Monday 29 June 2015

1920s Knitwear

Among the postcards in the Knitting & Crochet Guild collection is a group of four promotional cards, posted in 1926 and 1927. They were sent by Hawke Bros. and Gibson, Ltd., of Trinity Works, Newquay, to a customer (or potential customer), Messrs. Harmers, of The Parade in Redditch.   Hawke Bros. and Gibson made a range of knitwear for women, 'Trin-Knit-Ana'  (awful name), and the cards illustrate current models.

The earliest  has a photo captioned "We are waiting...." and shows a model sitting against a painted background (including the fence that she is apparently sitting on), with a dog (probably stuffed).  The printed message reads:
Dear Sir or Madame,
"We are waiting" for the favour of your instructions to forward the swatch of this new Cape Model (Jumper 28/6,  Skirt 22/6,  Cape 22/6).  It is made in our Mollaine quality (best fine gauge botany) of which we run 32 colours.  The cape lining and jumper collar are made in a toning shade. ... We are exhibiting as usual at the Fashions Exhibition, Holland Park. May we send you a ticket later?
(28/6 is a price: 28 shillings and sixpence.  If you want to know more, this note might help.  According to a historic inflation calculator, the present day equivalent would be  £77.35.  I assume this is the wholesale price.)

The second postcard shows a Jacquard Cardigan, price 39/6, in two colours of Art Silk (rayon) combined with two colours of wool - you would need to see the swatch in this case to get any real idea of what the fabric looked like.

The last two cards show outfits in an art silk/ wool blend: cardigans and skirts, with a matching sleeveless top in card no. 8.   This one also names the model, Miss Norah Baker.  Was she famous?   I haven't been able to find out.

These outfits are not high fashion, though they do show the influence of Chanel's cardigan suits reaching as far as Cornwall.   I guess they were what the averagely well-dressed woman might have worn.  And they look so much freer and more comfortable to wear than the rigid and constrained fashions of only 15 years before, in the last years before the First World War.  The change must have been welcomed with a sigh of relief.

Thursday 18 June 2015

Howard's Way

When I'm sorting knitting pattern leaflets in the Knitting & Crochet Guild collection, sometimes I see a design that appeals to me (even among the worst excesses of the 1970s and 1980s you can find the occasional design that still looks good), or an interesting stitch pattern.  Or sometimes I notice a pattern because I recognise the model (e.g. here).   And sometimes a leaflet refers to things that were happening outside the world of knitting, as in three Emu leaflets I saw this week.

Emu 4986 modelled by Glyn Owen (Jack Rolfe)

Emu 4988 modelled by Maurice Colbourne (Tom Howard)
Emu 4990 modelled by Stephen Yardley (Ken Masters)
 Remember Howard's Way?   Actually, I never watched it, though I do remember that it was a much talked about TV series in the late 1980s.  It was something like a BBC version of Dallas and Dynasty (so not in fact very like either).  It centred on a boatyard on the south coast of England, hence the slightly nautical air to the three Emu designs, especially Tom Howard's blue sort-of gansey.  I think the three designs still look good as casual chunky knits for men.  I don't personally like dropped shoulders, which seem very 1980s to me, but there have been lots of dropped shoulders around recently (for instance in Rowan Magazine) so clearly I am not one to judge.

