Monday, 29 October 2012

Norwich Vintage Finds!

Well, half term has finally arrived, thank goodness!!  It's been a long time coming and we are certainly looking forward to taking a break.  Mr Y has taken C out for the day, M is happily playing and, while I should probably be doing something productive like ironing, I'd far rather share with you the lovely things that were found this weekend.

On Saturday, we left the car at home and instead took the train to Norwich.  We were taking our wares to the Little Vintage Lover Fair which was being held at Dragon Hall.  I love the train journey.  The carriage was peaceful, nearly empty in fact, as you would expect at 7am on a cold October morning.  We enjoyed looking at the countryside and watching the sun rise over the autumn fields revealing the varying shades of amber and brown.

As we approached Norwich, the sunny Suffolk skies faded and we found the station shrouded in ominous dark rain clouds.  By the time we got off the train and out of the station, the heavens had opened but, undeterred, we paddled our way to Dragon Hall!

The venue was lovely, old, charming in fact, with lots of nooks and crannies.  We were very lucky and were positioned in a little room just beside the main shop.  It was so pretty and quite luxurious in comparison to other places we've been.  There was an amazing 1930's sideboard and a rather comfy leather couch which I utilised to full effect throughout the day!  It was so cold that I didn't venture outside of our space and therefore didn't get any photographs of other stalls, sorry.  I did, however, get a few snaps of our things.

Although we could see through the window, it took me a long time to
realise that the same couldn't be said for the other side! :o)

 The fair itself was very slow with a small footfall compared to normal.  It couldn't be helped.  It's an established event, brilliantly organised, publicised wonderfully well and in a great location but what you simply can't plan for is the weather.  Rain, I find, especially heavy, freezing rain with an added bit of hail never does a good fair make!  On the plus side, I got a lot of knitting done and managed to finish the beret I was making in Stylecraft heather to go with one of our jumpers.

Despite low numbers, I sold the dress I'd made in Clydella fabric from the 1940's Hollywood pattern as well as the 1937 jumper in mint green that I showed you only the other day!  We had a lovely time, chatting to some of the other traders with a just little bit of shopping to boot!  I came away with just one thing, issue No.45 of Needlewoman Needlecraft magazine from 1951.  I know that it's not the specific era that I collect, but it still had the transfer for the most adorable children’s embroideries that I simply couldn't resist! 

Mr Y, on the vintage front, was far more successful.  He never sticks around at these things.  It's not a place for the girls and anyway, Norwich held things far more interesting than anything I had to offer!! 

Up in the Forum, there were a handful of vintage stalls with various books, ephemera and the like.  Stacked alongside some Picture Post magazines, he spotted 9 Good Needlework and Knitting magazines dating from the 1930's.  They aren't in the best condition, a couple have some water damage on and bizarrely someone has removed all the staples!  However, the patterns inside them are simple beautiful.  I'm now itching to get started on another 1930's jumper but I shall resist - for now!

One of the other stalls had an eclectic mix of vintage jewellery including 3 of the wartime brooches I collect.  Luckily for my purse, I wasn't there to see them or I may have been compelled to buy them all!  Mr Y was far more sensible and entrusted the choosing of a brooch to C who, knowing my fondness for the "sticky up ones", as she calls them, chose this pretty blue one.

As if that wasn't enough, he also took a trip to Waterstones book shop where Alex and Peter from Wartime Farm had been book signing.  Much to C's disappointment, who has been fascinated by the series, they missed the actual signing, but did manage to pick me up a pre signed copy. 

I know the series received mixed reviews due to the number of inaccuracies.  I mean, celebrating Christmas 1940 with a gift of CC41 socks?  Really!! 

When I watched it, I did sit there having a little grumble now on then, mostly about the clothing!  But I really like the trio and had previously enjoyed both the Victorian and Edwardian farm series so stuck with it to the bitter end.  The book is really nice; I actually like it a lot, from what I have flicked through anyway.  I'll definitely be reading it.

Norwich really does have some amazing vintage shops as well as a rather massive Cath Kidston store!!  We always go there Christmas shopping - I can't wait!! :o)

Thursday, 25 October 2012

1930's jumper - in record time!

