Saturday, 28 January 2017

Mending

A friend has been sorting out her mother's things, and found a stocking mending kit and other sewing bits and pieces that she has offered to the Knitting & Crochet Guild.

Roz's mother had a collection of stocking mending threads, in a very nice little basket.  I was impressed by the number of different shades of light brown, as well as a pale blue and a pink.  (The photo doesn't show the entire contents of the basket, by the way - there were several other spools of thread in it.)


Roz thought that the basket might have belonged to her grandmother originally.  It has certainly been a long time since stocking-mending was an important part of looking after your appearance - and silk stockings haven't been everyday wear for women since before the Second World War.


The strange object that was in the basket along with the mending threads is called a 'Speedweve'.


We couldn't guess what it was for, but Tom of Holland has one that came with the original instructions, and has very helpfully written a blog post on how to use it.  It's a very clever gadget!

Roz also found a Stocking Ladder Darner - a tiny latchet hook, still in its packaging.  (Critchley Bros. made Wimberdar brand knitting needles and needle gauges, too.)




And a few things that are nothing to do with mending stockings, including a 'War Time Pack' of snap fasteners.

  

The message on the back of one strip reads: 'These Snap Fasteners are of pre-war quality.  The card ONLY is "austerity" in size and style.'

And I especially liked a box of Cash's Woven Initials:



Cash's Woven Name Tapes and Initials have been made for a very long time: I had a set of name tapes when I went to secondary school and every item of clothing was supposed to have a name tape on it.  (They were inspected at the start of every academic year.)  My sister had a set too, and so did my daughter, and you can still get them.  The roll of  'M.W.' tape that Roz's mother had seems unused  - and Roz couldn't think of any family member with those initials, so it's a bit of a mystery.

Other sides of the box advertise more Cash's products:




And I suppose now you could use Cash's name tapes to label your hand-knits.  There's even a knitting-needles-and-ball-of-wool motif  that you can choose on Cash's Designer Labels page. Tempting - except that mostly I knit things for myself, and I already know I knitted them.    

Thursday, 26 January 2017

A Stole of Many Colours

I associate granny squares with the 1970s, when crochet was popular, and so were granny squares.  I'm not really a crocheter, but in 1972 or thereabouts I made a long waistcoat of granny squares in camel and cream - it was a favourite garment.  

 But making things out of crocheted squares evidently goes back further than the 1970s.   There is a very nice example in the Knitting & Crochet Guild collection - a stole with fringed ends.


We didn't have a date for it, but then just last week we identified it in Vogue Knitting No. 47, published in Autumn 1955.   The magazine give this description: "Tile motif in bright hues brings crochet up-to-date for a heavenly stole-of-many-colours."  Garments made from granny squares often have a folksy, hippy look, but this one is very elegant.


The pattern specifies 3-ply wool, so that it's quite delicate - the squares are only 1¾ inches wide (about 4.5  cm.)   You might expect a Vogue Knitting pattern to suggest the colours to use, but it just lists 8 oz. (225g.) of a background colour and about 9 oz. (255g.) of  'various colours for the medallions'.  As you can see from the detail,  our example is very well-made - the squares are joined together very neatly.  And it has a long plaited fringe, following the pattern instructions.  (The fringe takes 7 oz. (200g.) of wool by itself.)


 It's very satisfying when we can match up a piece in the collection and a pattern - even more so when the pattern is from Vogue Knitting, and gives us a slightly unexpected date for the piece.

One other question:  I'm sure that we didn't call them granny squares in the 1970s, at least not in this country.  When did we start using that name?  And where did it come from?

Wednesday, 18 January 2017

A Pink Tie Event

Patons 9887
Yesterday I was going through a parcel of pattern leaflets donated to the Knitting & Crochet Guild collection, when this one caught my eye.  As it would - it is very eye-catching.  The description says "This modern dress with 'kipper' tie is right up to the minute!", the minute in question being 1967, or possibly 1966.  

The dress has some nice features, if you can get yourself into a 1960s mindset - shirt-style collar and cuffs to go with the tie, and the wide point of the tie standing out against the paler pink.  And notice that it's worn with white tights, which had a moment back then.

It shows the influence of Mary Quant on 1960s fashions.  Here, for instance, is a pattern of hers issued by Patons in 1966:

Patons 9701
I browsed through other Patons patterns published about the same time, to see of there were other 'trendy' designs.  There weren't many - as always, many of the patterns were for babies and children.  And there were a lot of Aran designs - Aran jumpers were popular in the late 1960s.  And also this was a young fashion - most older women wouldn't have dreamed of wearing a minidress in 1967.    But I did find a few examples.

