Wednesday 25 September 2013

"Welcome Home" Pattern

I wrote last December here about some pieces of filet crochet in the Knitting & Crochet Guild's collection that date from World War I.  One of the items is a small tablecloth with a filet crochet border:  the border has a design of battleships, anchors with crossed French and U.K. flags in the corners, and "Welcome Home" along each side.  It was clear that there must have been a published pattern for the filet crochet border, because there are actually two almost identical tablecloths in the collection. There is another example of the crocheted border, though it was never used,  on the Australian War Memorial site. So I have been hoping to find the pattern one day, and this week it happened.  I was looking through a box of Fancy Needlework Illustrated, a quarterly magazine, and there was the design for the border on the front cover of one of them. 

Fancy Needlework Illustrated No. 33
 The border design of our tablecloths is called "L'Entente" lace, and has an accompanying triangle saying "UNITED" - neither of our tablecloths has the triangle, but I have seen a tablecloth with both border and triangle on eBay. 

This issue was published in 1915, it appears.  (There is no date of publication given in the magazine, but there is often a competition entry form, and you can roughly work it out from the competition closing date.)  I am surprised that it was so early - I had thought that the "Welcome Home" message would date from the end of the war.  The design is an odd mixture altogether - the French and U.K. flags, the "UNITED" slogan, and the name "L'Entente"  all seem to be celebrating the alliance with France.  But I suspect that for many people who made the border, it was the "Welcome Home" message that was more significant. 

 There is also a matching tea cosy design (possibly fewer of those were made, or fewer have survived, though one or two examples have appeared on eBay).  

Filet crochet was very popular at the time of the First World War, with several designs in every issue of magazines like Fancy Needlework Illustrated.  The patterns make depressing reading, I find, because it doesn't seem to have occurred to anyone that a chart would be the best way to convey the information.  Instead, you get pages and pages of tedious row by row instructions.  The tablecloth border takes 224 rows, and every one is something like:

       Hundred-and-seventy-second row: 11 spaces, 4 tr., 3 spaces 4 tr., 10 spaces.

(And that's a relatively simple row.)  So much counting!   I don't know how anyone had the patience to make any of these designs.  

I am very pleased that we have found the pattern for our two tablecloths, and so have another piece of their story.  One of the tablecloths has an accompanying letter saying that it was made for her father by a girl who was born in the 1890s, and it was used again at her own 90th birthday party.   We can imagine her reading the magazine as a teenager and slogging through the pages of instructions to make the tablecloth border.  If she recalled all that work, looking back at the age of 90, she must have thought that it had been worthwhile - the outcome was a memento that she kept and used over all the intervening years. 

Monday 23 September 2013

A 2-ounce Jumper

It's the 23rd and I haven't posted anything this month so far.  Very slack. We were on holiday in Sicily at the beginning of September, which was wonderful.  Then we visited friends in Twickenham for a long weekend,  and had a good time with them.  And in between, I've been doing a lot of work for the Knitting & Crochet Guild.  

Anyway, back in August we were selecting items from the collection for the Guild stall at the British Wool Weekend at Harrogate, on the theme of lace, including a very pretty 1950s jumper knitted in a very open lacy stitch.  By chance, I recognised the pattern and managed to remember where I had seen it - it's a Jaeger pattern leaflet that we also have in the collection.     

A lacy jumper and its pattern
The jumper has been knitted in four colours: the body is in pale shades of blue, greeny blue and mint green, and the waist band and neckband in lemon yellow.    They all go together so beautifully that I wonder if the knitter dyed the yarn herself, combining a blue dye and a yellow dye to get the two intermediate shades.  

Jaeger 3398

The pattern itself is evidently intended for just one colour - it calls for just 2 ounces (about 50 g.) of 2-ply "Faerie-Spun" wool.     The rib (sleeves, neckband and waistband) is knitted on size 12 needles  (2.75mm.).  The lacy pattern is an 8 row repeat, 7 rows knitted on size 8s (4mm.) and one row on size 1s (7.5 mm.) - that's the row of very large stitches that you see in the photos and gives most of the openwork effect.  Oddly, the stitch pattern is described as "Old Shale",  though as far as I can see it is nothing like Old Shale. 

But that's a quibble.  It is a very pretty pattern if you like the 1950s look,  and you don't mind that it doesn't give you much coverage.   And our finished example is beautifully executed. 
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