be found, stuffed, in museums.

Thursday, 13 October 2011

Tip-toppers hats

I couldn't resist these little spring hats from Needlework Illustrated magazine. Yes, I know it's the autumn, but at this time of year I think a pretty, colourful hat is just the job to lift the spirits. So here are "Tip-Toppers to knit and crochet with that May Morning air". No date on the magazine, but I think we're in the late 1940s or early 1950s here.

From the top right, working clockwise: "Sally the teenager wears a horse's tail of tambourine bright ribbons a-swish from the top of her knitted cap."

"Helen comes to town smartly hatted... in a fetching little model of crunchy knitting made with lustrous cotton thread."

"Joanne the sophisticate suits the set of a knitted Jelly Bag to occasion and mood - here formal, informal."

"Rosemary frames pretty head in curving crochet. Easy-to-make style in wool... Good in bright, decisive colours."

Is it just me, or was Needlework Illustrated's copywriter hitting the gin by the time she got to Joanne? Isn't that just random words?

Wednesday, 12 October 2011

Captain Jack Sparrow doll

The very talented Simon Dack came and took some photos of me and my Pirates of the Caribbean dolls yesterday. Here's a few of Captain Jack enjoying a windy day on the beach in Worthing - I think the bluster gives his hair a real action hero look.

Which is more than can be said for my hair, in most of the shots I looked like Professor Trelawney's unkempt cousin. But I like this one of me and Jack hanging out in a rusty beach shelter on the prom.

I'm working on the pattern for Captain Jack at the moment and hope it have it in my Etsy shop very soon.

Thursday, 6 October 2011

Etsy likes cake

Over the moon to have my Facebook Cake button cross stitch sampler promoted on Etsy's Twitter and Facebook feeds yesterday. Loads of lovely comments and new followers on Etsy and Twitter! Fantastic.

Wednesday, 5 October 2011

Like Cake cross stitch

Like cake? Like Facebook? Then you will definitely like stitching this cross stitch sampler.

The Cake button in the photo is worked in cross stitch, with a half-cross stitch background, on 14 count aida fabric.

You can buy the pattern from my Etsy shop. And you can buy the awesome cakes in the photo from Parklife Cafe, Bath Place, Worthing, UK. If you're ever in Worthing, don't miss Parklife's cakes... very special.

Tuesday, 4 October 2011

Warming up the Home Front, 1943

From Good Housekeeping magazine, 1943 - "some simple home recipes that add warmth and variety to a wilting wardrobe".

"Take a dated glamour-jacket of long-haired fur and bring to a high standard of usefulness with a few pieces of firmly-woven fabric. Add deep cuffs to the three-quarter or seven-eighths sleeves, drawn into a buttoned band, stitch a scarf-length to the collarless neck and gather the lower edge into a snug waistband, buttoning at front."

Hate fur, love the shape of this jacket. I wonder if it could be done with a modern three-quarter length faux fur jacket? It would have to have huge padded shoulders, though. That is so key to the shape: boxy shoulders, nipped in waist.

Tuesday, 27 September 2011

Busy jumper

I like the way that this photo from The Art of Knitting (Eve Harlow, 1977) comes with its own caption: "A man's sweater based on an 18th century carpet from Alsace". I also like the way that the man's face makes it very clear that he wishes that the jumper was based on something else entirely. Like, say, something plain and blue.

Oddly enough, I remember a similarly patterned carpet gracing the floor of the Odeon cinema during my teenage years (I didn't grow up in 18th century Alsace: this was Surrey, in the 1980s).

Sex Pistols cross stitch

Really enjoying cross stitch as an alternative to knitting at the moment - stops me developing RSI and it's quick and entertaining. Here's a Sex Pistols Pretty Vacant cross stitch sampler in candy pink shades. Visit my Etsy shop for more cross stitch - also taking custom orders.

Monday, 19 September 2011

Boring Brian Eno cross stitch

Do Something Boring - one of Brian Eno's Oblique Strategies rendered in cross stitch. Not just for Eno acolytes: the perfect soothing Victorian-style accessory for any post-modern corner of the home.

For best results, listen to Music For Airports and have a nice, weak cup of tea while staring out of the window in a meaningful way. I won't tell anyone that you're just thinking about what you're going to have for supper.

Available in my Etsy shop.

