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

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Introducing Agutter

Agutter is the cardigan I have always been searching for, combining both a contemporary and vintage aesthetic and a casual yet elegant silhouette. I have been waiting for a chance for a long time to design it and finally with the arrival of Excelana DK I got the opportunity.  

Agutter is knitted in 4 separate pieces from the bottom up, the seams integral to providing structure to the cardigan and ensuring a long life. The pattern is written for 11 sizes from 30-50 inch (76 - 81 cm) and can be worn closely fitted by knitting the recommended size for you or more sloppy and slouchy by choosing a slightly larger size as demonstrated by our model. It is knitted using Excelana DK 100% British wool and is shown in Powdered Egg. The yarn has great stitch definition so is perfect for the large lace motif running down the cardigan. It is also wonderfully soft, just what you need for your favourite cardigan.

It is knitted to a 23 st tension on 4mm needles so knits up pretty quickly - especially when you spend your time on much smaller needles. The lace pattern is a delight to knit and is very quick to learn. 

The lace pattern is shown as both written and charted instructions. 

Charlie is modelling Agutter in the photos wearing a size 38 inch as she particularly wanted the cardigan to have a bit of a ‘sloppy Joe’ feel, whilst still looking smart. The large arrow head lace pattern is worked down the centre back and a single repeat is also worked on each side of the front. Rather than a ribbed welt and band a slip stitch mock rib is worked integral to the main pieces. The cardigan is fastened with clear plastic poppers which have beautiful vintage buttons sewn in place over them. 

I shot the photographs once again at our local botanical gardens, using the exquisite wrought iron entrance gates as a backdrop for the cardigan. I am so lucky to have two stunning victorian parks within walking distance of my house. It certainly makes finding a good location for a photoshoot easier!

The printed pattern will be available ONLY to Woolfest customers this weekend, before being released generally on Monday 1st July. Woolfest takes place this Friday and Saturday - 28th & 29th June, in Cockermouth, Cumbria and you can find me on both these days on stand no D80-81 so please do come and say hello. In addition to Agutter there will be other extra special goodies for the show which I will tell you all about tomorrow. 

Agutter pattern details

Sizes: 76, 81, 86, 92, 97, 102, 107, 112, 117, 122, 127 cm (30, 32, 34, 36, 38, 40, 42, 44, 46, 48, 50 in)

Yarn: Excelana Luxury DK 100% British wool, 
7 (7, 7, 9, 9, 10, 11, 11, 12, 13, 14) balls shade Powdered Egg 
Needles:1 pair 4mm needles (plus 1 spare needle for three needle cast off)
Tension: 23 sts and 29 rows = 10cm (4in) using 4mm needles over stocking stitch

Other Materials: 4 large clear plastic press studs; 4 buttons

Print pattern £5
Download pattern £4

With special thanks to the all equally wonderful:
Model: Charlie Moon
Graphic Designer: Gavin Crawford
Tech Editor: Kate Atherley

Agutter is now available to download from my ravelry shop
 for only £4

You can purchase the pattern here.

so for now,
Ruby xx

All images copyright Susan Crawford 2013

Sunday, June 23, 2013

A fond farewell but not goodbye, to Purlesque

For nearly seven years now there has been a wonderful independent haberdashery, yarn shop and maker in Liverpool called Purlesque. It was set up and run by the lovely Susan and Jane whose passion for making shone through everything they did.

We have been friends and worked together throughout that time. Purlesque did my first ever book signing on a cold November night back in 2008. Susan and Jane were also there at the launch party for A Stitch in Time Volume 1 around the same time. 

Jane & Susan of Purlesque at the Stitch in Time Volume 1 book launch in 2008

At this point they had moved from their stall in Grand Central to a pretty little shop in Bluecoat Chambers. 

Purlesque in Grand Central

Purlesque at Bluecoat Chambers
The Purlesque ladies had a stand at Make Do and Knit and also helped organise volunteers for the event. 

When the tenancy expired at Bluecoat Chambers, Purlesque moved and worked on a new concept of a haberdashery within a vintage shop - Pop  Boutique. From here Susan and Jane continued to offer their own unique mix of yarn, haberdashery, fabric and handmade pieces. Over the last year, we began to collaborate on knitting and sewing workshops initially held in a wonderful cake shop in Liverpool - Cuthberts - and then more recently, from the shop itself. The workshops have been a great success and have brought students along from Cheshire, The Wirral and beyond. 

Sewing in a zip at my skirt making workshop at Purlesque within Pop Boutique
Unfortunately the vagaries of city centre leasing has meant that the shop lease which was due for renewal has been taken by a taxi hire company and Purlesque has to again find a new home. This all happened with very short notice and the girls have not been able to find the right place as yet for their shop to move to. So as from 4pm today Purlesque will close its shop doors for a little while whilst the search continues. In the meantime, workshops are still being planned at exciting venues around the city and handmade pretties will be available from their online shop. So if you want to be kept informed of all the news you can sign up for the Purlesque newsletter here.

