As I uploaded a P&B Cap & Bolero pattern yesterday I had a nagging feeling I’d seen it before somewhere – then I remembered that I’d knitted the cap from it a couple of years ago.
Can’t remember what yarn I knitted it with (stupidly didn’t record it on Ravelry), but I think it was a straightforward angora, and used about 75g. It was pretty quick to knit too, although those bobbles can be a bit fiddly. Haven’t aired it in public yet – you need the right hairstyle for this and I haven’t got round to perfecting the whole look.
The bolero’s rather lovely too – fancy a go? You can buy the pattern here …
Welcome to the June edition of Skiff’s ‘Pimp My Vintage Knit’ feature … don’t hold your breath for the next one, this one took me about 14 years to finish – yes, that’s 14 years. Excuse the blurry pics, but if I wait to get around to taking another one it’ll take me another 14 years to write this blog post.
This blouse project has moved around with me in a half-finished state from house to house, country to country, sadly neglected and rejected until I delved into the bottom of a long-forgotten stash box a couple of months ago.
The Original Vogue Blouse
The pattern’s from Vogue Knitting No.48 (1956) and I seem to remember I originally had the horrible idea of attaching a white fake fur collar to it but never got around to it (some things are best left unpimped) so shoved it in a bag … procrastination has always been my middle name.
So here it is 14 years down the road, and the night after I rediscovered it I had a weird dream about red wool stitching around the collar, sleeve edges and button band and a fake pocket … et voila.
Obviously I can’t remember what wool I used although I’d never heard of Jamieson & Smith at the time so it’s pretty safe to say I probably used a bog-standard baby 3-ply. Chances are I bought it from a wonderful wool shop which used to take up a large space in Bloomsbury Way down the road from the British Museum (I lived in an attic not far from there with a delightful cockroach problem in the kitchen) and is now inevitably some hideous coffee shop.
Ah memories …
Okay so it’s finally Spring, but the British weather being what it is I always like to be prepared. Anyway, when a vintage love affair begins it doesn’t heed the seasons and this one with my swagger scarf happened accidentally like all the best romances.
So there I was writing a blog post about Stitchcraft magazine when I came across a brief article written by a knitting detractor who used vintage pattern images to illustrate their disapproval, including this 1930s Patons & Baldwins advert for a knitted scarf and I fell in love – so bold, so brave, so ’30s. I ignored the scornful comments and dove in.
The original swagger scarf
I had a search around and posted a few requests on Ravelry but couldn’t find the original anywhere so I’ve knocked up a quick pattern for anyone else who shares my crazy love. It’s really straightforward, all in garter stitch – don’t be put off by the mitred points.
I used Jamieson & Smith jumper-weight yarn as their shades matched the original exactly which was handy. In hindsight I think I’d have made it a little wider – it’s 71sts wide but I think 85 sts would have given it that extra bit of fullness you see in the original. Apart from that it came out pretty well.
Just one mystery remains – any of you fashion history bods out there tell me why it’s called the swagger scarf? I gather that the swagger coat was a popular style from the early 1900s onwards and the name suggests a freedom of movement, but how does that apply to the scarf? Answers on a faded vintage postcard to Skiff … actually an email will do.
Download Skiff’s 1930′s Swagger Scarf pattern (pdf)
It’s all kicking off on the Ravelry boards … words flying, comments censored, needles aimed … the cause? A post submitted by someone working with Vodafone in Ireland on a ‘Cheer Up Ireland’ campaign which involves a bit of urban knitting (although there’s no mention of the project on their website.)
The idea is not a new one but started out with the best of intentions by Eilish Tuite, a third year sculpture student in Limerick school of Art and Design. She is working on a project called Urban Knit, the aim of which is to cover a disused building in Limerick City. The cover will eventually be chopped up into smaller blankets and donated to St.Vincent’s Charity (hopefully washed and repaired after much exposure to the elements?), although as DeadlyKnitshade points out in her post, the charity don’t seem to be asking for knitted blankets, more ‚Äúhelp financially and/or by giving of your time‚ÄĚ.
Eilish has been calling for contributions of wool since the beginning of February, and I’m not sure whether Vodafone approached her after the project had been initiated or if it was the other way round.
Then a post popped up on Ravelry yesterday encouraging people to submit knitted squares. The contributor who started off the thread (under the username of Slkav) had joined Ravelry the same day – no profile, no knitting projects, no other contributions save this post. Their email address suggests they work for a company called Simply Zesty – an online pr and social media agency who frankly should know better.
After a few initial encouraging messages, the mood has changed as knitters have started to voice their resentment at the attempt to lure them into a corporate campaign.
