Friday, 29 April 2016

30s style for 3ply Bouclet

Now the parrot jumper saga is over I am onto another colour knit, from a 40s pattern I  have not seen anywhere else (charity shops are great sometimes). I am quite excited, but I will wait to post when it's done.

Many knitters like to work on several projects at the same time so they don't get bored, sadly I am not so productive, but in a bid to become more efficient I am lining up the next project already!

I have just found some lovely original 3ply, much called for in 30s and 40s patterns, which has inspired me to look at older patterns than normal. I have 6oz of Patons Beehive Bouclet in a dark teal, and 5 oz Patons Beehive Fingering in a mid blue. Together there will be enough for a project. Finding patterns to go with second hand yarn, even fancy stuff, is not that hard now days. There is Ravelry, vintage yarn wiki sites, etsy sellers, and vintage knitting groups on Facebook. The latest FB offering is the Vintage Knitting Pattern Library for sharing pre-50s patterns.

If my experience so far is anything to go by the only point to worry about is yardage. Old patterns seem to understate the required yardage quite a lot, for the parrot jumper I ended up using almost double the amount of the main colour than stated - 12oz rather than 7.

Anyway, this is my selection so far, all 1930s cowl or v-necks. This first one is so simple and it needs the least yarn. The 30s look is often a long waistband and very blouse-like body, but this one is a bit different. Out of all the designs this is the most suited to by body shape.

This is a lovely design, and again works well for two colours, but I don't know if my yarn is going to work for crochet.

This lovely number would be top choice but I would need a bit more yarn, or to change the design. It is classically 30s, with that big waistband and quite straight body section. I love the deep V neck and those sleeve chevrons.

I can handle a round neck if there are chevrons, cavalier or not. If anyone ever sees some 3ply in this colour please tell me I will pay you big (ish) bucks for it.

All these patterns (expect the cardigan I think) are from one booklet, available separately or as a book from 'e-stitcher' on Etsy. Something tells me I am going to be buying the whole bouclet! (ha ha) x.

Wednesday, 13 April 2016

The Norwegian Blue jumper

I have finally finished the 1940s Bestway Lovebirds jumper I wrote about in my last post. 

I am quite delighted with it. I love these wild colour contrasts. The original design is for a green jumper with some birds in red, red being the colour of a Lovebird. Mine are in blue as that is what my stash dictated (I wasn't going to go and buy new yarn just incase it all went wrong) so this is now the Norwegian Blue jumper (as in the Dead Parrot sketch). 

Electric blue is definitely one of my fave colours. I have a faux-vintage swing coat in this colour which has been my everyday winter coat for the past year or two. I won't be run over in this colour combination that's for sure. The orange also goes with my vintage earrings and bangles.

I can say completing this has been a bit of a miracle, depending as it did on leaping in and learning how to do colour work from scratch. Halfway through the birds I had to unpick about 10 rows, luckily by that point I had got used working with multiple colours and it didn't take long to redo it. All the birds have their own colour strands, which means by the end there are hundreds of ends, which didn't get too tangled thankfully. I think if I do it again I will tie off some of the ends as I go. Other than shortening the waistband a bit, and also taking 4 rows from the length I didn't change anything. 

If anyone wants to try this I would say go for it. It's not that hard if you are used to intarsia and if you are not then it's a very good way to learn. More details on my Ravelry if you want them.

Wednesday, 16 March 2016

Loving the Lovebirds 

Or how I lost my mind and decided to knit a picture jumper.

Bestway 2063, or the Lovebirds jumper, is a 1940s design, which I bought as a PDF from Etsy having seen some lovely versions around the inter-web and falling for its charms big time.

Now, this is only my second attempt at garment knitting, which is I can see with hindsight is really quite ambitious.

Here is my first garment, a very respectable effort which gets worn a lot. It is from the book Vintage Knits made up in Rowan 4ply Soft (Sandalwood). It used stocking stitch, ribbing, moss stitch, and some eyelets, all quite straight forward. After only ever having knitted cushions I was looking forward to making my first ever garment, but was rather hampered by a frozen shoulder which meant I had to stop knitting altogether. So this took 4 years to finish!

The yarn is exactly what it says, very soft. I was so pleased with it I bought another batch, this time in a spicy orange (Tandoori), which I am using as the main yarn in my Lovebirds jumper.

