Vintage Knitting, Retro Dressmaking, Make do and Mend, Original and Vintage Inspired Knitting Patterns, Vintage Inspired books

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Wartime Farm Sleeveless Pullover

I am beside myself with excitement at being able to announce that I am about to release the Wartime Farm Sleeveless Pullover pattern as worn by Alex Langlands in the BBC series, Wartime Farm.

Photo of Alex Langlands courtesy of Octopus Books and Wartime Farm

The clothes on the series, and in particular, Alex's sleeveless pullover attracted a lot of attention. I myself was concerned that some of the clothes worn were not quite of the right period and guessed by the size and bright green contrast colour in Alex's pullover, that the garment itself was post war. At the same time however, a thought was nagging away at me that I had seen the Fair Isle motifs used somewhere in my pattern collection. I really wanted to spend some time researching the pattern but had a lot of other more pressing things that I was supposed to be doing but fortunately I found the perfect excuse to devote some time to this amazing garment:

The Women's Land Army Tribute campaign is raising funds to build a memorial to the Women's Land Army to be sited at the National Memorial Arboretum in Staffordshire. The memorial is also to provide a focal point for the 38,000 surviving Land Army girls and to share their stories. The Women's Land Army was first formed during World War I, freeing male workers to join up. During World War II young women were again encouraged to join the Land Army, and by 1943 there were 80,000 land girls working in the fields and farms of the UK. Alongside the WLA were the WTC which were the lesser known, Women's Timber Corps or "Lumber Jills" who had to take over the provision of timber during these years. Women continued to work on the land in lessening numbers until 1950 when the WLA was formally disbanded. Whilst there have been TV shows and films about Land Girls they have received little official recognition. In fact the WLA has only being invited to take part in the Remembrance Day ceremonies in very recent years. We owe an incredible debt to the WLA and all the women who took over "men's work" at these times and showed the world just what women could achieve. This pattern is my own attempt to help raise funds for the WLA Memorial.

For each PDF pattern costing £5.00 a donation of £2.50 will be made to the WLA Tribute campaign.

So to tell you a little more about the pattern:

It is available as a PDF download only and is available to pre order now and will be released on Wednesday 9th January.

The pattern comes in a huge range of sizes from age 3-4 yrs right up to fit a chest size of 54 inches.
It is a classed as a unisex pattern and there will be photos in the pattern on both male and female models. It is knitted in the round from the bottom up to the armhole where it is divided and the front and back are knitted separately then joined at the shoulders before picking up the arm and neck bands which are worked rib. Alex's version is shown using Jamieson & Smith 2 ply jumper weight Shetland wool in the colour ways as worn by Alex in the TV show and also interestingly in the 1930s pattern that I tracked down.

Here is the image from the original pattern.

It is much much shorter than the version worn by Alex, both in the body and in the armhole depth. Interestingly and somewhat bizarrely, the arm and neck bands are knit in long ribbed lengths which are then sewn onto the garment. Unsurprisingly I haven't suggested making them this way. The suggested tension for the 3 ply yarn recommended by the pattern is a very loose 24 sts to 10cm. You can just see on the photo that the fabric looks very open and indeed the motifs are larger than on Alex's garment. My version and Alex's pullover in the show have picked up armholes and neck bands as in a 'regular' pattern! There are some mistakes in the garment worn by Alex, but most notably at the shoulders where the pattern doesn't match up, suggesting that the front was knitted slightly longer than the back as the pattern repeat finishes higher on the front than on the back. It was also knitted in two pieces and sewn together at the side seams which was the usual method in UK patterns around this time. So whilst Alex's own sleeveless pullover may have been a post war knit, I think I can safely vouch that the original pattern from which it is adapted, is from the right period.

The ladies version which will be shown in the pattern, is knitted using Excelana 4 ply in a different colour way but I'm not going to spoil it and show any more at this point.

If you would like to donate to this very worthy and very under funded campaign please do either pre order the pattern now or call back after January 9th to purchase your pattern download then.

