Tuesday, 26 January 2016

Wentworth Woodhouse and a winter wardrobe wonder

This magnificent building is Wentworth Woodhouse and it boasts the longest facade of any English country house. I had trouble getting a picture that would fit it all in! It is the largest privately owned house in Europe, located in South Yorkshire and a couple of weekends ago I went, along with my friend, on a couple of guided tours of it's interior.

The current house at Wentworth is Georgian, built by the Marquis of Rockingham, and was one of the most expensive houses ever built. It incorporated part of a 1630's manor house which was added to in both the early and late eighteenth century by various family members.

The house has been owned by three main families, the Wentworth's, the Marquis of Rockingham and then from 1782 until 1989 the Fitzwilliams. More about the family histories can be found on the Wentworth website. The Fitzwilliams time at Wentworth is written about in a work of fiction called Black Diamonds by Catherine Bailey. I read it a few years ago and really enjoyed it but I wish I had re-read it so that it had been fresh in my head.

After the Fitzwilliams the house was then bought by a businessman who had it for ten years and was then sold to the current family who are in the process of restoring the house.

The house had been closed to the public for a long time but it is now open for guided tours. We managed to find a day where we could book a combination of tours which allowed us to see all of the rooms which are now open. They only make up a small proportion of the rooms at Wentworth but more tours are in the process of being added. Our tour guide had worked on the Estate as a carpenter since he was young so the tour felt very personal, not just like a recitation of a guide book.

Unfortunately photography is not allowed inside the house which is such a shame as there were some amazingly grand rooms. Behind these pillars is a two storey marble hall with a gallery running round it and a huge fireplace and stunning floor. We saw a dining room which had green hand painted wallpaper containing arsenic for the pigment. We went in a room named the Long Gallery whose sole purpose was to provide a long room in which to walk if the weather was too horrid to exercise outside. It really was impressive. Some of the rooms are still a work in progress and some do not yet have their furniture or paintings. It didn't detract from the fascination I felt catching glimpse of this lovely old house.

My friend had been on one of the tours before and she had warned me to dress warmly as there is no heating in much of the house. Our noses were freezing by the end of the tours! I figured that I needed an outfit that consisted of knitwear, layers and a lined skirt. I wanted to reflect the cold weather, in fact, that evening it snowed loads, and this is what I came up with.

Fair Isle Tam - knitted by a wonderful friend
Cardigan - Marks and Spencer
Brooch - vintage from a charity shop
Mitts - knitted by me from a 1950's pattern
Welsh Tapestry handbag - vintage, gift from my lovely friend
Alpine skirt - Lindybop
Shoes - Clarks many years ago

Apart from my nose I was pretty warm! The tam is knitted from a modern pattern but it is very similar to the ones that were common in the 1940's. I love the print on the Lindybop skirt, so perfectly wintry. It was my first purchase from Lindybop and I was pleasantly surprised at the quality, it is fully lined and has fabric covered buttons. I don't think it is available now but a lovely dress in the same print is. I was very happy that my handbag tied in as I adore it. I squealed when I saw it in the shop and my friend kindly bought it for me even though it was some way in advance of my birthday!

If you like big old houses and fancy a day out I can recommend Wentworth. If you are feeling flush you could buy it as it is currently for sale for about £8 million! Sadly, I don't think they are open to cheeky offers!

Wednesday, 13 January 2016

Top Ten cases of vintage Resting Bitch Face

As I have mentioned before: herehere and here, I sometimes buy vintage knitting patterns for reasons other than wanting to make the featured garment. Some of the categories I also look for are: use of bonkers props, men smoking, odd backgrounds, scary children and the category that I want to share today - vintage Resting Bitch Face (RBF).

So, RBF is an unfortunate situation which occurs when someones ordinary face (at rest, not attempting an expression), is, well, bitchy looking. The person looks mean, angry, annoyed, irritated but that is not how they are feeling. It is just their face. Whilst RBF is a term that has only been used commonly in the last few years, this Top Ten shows that whilst the term may be newish, the look is pure vintage.