Here's Wikipedia's summary of the main characters in Howard's Way, including the three characters shown on the Emu leaflets:
The protagonists in the early episodes are the titular Howard family—Tom (Maurice Colbourne), wife Jan (Jan Harvey) and grown-up children Leo (Edward Highmore) and Lynne (Tracey Childs). Tom is made redundant from his job as an aircraft designer after twenty years and is unwilling to re-enter the rat race. A sailing enthusiast, Tom decides to pursue his dream of designing and building boats, putting his redundancy pay-out into the ailing Mermaid boatyard, run by Jack Rolfe (Glyn Owen), a gruff traditionalist, and his daughter Avril (Susan Gilmore). Tom immediately finds himself in conflict with Jack, whose reliance on the bottle and resentment of Tom's new design ideas threaten the business, but has an ally in Avril, who turns out to be the real driving force behind the yard with her cool, businesslike brain. Jan, who has spent the last twenty years raising the children and building the family home, is less than impressed with her husband's risky new venture and finds herself pursuing her own life outside the family through establishing a new marine boutique whilst working for flash "medallion man" Ken Masters (Stephen Yardley).
There are probably some leaflets in the Howard's Way Collection that we don't have (leaflets 4987 and 4989, for instance) and perhaps those were modelled by Jan Harvey, Susan Gilmore and some of the other women in the series.  It would be interesting to see what those designs look like - I suspect that designs for women will look a lot more dated.

For anyone who wants to take a nostalgic look at Howard's Way, or see what it was all about, you can find clips on YouTube.  Here's the first part of the first episode:

Sunday 14 June 2015

New premises for Spun

Nearly 5 years ago, a new yarn shop opened in Huddersfield, in the Byram Arcade.  Since then, Spun has flourished, and yesterday Lydia  (the owner) moved into new premises.

The shop is still in the Byram Arcade, but is now on the ground floor instead of the second floor, where it will be more visible and easier to find.  The ground floor of the arcade is always busy, and just a few yards away on the other side of the arcade are the Blue Rooms, the cafe where the Huddersfield branch of the Knitting & Crochet Guild meets.  So it will all be much more convenient for local knitters!

Inside, it feels light and spacious, with the huge window onto the arcade.  The previous occupiers had painted the walls dark red - white is a great improvement.   The stairs lead to a mezzanine area, for workshops and knitting groups (where I'll be spending Thursday mornings in future).

The shop window looks very festive, with a woolly bike (something to do with the Tour de France 2014, I think) and a rocking chair decorated by local students.   

And there were some new yarns in stock for the opening - very enticing.  Congratulations, Lydia - I wish you every success in the new shop.

Saturday 13 June 2015

Bulgaria, this time

We have been on holiday (again!), this time to Bulgaria.  It was a tour for the Huddersfield & Disctrict Archaeological Society, visiting sites across Bulgaria and covering a huge timescale:   from an Iron Age dolmen near Hlyabovo, and the Thracian tombs near Mezek and at  Kazanlak, via Roman towns and villas, to medieval castles and churches, 18th-19th century houses and a 20th century garden.   Here's a selection of photos.

The dolmen near Hlyabovo
The Mosaic Museum at Devnya, built over a Roman house  
The castle walls at Veliko Turnovo

The garden at Balchik

Queen Marie of Romania had a garden made for her at Balchik, on the Black Sea coast, with several little villas for herself and guests.  She liked to spend her summers there, and if I had a garden like that, so would I.  The roses were at their best when we were there, and wonderful.

An old house in traditional style on the Black Sea, at Sozopol.

The full moon over the Monument to 1300 years of Bulgarian history, built 1981, at Shumen  

And we saw some knitting - in a couple of the places we visited, there were hand-knitted lace tablecloths for sale, including several hanging on the wall of a house in the old town of Sozopol, on the Black Sea coast.   Very good value, considering the amount of work that must go into them. (Though I didn't buy one, because what would I do with a circular lace tablecloth?)

Knitted lace tablecloths at Sozopol

A lot of the sites we visited were out in the countryside, so we saw a lot of wild flowers, and butterflies.  It feels such an achievement to be able to get a good photo of a butterfly that I have included some here.

And as you can see, we had very good weather - hot and sunny, but not too hot.  It was quite a shock to come home to distinctly chilly temperatures.  (Flaming June!)  

It was a fascinating holiday.  I knew very little about Bulgaria before we went, and I've learnt a lot.  I'd like to go back and visit Sofia and the Black Sea coast again.  
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