Thursday, 15 September 2011

Please Don't Do Coke in the Bathroom

Here's my mock-Victorian Please don't do coke in the bathroom cross stitch sampler, worked in faded blues and reds on a crisp white background.

Just the job if you have a problem with Victorian gentlemen abusing your facilities. Available now in my Etsy shop as a special custom order.

Tuesday, 6 September 2011

18th Century Pin Cushion

From Eve Harlow's book The Art of Knitting - a knitted pin cushion from the 18th century. This one was knitted on fine steel needles, using silk thread. The braid was probably hand-woven on a loom.

Harlow says that in 18th century England, knitting was a very fashionable past-time, with knitters competing with each other to create ever more elaborate designs, using finer and finer yarn. Despite the elaborate designs, there was a real elegance and constraint to 18th century hand knitting. As the 19th century dawned, however, elegance and constraint flew out of the window and florid colours became all the rage - probably a precursor to the colourful acrylic days of the 1970s...

A knitted pin cushion could be a good starter project for someone taking the first steps in designing their own patterns - a simple rectangle with initials worked in larger gauge yarn would be in the spirit of the 18th century cushion but without the tiny needles.

Friday, 5 August 2011

A conventional pullover

A beautifully-tinted knitting booklet from Woman and Home magazine, dating from what looks like the late 1940s or early 1950s. Wholesome woolies for all the family, although knitting adult-sized long-sleeved jumpers in 4-ply is not my idea of a "quick knit".

The rather doubtful looking man in the middle is sporting "His New Knitted Pullover" - "He will like a pattern but the shape must be conventional". I think he's having second thoughts about the pattern and is dreading the manly teasing he'll be in for down the pub tonight.

Friday, 22 July 2011

Ukulele tote bags

Now, I don't usually feature lovely new things for sale on this blog, but I'm going to make an exception for Ivy Arch's ukulele tote bags, which have their fabric feet so firmly planted in the 1970s that I can almost hear the Bay City Rollers.

Ivy Arch is taking these little beauties off to the Hollesley Ukefest this weekend but maybe if you ask her nicely she will make you some more. The bags are made from scraps of vintage fabric with a life-size uke applique. Lovely.

Monday, 18 July 2011

Kitchen cover-ups

There's this peculiar British fetish for creating covers for things that really do not need to have covers (see this embroidered Radio Times cover for proof). Here's a project from Stitch By Stitch magazine, 1980, showing you how to keep your toaster "clean and tidy under a smart cotton cover".

It's a simple project, using only rectangles of cotton fabric, interfacing and bias piping, but the question has to be asked: does anyone actually need one of these? Is a toaster really such an irritating item of shame that it needs to be hidden away between uses? Maybe you could make a bigger version of this to hide your oven and fridge, too. That would be rather good, actually.

Tuesday, 5 July 2011

Chadds of Lowestoft 1973 catalogue

Here is a rare glimpse into a world of 1970s acrylic wonder - the Chadds of Lowestoft yarn catalogue. With a vintage knitting pattern, you can only see the colours that the stylists chose to use for their cover photo, but this catalogue reveals the whole range of shades available to a 1973 knitter equipped with needles, knitting bag, and the Chadds Knitting For Leisure book.

You may want to put on some sunglasses now, before going any further.

Here we have a selection of colours available in Bri-Nylon Super Crimp (100% nylon). I think my favourites are Orangeade and Clematis.

Carlton Tricel Nylon (70% Tricel, 30% Nylon) sports an equally colourful rainbow of man-made colours:

Hopton 4 Ply (60% Courtelle, 40% Nylon) is probably the most vibrant of all, with Peacock and Signal Red still zinging off the page despite their age:

Babies, however, had to make do with this wishy-washy selection of pastel shades, in either 100% Cortelle ("wears and washes well so that any baby looks a dream") or in 100% Bri-Nylon ("for the mum who really cares"). Maybe the fear was that brighter colours would keep babies awake at night. They can progress on to Orangeade and Clematis when they are older, and stronger.

One point of local interest for me is that the happy bowlers on the cover are strutting their stuff in a bowling alley in Worthing, West Sussex - my home town. You can just make out posters for Supreme Fours, Worthing, and Ambassador Lanes, Worthing, behind young Hermione Granger, here.

Friday, 1 July 2011

Jane Austen costume drama dolls

One for the Sense and Sensibility fans - here's my Colonel Brandon doll, accompanied by Marianne Dashwood. Both are for sale in my Etsy shop - you can see more photos of them there, too. I'm thinking of working on more Jane Austen and costume drama characters in the future. The costumes are just so much fun to knit up.