There has been somewhat of a jumper drought on the blog.  The last woollie I showed you was back in August, tut tut, so I thought it was about time I remedy that! :o) 
I do my order knitting in the evenings when I have peace and quiet to concentrate.  I’m working on an order for 3 jumpers, which I can’t really show you until I’ve sent them to the new owner.  One is finished, one just needs the collar and the third, I’ve already finished the back, so we’re getting there!! 

Working with little Y’s by day restricts the level of knitting I can do.  In the past, I’ve tried, and failed, to knit complicated patterns and so have come to the conclusion that rib and stocking stitch are the way to go.

For over 12 months I’ve wanted to knit using a colour called mint from the Stylecraft Life 4 ply range.  It’s a 25% wool, 75% acrylic mix and is such a pretty colour, very feminine and delicate and very much suited to a 1930's jumper.  Having chosen the wool, I had a flick through my 1930’s patterns and decided on this very simple affair from the October 1937 issue of Good Knitting.

The pattern is incredibly easy.  There are 50 rows of k3, p2 rib which, although sounds a lot, is far quicker to knit than k1, p1 rib so wasn’t actually too bad.  The pattern says "the deep welt is a new trick and ensures a perfect fit", well, that remains to be seen but it fitted Doris nicely!  The entire jumper is stocking stitch over 120 rows with only 8 stitches added into the main body of the jumper. 

I started with the front because it was the most complicated piece with the colour change from mint to silver grey for the bow detail.  I wasn’t too happy with the way it suggested working the inserts of grey.  The two wools had to be twisted which gave an uneven stitch each side of the join.  I’ve managed to tighten it up a bit when running the threads in, but I think, if I knit it again, I’ll run the mint to grey colour change in a fair isle way where the finish will be a lot neater.

The bows were really quick to work and I can see me using the pattern for them on other items, a beret perhaps?  They have a little button hole in the middle and are knitted separately, obviously, and then sewn onto the ribbed band.  I stitched them down a little more than the pattern indicated because I didn’t like the way they flopped about because it made them look uneven.  Stitched on firmly, they look so neat. 

I chose original vintage buttons and opted for tiny white glass ones that have a pearlescent layer on them which means they look plain white from a distance, but have hints of colour when you look closely.

As to the record time?  Well, the jumper took only 12 days from start to finish.  Yes, you read that correctly, just 12 days.  I started the front rib in the car on Saturday the 13th October when we were out for the day.  I like to knit in the car.  It gives my hands something to do on a long journey and it’s surprising how quickly the work grows!  I limited the knitting to day time only and, being such a simple jumper, it was very quick indeed.  I finished knitting it yesterday and spent the evening pressing and piecing it together because that, again, is something I can't do without total attention.

Another plus point is how economical it was to make.  It took just under 2 balls of mint with less than 15 grams of silver grey.  When I say just under 2 balls, I really mean just because all I had left was a teeny tiny ball which was smaller than a plum.

I think it has turned out really well and the pattern was very clearly written.  The devil, as they say, is very much in the detail.  It was so simple to knit but the bows and tiny buttons change an otherwise ordinary jumper into a classic piece of late 1930's styling. 

We’re off to Norwich this weekend for the Little Vintage Lover Fair being held at Dragon Hall and this jumper will be coming with us.  If you're in the area, why not pop along and say hello? :o)

Tuesday, 23 October 2012

Weldon's Home Front Woollies + more!

I've recently been buying more knitting patterns - no surprise there I hear you say.  However, I'm going to sound like such a hypocrite, from a Stitchcraft buying point of view anyway. 

I've always said I wouldn't be one of those people paying silly money for a Stitchcraft magazine, etc, etc, etc.  Well, I have!  

The one that I bought was this one.  Isn't it pretty!!

I paid £29.02 for it!  I know, I know, it's very, VERY expensive, but I can justify it, honestly I can.

1. It's from April 1943 and as I had all the other 1943 issues, this completed my set. 
2. The lady on the cover is wearing a green jumper, my favourite colour, lame reason I know but I'm using it! :o)
3.  It has the most beautiful crochet corsage pattern, 3 patterns to be precise, for dahlias, apple blossoms and columbines - ok, so I'm not a proficient crocheter, but I could learn, right?
4.  I wanted it, plain and simple :o)  This is the reason that really held greatest sway!

