Monday 25 February 2013


I have been in Portland (Oregon) for a week, visiting my daughter.  Just got back today, though it still feels like yesterday, because it was an overnight flight and I've missed a night's sleep.  I had some good coffee and good food in Portland, bought some very nice yarn, did lots of other things.  More later when I have caught up with myself. 

Portland Latte

Saturday 16 February 2013

Wedding Dresses to Crochet

In the collection of knitted and crocheted items at Lee Mills, there are three or four wedding dresses.  One of the Huddersfield students who has been working with us is doing a project on the wedding dresses, and I have been looking out for patterns for her in the publications collection. I have found only two pattern leaflets for wedding dresses so far.  Perhaps that's not too surprising - if you were going to the effort of making a wedding dress, you would surely want it to be unique, rather than choosing a mass-produced pattern. 

Emu 2914
The Emu pattern dates from the early 1970s, I think.  The Patons pattern is  dated 1981, and was issued just before the wedding of Charles and Diana.  (Hopefully, if anyone made a wedding dress from the pattern, their marriage turned out  better than that one.) 

Patons 1856
(Click on an image to get a larger view.)

Thursday 14 February 2013

A Quick Knit in Stocking Stitch

I decided a while ago that it's OK to have more than one project on the needles at the same time, as long as they are all progressing  and not stalled.  And I need to have some knitting that I can do at the same time as reading or watching TV, otherwise I feel that I am wasting valuable knitting time.  My Color Affection shawl was meant to be TV knitting, because it's all garter stitch, but actually I have to watch it all the time.  I have been knitting it since last November, and it is growing - just not very fast.  It's become the project that I take to knit-and-natter groups, so I keep doing a couple of hours work on it regularly, and it will get finished some time, don't know when.

While Color Affection has been growing imperceptibly, I needed some TV knitting, and I wanted something fast.  So I have been knitting a plain stocking stitch jumper for myself.  I started it in January and have just finished it.

It was based on a Marriner pattern from the early 1960s, although the relationship is more  distant than I intended.  It was the collar I liked, mainly:  jumpers with turn-down collars were very popular at that time, and this seemed a nice example. I like how the collar has turned out, but it isn't really very similar to the illustration.  In practice, I could not see how to get the two front edges of the collar overlapping as shown.  And actually, I don't see how it could work, now that I think about it: the two sides of the collar have to overlap about an inch above the button, but there is nothing to hold them together there.

Marriner 559

I had to adapt the pattern anyway - the original was written for 4-ply (fingering weight) yarn, and I wanted to use double knitting (Wendy Merino DK).   So my jumper is based on a basic DK raglan-sleeved jumper pattern, modified to have three-quarter sleeves with turn-back cuffs.  But I followed the original Marriner instructions in knitting the collar and the front bands, suitably adapted for the thicker yarn.  The back of the collar is deeper than the fronts - the extra depth is created with short rows.  I'm intrigued by the possibilities of short rows, and wanted to see how it worked here.  And the collar works very well - it sits nicely, even if nothing like the original.

I must confess that the button is a cheat.  I did make a buttonhole, but then realised that (a) it was in the wrong place and (b) I wouldn't know what the right place was until I had finished the collar.  And that the neck opening was big enough to go over my head anyway.  So I just sewed the button through both layers of the button band. 

Now that the jumper is finished, I have chosen my next TV knitting project.  I can cope with more complicated stitch patterns than stocking stitch without looking at what I'm doing, and it's going to be a wide rib with twisted stocking stitch - more details later.

Meanwhile, I have started the Baht 'At fingerless mitts from Born and Bred.   I have had the pattern and the yarn (Titus from Baa Ram Ewe) for weeks, but have been restraining myself from starting it until I finished the Marriner jumper. I am using the wool holder I bought on eBay, and that's proving useful to keep the yarn tidy and in place.

I went to my regular Thursday knit-and-natter this morning, and knitted 2 stripes (4 rows) of the Color Affection shawl.  I counted the number of stripes I still need to do, before I get to the final border:  29.    It was possibly a mistake to count them - it's a bit daunting.  Still, I should finish it this year if I keep at it.

Friday 8 February 2013

Summer Gloves

Once upon a time, ladies always wore hats and gloves when they went out. So you wore gloves not just to keep your hands warm in the winter, but in summer too.  The rule persisted into the 1960s:  my secondary school in the early 1960s had white gloves for summer (optional) on its school uniform list, although I don't recall anyone wearing them to go to school in.

The need for summer gloves was a great opportunity for cotton spinners - including Twilley's, who started out making cotton yarns for knitting & crochet, though they later diversified into other types of yarn.  The company started issuing pattern leaflets just after World War II, I think (judging by the style),  and the first batch of leaflets  includes several glove patterns.

Twilley's 109
The early patterns look fairly utilitarian - one leaflet shows a woman's gloved hands holding a dog lead, and a man's hands on the steering wheel of a car (and holding a cigarette at the same time).  But leaflet 109 has a pair with an overall lacy pattern and an alternative gauntlet cuff, and they are altogether fancier.  

Twilleys 265
The black lace pair in leaflet 265 are obviously just for posing elegantly in, and nothing more strenuous than that. 

Twilleys 194
Apart from the gloves, you could make a whole range of clothes and accessories from this batch of leaflets.  There are several patterns for handbags (often with matching gloves, of course).  The week-end bag in leaflet 194 is especially smart.  It looks like something that Celia Johnson might have used in Brief Encounter - the film was made in 1945, so is roughly the same date as the leaflet.  (But why does she have two umbrellas through the straps of her bag?  One for a friend?)

(By kind permission of Thomas B Ramsden & Co., members of the Knitting & Crochet Guild can obtain a copy of any of the vintage Twilley's patterns in the Guild collection, for their own personal use.  Email collections at for more details.)
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