(£2.50 of each purchase will be donated to the WLA Tribute)

If you would like to help support the campaign further you can add this button to your own website or blog by cutting and pasting the code below into your site.

<a href="" title="Wartime Farm Sleeveless Pullover"><img src="" alt="Wartime Farm Sleeveless Pullover" style="border: none; height: 250px; width: 250px;"/></a>

There will also be a media pack available for download in a day or two with more information if you can help promote the campaign in an 'official' capacity!

I'm also hoping to have kits available in the New Year certainly in Excelana and hopefully in Jamieson and Smith also.

Octopus Books and Wartime Farm are both very kindly lending their support to the fundraising pattern and I couldn't have done any of this without the remarkable Charly of landgirl1980 who has worked tirelessly helping me get this campaign underway.

Thank you Charly and thank you to all the ladies of the WLA. We are indebted to you in so many ways.

for now
Ruby xx

Monday, December 10, 2012

Junior Christmas Jumper pattern available now

In response to a lot of requests I have finally got my act together and created the Junior Christmas Jumper.

This great little jumper is knit in the round from the bottom up, at which point, the sleeves which are knitted separately are joined to the body and the yoke with the fabulous baby reindeer is then knitted in the round using Fair Isle stranded knitting.

Its a really simple knit so if someone is taking on the challenge of Fair Isle knitting for the first time there isn't anything else to worry about whilst focusing on using two colours. Neat shaping is worked before and after the reindeer motifs to create a loose fitting, comfortable neck.

I knitted the jumper in Cygnet Wool Rich 4 ply for my friend Verity from Baa Ram Ewe in Leeds who very kindly took the photographs of the jumper on her little boy for the pattern. The pattern however,  offers the choice of using either Cygnet or Excelana 4 ply. The pattern comes in eight sizes to fit from one years old right through to eight years of age and unusually for my patterns has almost NO finishing required other than at the underarm joins.

The pattern contains a combination of charted and written instructions.

Sizes are available to fit as follows:

Age (yrs) 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8
Chest (cm) 48½ 51 54½ 58½ 61 63½ 66 68½
  (in) 19 20 21½ 23 24 25 26 27

and the sample garment shown is for an age 2 years: 51cm (20in) chest

Materials needed are as follows:

Excelana 4 Ply Luxury Wool 100% pure new British wool (159m/174yds per 50g ball) 
3 (3, 4, 4, 5, 5, 6, 6) balls shade Ruby Red - MC 
1 (1, 1, 1, 1, 2, 2, 2) shade Alabaster - CC 
1 2.75mm (US #2) circular needle (length 60 to 80cm) 
1 3mm (US #3) circular needle (length 60 to 80cm) 
Set of 2.75mm (US #2) Double Pointed Needles (DPNs) 
Set of 3mm (US #3) DPNs 


Cygnet Wool Rich 4 Ply 75% wool/25% polyamide (205m/224 yds per 50g ball) 
2 (2, 2, 3, 4, 4, 5, 5) balls shade Holly - MC 
1 ball for all sizes shade Cream - CC 
1 2.75mm (US #2) circular needle (length 60 to 80cm) 
1 3.25mm (US #4) circular needle (length 60 to 80cm) 
Set of 2.75mm (US #2) DPNs 
Set of 3.25mm (US #4) DPNs

Other Notions required: 
Stitch markers 
Stitch holders 
Safety pins

The PDF pattern offering all eight sizes is available for £4.00 which you can purchase directly from my website here

or through ravelry

and finally you can buy Excelana here 

This pattern will also be available wholesale for retailers to purchase. Full details of this to follow shortly.

for now
Ruby xx

Tuesday, December 04, 2012

New Pattern Available - Perrault

Today sees the arrival of the first of several new patterns all featuring Excelana. This first design was originally available in Knitting magazine two years ago now and has now been rewritten, re-edited and re-knitted to use Excelana 4 ply.  So let me introduce Perrault.