From a condition point of view it smells.  It smells quite badly actually, like a damp old village church (making it sound so desirable now, aren't I??).  The front cover is completely detached and has been mended with masking tape and there are some pink stains on some of the pages but I am really over the moon with it and, all told, am super happy to have it - I'll just push the price out of my mind! :o). 

The Stitchcraft magazine isn't the only thing I've been buying and I've had quite an influx of patterns recently.  They have all come from eBay, and refreshingly, were not that expensive. 

First up are these 3 which were a bargain at 50p the lot, plus P&P. 

I couldn't believe no one else bid.  I mean, who wouldn't want to own the one with the rather dashing Roger Moore on the front?  The two black and white ones are seriously tatty, the top one is actually in 4 parts but the one with Roger on is pretty much in perfect condition.

Next up, a couple of Lavenda patterns. 

These patterns are some of the nicest to work from because the instructions are listed row by row making them incredibly easy to follow.  The one on the left was £2.00 and actually buttons all the way down the back.  The one of the right cost £3.00 and has been on my wish list for a very, very long time.  It's like the waffle jumper that I make but is all smooth, i.e. stocking stitch.  This copy is incredibly tatty, lots of tears and a sticky tape repair too.  I'm contemplating laminating the original - it shouldn't be done, I know, but I fear it will fall apart if I don't do something to it soon!

Next, four more charming ladies ones. 

All bought individually, and all around the £2.00 mark.  Love the two-colour jumper.  The original used white and mauve - perfect for spring perhaps??

Issue 31 of Needlewoman and Needlecraft magazine - that's another one ticked off the list, along with a lovely, simple twin set pattern which originally came free with My Weekly magazine.

Finally, and definitely a case of saving the best till last, is this Weldon's Home Front Woollies magazine!

I don't think I need to say a lot about it really because the cover alone speaks volumes!  What's not to love?  The colour photographs are amazing, especially the Home Guard chap with his shotgun - obviously photographed before the Home Guard had a uniform or their SMLE 303's!

The magazine was issued by Weldon's on September 17th 1940.  It's not in great condition, the cover is detached, is grubby and quite battered but the patterns are all present and correct!!  It was part of Weldon's Knitting Series and is No.26.  I would love to know what was contained in the previous issues -does anyone know??
I showed Mum and Dad, aka Norman from the Home Guard and Ivy from the WVS, the magazine and each would like something knitted from it.  Too ambitious for this Christmas, and I'm not sure how I'll get on tying to match the colours, but maybe for next year :o)

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

My Wartime Brooches in print!

Many months ago, back in January to be precise, I was contacted by a lovely lady called Helena Russell.  She was working on an article about make do and mend style 1940's jewellery and, having seen photographs of my rather vast brooch collection, asked whether I would send her some to accompany the feature.

Of course, I jumped at the chance and sent over a number of snaps of my most favourite pieces and then didn't think any more about it.  The months swept past and then in September, I was sent a proof of the article and was really pleased with it and how my brooches looked. 

I obviously couldn't share the proof with you until the magazine hit the shops.  Well, today's the day!  My mum and C took a rather soggy trip to WH Smith's this morning, en route to swimming, and picked up a copy of the magazine.  The article was featured in Bead Magazine  and I think the brooches look rather lovely - what do you think?!

The popularity of these brooches hasn't wained, unfortunately!  They are still commanding ridiculously incredibly high prices on eBay, this last one that I was watching reached over £20 and I don't even think it's that special.

However, if you want the look, but aren't worried about owning an authentic piece, someone, not me I must add, has tried their hand at making their own version and you can get them on eBay here.

Since I did my original post about them, I've been buying more and so far this year have added these 12 to my collection.  Most of them I've shown you before, but I think there are a couple that you haven't seen yet..