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Knitting Mag February
A pretty impressive ‘Knitting’ magazine this month (February’s edition) it’s gone all vintage, using the land girls as its inspiration and including an article by vintage knitting champion Susan Crawford (one of her lovely patterns also features).
Patterns include a great 40s-inspired fair isle tank top, a gents military-style cardigan (which Mr Skiff has got his eye on) and cool satchel-style bag.¬† Must admit, not many knitting magazines inspire me to pick up my needles but this one’s making my fingers itch …
Selbu 'Sport' Mittens - not to be used for wrestling
Let it snow let it snow let it snow … mainly because I’ve finished my extremely warm graphic Selbu fair isle mittens, and just in time as it happens because there are some brass monkeys out there looking rather cross.
They were nice and quick to knit up and despite the fact that the original pattern calls for generic Germantown wool and there was no tension guide, they weren’t too hard to adapt.¬† Germantown wool is an American term for a specific yarn from Pennsylvania often used in Navajo weaving – something like DK from what I can fathom but correct me if I’m wrong. I went for something I thought would be soft and thick but fine enough to give a clear fair isle outline, so I decided on good old King Cole Merino DK.¬† As for the tension, after a couple of false starts I ended up with 3mm dpns, and they fit perfectly. They look enormous due to the extra long cuff – keeps out the snow don’t you know.
I’d vaguely heard of the Selbu tradition but hadn’t really delved any further.¬† Then I came across a 1920s or ’30s vintage American booklet ‘Ann Orr’s Spreads & Doilies’¬† which strangely had two patterns for what Ms Orr called ‘sports’ mittens and gloves in the middle of all the patterns for lacy bits and bobs – by ‘sports’ I presume she means skiing and not wrestling.¬† I fell in love with the bold graphic designs and that was that.
As ever I couldn’t just knit the things I needed to get all academic and wax lyrical about the history behind them so I delved around a bit … pay attention you at the back, I’ll be asking questions afterwards …
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Crikey it’s opening night down at the old Skiff Vintage Knitting Club … the martinis are flowing, the piano player’s in full flow and your investigative reporter (that’s me) is grabbing the moment and chatting to any happy souls who happen to pass through and spend a few moments reclining on the red velvet chaise. I’m fascinated by what drives other vintage knitters on, and I’ll be inviting inspirational ladies (and gents) to join me in Skiff’s exclusive basement club … the company’s scintillating, the answers are fascinating and every Q&A will tell a personal story, not just about vintage knitting, but what makes knitters tick in general.
First to join me is the lovely (and prolific) Susan Crawford,¬† knitwear designer, lecturer, co-author of ‘A Stitch in Time, Vintage Knitting and Crochet Patterns 1921-1949′ and the editor of Knit On The Net … did I mention she was prolific? Step inside and help yourself to some canap√©s …
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My Knit a Poppy Effort (any likeness between me and the model purely coincidental)
It’s not too late to show your respect in knitted form for those who fell in the great wars (and continue to fall in more recent wars).¬† This wonderful poppy brooch pattern costs ¬£2 to download from Knit On The Net, all proceeds go to the Poppy Appeal (the pattern is only available until midnight on 12th November 2009 so not long to go now).
I think it’s a rather apt way to express your remembrance, particularly appropriate as the ‘Make Do & Mend’ ethos from the WWII era is so relevant and popular today (fortunately for us for different reasons). Knit on the Net have raised over ¬£500 so far – help them push it up to ¬£1000.
P.S. 2 days on and the total is up to ¬£1980 – keep going!
And here's that jumper in detail
Yes, my geekery knows no bounds.¬† I was watching Scotland On Screen the other night and became entranced by Allan Jones (author of ‘Inside The Wicker Man’), in particular his jumper – check out those gorgeous colours!¬† Got a great ’40s gentleman’s tank top pattern which I think will lend itself nicely to this so I’m planning wildly.
Another one to join the ever-growing queue…
it holds wool too!
A frantic late-night, last-minute bidding frenzy saw the the latest addition to my ‘wish-it-was-the-40s’ vintage knitting fest arriving on my doormat yesterday. It’s¬† pink, it’s bakelite, it goes rather nicely with my vintage Lee Target Campanula wool.
I love it in a way that’s bordering on pointlessness (apart from the fact that it has a purpose and is actually extremely practical). The bottom screws off to put the wool in, and there’s a handy needle gauge incorporated. I’m thinking of petitioning Patons to re-make them in a range of colours, but then plastic just wouldn’t cut it in the way that bakelite does. Feels so solid and smooth and satisfying.
They were manufactured between 1930-1960, although I’m not geek enough to know if there are any ways of checking the dates through any design quirks (anyone out there got any more details?). They come in green, red, orange, cream and blue too … I feel a senseless collection coming on.