And here is the progress thus far.
The garment back.

The garment front,  halfway up the chart!

Back view of the front.
Otherwise known as the portal to madness.
As with any new project, the trick is to break it down. I watched two films about intarsia on You Tube, one of which included how to roll new yarns up in a figure of eight, allowing them to hold themselves together (without using any annoying plastic holders). That was such a simple and incredibly useful piece of information!

Following a chart is not hard, but I think I have got confused about what line I am on more than once! Colouring in the chart means I can see what colour is going where. I also did a quick sample, which helped me to practice my intarsia. I had never tried any colour work before, and this pattern calls for "Fairisle" but the technique it describes is actually closer to intarsia. Holding new sections in tension and releasing others when you have lots of yarns, and trying to not let the whole thing bulk out is challenging to put it mildly. My tension isn't perfect, but this was always going to be about learning rather than results!

The coloured sections all come from the same beautiful yarn, again by Rowan. This time it's Edina Ronay Silk and Wool. I got a selection of colours from a seller on Ravelry quite some while ago. This stuff is superb, so soft and light, it is 4ply but has more loft than my main yarn. The colours are a bit on the 80s spectrum, but I quite like that!

Intarsia isn't hard, but working with this many colours is decidedly tricky, I have tried it late night in front of the TV but I only ever manage a couple of lines before conking out! It's best to do it during day light if possible.

I fell head over heals for this pattern, and frankly I would say you need to be in love to put yourself through this! It will get lots of love and use and hopefully it will still be cold enough to wear it when I finish! And despite it driving me crazy right now, I bet I will be making another one!

Thursday, 25 February 2016

Crawford in Rain 1932

I have been a busy girl, but not too busy to watch a film or two.

In 1932 Hollywood liked a bad girl and I really can't see why they wouldn't. The film 'Rain' stars one of the all time best bad girls, Joan Crawford, and she steams the screen up from the word go.

The sub-text of this film is how much Hollywood resented the Hays Code which cleaned up the movies and made the Great Depression even more depressing. Good job they invented better scripts and plots and things.

Rain is actually really quite good, and Crawford really floats my boat here, sartorially speaking.

My drawer full of cheap trankles and fishnets are ready, I have an appropriate 30s dress pattern.
The facial expressions and sass are something I may need to work on.

Saturday, 18 July 2015

Light fantastic

For us a barbi usually means camping. Not this time, the setting was Maison Talbooth an uber-posh place in the lovely corner of the Suffolk/Essex border known as Constable Country.

They have the lushest dense lawn, like carpet but nicer. Me and my shadow are showing off Butterick Retro 5603, which I made around April and have worn lots. I would recommend this for a beginner, and because it can be made with 3 yards of 44" wide fabric it's not an expensive affair.

The fabric is an exuberant summery number, a cheap cotton lawn from Goldhawk Road. It was about £15 for 3 metres.

And a petticoat of course.

Constable Country is another name for the Dedham Vale AONB (Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty). East Anglia has three AONBs and this is the smallest and only one that isn't coastal. Gary's mum lives here and we visit quite a lot. It's only seven miles from our door in Colchester, and but it's another world.

The food was as splendid as the setting. In typical English style the evening turned chilly, so the men had their coats on and the girls huddled by the giant heaters and only threw off our covers for pictures. 

I starved all day then ate paella, steak and a ton of salads, including something I thought was humous but on second helpings realised was horseradish! By the end I could hardly bend to sit down. Ah well, that's greed for you.

This year has been quite busy making wise so I am not short of new outfits to parade around in. Hurray for summer I say. Hope it's as lovely wherever you are.

Friday, 26 June 2015

Playing out

I may not be going on a far flung holiday this year, but am I down hearted? Nope. My biggest sewing project to date is finally done, and we have another camper van too. Summer is a state of mind and my mind is now fully on summer.

East Anglia has more coastline than any other part of the UK, we have country parks and campsites galore. Who needs abroad? Here we are at lovely Cudmore Grove country park on Mersea Island, where fields and woods meet quiet beaches.

The perfect setting for a four piece summer outfit.

With 60s style glasses and vintage Mexican hat on a windy beach.

My four piece set:
  1. Open front skirt with wide waistband, one bound button hole, 5 hooks and eyes
  2. Jacket, worn open, or closes with hooks and eyes. 
  3. Shorts, in stretch cotton with back zipper and high waistband
  4. Fitted sleeveless top in stretch cotton 

After Braque - printed cotton by Makower found on ebay.

