Vintage knits – Pretty as a Picture

20180318_111546614181878.jpg You might know I have an Etsy shop were I mainly sell Vintage style snoods, but I also love vintage knits and have made a few versions of a 1940s cardigan (there are older blog posts about those), after I’d made a few of the cardigans I started getting enquiries about commissions.  The very first one of these I accepted was from a very cool customer who had bought this pattern from another Etsy seller and really fancied it in magenta 100% wool.

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I didn’t have to look very hard before finding this gorgeous magenta at the Love Knitting website by Cascade yarns.  It is a gorgeous rich colour and a beautifully consistent yarn.  So we were off, the customer sent me the pattern and once the yarn was delivered I made a start.

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One of the things I really like about vintage knits is of course the beautiful shaping, but there are other things to bear in mind, for example I had to make several swatches because modern yarns tend to be a bit thicker than vintage yarns so it would be horribly easy to get the gauge completely wrong.

 

I also tend to use vintage knitting needles too because although there are millimetre equivalents in modern needles they are not the same.  Charity shops are a great source for vintage needles, you will probably need to ask to see them because for some reason they keep them off the shop floor these days like they’re wild and dangerous beasties.   Though having said that, for this project I absolutely didn’t do that and used my beloved Karbonz.

The pattern itself is a slipped stitch with a cross over that is carried over several rows, I must admit at first reading it did look a bit  alarming and I went wrong and had to pull it back twice before I got the hang of it.  Of course know I can’t remember what the fuss what about because once I’d got the hang of it it was really easy.

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This is another of my foibles, I like my nails to match my knitting, this Leighton Denny colour is a fantastic match and goes with pretty much everything.  Right now I’m knitting a mustard cardigan and have bright yellow nails but its a Barry M colour so it has stained my nails and chips if you look at it wrong…

So here it is, the finished top.  I love it and thank goodness the customer did too.  If you’re on Instagram I’m going to repost the pictures she has shared already of herself wearing it (with her permission). She looks fantastic in it.  Look at that lovely shaping on the back, I wish I had the figure for it, but the pattern is for a 32″-34″ bust and only surgery could give me that I’m afraid.

 

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Vintage Patterns

For several years now I’ve been collecting vintage knitting patterns, I keep them all squirrelled away safely in folders but rarely actually knit them. This is madness. They’re gorgeous and deserve to be knitted, so this year I am not going to buy any more modern patterns and I am going to work through my vintage collection.

These are my most recent acquistions, most of them bought from Radio Days in Waterloo in their closing down sale but the booklet on the right was a gift from my dear school friend Carole (one of the best people you could hope to meet in your life and the author of many a jolly jape at school) and this is now one of my Precious Things that no one else will ever be allowed to touch.

Someone may need to remind me about this vow on Ravelry, and frequently. Speaking of which if you are on Ravelry say hello, I’m Ginpoodle there too (also Twitter, Instagram and Facebook).

Committing to knitting vintage patterns will also tie in nicely with my other new thing for 2018, I’m only going to buy British yarns produced by people who have no kill flocks like Hooligan yarn and Doulton Yarns when I knit for myself.

At the moment I’m knitting this little beauty for a customer, which I think I’ll be able to finish today and then I’m on to another mustard cardigan and then another one in biscuit. So that’s most of the year in vintage knits already. Actually thinking about it that’d means I only have another three slots available this year unless I give up work which isn’t really an option.

Online Groups

I am cutting down my membership of online knitting groups and subscriptions, I find they draw me in too much and I end up wasting far too much time wasting my creativity time looking at endless pairs of socks.  Marvellous though they are, and I am often inspired or awed by what other people make it stops you from following your own path.  I get so caught up in admiring other people’s work I’m not honing my own skills.  Plus a trend I’ve noticed in some Facebook groups is that once they get popular more admins are needed and sometimes they become over-moderated.  I personally think moderation of a group needs a light touch, people don’t need slapping down every five minutes, if someone posts something that infringes a copyright for example its best to delete it and send them a private message, no need to gloat all over the group about your take-down policies and how you won’t suffer any sort of appeal or dissent.  Its ok for people to disagree with you or offer an opinion you don’t agree with, you don’t need to constantly slap them down.

I think the ones I will stick with are the ones that tie in to a podcast.  My absolute favourite knitting podcast is Louise Scollay’s Knit British, there is something absolutely fascinating in every episode, actually that’s wrong, the whole podcast is fascinating and I think I might be the only person in the world who is glad she has had to reduce the amount of episodes she produces because now I stand a chance of keeping up to date and looking up all the scrumptious yarn, projects, patterns and producers she finds for us.  I’ve not even touched the surface of her Ravelry group but I went along to one of the 100 episodes celebrations in last weekend.  I had been aiming for the Bath one but  there was industrial action on that train line so I went to the London one instead and it was absolutely fantastic.  I met so many lovely people working on gorgeous things and I really hope I can meet them again.  Fingers crossed I’ll bump into some of them at Unravel next month.