Patons 9943
"Twisted rib and lace patterning make this dress a winner."  I like the three different stitch patterns used in bands so that the fabric gets less dense moving from the hem to the neck.  The plain round neck is another influence from Mary Quant, I think.  (I also think that that hair isn't all her own...)

Patons 9928
You could also crochet yourself a dress - "This attractive yet easy-to-crochet dress has a lace patterned skirt and a contrasting yoke."

And you should wear your minidress with a beret.

Patons 9808
I think this dress is very nice (although again you've got a warm dress with short sleeves).  There is no waist shaping - it's just done by the change from stocking stitch to a wide rib.  Patons Bracken was a flecked wool, giving the oatmeal-y effect, which I think is really attractive.  

And to top off the outfit, you could knit the beret.  To emphasise that this was a young fashion, the pattern says that the largest size is for a girl of up to 16 years, though in fact a beret that fits a 16 year old should also fit an adult.



My sister, who was a fashion-conscious teenager at the time, had a pink angora dress (short, but with long sleeves) and a matching pink beret, both knitted by our mother.  It was very warm and cosy, I'm sure, though it probably shed fibres everywhere.  The dress is long gone, but I think I may still have the beret.   I shall look.

Friday, 13 January 2017

Anniversary

The first post on this blog appeared on Wednesday 13th January 2010.  Seven years ago.  Isn't that amazing?  I'm amazed, anyway.  I never expected to be still writing blog posts.  The original idea was just to find out something about blogs and blogging by trying it for myself - I'm sure I didn't imagine that I would carry on blogging for so long.



In that first post, I showed this photo of a Fair Isle pullover I knitted for John in the early 80s, before I stopped knitting for a long long time. Since 2010, the pullover has had an exciting time - I lent it to Lydia who used to own Spun in Huddersfield (still open, but with a new owner).  She started to sell Jamieson's Shetland, and wanted some examples of Fair Isle knitting to inspire customers.  I lent her John's pullover, and a sweater from the same book by Sarah Don that I had knitted for myself, and they were on display in the shop for most of a year.  Lydia said that many customers admired them, and several wanted to buy the pullover.  Now we have them both back at home, I think perhaps we ought to start wearing them again....

Back to my anniversary.  Now that I've been writing this blog for seven years, I can see that I have managed to write about 70 posts a year.  It's been quite consistent - the minimum is 66, the maximum 76.  This is despite my best intentions to write more often.  Must try harder, and I'll see how I've done this time next year.

Wednesday, 11 January 2017

Twined Knitting in Sheringham


Last weekend I went to Sheringham youth hostel for a knitting weekend.  As last year, it was organised by the Leighton Buzzard branch of the Knitting & Crochet Guild.  The weather this year was different, though - damp, misty, quite mild, no wind.  Sea and sky were almost indistinguishable.  But a knitting weekend doesn't need sunshine and we had a very good time.

On the Friday and Saturday evenings, we sat in the lounge and knitted, had excellent dinners provided by the Youth Hostel staff, and did more knitting.  And lots of chatting.

On Saturday morning we went to The Mo, the Sheringham museum, on the sea front.


It is not open to the public in the winter, but we had a special tour behind the scenes.  The museum has recently been extended, thanks to a lottery grant, and we were shown how the new storage areas are being used.  We saw some wonderful ganseys, too - some modern ones that we could handle, and others from the museum's collection.  One particularly fine gansey dates from the 1950s - the knitting is meticulously neat, with 14 stitches to the inch, I was told.  (Didn't manage to get a decent photo, I'm afraid.)

 In the afternoon, we had workshops back at the Youth Hostel.  I repeated the twined knitting workshop that I did for the Huddersfield branch of the Guild in December.  (And never got around to writing about - Christmas got in the way.)   I had designed a wristlet to knit in two colours of DK.  (There was also a flat piece, that you could think of as a coaster, for those people who couldn't manage knitting in the round.)  


I didn't know anything at all about twined knitting before I found that I had somehow volunteered to lead a workshop for the Huddersfield branch.  It was originally scheduled for April 2016, but postponed due to my argument with a ladder.  So I've been practising twined knitting for quite a while.  Looking back, I see that when I knitted a cuff or wristlet in twined knitting in March last year,  I said here that I didn't want to knit a second one.  But since then, I've got more enthusiastic, and I decided that over the weekend I would knit something a bit bigger, just for me.  Over the weekend (including the long train journeys there and back)  I worked on a pair of fingerless mitts.  Not in two colours this time, but using the two ends of one ball of yarn.  I love the effect of two-end knitting and the surface patterns you can make.  The mitts are going to be very warm and cosy.  More when I have finished them.

        

Thank you very much, Brigitte, for organising another really enjoyable weekend.