Thinking about the brooches and this article, I remembered that when I visited Debach Airfield a couple of years ago, there was a bracelet in the museum which had been made in the same way as these brooches, using the same materials.  It had been donated to the display by someone who had lived in the area during WW2 who believed it had been made by a POW.  I don't know whether the bracelet is still there, and Debach is now closed for the year, but I'll try to get there in the spring to see if I can get a photograph of it.  Have you ever heard of or seen a bracelet made like the brooches?

My mission now: To find one of these bracelets for myself! 

Monday, 15 October 2012

Besame Red Velvet lipstick review

Now, this isn't something I would normally do, and I'm not about to make a habbit of it but I'm so smitten with this lipstick that I just had to share it!

For a number of years, I've been an admirer of Besame lipsticks.  I've seen many a "1940's" lady looking stunning in one of the 6 vintage inspired shades.

I'd seen them online, had thought hard about which colour would suit me, got as far as putting one in my virtual basket before backing out at the last minute was!!  The problem was, I could never be sure of the exact shade.  Monitors show colours differently and matching a red to my skin tone via a computer screen proved too taxing for my brain!   Online shopping is brilliant and I use it a lot, as Mr Postie would agree!  :o)  but there are times when you actually need to see the item in the flesh, so to speak, before you know whether it will be right for you.   

We went into Ipswich yesterday for Judy's Affordable Vintage Fair.  The fair didn't really have my kind of vintage, primarily it was 1970's and 1980's attire.  However, what they did have, which was right up my alley, was Vintage Hair Lounge with their pop up make-up and hair stand and range of Besame cosmetics!

I instantly recognised the two ladies from their appearance on Wartime Farm.  If you spot them about anywhere, I cannot recommend them highly enough.  They were chatty and friendly and gave us plenty of time, even though there were lots of other people at their stand. 

For £15 you could have your hair done in a vintage style or for free, yes FREE!, they would apply your chosen shade of Besame lipstick so you could really tell what it was like.  There was no hard sell to make you feel that you then had to buy a lipstick, but or course I did :o)

The shade I went for isn't your classic, bright 1940's red but the more subtle Red Velvet which is described as a deep, rich red, great for everyday, neutral and not too bright.  The lipstick holder is so pretty and the outside packing is rather lovely too!  Each shade featured a different vintage lovely on the wrapping.

Cherries on Snow Yankee Candle that I also
bought yesterday :o)  Smells good enough to eat!
I've tried and tested lots of reds, my current one, is a bright red from Loreal called True Red.  I like it, but it doesn't really like me.  It's a bit too bright and I'm not overly keen on the staying power, or the texture for that matter.  It's less pigmented than the Besame one so takes a bit of building up.  The Besame one is amazing.  It is so creamy, easy to apply and has amazing staying power.  Here are the two colours on the back of my hand so you can see the difference.
Besame Red Velvet on the bottom, Loreal True Red on the top!

At £22, it's not the cheapest of lipsticks, in fact, Mr Y thinks is way too expensive, but because the shade is beautiful and because of the wonderful quality, I think it was value for money.  However, if you are going to buy one, I really would recommend that you try it first, if possible.  If you get it and end up not liking the shade on you, it's a lot of money to waste.

Fear not, normal knitting blog service will be resumed shortly as I have some amazing patterns I want to share with you! :o)

Tuesday, 9 October 2012

Cardigan, Cupcakes and Christmas!!

Three little things to share with you this evening before I pick up the needles.


First up is a cardigan that I knitted for the beautiful daughter of a very good friend of mine.  I actually knitted it in April and have wanted to post about it but, like so many things, just hadn't got round to it, until now! 

It is the first baby garment I have ever knitted.  Despite having 2 girls of my own, I'm ashamed to admit that I never knitted them anything when they were tiny.  I didn't actually learn to knit until I was expecting my second daughter, 5 years ago, and I just never got round to making them anything, which I really regret now.

For this one, I didn't use baby wool because I wanted a more subtle, vintage pink and instead opted for Stylecraft 4 ply in pale rose.  It's a really sort yarn and lovely to work with.

The pattern is very easy, it honestly is.  The main body of the cardigan is knitted in "feather and fan" stitch, which I've used lots of times before.  The pattern is based on 4 rows.  1 is a pattern row of simple increasing and decreasing, the rest are stocking stitch.  It's the increasing and decreasing on that first row that gives it the scalloped effect at the bottom.  It has raglan sleeves which made putting it together very easy - no extra sleeve fullness to fit in! 