I think Ravelry is a much nicer place to hang out than Facebook, I don’t know what it is about FB but it seems to make people come over all opinionated and strident and I’ve just not seen that sort of thing on Ravelry.

So I’m still a bit conflicted about online groups, on the one hand its lovely to see what other people make and be inspired, but on the other its often quite a negative experience in that it drains time to no purpose or you encounter negativity.

I’m also going to unsubscribe from a lot of the major yarn suppliers’ email newsletters. Its just so much clag isn’t’ it?  When I want some yarn I go looking for it, I don’t need to be emailed several times a day to remind me.  Lord knows I don’t need any prompts to buy yarn.

French Lavender 1940s cardigan

I’m working on another 1940s cardigan, this one is in soft lavender which is not a colour that suits me at all so I’ve never thought to make anything in this colour until a potential customer got in touch to suggest it.

Now I don’t know about you but I let personal bias affect everything I choose to make so it’s nice when someone gets in touch and prompts you to do something different.  So far I’ve made this cardigan in biscuit, black, mustard and now this lavender and I’d say it works equally well in light and dark shades.  I’m part way through making a navy one for me too but as that one is for me the chances of it ever getting finished are a fair bit slimmer than me.

So here we are – progress not quite to date because this is now very nearly finished.  I’ve knitted this in every spare minute and just have the button bands left to knit before I sew it up, these pictures are a random assortment of places and stages of knitting including at home, on trains, at concerts and at work (in my lunchbreak).

Marvellous Mustard 1949 cardigan

Yesterday, I finished making one of these cardigans from my Etsy shop – Ginpoodle.  I love this cardigan, it is made following an original pattern from 1949 that I have resized.  It is a lot of work but the stitch pattern is just so gorgeous and its very forgiving because the the stitch makes it quite stretchy.

First of all the customer requested a mustard colour in pure wool, so that meant several very happy hours online trying to track down a mustard colour wool in the right weight and in the right quantity.  Turns out there were very few options and the prices ranged from affordable to eye-watering.  The nicest shade of mustard turned out to be the cheapest one – hurrahs all round.  So off I go to order it, only to find out the colour is discontinued so there was only the odd ball to be had here and there. Disaster.  After a couple of days I managed to find an eBay seller who had it in stock so I hit ‘Buy Now’ faster than I’d move if you told me there was a free buffet.  The next day I received an email from the seller to say he didn’t actually have the quantity I’d ordered. Grrrr. Now at this point I know there is very little of this stuff to be had anywhere so I’m feeling a bit panicky, but then I remembered my usual snood yarn supplier also stock pure wool and thank god for them they had the same yarn, but on a cone. I love them so much.

All this meant that by the time the yarn arrived it was two weeks after I’d received the order so the delivery date had to be adjusted. That’s the thing with custom orders, if I need to order in a special colour yarn it will take longer to complete because of course I can’t start until I have the yarn in my hands.

This stuff was worth the wait though. This yarn is beautiful, the colour isn’t flat at all, it has tones of gold and orange that you only really see if you’re knitting with it, it just gives the most beautiful shade of mustard I’ve ever seen. Why they have discontinued the shade I don’t know because everyone that has seen it loved it.

It starts off with a teensy bit of ribbing, then goes into a broad rib pattern (note excellent nail colour matching that I am very proud of) before going into the cathedral stitch repeats.  Now, if you can see, they’re  like little lacework arches a bit like cathedral windows, I’m fairly sure I’ve seen this same stitch in a stitch directory somewhere with a different name so if anyone can jog my memory please do.

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The fronts of cardigans are nice and quick to do because they’re so narrow, which can lull you into a fall sense of security of how long its going to take you to make the whole thing because at this point you’re so pleased with your progress you’ve completely forgotten the way sleeves take over your entire life with no end in sight.  Look at this picture and you’ll see I’ve already started the back, I’m just at the start of the cathedral stitch.  I’m using my gorgeous KnitPro carbonz which I love despite the ‘z’ that should be an ‘s’ irritating me.  Normally that sort of nonsense would put me off buying them altogether but they’re so chic in black and silver and my partner works with carbon fibre so it makes me feel like he’s nearby when I knit with them.   At this point I really should have blocked those two front pieces because they look pretty ropey and uneven to my eyes until they’ve been blocked.

In rare moments when I was not knitting I read this book, several years after all the other knitters in the world have read it.  Its very funny indeed, if you are a knitter and you haven’t read it already please do get a copy, you’ll see yourself on every page.  The lighting in the middle pic is horrendous because that’s my desk at work, I’m knitting at my desk in my lunchbreak and everyone else is pretending that’s normal.  The third pic is back home with the back piece finished on my vintage trunk.

