Friday, 24 May 2013

Interesting old book find - Our princesses and their dogs.

I picked up this rather tattered and forlorn faded blue hardback as I was intrigued by the title and wondered what I might find inside. It turns out that it is exactly what is says it is - a book about Princess Elizabeth and Princess Margaret and all their dogs. There is very little writing but there are a number of very lovely pictures. So I snapped it up and took it home.

Princess Margaret with Choo-Choo the grey and white
Tibetan Lion.
This book, written in 1936 by Michael Chance, is dedicated by the princesses to 'All children who love dogs'. I think that is very special, it shows a normal part of life in a really not very normal family. I think that is also what makes the pictures special, because if it wasn't for their famous faces (and the massive play house the size of a normal person's home), you could just think this was a portrait of an ordinary dog loving family. It is lovely to see the children genuinely having fun, not performing a duty.

The photographs are taken by Studio Lisa. This was formed by the photographer Lisa Sheridan and her husband. In the 1930s they were asked to take some photographs of the Royal family and from what I can work out this book is the result of their first photo session.

Princess Elizabeth was born on 21st April 1926 and Princess Margaret was born on 21st August 1930 making them 10 and 6 when these photographs were taken. Many of the photos are taken in the grounds of the Royal Lodge in Windsor Great Park which was their country home. The people of Wales gave the play house Y Bwthyn Bach (the little cottage) to Elizabeth in 1932.

Princesses Elizabeth and Margaret with Lady Jane - a reddish brown
Pembrokeshire Welsh Corgi.

Princess Elizabeth with Jane and Dookie. Jane is
eighteen months old and Dookie is three and a half.

The children with their mother Elizabeth, Duchess of York,
 with a corgi hiding behind her skirts.

The Duke of York with Choo-Choo, a corgi and his six year old yellow
Labrador Mimsy. Also, take a look at his mighty fine socks.

The family with all their dogs.

Princess Elizabeth with Dookie.

Apparently when told to lie down the dogs posed themselves around the
girls for this picture!

Rather awkward looking but spot the corgi sneaking into
the shot.

At the 'play house'.

Just to place this moment in history we may need a quick lesson. Princess Elizabeth's granddad was King George V. She was third in line to the throne after George's two sons Edward, Prince of Wales and George, Duke of York, her father. In 1936, the year this book was published, George V died. Edward came to the throne as King Edward VIII but abdicated by the end of the year to marry Wallis Simpson. So George became King George VI and his coronation took place in 1937. This made Elizabeth first in line to the throne.

It is quite strange to look at these happy and relaxed pictures and think of the family traumas and dramas that were to play out by the end of that year.

I have not included much of the text of the book because, frankly, it makes me want to vomit with its saccharine, crawling tone. Needless to say they are the best dog owners in the world, can communicate with their animals like no others, everyone is charming and the princesses are a 'joy to everyone throughout the length and breadth of Britain'. You can probably make up the rest.

That aside, I really enjoyed this book as the pictures are lovely, the characters come through, it is  a different side of the Royal Family and most of all, I really like dogs.

Wednesday, 15 May 2013

Smart jumper - Robin pattern.

When I first spotted this pattern whilst flicking through a dusty pile of papers I gave a little squeak of excitement. I love a good hunt and rummage and a successful find. It is so exciting. I may have done a little jump for joy. It was the colours that jumped out at me - 1950s styling perfection.

I just adore everything about it. Smiling perfect eyebrow woman with shiny brushed out curls held by a simple black velvet band. White daytime gloves and the hint of a bangle. Purple floral skirt, definitely swishy, possibly a circle. Cheerful basket of springtime flowers in a complimentary colourway. The cheeky jaunty 1950s Robin. Lovely square necked, short sleeved, lace patterned jumper. I had to have a go at making this one!

I have a number of patterns designed by Amanda Laine and as yet I can not find out any information about her. I would like to know more so if anybody reads this and has some details that they can fill in please do let me know.

I like a jumper with a reasonable depth of rib. Then the lace pattern starts which was tricky until I got the pattern straight in my head and then it was a joy to knit. The colour is not accurate here, it is much more vibrant blue as the next photos show. I took this whilst knitting in the evening, it really was of a work in progress. I used a 1980s Sirdar cotton mix yarn that a friend kindly gave me. I thought that a spring jumper would be nice and cool in cotton. I didn't want to use 100% cotton as I though that it may be too heavy and drag the lace.

This gives a better idea of the colour and the pattern. You can just see that it is still on the needle so this picture is of the knitting laid out flat which does not give an idea of how the fabric will drape.

Here the jumper is finished and on a dress form so the fabric is draping and the rib is stretched as it would be when someone wears the jumper.

This is the finished jumper.


I don't know what I did to the dress form to make her look so wonky shouldered! I love the little sleeves and the way that the jumper blouses slightly. Depending on how you like to wear and style your jumpers this one size ( UK 12 ish) could be a closer fit on say a size 14 as there is a slight stretch in the pattern, or, a little looser on say a size 10. My friend kindly tried it on for me so that I could see it on a real person and I was really pleased, she looked lovely in it. Sadly I do not have a photo.

This garment is for sale and will go in my online store when I have that sorted. In the meantime you can find me on Facebook here .

Tuesday, 14 May 2013

A trimly tailored jacket.

I have been very busy knitting lately so I have a number of vintage knitwear posts to come. It has been such fun taking these old patterns and making the garments come to life.

Take a look at this beauty! A gorgeous, tailored 1940's jacket with a choice of sleeve lengths and with moss stitch borders and cuffs. An added bonus is that it is knitted in double knitting yarn. Actually, I really enjoy working in 4-ply but it does take significantly longer so sometimes it is nice to have a double knit project to go to.

When I knit from a vintage pattern I try to produce a garment that resembles the original as closely as possible, I want it to look like a period piece and I want to make it the way someone at the time would have done. That means using the correct size needles for the yarn type and not altering proportions. As a hand knitter I like the feeling of following in someone else's footsteps and being able to make a garment that is recognisable across a 70 odd year gap. I like to know that if I was suddenly whisked back in time whilst wearing one of these pieces I would fit right in!

I chose to knit the jacket in Sublime extra fine merino wool  which is 100% merino and knits up beautifully. It has great stitch definition and it is so gorgeous and soft. I often cannot wear things with a wool content as it makes me itch but I would be absolutely fine wearing this.

This picture shows the lovely moss stitch edging. The colour isn't quite true, it looks raspberry here but it is more of a dusky antique rose, it is lovely. Although it was quite a mammoth task to knit the border separately I decided to do as the pattern said. The sewing up was a bit of a pain but it does look lovely. The collar is also knitted separately and stitched on after the edging. It was amazing how it transformed it from something nice to something really lovely.

Here it is in close up and you can see the lovely wooden buttons. I chose them as they were beautiful and tactile but simple as I wanted the pattern and tailoring of the jacket to speak for itself.

This side view shows the shaping on the fronts and on the sleeves just above the cuffs, contributing to the tailored look and fit.

If you look closely at the small of the back area you can see the shaping that helps give the garment a waist.

So here it is..........

The finished article! It is a size 34-36 inch bust and is for sale. I am working on an online shop but for the moment I can be contacted via my blog or Facebook .

Just to finish - happy blogging birthday to me. It is one year since I started my blog and I am enjoying the opportunity to write about and photograph the things that I am interested in so much. I aim to increase the frequency of my posts in the next year.