As you would expect, I went for a vintage pattern which is either from the 1940's or 1950's.  Sorry to be vague but baby patterns are very hard to date!  If you can enlighten me further as to the correct date, or have any tips on how to date these patterns, please let me know :o)

The only thing I found a bit tricky was the section for the ribbon to thread through.  I didn't read the pattern properly so they weren't evenly spaced but I got there on the second attempt and think it looks very sweet. 

Although it's not that clear from the photographs, the cardigan was meant to have a ribbon tie at the chest and the neck but I changed the neck one so it was fastened with a popper, very, very securely stitched on.  Personally, I felt that the double bow was a little too fussy.

I haven't worked out how to link the pattern so you can print it, but if you have a special little person to knit for and would like a copy, just send me an email and I will get it over to you :o)


After a busy morning of work, I let the girls join me in a spot of baking!  They really love to bake and today made vanilla cupcakes. 

When it comes to cake decorating, I must confess that I'm a bit of a control freak.  I like things to be "just so", icing to be smooth and perfect and so on.  When the girls get involved, I try and close my ears to the hundreds and thousands hitting the floor and resist the urge to limit them to say, 10 decorations per cake!  To them, less is most definitely not more.  They are at the wonderful, innocent age where a bit (or a lot in some cases) of everything on the cake makes it very personally theirs.  

Today, I handed over the decorations, stepped away from the table and gave them free reign to do as they wanted.  They certainly took me at my word and created these sugary mountains! 

I think they consumed as many sweets as they used, although littlest Y swears she only had "5, or maybe 6 Mummy" !!! 

My Y, having done the fatherly duty of eating a cake made by each of them, is currently suffering from a little too much sugar! 

Last up..........


Is it too early to say the word?  Well, when you consider that many of the shops have been sneakily stocking up on cards and wrapping paper since late August I think it's safe to give it a little mention :o)

I've signed up to the festive swap which is being organised by Lakota over at Faith, Hope and Charity Shopping.  I'm also linking this post into her Ta-Dah Tuesday post :o)

I took part in the Jubilee swap which Lakota organised and it was really good fun which is why I've signed up to this one too.  If you fancy spreading some festive cheer, why not pop on over to Lakota's post and take a little look at what it's all about :o)

Sunday, 7 October 2012

Autumn is in the air!

Well, Autumn has certainly arrived and I love it!!

There's a nip in the air first thing in the morning and a wonderful, earthy smell which, to me, signifies the autumn.  I love this season and the way the landscape slowly changes from lush greens to rusty reds with an almost golden sunlight.

We took full advantage of the bright golden sunshine yesterday and headed to Needham Lake.  On a quite day, like yesterday, it's a very tranquil place.  People fishing or taking a walk through the trees in the dappled sunlight.  The leaves here have just started to turn to beautiful shades of rust, red, brown and orange.  Some had even fallen and we were able to walk on a crunchy, crispy, autumnal carpet of colour. 

We love it here and spent a happy time watching the ducks and geese before collecting some conkers.  Conkers, in our neck of the woods, have been in somewhat short supply.  I don't know whether it was the appalling spring we had which knocked off the blossom or whether it has simply not been a good growing season.  Whatever the reason, the girls were very happy to find a lone horse chestnut tree bearing these excellent specimens.

At 4 and 6, with good aim not yet being a skill they have honed, I think playing conkers is a little beyond them and so tomorrow, with the help of some sewing pins, glue and sequins, they'll be making conker monsters.  

I remember playing conkers while waiting for the school bus and being so proud to defeat my opponent.  It was serious stuff and we would soak out conkers in vinegar (I don't know why) while others favoured drying theirs in the oven.  I'd take my foursy (a conker that has smashed 4 other conkers to pieces) on the bus proud as punch, only to have it splintered into pieces by someone else's monster at morning break.  I was a horrible younger sister when I played conkers with my brother and would purposefully take aim at his knuckles - how mean was I?! 

