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

Saturday, November 29, 2014


Edited 8.40 am Sunday: The page is now finally beginning to be populated with the sale items. As I upload them it is taking about 24 hours for them to appear on the page and as a new vendor I am limited to how many I can add at any one time, but I'll be slowly working my way through. Some items have sold almost as soon as they appeared on the page so do keep looking if there's a particular favourite that you're waiting for.

Original post 21.50 pm Saturday:
I have begun to list samples on my ebay page and these should have been published by now but unfortunately ebay hasn't yet updated them to show them on my page. If you are following the page ebay should hopefully notify you when items 'appear'. To be doubly sure I will post on the blog again once the page does update.

I'm so sorry for the inconvenience if you are waiting to see the listings, but unfortunately I don't have any control over the ebay system. If its not sorted tomorrow however I will find another way to list them for sale.

for now

a slightly irritated
Susan xx

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Sample Sale

Since moving back in March, I have been attempting to re-organize, clear out, streamline the amount of ‘stuff’ that I have. For a considerable length of time prior to this, I have been concerned about the number of sample garments I need to store. Added to this is the imminent arrival of a hell of a lot of books in less than a week's time (more on this in a day or two), so I have finally made the decision to sell some of them.

A significant number of the items are from A Stitch in Time Volume 1, and all are sold as seen. Some have been used as display garments over the years but all have been stored in dry conditions, and in a smoke, pet and moth free environment. There is only one of each item and they are only available in the size specified and colour shown. As much information as possible will be included on the sale page for each product.

To give everyone an equal opportunity to acquire one of these beautiful knits I have opened a basic ebay shop where I will list each item. The shop will ‘open’ at 7pm (GMT) on Saturday evening - that’s the 29th November.

 Here is the link:

Nothing will be listed on it until the specified time on Saturday, but if you follow the page you will be notified as soon as items begin to go live.

I'm afraid I can’t reserve or hold things for people so if you do want one of these gorgeous knits you will need to go through the ebay shop.

To whet your appetites here are a few of the garments that will be up for sale:

New Cowl Neckline

It Cannot Fail to Please

Fair Isle Yoke

Sun Ray Ribbing

Its going to be hard to let these garments go but I know they will all be going to good homes and the time is right to say goodbye.

Good luck!

For now,
Susan xx

Monday, November 17, 2014

Come and say hello at the Knitting and Stitching Show!

I'll be having at stand at the Knitting & Stitching Show in Harrogate again this year. The show commences next Thursday - the 20th of November, and runs until Sunday the 23rd. The stand is in a completely different place to last year and if you're trying to find me in the programme, I'm afraid I'm not listed.

So if you would like to visit the stand you can find me in Hall A, stand number A130



I've got a number of fabulous new kits and designs available for the first time, including:

Blodini - an extremely snug yet elegant tubular stranded knit cowl in Excelana DK. This design was originally released in Dreaming of Shetland by Deborah Robson.

Marit - Scandinavian style mittens based on a traditional Norwegian mitten pattern knitted in Excelana 4 ply

Day at the Races - Vintage Fair Isle beret available only as a kit and knitted using 5 shades of Fenella - more about this design very soon!

and very exciting indeed is the exclusive release at the show of two new designs from the "Knits for a Cold Climate" collection, with a design each from my marvellous co-designers, Tess Young and Karina Westermann.

Tess Young's exquisite design uses innovative techniques and clever use of structure to create Alconleigh, a fabulous slouchy hat and gauntlet set knitted in three shades of Fenella.

Karina's playful and stylish set features a gorgeous stranded knit beret with felted pom pom. Teamed with this is the choice of a triangular neckerchief, scarflette or shawl in a co-ordinating stripe pattern, also with optional felted pom poms. Again knitted in Fenella, this pattern provides so many options - particularly useful for Christmas present knitting. Intriguingly entitled Noblesse Oblige.

You'll hear more about both of these designs when they are 'formally' released when I get back from Harrogate, but in the meantime the only place you can buy either of these patterns is from my stand.

