Wednesday, 16 December 2015

An archive of wonder - part one 1920's-1950's

A few weeks ago, I, along with a group of friends, went on a very exciting day out to the Knitting and Crochet Guild Archive. The Knitting and Crochet Guild is a charity dedicated to all aspects of UK knitting and crochet, preserving the heritage of the crafts whilst encouraging it's development. The archive houses the Guild's collection of books, patterns, needles, tools, gadgets and made items.

We were booked in for a handling day which involved a tour of the archive and then a chance to see and discuss some of the items from the collection, and to handle them whilst wearing cotton gloves to prevent any damage. This was all fuelled by tea and biscuits and much excitement!

The three Guild members who were showing us around did an amazing job. They were very knowledgeable about their subjects and were really enthusiastic. They were not at all fazed by our stream of questions and the shrieks of excitement and the ooos and ahhhs that accompanied each reveal of the items. Thanks to them we had a super day.

I took so many photos of these incredible pieces that I need to split the posts about this visit into several parts! It is such an opportunity to show some of these items that I don't want to leave anything out!

The garments were all laid out on a black tablecloth for us to see them clearly. The lighting isn't always brilliant but I avoided using the flash so as to not cause any damage. If you mentally dial up the vibrancy of the colours a little then you will be on the right track! It was just great to actually be able to take photos so thanks to the Guild for letting me.

This is a lovely 1920's yellow crochet tunic.

Look how fine the work is! This is a close up of the bottom edge.

This is closer up still to show the delicate picot edging.

This copy of Fancy Needlework Illustrated contains similar patterns which helps in the correct dating of the items.

The next item we saw is this beautiful 1930's jumper. It is knitted in various pastel rayons/artsilks.

Here is a close up and you can see that the main body of the jumper is knitted in a slip stitch pattern.

This close up shows the lovely crochet neck edging. The jumper fastens with buttons at the shoulder.

This gives us a view of both the right and wrong side of the work.

This is the inside of the jumper, those coloured stripes are beautiful!

We were also shown a couple of 1930's children's dresses which were knitted from Robin patterns.

They were knitted in a mixture of rayon and angora. Here you can see the angora yoke.

This pink dress has a square necked angora yoke.

This knitted jumper is from the 1950's and is beige with a blue diamond lattice pattern on the front but not on the back. It is knitted in 3-ply wool and may  have been part of a twin set.

The blue lattice is not knitted in to the garment, it is embroidered on using straight stitch. The jumper has a centre back opening fastened with metal poppers.

We were able to learn some of the history about this jumper. It was knitted during the donor's daily commute, she knitted many item in her journeys. She also donated a brown pixie hood to the archive, I hope she used to wear them both together.

This is a 1950's knitted jacket in dusky pink 2/3-ply and was knitted from a Vogue pattern. It is really very tiny, the waist measures 22 inches.

The buttons are gilt. There is a lace inset pattern done the sides of each button band and across the bottom.

Under the cuffs and the bottom band are lined with petersham to stabilise them.

Here you can see the really neat stitches attaching the petersham to the knitted fabric.

Most of the items in the collection have been acquired through donations and the Guild are working on making sure all areas of knitting and crochet and all eras are covered.

Part two is going to focus on garments from the 1960's to the present day.

Thursday, 23 July 2015

Spring suit from 1938 - free pattern

As I said in my previous post, at the local junk market I picked up a couple of magazines from 1938. They are typical women's magazines from the period: fashion, recipes, short stories, advice, beauty, sewing and knitting. Both copies have lovely knitting patterns in so I thought that it would be good to share them. This is the second pattern from March 1938. 

Monday, 20 July 2015

Spring cardigan from 1938 - free pattern

I did not mean to be absent for so long but I have had such computer problems! Hopefully it will all be fixed soon! I had a wander around the local junk market a few days ago. It is often a good source of random vintage bits and pieces and I mostly come away with some sort of tempting goodies. On this day I picked up a few brooches and a couple of 1930's magazines.
Two copies of Weldon's Ladies' Journal, from February and March 1938. This one offers two free patterns inside. I wish that they had still been there because just look at them!
I like the double collar detail on the green dress and the plaid one has interesting triangular breast pockets. I love all the little details on 1930's clothing. Luckily, they were not the only patterns to be featured in this issue of the magazine.
There is a knitting pattern for a fairly simple but very lovely cardigan. It is ribbed, with a deep v neck closing with four buttons, and has long sleeves. It looks very cosy, easy to throw on, and if you were wearing a dress with amazing collar or neckline details it would let them shine. I thought I would share the pattern.
Sirdar Majestic was a 4ply yarn, handily there is an advert for it at the start of the magazine. I imagine that as this is knitted in rib it will have a fair amount of stretch so it should fit an inch or two around the stated size, depending on your tension.

I can't sort out the sizing or spacing of the photos so well at the moment, one of the computer problems! Hopefully it is all readable! Do let me see if you knit it!

Monday, 1 June 2015

From sheep to cloth

In West Yorkshire there is a beautiful village called Saltaire which is a UNESCO world heritage site. It was built by Sir Titus Salt to house the workers for his mill. In the 1830's Titus Salt was one of the first people in England to work out an industrial process for turning alpaca fleece into a soft and usable cloth. Titus had over 3000 workers and once the mill was open in 1853 he kept building the village, with houses, a church, a school, almshouses, library, shops and a park. The village was completed in 1876. Titus Salt was recognised as a progressive employer who tried to make life better for his workers at a time when working conditions in textile mills were very poor and there was much danger and poverty. 


I could talk for ages about Saltaire but that isn't really what this post is about. Suffice to say it is a beautiful place to visit and it gives an interesting insight into industrial history. Salt's Mill is now part museum, part shops and part gallery with a large collection of David Hockney pictures. It is one of my favourite places to spend a few hours. It is absolutely huge and it is possible to imagine what it must have been like as a working mill.   In one gallery space there are a series of murals which tell the story of the making of cloth. They were painted by Henry Marvell Carr in the 1950's. They show the process from sheep to cloth which as a knitter, sewer and lover of textiles I found really interesting.
The sheep, looking very proud. Excuse the reflection, the first two paintings are behind glass.
Shearing time and a big pile of fleece.
Grading and sorting the fleece. Different breeds of sheep produce different quality wool.
Cleaning and scouring the fleece. It gets washed, rinsed and dried.
The wool is carded to produce clean, fluffy wool called roving which is ready for spinning.
The roving is spun to produce a strong wooden thread and wound onto bobbins.
The loom has to be correctly threaded so that it will weave the correct type of cloth.
The cloth begins to be woven.
Checking the thread quality. Obviously quality checking happens in tandem with the other processes.
The cloth being woven on the looms. 
The finished cloth coming off the looms. 
Quality control of the finished cloth. 
The cloth being folded and ready to go. These pictures really helped me to understand what used to happen in the mill. The area where I live would have been full of textile mills years ago so when I see them, standing empty or converted to other uses now, it helps me imagine how they used to be!