I have finally finished the Martha cardigan that I started back in March. I actually finished the knitting weeks ago, but it was hanging around for a long time waiting for me to sew it up. It does seem such an effort to sew the seams, weave in the ends, sew on the buttons, when you could be getting on with the next piece of knitting instead. It's entirely illogical, I know.
Anyway, it's finished and looks good, though the weather was much too warm yesterday to want to wear it when I modelled it for the photo. (That won't last, of course - in fact, it is much cooler today).
The colour is quite hard to capture in a photo - it is quite a gray blue, as in the first photo. I have made the sleeves longer than in the pattern, as I said I would back in March. I have also changed the placement of the buttons a little bit, so that the bottom button coincides with the textured band around the bottom of the cable section - I think that the design is more coherent that way. I do like the cables a lot and it's good that Sarah Hatton has used them on the back as well as the fronts. The back of a cardigan or jumper is sometimes left plain, which is a pity - the cables make the back more interesting to knit than an expanse of plain stocking stitch, and it looks much nicer, too.
The neck line has turned out much less scoopy than in the pattern - not sure why. It wasn't deliberate. Maybe I misread the instructions? I definitely did misread the instructions at the very beginning, which is why the textured band around the bottom is not quite as deep as it should be. Altogether, it's surprising that it has turned out so well.
I am now knitting Kate Davies' Deco cardigan. I took the yarn and needles on holiday to Oregon in May, but didn't actually get any knitting done - I didn't even cast on until we got back home again. The pattern largely avoids the sewing-up problem, because the cardigan is knitted in one piece - there is only a little bit of sewing required, backing the button-band with a strip of ribbon, as far as I can see. I am up to the armholes, so far. More later.
Tuesday, 19 July 2011
Victoria Wood says in the programme notes that the idea for the musical came from a documentary about the recording that she saw in the 1970s, featuring interviews with people who had been in the choir in 1929 and were by then middle-aged. Her musical is set in 1929 and 1969, based around the two main characters meeting at a choir reunion after 40 years, hearing the record again and remembering how their 10-year-old selves had felt on that day. They start to ask themselves whether they can together rescue their lives from the mundane routine they have sunk into and live the more joyful life that once seemed possible. And of course, it is very funny and entertaining. It is not the 1960s of Mary Quant, Twiggy, mini-skirts and Vidal Sassooon haircuts, but of Berni Inns, The Golden Egg and Wimpy Bars. (The audience were mainly of an age to remember all those things and were very appreciative.) There is a wonderful song-and-dance routine around dinner at a Berni Inn (melon and maraschino cherry or prawn cocktail, gammon and pineapple, and of course Black Forest gateau).
The 1929 thread in the musical has a choir of local primary school children, playing the original choir, and an 11 year-old actor playing the younger version of one of the main characters. He does a fantastic job - it is a big part involving singing, dancing and speaking, and this was his professional debut. There is a YouTube video showing brief extracts from the opening night, so you can see how well the children did.
And you can also hear the original recording on YouTube. The choir mistress in 1929 trained the children to sing for the recording in "received pronunciation" rather than with their usual Mancunian accents - fortunately today's choir sing with their natural vowels.
Thursday, 14 July 2011
It is a very well produced book, with lots of clear illustrations. Some are contemporary - fashion photos (usually from Vogue) or ads for knitwear manufacturers. Others are photos of surviving garments, and the author often shows both the whole garment and then one or two small details in close-up, so that it's possible to get a clear idea of how it was made. Some of the knitwear is from John Smedley,
a long-established knitwear manufacturer (based in Derbyshire), others apparently come from private collections.
Altogether it's a really enjoyable book - informative and illuminating.
Wednesday, 13 July 2011
|Modern Weekly, 1927|
Altogether it was a very successful weekend. It was great to meet so many enthusiastic, knowledgeable and expert knitters and crocheters. A disappointment was that we didn't have much time to see Cardiff, apart from a couple of hours at the castle at St Fagans - must go back.
Wednesday, 6 July 2011
|Knitted Comforts for Men on Land and Sea|
Here is another pattern booklet from the Knitting & Crochet Guild collection at Lee Mills, Beehive Booklet No. 17. Knitting "comforts" for the troops was common during the First World War. Richard Rutt, in his book A History of Hand Knitting says: "The First World War stimulated British knitting to the point where it was regarded as as a national mania". It was helpful for the women at home to feel that they were doing something, however minor, for the men fighting in the trenches and at sea.
This booklet has a collection of patterns, mostly devised by Marjory Tillotson, who was the chief designer for Baldwin's. (Baldwin's merged with Paton's in 1920.) Her career is outlined in Richard Rutt's book. It was unusual then, and for decades afterwards, for the designers of knitting patterns to be identified, but in this case her full name is given with the first pattern, and most of the others have her initials at the end.
The booklet is in rather poor condition, unfortunately - all the pages have become separated and two are missing. But the surviving pages include patterns for a "Plain helmet (or Balaclava cap)", a sleeping cap, bedsocks, several kinds of sock, a seaman's jersey and a "Coat Sweater (or Cardigan)". The Crimean War terms (balaclava, cardigan) were presumably not widely recognised at that time, and so could not be used by themselves without further explanation.
|Stout steering gloves|
There are also mittens (actually what we would call fingerless mittens) and two thicknesses of "steering gloves", which we would call mittens, with little diagrams giving detailed measurements. There is a note saying that "The original garments have been approved by the R.N.M.D.S.F. - to whom the publishers are indebted for the use of several illustrations giving the Standard Measurements." I asked Google about the R.N.M.D.S.F., without much hope of finding anything, but in fact the organisation still exists - the Royal National Mission to Deep Sea Fishermen. Their web site notes that much of the mine-sweeping work in both world wars was carried out by the fishermen and their vessels, and indeed the "Knitted Comforts" booklet says that the garments will be of great use for men engaged in mine-sweeping.
I especially like the illustration on the front, of the intended recipients (a Royal Navy sailor, a fisherman, a soldier) chatting on the quay. Though the soldier does look surprisingly like Stalin.