Adieu, Purlesque. I look forward to sharing in your future plans.

for now,
Ruby xx

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Shetland Lace, Lorna Doone & my great grandfather

Now I know I said it would be a little quieter on the blog over the next few weeks but it has actually been even more quiet than I ever intended. Working on two books - A Stitch in Time, Volume 1 and The Vintage Shetland Project (more on this in a few days) and some new pattern releases in time for Woolfest and finding myself with a really nasty summer flu has meant the blog has been seriously neglected in the last few weeks. In addition to all the above I have also had a number of other projects to complete. One of the other tasks I have been busy with is creating some Shetland Lace. I've been working on two pieces, a small sampler or table centre piece and a humungous shawl, both initially for a Shetland Lace workshop I have been putting together.

Both use exactly the same patterns and construction but have differing stitch counts.  The sample piece is knitted using Jamieson & Smith 2 ply Lace in shade L1. The sample took two 25g balls which have approximately 169m on each ball.

I began with a centre construction working loops at each end to be picked up to knit 4 separate border panels.

Once each border panel was completed I then worked the lace edging for each piece.

With all four borders knitted and the lace edging worked right around, the border pieces can then be joined together. I wanted to experiment a little here and instead of working a regular herringbone join I created a more open, abstract version which would hopefully look quite random and cobwebby.

What I particularly love about this type of join is that its very difficult to see where the knitting ends and the sewing begins which then leaves the observer questioning how it has been achieved. Blocked it is about 60 cm square.

This lace panel is destined to hang on a wall in our house next to a vintage embroidery that I recently rescued and framed. I hope to stitch the panel to a background which I will then mount inside a frame before hanging.

So on to my humungous shawl. I was very lucky to be gifted two skeins of Lorna Doone from Natural Dye Studio.

The yarn is a blend of 40% Exmoor Horn, 30% Zwartbles and 30% Wensleydale. Exmoor Horn is also where my very own Excelana begins so I was very excited to try a different blend based on it. It is a 4 ply/sport weight yarn available in 100g skeins with 335m on each skein. The very dark brown tones of the Zwartbles fleece is combined with the lighter natural tones of the Exmoor and Wensleydale to create the overall effect of a grey yarn. And it has also been spun by John Arbon at his mill in Devon just like Excelana. The yarn is a joy with which to knit. It has incredible stretch and surprisingly good stitch definition for so flecked a yarn. It is soft, light and warm making it the perfect choice for this type of shawl. I can't wait to get it finished and be able to wear it.

The shawl in its entirety uses 4 skeins of Lorna Doone, so around 1400m of 4 ply weight yarn and is knitted throughout on a 4mm needle and it will be around 1.5 metres square once blocked. I particularly love how the pattern looks so different using such contrasting yarns.

There is another less yarny reason why I so wanted to try out this yarn though. And it is its name. Named after the main character Lorna Doone in the book of the same name by R D Blackmore, it shares its first name with my mum, who was also named after Lorna Doone.

In actual fact, my mum was named after a Red Funnel paddle steamer which first sailed in 1896 and was in turn named after the then very recently published book. My great grandfather, Reuben Jones from Aberdovey in Wales, was born in 1897 and by the time he was 14 years of age he had joined the Royal Navy.

My great grandfather, Reuben Jones
He then served throughout the First World War apparently on the Lorna Doone which had been converted into a minesweeper for the war effort.

The Lorna Doone in its civilian role as a pleasure steamer
After hostilities ended Reuben remained in the Royal Navy reserves and worked for the Pacific Steam Navigation Company until his untimely death at the age of 33 in 1930.

Reuben, centre front, on board a PSN vessel, not long before he passed away
My nan (named Rubina & known of course, as Ruby) was 11 at the time he died. My great grandmother left a widow was forced to place my nan's two younger brothers in the local seamen's mission to be looked after as she couldn't afford to look after them herself. Shockingly on the eve of Reuben's funeral she miscarried and lost the baby she had been carrying. The baby was buried alongside its father shortly after.

Lilian Margerite Jones - or 'Ninnie Barc' as she became known in later years
My great grandmother - known to me only as 'Ninnie Barc' - eventually remarried but never forgot her first love and when my nan gave birth to a daughter, it was Ninnie Barc who decreed that she should be christened Lorna.

There is so much more of this story to be researched and told and a pattern to create around it but at least for now a little part of Reuben and Lilian's story is known and the connection between them, Lorna Doone and a shetland lace shawl has been made.

for now,
Ruby xx