Saturday 15 June 2013

"A Marjory Tillotson design"

A little while ago, a package arrived in the post from an old friend from schooldays.  Gill was clearing out some knitting patterns that she had collected over the years, and remembered that I had said in a Christmas card that I was working on a collection of pattern leaflets.  So she sent them to me as a donation to the collection.   It was a generous gift - all the leaflets are in good condition and will be valuable acquisitions. But the real gems of her collection are two patterns designed by Marjory Tillotson, dating I think from the 1940s.

1940s vintage knitting pattern; Marjory Tillotson design
Marjory Tillotson design 105
1940s vintage knitting pattern; Marjory Tillotson design
Marjory Tillotson design 106

I described here  Marjory Tillotson's early career working for Baldwin's in Halifax before and during the First World War.  After 1920 she became a freelance designer.  Most of the designs that she produced as a freelance cannot now be identified, sadly.  But after World War II, she became better known, perhaps because of the publication of The Complete Knitting Book,  which went through several editions in the 1930s and 1940s.   As a result, her name evidently became a selling point for some publishers.  For instance, she is named on a series of leaflets that she designed for the Marshall & Snelgrove department stores, including one I showed here.

And in the 1940s, she seems to have tried publishing her own pattern leaflets, including the two that Gill sent.  They appear to be very rare - we already had one of the series in the collection, but I have never seen any others, so I think that it was a venture that didn't succeed. But they are pretty designs - leaflets 105 and 106 together give a twinset in a lacy pattern embroidered with flowers.  The leaflets themselves are well designed, too.  They include a photo of a swatch, showing the exact tension required for the pattern. 

The tension photo is an excellent idea - it simplifies checking tension, as well as showing the stitch pattern (and in this case the embroidered motif) in detail.  And it allows the complete garment to be shown simply as a drawing.  

Marjory Tillotson deserved to succeed with these knitting patterns, and it's a pity that she apparently didn't.  But I am really pleased, and grateful to Gill, to have these additions to the Guild's collection.

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