This morning, we awoke to thick mist/fog (I'm never sure which is which!), the first of this new season.  Tucked up by the warm radiator, (npower will love me!!) I watched the girls play in the garden, their feet soaked from the dewy grass.  Mr Y has a very busy time coming up at work so has spent the entire day working, but I don't mind.  An enforced day at home with nothing to do has finally given me the chance to start cataloguing some of my knitting patterns. 

I started with the biggest number in my collection - my much adored Stitchcraft magazines.  These are the ones I always turn to first when I want to try a new pattern and simply marvel and the beautiful colour wools they had.  Here are some of my collection.

These magazines have proved an invaluable source for exceptional knitting patterns.  They contain a wealth of information and are, therefore, incredibly sort after.  A quick search on eBay and you'll see what I mean with early examples reaching over £10 a piece. 

There are quite a few gaps in my collection, mostly from 1939 backwards.  I have made a list of the ones that I'm missing and have been very efficient as it is now pinned it up in the kitchen (hoping Mr Y will take note) and a copy is also in my journal so I can, hopefully, fill in the gaps :o)

On the knitting front, things are moving along nicely.  This is what I'm currently working on.

It's a cardigan which is being knitted in a charming shade called petrol from the King Cole range.  It's very pretty and I'm on the penultimate piece!  Oh, the spider??  Well, that's one of Cadbury's Halloween treats.  Clever Cadbury's, always thinking of something new to snare people like me! :o)  I shall be devouring it with it's green crispy middle later on this evening while I watch Downton Abbey! :o)

Hope you have had a wonderful weekend too!

Friday, 5 October 2012

Needlewoman & Needlecraft Issue 1 - the kindness of a stranger

Just a very quick post about something which recently made me smile :o)

If you have been following my blog for a while, you may have seen the post about my collection of Needlewoman and Needlecraft magazines. 

These magazines are a wonderful source of amazing knitting patterns and the early wartime editions are becoming incredibly hard to find.  I've been on the search for a copy of the illusive first edition for a number of years.  It's been very much a needle in a haystack sort of search, hoping that one might turn up on eBay or at a vintage fair!  Frustratingly, I had been unsuccessful..........until now!!!! 

Delivered last week, and now taking pride of place in my Needlewoman and Needlecraft collection, is...........

This wonderful first issue, in amazing condition, came to me as a gift.  What makes the gift even more special is that it came from a perfect stranger! 

A couple of weeks ago, I was contacted out of the blue by a lovely lady who had seen my blog.  She and her husband had been sorting through a relative's effects and had come across some knitting magazines, including issue 1 of Needlewoman and Needlecraft magazine.  While searching online to find out more about the items they had found, they stumbled across my post on the Needlewoman and Needlecraft magazine.  Seeing that I didn't have issue 1 they decided to give me the copy they had found!  I couldn't quite believe it and was so incredibly touched and honoured.

The magazine is even better than I could have imagined.  It is a wonderful first edition packed full of ideas for home items and clothing.  It has a very charming introduction, written by the Principal of the Royal School of Needlework at the time, a Lady Smith-Dorrien, D.B.E, she wrote;

"At a time when all forms of needlework are at once a pleasure, a solace and a service, I welcome the new journal and wish it the success it deserves".

The magazine features patterns for the men and women folk who were "doing their bit" with jumpers which had been specially designed so that they would not show under tunics.

A charming pair of woolies for spring - just look at the matching posies!  I have added the two-tone purple jumper to my "to knit" list, a list which is somewhat long! :o)

Crests of H.M Services - I'm not sure which I like better, the crests so beautifully embroidered or the line drawings at the top of the page featuring, I think, Buckingham Palace and a plane.  A Blenheim perhaps?

The magazine is simply excellent and a very welcome addition to my collection.  It's a wonderful piece of history and, like so many publications of the time, gives us a small glimpse into what life was like for the 1940's woman.  

I am incredibly touched, honoured and amazed that someone, who doesn't know me and lives a considerable distance away could do something so kind and generous.  It has definitely restored my faith in human kindness! 

To the couple who gave it to me, if you happen to be reading this - thank you once again, it will be safe with me :o)