 There is no mistaking the Little Red Riding Hood influences in this sumptuous jacket but I didn't want to be too obvious with the name. So after a surprisingly long time I finally thought of the name, Perrault, after Charles Perrault whose collection of fairy stories featuring Little Red Riding-Hood was first published in 1697. The collection was entitled Histoires ou Contes due temps passe. Avec de Moralitez - this was first translated and published in english in 1729. In the original story, Little Red Riding-Hood is called Biddy which unfortunately didn't appeal as a design name! I desperately wanted the design name to have the connection as the Little Red Riding-Hood story has been important to me for so long, particularly when it was re-worked into Company of Wolves by Angela Carter and the significance of the story finally became clear. But finally the penny dropped and my design finally had a name.

The jacket is knitted in one piece to the underarm where the fronts and back are then divided and knitted separately.

The peplum is discreetly shaped within the pattern leading to a ribbed waistband. The main cabled pattern continues up each front and the back with the surrounding stitches worked in reverse stocking stitch throughout.

The sleeves are knitted separately with cuff detail to match the peplum. They are then gently gathered at the shoulder to allow room for another garment to be worn underneath.

The hood is worked in one piece and is gathered at the back to create a truly fairy tale style hood.

An open ended zip is sewn in to bring the design up to date and make it a truly useful piece in your wardrobe.

The pattern contains a combination of charted and written instructions.

Sizes are available to fit as follows:

32-34in (81-86cm); 36-38in (92-97cm); 40-42in (102-107cm); 44-46in (112-117cm)

Materials needed are as follows:

Excelana Luxury 4ply 100% pure British Wool (159m/174yds per 50g ball)

12 (13, 15, 17) balls in shade Ruby Red
1 pair 2.75 (US 2) straight needles
or 1 2.75mm circular needle 80-100cm long
1 3.25mm (US 4) circular needle 80-100cm long
1 pair 4mm (US 6) straight needles
1 cable needle
4 stitch markers
Stitch holders or spare needles
1 open-ended zip between 20-24in (50-60cm) long - it is advisable to measure front opening of jacket once knitting is block to see what zip length you will need.
Sewing needle and thread
4.5yds (4m) of 1/4in (2cm) wide ribbon if required.

The PDF pattern of Perrault is available for £4.00 which you can purchase Perrault from my website here

or through ravelry

and you can purchase Excelana here

And so to finish as did Charles Perrault with all his fairy stories - with a moral - from the original Little Red Riding-Hood no less -

From this short story clearly we discern
What conduct all young people ought to learn;
But, above all, those growing ladies fair;
Whose orient rosy blooms begin t'appear:
Who, beauties in the fragrant Spring of age!
With pretty airs young hearts are apt t'engage.
I'll do they listen to all sorts of tongues,
Since some enchant and lure like sirens' songs.
It is no wonder then if, overpowered,
So many of them has the Wolf devoured.
The Wolf, I say, for wolves be sure there are
Of every sort and every character.
Some of them mild and gentle-humoured be;
Who - tame, familiar, full of compaisance-
Ogle and leer, languish, cajole and glance,
With luring tongues and language wonderous sweet,
Follow young ladies as they walk the street, 
Even to their house and bedside;
And though their true designs they artfully hide,
These simpering wolves; yet, ah! who cannot see
That they most dangerous of all wolves must be?

Charles Perrault 1697

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Excelana: an interview for Wovember

As many of you may know it is the month of Wovember and my lovely friends Felix and Tom (best known on this blog as lace knitter extra-ordinaire) are presenting a month long celebration of wool, its manufacture, its use. I am painfully behind with my blogging so lets pretend its November 1st and I'm setting the scene for my involvement in Wovember by introducing an interview I did this time last year with Felix all about Excelana and just what is so special about it:

Felix: Could you say a little about some of the vintage yarns you encountered while researching your book? What, for you, makes them different from many commercially-spun yarns spun today?

Me: Many of the yarns were somewhat coarser than the average commercially-spun yarns we find in shops today, but with that comes longevity – hardwearing, long lasting items could be made from these yarns that lasted many years and could be easily darned to continue even longer or unravelled to be knitted again. There were more finer ply yarns than thick with 2 and 3 ply probably being the most common, although in the 1930s there was a surprisingly wide range of yarns available – even ‘Miss England Knitting Wool for Bathing Wear’ which included self-colours, marls and also space-dyed effects!