If you're an Alan Rickman fan, you may also like my Severus Snape doll, who you can visit over at the Slytherin House Knitting Club, along with my Lucius and Draco Malfoy, Voldemort, and Harry dolls. You can buy patterns for all of the Harry Potter dolls from ye olde Etsy shoppe.

Thursday, 30 June 2011

Jenny Linsky cat

I made this Jenny Linsky black cat with red scarf for a customer on Etsy, and I like it so much, I think I might make one for myself. If you'd like one, too, I'm taking orders in my Etsy shop.

I was unaware of Esther Averill's charming cat books until making this order, but loved the illustrations so much that I have ordered myself a copy. The illustrations are full of mischief and life - drawn by someone who has clearly spent a lot of time surrounded by lively cats.

This is one of the things I enjoy so much about custom orders - it's a two-way process. My customers get to enjoy the hand-made item that can't be bought off the shelf in a shop, and sometimes I discover new artists, books, or films that I've never heard of before.

Tuesday, 28 June 2011

Wartime jumper

A pattern from the Second World War, kindly donated to the Knit For Victory archives by the King of Empty Shops, Mr Dan Thompson. Our model dons his tin helmet and kit bag and fixes his stern gaze on some ne'er-do-well Johnnies in the distance.

"Here is a long-sleeved pullover that every man will welcome, whether he needs it for Service or home wear. It will be particularly popular because of its Raglan sleeves which men always find so comfortable to wear; also because of its splendid fit and the fact that it gives no feeling of bulkiness."

There's something about the haircut, pose, and geometrical lines of the background that presages Kraftwerk's Man Machine cover by about 30 years.

Wednesday, 22 June 2011

1950s bottle cap crochet

Big thanks to Erin from Rocker Magazine who sent me this awesome Coats and Clarke's Modern Trends booklet from the 1950s. You know how sometimes you open up a craft book and you just want to make absolutely everything in it? This is one of those moments.

With an infinite amount of time, yarn, and patience on my hands, I would start by making the hairpin lace curtains shown on the front cover. (Note: infinite amount of yarn = 120 balls of Coats and Clarke's "Speed-Cro-Sheen" mercerized cotton in Canary Yellow). The curtains are made by working strips of hairpin lace in different widths and then joining them together to create a 15 feet wide drape of incredible 1950s fantasticness.

With an infinite amount of bottle tops at my disposal, I would love to make this pineapple-shaped table mat to "dress up my dinette". Or maybe the rectangular place mat and hot plate set. Both are made by covering metal bottle caps with tight rounds of crochet, gathered together under each bottle cap to create a motif. Now, I'll need 153 bottle caps to make this, so I'd better go and start drinking that fizzy pop...

Monday, 6 June 2011

Tank tops

From Patons Kingfisher, 4 ply crepe: cheeky 1970s ladies eyeing up each others bosoms, or rather, lack of bosoms.

"Clingy little crochet tops to suit your mood - one in a feminine lacy style with button-trim at waist, and the other in a slimline vest with a difference." The difference being a granny square worked into the front of the top.

I do like the matching hat, which is made out of five granny squares, and then worked round in double crochet (that's single crochet to those of you in the USA), decreasing as you go to make the top of the hat.

Monday, 9 May 2011

Battle of the Cushions

There's a lot to like in this collection of cushions from 1974's Family Circle Yours For The Making magazine. Clara Bow, the multi-coloured patchwork cushion, is a very glamorous way of using up a stash of scraps. That retro 1920s style with a 1970s twist is so evocative of the period and would look fantastic on a boudoir bedroom chair.

Mr and Mrs Panda, on the other hand, are minimalist amigurumi marvels. They are made out of felt, machine sewn round the edge seams, and eyes and face details are felt scraps stuck on with Copydex.

The Cottage Cushion hasn't aged as well (and is that an oil slick, or a dark spooky fog blighting the scene on the right hand side?). Esmerelda the Elephant is fun, but would look even better in a clashing 1970s floral fabric. For me, Mr and Mrs Panda win the 1974 battle of the cushions. I could make a joke about them knocking the stuffing out of the opposition, but I am feeling restrained and mature this morning, so I won't.

