Monday 25 July 2016

1970s Guernseys

I mentioned that in the collection of pattern leaflets and other publications that we were given a couple of weeks ago there were a lot of Aran patterns. The woman who collected them was evidently interested in Guernseys, too - she had a surprising number of Guernsey patterns from the 1970s, published by some of the big yarn spinners and all intended for special 5-ply Guernsey yarn.  I was knitting in the 1970s, but wasn't aware of this fashion for knitting Guernseys at the time.

Emu 4728

There were more than a dozen traditional Guernsey patterns published by Emu - this one is described as "using Scottish Fleet and Mallaig stitches".  Some of the other Emu patterns, though still specifying 5-ply yarn, have raglan sleeves, polo necks, or stitches that appear to be based on Arans rather than traditional Guernseys.

But from a quick read, all the other patterns in the 5-ply Guernsey yarn are constructed as I think a proper traditional Guernsey should be, with underarm and shoulder gussets and the back and front identical.

Wendy 2018
Each of the spinners also published a pattern for a plain Guernsey in stocking stitch, like this Wendy pattern.
Poppleton 1711

This Poppleton pattern is for a "Vale Guernsey (Parish design)" - it's a traditional Guernsey from the island of Guernsey.

Marriner 1796
And the Marriner pattern is a "Guernsey style sweater in traditional Patrington and Withernsea stitches".

I wonder how many of these Guernseys were knitted in the 1970s.  The point of a Guernsey is that it's very hard wearing, so they might still survive, still being worn.   Do let me know if you have one.

Tuesday 19 July 2016

A Feather in your Cap

In yesterday's post, I said that although most of the patterns in the collection just donated are from the 1970s or later, there are a few much older ones.  The oldest is a Patons & Baldwins leaflet from the 1930s for three knitted hats and a scarf, in very good condition.  The designs are called Nina, Norma and Nesta - P&B liked to stick to the same initials for the designs in a leaflet.
Patons & Baldwins Helps to Knitters 3157

The hats are all very simple knits, on two needles.  The 'Nina' beret, which has the most complicated shaping, is in garter stitch, 'Norma' (on the cover) is in fisherman's rib, or something like that, and 'Nesta' is in moss stitch.  (The scarf in the 'Nesta' design is in a loose lacy stitch.)  The most complicated part is folding the Norma and Nesta hats so that they look like the illustrations, and the leaflet gives instructions for that, and for placing the feather in all three.   Evidently, P&B wanted to show, or to claim at least, that even in a simple woolly hat you could look smart and fashionable if you were sufficiently well-groomed and made up, and wore your hat with panache.  (I had a vague feeling that "with panache" literally means something like "with a feather". And I was right, so there you are.  Just stick a feather in your hat, pluck your eyebrows severely, and you too might look like a 1930s lady.)

Monday 18 July 2016

New Acquisition

On Friday I took delivery of 4 boxes of knitting publications - the collection of a woman who has recently died.  They were donated to the Knitting & Crochet Guild collection by her husband, and delivered by a friend of his who lives locally.  There are magazines and pattern booklets, as well as  pattern leaflets - the leaflets alone make a stack about 20cm high. They are mostly in very good condition; she can't have knitted them all, and perhaps she just liked collecting knitting patterns.

Most of them are from the 1970s and later, but a few are older. There are a couple from the 1930s, and a few from the 1950s.  Quite a few are baby patterns: I like these two sitting in their baby Lloyd Loom chairs, looking a bit bemused.

Bairnswear 1653

And there are a lot of Aran patterns.  Some are quite traditional, some use recognisably Aran motifs, but not on a standard sweater or cardigan.

Garryowen FF.41
Sirdar 6474

And then there are the Aran ponchos, which are just never a good idea, if you ask me.

Bellmans 1296

 So, more pattern leaflets to sort out.  They are in such nice condition that  it will be a pleasure to add them into the collection.

PS I felt a bit guilty that I hadn't written more about the Guild convention earlier this month in Sheffield.  But Emma Vining has written a very comprehensive post here about the Convention, and the open day at Lee Mills beforehand, so now I can just re-direct you there for more details.  Thanks, Emma! 

Saturday 16 July 2016

At the Fashion Museum

A bit late, but still...  Last Saturday, I did a trunk show for the Bath branch of the Knitting & Crochet Guild, which meets at the Fashion Museum in Bath.  John came with me, and we spent a few days in Somerset, staying near Bath and visiting Wells, Frome, several lovely little villages, an exciting cemetery in Bristol (Arnos Vale), as well as Bath itself.