Materials and patterns used:
  • Jacket and skirt - Makower cotton "After Braque" - 3 metres. 
  • Contrast blue poplin, John Lewis - I metre from stash 
  • Blue cotton & spandex fabric for shorts and top - 2 metres from local fabric shop
  • 50s Advance 6260 - bodice used for jacket
  • 40s Anne Adams 4075 - skirt with added waistband
  • Simplicity 1590 - shorts
  • Advance 6710 - fitted top

Making notes: 

The choice of the After Braque as my main fabric was a bonus. It has so many blues it's easy to find fabric to match for the contrasts and the additional pieces.

First scallops, first collar, first bound button hole, and first trouser/shorts! There was so much learning on this make. Stretch cotton with spandex was another new to me experience. Really comfy, easy to sew, useful for so many things - my top didn't need any closures because of the stretch.

Total time taken: 5 weeks (at least).

Taking your skirt off on a windy beach !

Safe away from the sea.

A fine end to the day.

The verdict

Five weeks is a long time to be sewing one project, but overall I am delighted, all the pieces can be used alone so you can actually count it as 4 outfits!

The sleeveless top has been taken in a a bit more since taking this pictures. I think the front of these shorts also looks a bit roomy, while the back is a bit snug! Well I don't mind actually, but I will try and fix the fit if I do another. I have come to the conclusion that trouser patterns either fit you after a couple of attempts, or you move on to the next one.

If like me you've always wanted a set like this, I'd say have a go. It may be time consuming, but I just started and in a fairly haphazard way and it came together. I may add to it, a pair of trousers with my remaining cotton spandex, and perhaps a long sleeve blouse. I also need to add pockets to the skirt! This game could go on and on.

I am posting this as part of the Four Piece Vintage Inspired Mini Capsule Wardrobe on Flikr. Fortunately it's much easier to wear than to say. I was about half way through this set when the group was formed by Rochelle from Lucky Lucille. Suddenly I was no longer alone in my mad project! Hurray.  I can't wait to see what everyone else is up to.

Tuesday, 2 June 2015

Bewitching Sportaville skirt

I have discovered my super-power at last. I can make my bottom half disappear in a field. 
This picture has been dubbed the Floral Predator, and it's a fair description. The skirt is a restored 1950s Sportaville and the fabric is a scenic print by the French firm Marignan.

The backdrop is our local bluebell woods. Apparently Tim Burton has a house around the corner.

Dearest little dears. 

That vanishing trick is down to this amazing print. I was searching Ebay for projects when it caught my eye. This sumptuous print is on a soft cotton barkcloth. I counted 7 colours, and I bet it cost a bomb when it was new.

The seller described it as a former Sportaville skirt, the British makers of quality separates from the 1940s through to the late 70s. Sadly all that remained of this one was the three panels of fabric, and a scrap of waistband with the original label attached.

The three former Sportaville skirt panels, each is 34" wide by 26" long.

The Sportaville label on the restored skirt .

Re-making can be harder than making from scratch. I stabilised the top edge with bias binding, which stopped it fraying and going off grain but made it bulkier to pleat. Next time I will remember my silk organza. After trying 4 different pleats all of which looked awful, I turned to Etsy and found a similar barkcloth skirt with stitched down pleats, which I copied. I have left the it un-hemmed as it was only 26" long, and it still had the original over-cast stitching to stop it fraying.

But how do I know this fabric is by Marignan? Well I have bought this print before, several years ago, again on Ebay.

Scenic print fabric by Marignan

Waterfall close up 

Grand Teint Meuble Marignan - 'Grand teint' apparently refers to the quality of the ink

I was similarly bewitched by this print too. The indigo and lavender on pale yellow have a kind of other-worldly look. It's a metre plus of furnishing fabric, but I have a feeling it will never be used to make anything. I think I will frame it and put in my stairwell. I now assume this is 1950s too.

Sportaville made their reputation using this kind of high quality fabric, but it's always hard to find out who actually printed them. As well as restorer I feel like a bit of a detective. Marignan were manufacturers from what really seems to be a by-gone era, the quality they achieved was quite supreme, but I think even they would be astounded to see how great it still looks.

When you can see it.