I'm also very excited that due to popular demand, Diamonds are Forever will be available as a single pattern for the first time - and is now knitted in Excelana 4ply. Modelled here by the lovely Anna, who agreed to model for me only a few days ago and did a fantastic job on a very chilly day. Thank you Anna.

Kits for the very popular Nancy and Wartime Farm patterns will also be available on the stand along with much, much more.

 Phew! Listing them like that it sounds like a lot of new stuff! So don't forget, Hall A, stand A130.

If you've not yet purchased your tickets for the show, the organisers are offering a discount of £2 on every ticket purchased, if you enter the code EX14 at the checkout Alternatively you can call 0844 848 0155 and quote the same code.

I hope to see some of you there!

for now,
Susan xx 

All images copyright Susan Crawford

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Lest We Forget

It is now two years since I first told great uncle Herbert's story and on this day, 96 years to the day since the 'Great War' ended, it seems appropriate to reprise his story - lest we forget.

From April 2012 -

In the autumn of 1914, a 19 year old John ‘Herbert’ Ogden, from Blackpool Lancashire, enlisted in the newly formed “Kitchener’s Army” to fight in the “Great War”. Like hundreds of thousands of other young men Herbert firmly believed it was his duty to fight when his country called.

Herbert, aged 18

Herbert was born in Oldham, the second child of Thomas and Edith Ogden. Thomas was a successful licensed victualler  and had sent his son to a boarding school in Scotland. Herbert had three sisters and two younger brothers who all admired the tall, good looking and refined young man that Herbert became. Herbert’s mother had passed away in 1912, so was not there to see her sons join up one by one.

Herbert after joining up

Due to his education Herbert was placed with the Royal Fusiliers 21st Battalion (4th Public School Division) and was sent to Clipstone Camp in Mansfield, Nottinghamshire for his basic training.

In this photo Herbert, in the foreground, is wearing a stylish knitted cardigan

Herbert is on the left of this photo leaning on the post
herbert is standing third from the left looking away from camera in his natty knitted cardigan

By 1916, Herbert had received his ‘commission’ and was promoted to Second Lieutenant in the Loyal North Lancashire Regiment (5th Battalion, Territorial Force).

Herbert on the right looking older and more serious than previously

Herbert fought in the Battle of Arras in France on Easter Monday 1917 and ever since the family, including my husband, Gavin - Herbert’s great nephew - have believed that that is where Herbert died in battle. Herbert’s war record like almost 70% of others from before 1940, was destroyed in a fire at the War Office so details of his movements had been hard for the family to trace. And more significantly, no one thought to doubt handed down oral stories of Herbert’s tale. Where Herbert was buried was sadly unknown.

Only two or three weeks ago an amazing family treasure came to light. Buried in a box deep in the attic, a photo album belonging to Herbert’s sister Edith was unearthed. Edith was also the sister of Florence - Gavin's grandmother. In it are numerous photos of a smiling, handsome, well groomed young Herbert in uniform. Amongst these photos are even a number of Herbert at the training camp in Mansfield (shown above). But one photo in particular made me decide to write Herbert’s story.

Herbert in a hand knitted scarf

This photo of an elegant Herbert was taken in 1915 during Herbert’s training. Under his coat he is wearing a thick, warm looking hand knitted scarf. Knitted by one of his sisters or by one of the hundreds of thousands of women who knitted for the troops during the WW1 conflict? Dorothy Peel in her book “How We Lived Then” (1929) writes of women knitting socks, mitts, body belts, hats, scarves - ‘comforts’ as they were known - for the soldiers. Knitting took place everywhere, in trams, trains, theatres and parks. In “All Quiet on the Home Front” (Richard van Emden and Steve Humphries, 2003) it tells the story of a minister being asked by local women if it was right or wrong to knit socks on Sundays for the soldiers. The minister told them it was quite right, which they were very pleased about. In his “A History of Hand Knitting”, Richard Rutt explains that wartime knitting hit a peak in 1915 and was further fanned by an appeal by Queen Mary for hand knits for the troops in 1916.  In fact, troops apparently received so many hand knitted comforts that socks and gloves were used as dish clothes and tea towels!

