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:


  1. I can usually date old knitting patterns by the model on the front. In the eighties lots of ladies patterns were modelled by Princess Diana look-alikes. I agree about some of the earlier patterns being a bit excessive. Books of picture knits are now filling the shelves in my local charity shops.

  2. I have a full set of the 10 Howards Way prints - how can I send you pictures?

    1. I would love to see pictures of these patterns. Could you email them to me at barbaraknitsagain at ? Thanks


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