Felix: What, for you, are the distinctive characteristics of a good vintage yarn?

Me: Stretch, recovery, definition, strength, body, warmth.

Felix:  How did you begin to develop Excelana? What was the process?

Me: John had been experimenting with the Exmoor fleece for some time, and discussed with me the possibility of working together to develop the fibre into a commercially viable knitting yarn, rather than it continuing to be used in generic British wool carpet production, as it was usually overlooked for knitting yarn production.

an impressive Exmoor Horn, the starting point for the Exmoor Blueface breed
I was initially sent samples of the undyed yarn. It had been spun but was not conditioned so had a different feel to the final product. However when I first began sampling we found that the fibres were still a little short overall producing a slightly uneven finish. It was at this point that John decided to combine it with 30% Bluefaced Leicester. This gave the yarn a longer staple and made it a more stable yarn for hand knitting.

Great Crimp!
Once the composition was decided upon it was then my job to choose colours and name them. I went through many old pattern books, shade cards and promotional leaflets to pick names that reflected those that I found but hopefully, without exactly replicating them. ‘Powdered Egg’ has proved to be the name that everyone notices. The dyeing stage followed and we nervously waited to see how well the yarn took colour. I wanted strong, solid colours that echoed the colours I had seen in the old shade cards and balls of yarn that I had studied, but until it came back from the dyers we had no idea how successful this process would be. In the end we had nothing to worry about as the yarn takes colour superbly and the colours matched the various swatches I had sent to the dyer perfectly.

Next came branding, which was again done in-house by my husband, Gavin who is a Graphic Artist. I particularly wanted the phrase ‘vintage yarns for fashion lovers’ to be incorporated onto the ball band as I felt this strap line explained the concept behind the yarn exactly.

The yarn was then put to work in garments for A Stitch in Time, Vol. 2, and really began to show itself as a great yarn for hand knitting, working well on textural, stocking stitch and colour work designs equally well.

Felix:  Was it important to you to use that the yarn be grown as well as processed in the UK? Why?

Me: It was, yes. The entire concept of the yarn was to use an under-utilised product living on the moors in North Devon and to show that wool manufactured from British breed sheep, living on damp, cold moors, can produce a commercially viable yarn that is a pleasure both to knit with and to wear and can be used for fashion knitwear as in A Stitch in Time, where I used the yarn extensively.

North Devon's own Exmoor Blueface farmer
I don’t think it was ever even a consideration to source yarn from outside of the UK, but if we had the entire purpose of the endeavour would have been undermined to be honest. It is sad that so many people have bad memories of scratchy ‘wool’ jumpers that has put them off ‘wool’ (and in particular, british wool) for life, and we wanted to try and break that association and encourage the use of British breed fleece as hand knitting yarn.

Felix:  Could you say a little about why the Exmoor / BFL blend makes a yarn so well-suited to it’s ‘vintage’ purpose?

Me: Many vintage patterns rely on stretch, recovery, memory, strength, definition and body and the Exmoor/BFL blend has all these characteristics in abundance. Its stretch and recovery is incredible, making it suitable for vintage designs with quite extreme negative ease (where the finished garment is made considerably smaller than the intended wearer so that the garment has to stretch on the body to show off the pattern). The use of features such as gathered, box head and puff sleeves for example, require the yarn used to have some body so that these three dimensional features retain some shape without help, which again Exmoor/BFL blend does very well. There is a lot of colour work featured in vintage patterns, both intarsia and Fair Isle, and the stitches formed by the Exmoor/BFL cling together, making it a perfect yarn for colour work.

Felix:  Could you tell us about some of the different processing stages of the yarn, and where they take place?

Me: The Exmoor Blueface sheep live on Exmoor and are shorn on Exmoor. John’s mill is also in North Devon and this is where all the sorting, cleaning, processing and spinning takes place.
It is only when it leaves the mill to be dyed that it travels a relatively short distance to the Midlands. It goes from the dyer to the baller who is also in the Midlands, and then back to Devon. So it really is a ‘local’ yarn.