All I’m going to say here is… arrrrgh sleeve hell. Though as I was making them I realised a jumper with a plainish body and cathedral stitch sleeves would be lovely and I should make one for myself.  Remind me would you?

img_0537After sleeve hell comes blocking hell. I don’t know why I hate blocking so much but I do. I think it’s all those pins and stretching.  I always worry its going to ruin all my work or not dry properly and smell of damp.  This never ever happens, the knitting is always vastly improved and it does always dry much more quickly than you expect. But blocking always gives me The Fear.

Last week I visited the Knitting and Stitching Show at Ally Pally on the Wednesday, and despite having already bought about a ton of buttons in various colours and materials for this cardigan I bought these beauties from the Italian Button stand.  I couldn’t resist, they’re perfect aren’t they? There are 14 buttons on this cardigan. If you don’t like doing up buttons or are always in a frightful rush do not buy this cardigan.

I taught myself a better way of doing buttonholes too so they came out all neat and perfect first try, normally I oversew them afterwards but no need now.

So here it is, the finished cardigan.  I love it. I know I made it and its not very British to blow your own trumpet but I think it’s beautiful. I am very happy with it and fingers crossed it’s new owner will feel the same. The flat feels a bit empty without it.

 

Today I’m Making… Fuss Free Festival Shawl

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I am a member of the excellent FaceBook group Everyday Knitter run by the knitting designer Louise Tilbrook.  I’ve watched for ages people making her simple garter knit shawl and finally got around to casting one on while on holiday in Bulgaria last month.  To be honest I didn’t really enjoy the holiday so I was glad of it.  It was like a home for sausage obsessed grumps.

It is a very simple design so perfect for showing off a nice interesting yarn, and because it’s lovely and simple to knit it is perfect for holidays and knitting in front of the telly.

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I am making mine using 200g of DK yarn, its a Rico Design Creative Galaxy that I bought in a sale at Pack Lane Wools in Basingstoke earlier this year.  I’m pretty sure I only paid a couple of pounds for it. It’s lovely yarn, really soft and a little bit fuzzy which offsets any scratchiness you might have felt from the hundreds and hundreds of little holographic sequins it is shot through with.  The pattern only asks for 100g of sock yarn but I love a big snuggly shawl so I’m doubling up and using DK. This is mine at the half way point.

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So far I have knitted it on holiday by the pool in Bulgaria, in front of the telly at home, commuting to work by train and at my new Saturday afternoon knitting group at the library café in Fleet, Hampshire.  Tomorrow I have a hospitable appointment I am frankly dreading so I’m going to take it with me as a sort of comforter.

Here is a link to my one on Ravelry, where you can also buy the pattern though I think Louise is still sending you a free one if you sign up to her newsletter so check that out first!img_0394

 

Today I’m Making… Fireflies Rising Shawl

This year for the first time I’ve managed to remember to buy a ticket for Yarn in the City’s Great London Yarn Crawl, this is their fifth year anniversary so I’m counting myself as double-lucky for bagging a ticket on the Metropolitan route.  Do have a look, it is going to be fantastic and I’m not just telling you this because I’m so pleased with myself, sometimes they get a cancellation so keep an eye on their Ravelry thread for ticket swaps.

Yarn in the City have a KAL for the yarn crawl, its the gorgeous Fireflies Rising shawlette by Helen Stewart, and at the time I bought it she was donating money to the charity Refuge which pretty much decided it for me.  One of the things I love about this pattern is she has a column showing in percentages how far you are along, I’ve just passed the 55% mark, I’m on 107 with 321 stitches on the needle!

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A row is taking a fair old while to complete now so I’m not knitting this on the train to work anymore. Though thinking about it I travel in to Waterloo and with the huge engineering works in August I might well have time to do 3 rows per journey and read 50 pages of my book.  If I get a seat.

My yarn is from Once Upon a Time Skeins, who is a local indie dyer based in Basingstoke which isn’t that far from me but I don’t think she sells in any local shops.  I bought my skeins directly from her (she’s lovely) at the Yarnporium.  There is only one more skein left of the colour I’m on now and I had been wishing I’d made the shawlette just from this colour because its all lovely gingerish shades and knits so beautifully.  I’m going back to my natural red hair too so I think its going to look really nice on. The thing is, I’ve just spotted someone else has finished one in a very similar colour and it looks incredible, but, that means mine is still unique so I’m happy to stick with what I have now.

This pattern is such a joy to knit I’m very tempted to cast on another one straight after finishing this one. The fireflies are some very easy and satisfying yarn overs and double decreases, though having said that when I did the first set I made an almighty mess of it through trying to do it late at night after wine.  I pulled it back and redid it and just look how great it looks even before blocking, its a bit cableish looking while its on the needles.

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I’m still trying to match my nails to my knitting and doing pretty well I think. I’m all up to date with snood orders too so no sudden nail colour changes to contend with.

 

I really want to wear mine on the day so please keep your fingers crossed for me that it doesn’t rain on 9th September and if you’re on the same route as me I am looking forward to meet you on the 9th and dying to hit the shops.

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