Herbert’s simple scarf really doesn’t need a pattern but I went through my patterns anyway to see if I could actually find a pattern for a garter stitch scarf. The most likely place was the first edition of “Woolcraft” published  by J and J Baldwin shortly before the outbreak of war in 1914, and which before the end of the war, four years later, was on to its third edition but I was unable to locate a scarf pattern like Herbert’s. In “Knitted Comforts for our Sailors, Soldiers & Airmen” by Scotch Wool & Hosiery Stores is an almost identical scarf to Herbert’s, but the copy of the book I have is much later in date, although I believe it may be a reprint of an earlier booklet as the yarn recommended is “Wheeling”. In Richard Rutt’s book he has described this as a coarse woollen-spun yarn, usually 3 ply, a description which he in turn probably got from one of the earliest Woolcraft’s where it is described as:
“a term applied to a distinctive material which, by reason of its early association with the town of that name, is often referred to as ‘Alloa Yarn’. The word ‘Alloa’ is, as a matter of fact, often used as a synonym for the thick woollen thread or ‘wheeling’ yarn which, for hand knitting purposes is generally sold in 3 ply and in a skein of 2 ozs., eight of which form a head of 1lb. Wheelings, as a class, when of good quality, fill a very useful place as producing warm woolly fabrics specially suitable for heavy socks, stockings and garments for outdoor wear, such as get softer and more comfortable the oftener they are washed. A cheap wheeling can, however, be very deceptive in point of durability and, in this class of material especially, it only pays to buy a good reliable article”.

By the time Woolcraft updated editions were being published in the 1920s this description was no longer being included in the knitting definitions and instructions. This suggests that the use of this word was out of date even for the late 1930s when I believe the Scotch Wool book was printed, and therefore possibly indicates a reprint of an earlier publication. However in the Scotch Wool booklet, Wheeling is described as the same as Double Knitting and “a splendid quality for motor rugs, capes and scarves, heavy weight jumpers and pullovers. The best quality for ‘brushing’”, thereby changing the definition and maybe suggesting Greenocks, who published as Scotch Wool, were using the name in a different way? This is the project included in this publication.

There is nothing I can do to change what has passed, but it would seem appropriate if people were to knit a simple scarf and remember Herbert. So as I can’t actually find the pattern that was possibly used to create his scarf I have written a simple pattern of my own and so this is “Herbert’s Scarf”. 

You can download the pattern free of charge here which also contains this essay, and if you would, think of Herbert or any other man or woman who has fallen in conflict when you knit from it.

Delving deeper into Herbert’s past finally revealed as much of his story as we are ever likely to know. On 31st July 1917, the Battle of Passchendaele (or Third Battle of Ypres) in Belgium, commenced. One of the most controversial and horrific battles of WW1 began in torrential rain, which refused to stop.

the battlefield of Passchendaele

And since that morning, after going over the top into No Man’s Land into craters of mud, barbed wire, gas, bodies and bullets, Herbert, only 22 years old, was never seen again. His date of death is given as 31st July 1917 but his body was never found. His name however, is carved into a panel in the Menin Gate Memorial in Ypres, so that he will always be remembered.

Over half a million men, including over 350,000 British and 260,000 Germans, died at Passchendaele, many of them drowning in mud and rain-filled trenches. After surviving the horrors of this battle, the poet Sigfried Sassoon wrote about it in his poem, Mud and Rain -

Mud and rain and wretchedness and blood.
Why should jolly soldier-boys complain?
God made these before the roofless Flood -
Mud and rain.

Mangling cramps and bullets through the brain,
Jesus never guessed them when He died.
Jesus had a purpose for His pain,
Ay, like abject beasts we shed our blood,
Often asking if we die in vain.
Gloom conceals us in a soaking sack --
Mud and rain.

In Memory of great-uncle John 'Herbert' Ogden: 1895-1917

for now,
Susan xx