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