Felix:  Could you say a little bit about the process of collaborating with John Arbon?

Me: It was great fun and an easy collaboration. John and I have a very similar point of view and a shared lifelong love of ‘vintage’ so we understood what each other was looking for. We met as often as possible in Devon to discuss the project but a lot of the work was done ‘remotely’ with John in Devon and myself in Southport, communicating by email, telephone and post. The ‘big’ decisions however where usually made face to face so we could talk things through properly.

Felix:  And a little about how the finished yarn behaves when knitted up?

Me: The finished yarn is an absolute pleasure to knit with. It moves very smoothly over the needles – it flows. The finished fabric contains phenomenal stretch and memory, bouncing right back into shape. It is hardwearing with a slight halo unlike Shetland yarns, however when used for Fair Isle the fibres cling together in a very similar way to Shetland. 

Fair Isle Excelana 4 ply from A Stitch in Time Vol 2
It is fabulous for textural patterns creating real three dimensional structure to a cabled garment for example.

The Ladys jumper cardigan using Excelana 4 ply in Persian Grey
And it is very, very warm. Over the limited tests I have done I would actually say it is warmer than Shetland which has quite taken me by surprise!

Felix:  What influenced your decisions regarding the colour palette for the eventual yarns?

Me: I did a lot of research into colours from the 1930s onwards both in clothes, interiors and knitting yarns of the time. I had access to an amazing shade card at the Shetland Museum which also gave me an insight into the incredible range of colours available in the 1930s. Coupled with this was a need to choose only 7 colours plus the undyed natural wool that would work together when knitted up. This resulted in great deliberation over certain of the choices. A scarlet red for example, whilst appropriate and popular did not work at all when placed with the other colours so hard choices had to be made. I think the colour that was the driving force for the others was Nile Green closely followed by Persian Grey and then Powdered Egg. There is a lot of grey in all the colours which is what unites them and really makes them a palette to work from.

Excelana being used for traditional Fan and Feather pattern
Felix: . Has being involved in developing Excelana given you unexpected or new ideas for patterns/design projects?

Me: Very much so, particularly using negative ease which works so well in Excelana. And also, maybe more surprisingly, the limited colour palette has ‘forced’ me to be very creative with the colours I had available and I have particularly enjoyed experimenting with Fair Isle patterns using different combinations of only 8 colours. The changing results are very satisfying. The colours almost work like paints reacting to each other when partnered next to each other.

Felix:  And just for fun: what is your favourite sheep?

Me: Ooh, thats a toughie. In the past I would always have said Shetland as having spent a lot of time there in the last couple of years they are what I see in my head if I think ‘sheep’. However the Exmoor Blueface has proven itself to be an equally wonderful sheep that I don’t know whether I can choose between them I’m afraid. However, I’m going to go with Exmoor Blueface as without it there would be no Excelana.

Exmoor Blueface sheep on the hills above Lynmouth, Devon
This interview was first featured on the Wovember website in 2011. Felix talked in more depth about using Excelana to knit Kate Davies' incredible Deco design on her own blog here

With new patterns, weights and colours all on their way I can't begin to tell you how excited I am about the future of Excelana. In fact I'll be sharing 2 new patterns, one by me and one by someone else on the blog tomorrow, with many more to come! 

for now 
Ruby xx 

Monday, November 12, 2012

Classic Woolly Toppers Competition Winner!

I'm late as always! However I am delighted to announce that the winner of a digital copy of Classic Woolly Toppers by Woolly Wormhead and two balls of Excelana DK in their chosen colour is.....

ancebak! Well done! I'll email you for your address details shortly so if  you can be thinking about which colour of Excelana you would like me to send in the meantime.  I will also pass your email on to  Woolly to send you the download details for Classic Woolly Toppers.

And if you want to know who she chose as her favourite hat wearer and why:

I absolutely LOVE the Ravine - very charleston! My favourite hat wearer has to be Annie Hall (Diane Keaton). Her hat makes an otherwise very masculine outfit extremely feminine and shows just how important a hat can be to an outfit.