Take a look at my book? Er, no.
Spare chair? Nope, can't see one.

Yep, the spit is still in her hair.
Me? Need customer service training?
Take me for a drink after? No way sunshine.
Just practising my death stare.
One little smile just for you? Creep.
Fashion modelling they said? I am so better than this.
I don't do cleaning.

This is my happy face.

Monday, 4 January 2016

An archive of wonder part two - 1960's-1980's

I talked about my visit to the Knitting and Crochet Guild archive in this post; I explained about the Guild, our day and the items that we saw from the 1920's-1950's. This post picks up where that one left off, from the 1960's-1980's. Yep - bright, highly patterned 1980's knitwear coming up!

This is a 1960's dress which is a brighter pink in real life! It is made from Bri-Nylon. The central back strap meets the two front straps to form a part halter neck. They are held together by a large crochet covered button.

It is just about possible to see in the first picture that the dress has a thicker panel of stitches over the bust area to prevent it being completely see through!

The next series of pictures are of a 1970's wedding dress.

This is an image form the original pattern which was published in June 1970 in Woman's Realm magazine.

The dress is crocheted in 3-ply yarn and is floor length. The dress looks a creamy yellow now but apparently it was originally white.

The bottom panel of the dress is trimmed with velvet ribbon.

It fasteners with these small, sparkly buttons.

This shows some more velvet ribbon trim and the decorative yoke of the dress.

The dress was given to the collection with it's veil - made from a net curtain.

Now we move to the 1980's!

This is a Patricia Roberts design called Harold and Maude. The design features bunches of grapes and cherries and is knitted in mohair. The cardigan was knitted by the donor's mother.

This jumper is also a Patricia Roberts design. It is not knitted in the recommended yarn and the inexperienced maker used two methods of colour work, firstly floats across the back and then intarsia. It was obviously well loved and worn as it has some stains on the neck from sun tan oil!

This beautiful grey tunic is a Jean Moss design who, as a patron of the Guild, donated it. It features lots of knots, bobbles, cables and colour work and is very intricate.

Kaffe Fassett is also a patron of the Guild and he donated this cardigan which is his design - The Three Virgins. It is knitted in cotton and is very vibrant and incredibly detailed. It fastens up the front with clasps.

That brings us to the end of the large selection of knitted and crocheted item that we saw to begin with. I think there might well be a part three to this as there are some tools, gadgets and some interesting household pieces yet to be covered!

Saturday, 2 January 2016

2015 in knitting

2015 was a funny old year for knitting. I thought about it often, made lots of plans, sought out many patterns and fondled much wool. However, in terms of knitting itself I wasn't able to do as much as normal and frankly, this has been a disaster! I have a very painful neck and shoulder which has been affecting my knitting capability for a while and towards the end third of 2015 I realised I really had better do something about it.

I was too scared to go to a Physio for a long time in case they told me that the only solution would be to stop knitting. I knit because I love it, I knit for pleasure, I knit because it means I can make what I want to wear, I knit because I love wool, I knit because it is my hobby, I knit because I love and collect vintage patterns, I knit because it is sociable, I knit because I love my knitting friends but I also knit because it does me enormous good in terms of my mental health and the thought of not being able to do so makes my mind go kind of fuzzy at the edges and I feel rather panicky.

So, finally, I stopped being an ostrich and made a physio appointment. She turned out to be marvellous and very understanding about the knitting situation, promising it wouldn't be banned, just maybe lessened for a while. I can just about cope with that. Sort of. So I am doing my exercises and am making progress and 2016 will be the year that my neck/shoulder fixes and I can knit all of the things all of the time again.

Despite the setbacks some things have come off my needles so I want to do a bit of a round up. They are not necessarily in chronological order as I often have several things on the go at once, a project that needs brain space, a simpler one for knitting groups and one that has queue jumped because some kind of occasion has sneaked up on me and I need to crack on with it.