A trunk show is an excuse to get out some of my favourite things from the Guild collection.  Here is a one that I have only recently linked up with its pattern - a beautiful crochet blouse designed in the early 1950s.  The original blouse won a first prize in the 1951 Daily Mail Knitting Contest, and the pattern was published in a supplement presenting the winners in the various categories.   I am really not a crocheter, but when I see such fine work as this, I want  to try it myself.  I'm sure it would end in tears, though.

And here is Rosemary, Fashion Museum manager, helping to display the 1950s waistcoat I wrote about in an earlier post.

Since I wrote that post, we know a little more about the waistcoat. The knitter made it for her husband-to-be in 1953.  He wore it at work, over a coloured shirt - very unusual for the 1950s.

On Saturday afternoon, after the trunk show, we visited the current exhibition at the Fashion Museum, A History of Fashion in 100 Objects.  As well as showing the developments of fashions through time, the exhibition showed some wonderful garments. I was on the look-out, too, for  knitting and crochet, and there were three examples on show.  One was a white crochet blouse, made in the 1950s to a Coats pattern.

Coats 365

The model is Patricia Squires, looking even more elegant than she usually did.

The only knitting that I saw was a jumper in red, white and navy, that I also recognised - partly because it was knitted in the same colours as in the pattern.

SC11 Fair Isles for All
It's  a striking design, though a very long way from traditional Fair Isles.

Finally, there was a crocheted beach outfit from the late 1960s.

The label said that the original outfit had been shown in Nova magazine, and was copied from the photo for the woman who wore it (and eventually gave it to the museum) by a woman in Athens.  Hopefully, it was worn over a bikini top, though then the outfit might have been too hot for a Greek beach in summer. (See-through tops weren't new in the 1960s, in fact - as you can see from the Coats crochet blouse pattern.)

We had a very good short break in Somerset - but no more knitting or crochet was involved after the Fashion Museum, and I shan't report on all the not-knitting we did.  

Wednesday 6 July 2016

At the Guild Convention

I'm just catching up after last weekend away at the Knitting & Crochet Guild's annual Convention.  As last year, we were in Sheffield at Endcliffe Village.  This week is also busy, so I don't have time for a very detailed account, but I must mention a couple of the highlights.  On Friday evening, Susan Crawford gave the after-dinner talk, about The Vintage Shetland Project, her new book (due mid August).  She has recreated hand-knitted pieces in the Shetland Museum collection, and the patterns will be published in the book.  On Friday, she brought several of the recreated knits, and they are wonderful.  All in fine yarn - mostly wool, but there is also a pullover in fine silk which is especially beautiful.   I am so looking forward to seeing the finished book.

We had two workshop sessions during the weekend, led by Guild members.  On Saturday afternoon, I went to one on Victorian knitting patterns, led by Lesley O'Connell Edwards.  She had brought copies of several patterns that she had knitted herself, including a very pretty bag in many different shades of green and red/orange/yellow/cream.  (The colour in the photo is not very accurate, I'm afraid.)  

The pattern is "Shell Knitting for  Bag, in German Wool", from Exercises in Knitting by Cornelia Mee (1847).  Lesley went through the pattern with us, to show that Victorian knitting patterns have to be used with caution, because they are often wrong.   In this case, the  number of stitches to cast on is wrong - not easy to correct, because the instructions for the first round are also wrong, so it's hard to figure out how many stitches there are in each pattern repeat and she doesn't say how many pattern repeat there are.   And the number of stitches in a pattern repeat changes in every round, for the five rows of the pattern.  And to make it still more difficult, there is no illustration to go with the pattern, so you have can't go by what it's meant to look like.  So I'm amazed that Lesley managed to work out what Cornelia Mee meant to say, and knit a very pretty little bag.  (It's in very fine wool, on tiny needles.)  

Lesley also brought a pence jug and a rather strange fingerless mitten, knitted on two needles, sideways.

She provided us with three colours of fine wool, and we had brought 2mm needles, so that we could try one of the patterns.

I chose Cornelia Mee's (corrected) shell pattern, but only did three pattern repeats instead of the eight needed for the bag.  And one of the other workshop participants gave me one of her skeins of Appletons crewel wool, because she was knitting the pence jug and so only needed two of hers.  Now I have a very pretty little wristlet in four colours.

Really, it's a swatch knitted in the round, but I'm knitting a lot of wristlets lately, and it fits my wrist, so I'm thinking of it as a wristlet.

It was fascinating to see how the patterns turned out in practice.  We did wonder how ladies in 1847 managed to understand Cornelia Mee's pattern and correct her mistakes.  Perhaps they got together in knit-and-natter groups to pool their ideas?
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