Tuesday, 3 May 2011

Uptight spring fashion

There was a period in late 1950s/ early 1960s Britain when this was as relaxed as things got vis-a-vis spring fashion. Our model has opted for a 3-ply cardigan, stepping down from the more wintery double knitting woollie, but please note that in true Brit fashion, the cardie is still buttoned all the way up to the neck.

Judging by that palm tree in the background, our model is clearly on an exotic tropical holiday, and may soon undo the top two buttons of her cardigan in order to hit the beach. She is reading a book about the local cuisine and is having to hold onto a chair for added support. Garlic in absolutely everything. Crikey.

Saturday, 16 April 2011

Acorn buttons

A very cute idea from The Brownie Annual, 1960 - how to make buttons for your cardigan using acorns glued into their cups, or small conkers.

1960 was clearly a bit of a low point for British women, who were deemed incapable of boring two holes in an acorn or conker. Brownies were warned that "you must ask Daddy to bore two holes in each to take the sewing thread".

Mummies were most likely to start crying or sever a limb or two if asked to do anything as taxing as poking a darning needle through a conker. Luckily, times have changed and these days you can ask either Mummy or Daddy to help you. Hurrah for progress!

Tuesday, 5 April 2011

More disembodied heads

Yes, gentle reader, it's time for more disembodied heads. These two are probably the offspring of the two ladies who made their own Airlyne stair carpet. The girls have learnt to hover, ghost-like, above their knitted or crocheted ponchos worked up in ethereal cream. You'd certainly be in for a fright if one of these apparitions drifted through your wall, with no sound save for the gentle rustle of acrylic fibre.

Interested to see that this Twilley's pattern came from the Wool - Baa in Chadwell Heath, Essex. Was this a 1970s relative of Worthing's premier knitting shop, The Wool Bar? Or is it merely proof that there are only a certain number of wool-related puns in the world which we are destined to experience over and over again until we are released from this mortal coil and drift off to who-knows-where with a rustle of ponchos...

Thursday, 24 March 2011

Alarmist knitting advert

A scare-mongering knitting ad from the 1950s, warning mothers that spring is not all sunshine and daffodils. Don't put those winter woolies away just yet, mother! In fact, you'd better knit a pram set or two - "knit one now just as a precaution against these early Spring cold spells, put it away during the Summer, and when you bring it out in September it will still fit baby the whole Winter through!"

Either babies didn't grow as quickly in the 1950s as they do now, or that is one stretchy baby outfit. A rather desperate attempt by Bairns-Wear to encourage a frantic burst of knitting activity before the traditional summer lull.

Wednesday, 9 March 2011

I made my own stair carpet

Two slightly manic-looking disembodied heads discuss the merits of making your own Airlyne stair carpet. I suppose that if you are a disembodied head then having a nice stair carpet is very important, as you are going to be looking at it more closely than most as you bounce up and down the stairs.

The Airlyne machine was a sturdy table-top rug and carpet-making machine, which promised "easy and economical" results using Axminster materials. Now that's an impressive craft project - especially if you are a disembodied head.

Tuesday, 1 March 2011

Cat-proof wool

An innovative idea from the early 1950s by Torpedo Wools - plastic-wrapped balls of yarn. "Protected when you buy them, protected when you carry them, protected when you knit them" - judging from the illustrations, the idea was to pull your yarn out through a little hole in the bag, and knit with your ball of wool still wrapped in the cellophane.

Note the frustrated tabby kitten, desperately trying to paw the goodies within but thwarted by the mighty power of cellophane. Tough luck, tabby kitten, and better luck next time.

Friday, 18 February 2011

Patsy's Reflections

Patsy's Reflections is a spiral bound paperback from the early 1950s, collecting together a series of strips that ran in the Daily Mirror newspaper. The strip's heroine is Patsy, a young housewife struggling to learn to cook and manage a house under wartime rationing conditions. Most of the strips focus on her culinary adventures ("Dad's GI friend told me about these Franconia Parsnips - sit you down dear, and watch!") but later in the series, Patsy becomes pregnant with her first child and the recipes make way for baby care advice.

Above, Patsy and her mother discuss the most economical way of clothing the new arrival - "don't buy too many things - why not make them? Nicer, and cheaper too!" Patsy and her mother didn't have a global sweatshop industry manufacturing clothes for them at very little cost.

Love the big knitting-related hug in the last panel. That baby is going to be very well clothed.