Very well said and I hope you enjoy your prize.

for now
Ruby xxx

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Classic Woolly Toppers Book Tour

“Why do you wear a hat?” What you really should be asking is “why are you not?” *

I have always worn hats even in the dark days of the 1980s, when as a teenager I was laughed at for doing so. When my daughter was born in 1992 I engulfed her wardrobe with hats, both for play and dressing up and for ‘real-time’ use. Throughout her teens, hats have been once more, a fashionable item, and she has been able to wear her many, many hats without being ridiculed. To quote my hero, Stephen Jones, “Hats are the important accessory. ..when worn with verve, they are often the raison d’etre of many an outfit”. I believe hats complete an outfit and create a frame to a face, adding something that isn’t there without it. Imagine Marlene Dietrich here in ‘Witness for the Prosecution’ (1957) without her trademark beret.

Or Audrey Hepburn as Holly Golightly in ‘My Fair Lady’ going to the races without one of the most famous hats in fashion history.

If I was asked to name three of my favourite hat designers, I would undoubtedly choose Stephen Jones, Cecil Beaton (because of My Fair Lady) and Woolly Wormhead. Woolly is without doubt a milliner in the truest sense of the word using knit fabric as her medium of choice to represent her constant stream of ideas. Like Stephen Jones, Woolly has been inspired heavily by natural forms and architecture but for her latest collection, Classic Woolly Toppers, has delved into classic hat shapes and styles, re-interpreting them in her own inimitable way and updating them for the ‘modern’ knitter. I am truly inspired by the way Woolly has looked at established hat styles and found a way of putting her own unique stamp on these and creating a contemporary, forward-looking collection. 

Classic Woolly Toppers contains 10 fabulous hat designs perfect for all different face shapes and hair lengths. In fact, Woolly provides some very useful advice on picking the right hat. The patterns are clear and as always with Woolly, well written and carefully thought out. And to top all of that, my daughter the hat-wearer is on the front cover!

Copyright Woolly Wormhead

In this photo she is wearing the Camden Cap which shows how effectively Woolly has interpreted well-beloved hat shapes.

My favourite of the ten designs however is Ravine. 

Copyright Woolly Wormhead
Closely reflecting the cloche hats of the 1920s, this hat sculpts itself to the crown of the head and frames the eyes and mouth of the wearer. It instantly made me think of the helmets worn in Fritz Lang’s ‘Metropolis’ 

and also of these crocheted cloches from a ‘Woman and Home’ magazine from 1930. 

I really wanted to see how Woolly’s hat would look with a bit of vintage styling (and I wanted an excuse to make myself Ravine!) so I decided to knit the hat for myself. I used two balls of Excelana DK in Saharan Sand to go with my classic tweed coat and worked the hat exactly as specified for the fifth size in the pattern, which is for a 22 inch head circumference. I probably should have reduced the depth of the hat by about 4 rows to get an absolutely perfect fit but I wanted to see how my head shape compared with the pattern so I would know how to adjust in the future. If I had reduced the length by 4 rows I would actually have got the hat out of just ONE ball of Excelana DK. And here you have it. Ravine by Woolly Wormhead worn by yours truly! I'm still not used to seeing myself in photographs but I am really trying hard not to hate every single photo just because I'm it. However  I love my hat!

copyright Gavin Crawford
Copyright Gavin Crawford
It fits snuggly and naturally on the head. It frames the eyes exactly as it should. It feels and looks extremely stylish and is very, very warm. So does everything that a good hat should. Fabulous! And I added a brooch for a little vintage flourish.

So what better way to round off the blog tour than to offer a prize! For a chance to win a digital copy of Classic Woolly Toppers courtesy of Woolly Wormhead and two balls of Excelana DK in your colour of choice from Alabaster, Persian Grey, Cornflower Blue, French Rose, Ruby Red, Saharan Sand, Powdered Egg or Nile Green, just leave a comment telling me who is your favourite iconic hat wearer and why. They can be ‘real’ as in Marlene for example, or a character such as Holly Golightly. I’ll choose a winner at random on the 7th November. Please leave me an email address so that I can get in touch.