I really enjoyed knitting this 1950's pixie hat as it just made me smile all the way through and the end result is such fun! I made it for the baby of a lovely blogging friend so it was a very happy project to do. It is knitted in Millamia 5-ply and the pattern is a Patons and Baldwin booklet.

This 1950's Marriners romper has a matching cardigan which is also completed. I started this in 2014 and it was meant to be a present for my niece's first birthday. I really hated the yarn I was using, a bamboo blend 4-ply and I kind of got cross with it when I couldn't knit the rabbit nicely. So I put it away for a bit and then realised I still couldn't face it. So, I wailed to my mum and she took it off my hands and finished knitting it up! Thanks Mum!! So my niece got it about 6 months late but as it was always going to be on the big side it still fitted. Phew!

This is a cardigan for me, knitted in Sublime Extra Fine Baby Cashmerino double knit from a 1951 Stitchcraft, which I previously blogged about here, when I had knitted up the back. I am so proud of this as it is quite a complicated stitch pattern and I had to learn how to crochet to make the button bands and neck band. It is long overdue it's own outfit post; I need to remedy that!

I knitted this cardigan for my cousin's new baby. It is knitted in Millamia 5-ply and the pattern is from a Paton and Baldwin's booklet from the 1950's. I really enjoyed the chain stitch yoke and using such a beautifully cheery bright colour. Apparently he liked the buttons so all is good!

I blogged about this cardigan here. It is a cabled cardigan from a 1950's Wendy pattern and I knitted it in Sublime Extra Fine Baby Cashmerino. I think I must have started it in 2014 and just finished it off in 2015. This is such a staple of my wardrobe, it is squishy and cosy to wear and I loved knitting all those cables.

Excuse the blurry second photo. This is a jumper knitted in Sublime Extra Fine Merino 4-ply from a 1941 Stitchcraft pattern. I really enjoy knitting rib so I didn't mind how much there was to do in this and I enjoyed the construction as it was fascinating seeing the rib change direction. This is another knit that is overdue an outfit post so I am adding it to the list!

I loved knitting this pretty little bolero, the little lace pattern was fun and it is really cute. I knitted it for my niece as a second birthday present and this year she actually got it in time! I knitted it in Millamia 5-ply from a 1950's Paton and Baldwin's booklet.

I don't have many photos of this cardigan that I am knitting for myself and the colour is not at all true here, it is really teal. I haven't finished this yet as it got overtaken by projects with pressing deadlines. I have completed the back, left front and both sleeves so there is not much left to do and I hope to be wearing it soon. It is knitted in Millamia 5-ply and it is from a 1950's Paton and Baldwin's booklet.

Sometimes, I do knit modern patterns and these four hats are knitted from a pattern written by the fabulous Helen from Ribbon Circus. It is called the Chamonix Ski Hat. I was asked to test knit the pattern which was such fun to do and I loved knitting it so much that I have now knitted five (one finished yesterday and yet to be photographed). The top two were birthday presents for friends, the third is mine and the last is a slouchier version for my sister for Christmas. They are knitted in a combination of Millamia Aran and Sublime Extra Fine Merino Worsted. Choosing the colours has been such a joy, I really recommend this pattern if you want a cosy, warm and cheerful hat.

This lovely double breasted jumper was a Christmas present for my niece. I saw her wearing it yesterday paired with an orange shift dress, stripey tights and fox socks. She looked lovely and I was so pleased to see it being worn. It was a really enjoyable knit, especially seeing the collar take shape. I think it is a 1950's Marriners pattern and I used Wendy Merino 4-ply which is a lovely yarn to work with.

So, that is the round up of 2015's knitting. I am looking forward to all the projects I have planned for this year, as long as my shoulder co-operates! I tend to post pictures of my knitting on Instagram so if you want to see projects as they progress you could take a look here.