If you can’t wait to hear if you’ve won, you can purchase the book from Woolly’s website. The print edition is $16.99 and the digital edition is £9.

Good luck!

for now
Ruby xx 

* (from Hats an anthology, by Stephen Jones, Published by V&A Publishing)

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Travels - Part Two

Only 24 hours after returning from Bournemouth I set off on my next journey. This time all the way to Shetland for Shetland Wool Week. it has been several years since I have travelled alone. Gavin and I, with working together, tend to travel together, so this long journey was a big and important one, proving to myself I was still able to travel alone. And of course I did, and enjoyed the journey very very much. I arrived in Shetland on Sunday 7th October and the action packed week that it was went by in a flash. So here are just a few images to remind me of the great time I had at Shetland Wool Week:

Jen Arnall Culliford teaching pattern writing using my Bubble Stitch Yoke

discussing my cardigan!

Working hard

learning to knit a hap with the lovely Gudrun

A tiny tiny hap in progress

Ella and Sandra, the lovely ladies of Jamieson and Smith

Native and natural organic Shetland wool

Beautiful Cockleshell scarf using organic Shetland wool

Kate Davies capturing this incredible black lace shawl by Sue Arthur on display at the Textile Museum

How to pick a prize winning fleece

A very handsome native Shetland white ram lamb
for now
Ruby xx

P.S. I'm afraid blogger has been very tempremental this evening so I've been brief as I have to admit to running out of patience with it!

Monday, October 22, 2012

Travels - Part One

Just over two weeks ago I journeyed down to Bournemouth on the South coast of England to conduct a hand knitted swimsuit experiment which was to be filmed by the BBC as part of a documentary they are making tentatively called Handmade Britain.

The experiment was to be conducted at Boscombe beach which is a truly beautiful typically british beach with a pier, crashing waves, white sand and beach huts. Perfect.


Boscombe Pier

Beach Huts at Boscombe
To be able to conduct the experiment on the hand knitted swimsuit, I needed a kindly participant who would not only wear a handknit swimsuit but would be prepared to go for a dip in the chilly autumnal sea off Boscombe beach.

Amazingly, the wonderful Fleur, who some may remember, modelled for the first volume of A Stitch in Time, very kindly agreed to take part.

Fleur in Sun ray ribbing from A Stitch in Time Vol 1
I met up with Fleur at a cafe on Boscombe beach while we waited for the BBC. 

I wore my Princess Twinset and Crowning Glory beret all from Coronation Knits along with a vintage 1950s skirt and my Rocket Original  sandals in navy blue - all very nautical!

Later that afternoon the BBC arrived. The crew consisted of the Producer, the camera man, and Thea, the researcher, runner and production assistant.

And so, filming began. I was interviewed about hand knitted swimsuits of the 1930s and the purposes of my experiments.

I did feel a little rushed as I didn't get the opportunity to answer questions put to me more than once, but the crew were happy with my responses so I guess we shall see in the final edit!

I handed the swimsuit to Fleur and off she went to get changed ready for her dip in the sea. I'll go into the details of the experiment in a separate post as this also formed the basis of my lecture at Shetland Museum a few days later, but I wanted to see if in the right circumstances, with the right construction and fit, if a hand knitted swimsuit would actually behave itself. And on this occasion it did! Here are a few more photos of the day:

Fleur before going into the water

Off she goes!

being incredibly brave

getting wet!

speaks for itself!

Fleur and swimsuit still looking amazing
even the camera man got wet!

filming the filming

me trying to look serious
What the camera saw
 The swimsuit Fleur wore is "The Call of the Sea" also from A Stitch in Time Vol 1 and it performed marvellously. But more about the results and progress of the Swimsuit Experiment in the next couple of weeks.

The programme is apparently scheduled to be aired this coming Spring but when I know more I will of course let you know.

so for now,
Ruby xx

All images copyright Gavin Crawford 2012 except for A Stitch in Time image, copyright Susan Crawford 2008