Wednesday, 28 November 2012

Needlework Illustrated - 1940's Magazines

“Not another collection!” I hear you cry.  Fear not, my collection of these magazines is very small, just 19, but they are so wonderful that I hope you’ll enjoy seeing them and you never know, you might want to start your own collection! :o)

I first became intrigued by this publication after reading this post on HenHouse blog.  This lucky lady had acquired a large collection of these magazines which she then cleverly used to create some highly desirable wartime posies. 

Well, having a penchant for corsages and knitting magazines, the quest to acquire my own collection began. 

I like to know a little bit about what I’m collecting but the Internet has failed to provide me with any great detail about these magazines.  What I have been able to glean, from careful scouring of the delicate pages, is that they were part of the Weldon’s empire.  As far as I understand it, the magazine’s origins lay in the early part of the 19th century when the title was originally Fancy Needlework Illustrated.  I know this name remained until well into the 1930’s because issue 142 from November 1937 still carried it.  At some point, maybe at the outbreak of war, who knows, the “fancy” was dropped and the magazine updated, so to speak, to become Needlework Illustrated.

In the early years of WW2, the publication was large, measuring a generous 23.5cms by 30cms with 34 pages and was published bi-monthly, on the 30th of the month.  In the summer of 1942, due to wartime paper shortages, the publication was scaled down to 19cms by 24cms with the frequency of the issues reduced to quarterly.  I’m not entirely sure when, but post war, it was marginally decreased in size again to 18cms by 23cms.

As to dating them, they have proved tricky little blighters to pin down!  Why publications weren’t dated, we’ll never now, but I jolly well wish they had been because it would make it a lot less frustrating!! 

However, if you’re prepared to take your time and look closely, you can work out little bits here and there. Offering a little extra help was that fact that most of these magazines feature a foreword which, more often than not, mentions the coming season that the magazine is equipping its reader for.  It’s like a puzzle, slowly building up little snippets of information from each magazine and then putting it all down on paper to see what you have got. 

The breakthrough to accurately dating at least some of them came in issue 182 which firmly dated its publication to the end of 1945.  I know this, with certainty, because of this cheerful message in the back of the magazine.

These magazines are wonderful and, dare I say it, they are on a par with my beloved Stitchcraft magazines, if not a whisker in front!  They feature jumpers, toys, accessories, little bits for around the home, embroidery and some rather splendid patriotic bits and pieces.  Make Do and Mend and the long forgotten “rag bag” feature in many issues.

As to my collection, well, I got my first issue on eBay for just 99p plus P&P.  It was cheap because it was without its front cover – not ideal, certainly, but it was what it offered inside that I was interested by.  It contains patterns for some truly lovely corsages as well as a “stars and stripes”. 

With the USA link and the large size of the magazine, I’m guessing it was produced when America became our allies after the bombing of Pearl Harbour so I’m pretty certain that its issue 167 which dates it to spring 1942.

Following the purchase of the above magazine, I was lucky and acquired a small run of consecutive issues, namely 175 through to 183.  Having a run of numbers really helped me to pin down the publication dates.

I then picked up some individual magazines numbering 168, 169, 172, 173, 181, 187, 189, 194 and 196.  They all came from eBay and the 1940’s editions do pop up infrequently.  When they do, so far at least anyway, they are quite cheap, especially when compared to the inflated prices that some of the Stitchcraft magazines go for.

My earliest two issues, and also my favourite 2, are numbers 160 and 161.  They are both early war editions, 160 from the end of 1940 (it mentions Christmas) and 161 from the first months of 1941.

The green and black jumper featured on the cover of 161 has made it onto my “to knit” list while the Dig For Victory Bunny has to be attempted at some point in 2013!  I think the covers sold them to me; I especially love the RAF wedding with the bride’s homemade hat and blouse - patterns for both feature in the magazine!

If you have any of these delightful magazines and have been unsure of date, I’ve included a list below which I am 99% sure is correct although, of course, if you know differently, please feel free to correct me :o)

Here goes, I hope it’s not too complicated!

1940 – Bimonthly issues numbering 155, 156, 157, 158, 159 and 160 all issued on the 30th of every alternate month so January, March, May, July, September and November.

1941 – Bimonthly issues numbering 161, 162, 163, 164, 165, and 166, again, all issued on the 30th of every alternate month

From 1942 onwards, issues went quarterly and seem to have run is seasons i.e. spring, summer, autumn and winter.

1942 - Issues 167, 168, 169 and 170                                   1943 - Issues 171, 172, 173 and 174

1944 – Issues 175, 176, 177 and 178                                  1945 - Issues 179, 180, 181 and 182

1946 – Issues 183, 184, 185 and 186                                  1947 - Issues 187, 188, 189 and 190

1948 – Issues 191, 192, 193 and 194                                  1949 - Issues 195, 196, 197 and 198

When flicking through issue 182, I found something rather special (well, I think it's special).   Slipped between the pages was a newspaper cutting and a price ticket from a piece of fabric!  It shows that the purchaser got 2 5/8 yards of material for 14/6 plus 3 precious coupons!  If only I knew what had been made!  It was obviously important to someone so it has now been put safely back between the pages and that's where it shall stay.

I adore these magazines, really I do.  I know you shouldn't get so attached to "things" but I would hate for anything to happen to them.  They are a wonderful source of patterns for any knitter or crafter, but especially the vintage obsessed among us!  If you are lucky enough to spot one for sale, take a look inside, I think you'll like what you find :o)
Gosh, rather a long post, I do apologise.  Did you stick with it?  If you did, thank you, I hope you found it interesting :o) 

Monday, 26 November 2012

Run, Rabbit, - Run! - 1940's sheet music.

At the weekend, we went to Cambridgeshire to visit family and were treated to a rather delightful afternoon tea in a vintage themed tea shop called Sophie T's Tea Room.  It's in Yaxley, on the main street and if you're in the area, I cannot recommend it highly enough.  The service was wonderful, the cakes absolutely delicious and the setting was right up my alley!  If you are planning to visit, I would recommend that you book in advance because they were jam packed on Saturday.

Anyway, while we were there, I got talking to the owner's husband who said that the shop had once been an antique shop and that there were still some "bits and pieces" for sale upstairs.  I was actually very pleasantly surprised with what was on offer and came away with 2 pairs of shoes, a hat, 3 dresses and an amazing swing coat, all of which will be heading with me to the Little Vintage Lover Festive Fair in Blakeney this weekend. 

Beside the clothes rail, in a heap on the floor, was a large pile of vintage sheet music which was free and the owner of the shop kindly gave me the entire bundle which totalled over 200 pieces.  Now we're home, I've had a proper sort through what I brought home and am very happy as there were some real gems.  I can read music and play the piano, just, but that's not what they will be used for and it's not why I love them and I thought you might like to see a few of them too :o)

Many of the cover designs are absolutely beautiful. 

Each one a little piece of artwork in it's own right.  Some cheeky or quirky, others sorrowful or sentimental. 

They come from a time when music was so important to keep up morale.  Songs that would have been sung both on the home front and overseas. 

A little piece of history on each and every page. 

They have been well loved, each piece inscribed with the owners name, a treasured possession of a very accomplished pianist with the entire collection spanning 3 decades, from classic waltzes through to The Rolling Stones.  I can't help wondering who she played to. 

Come the new year, I'm hoping to frame some of them as they are simply far too lovely to leave hidden in a drawer, but for now I'll leave you with a little clip, courtesy of Youtube, of one of my favourite wartime tunes, Comin' in on a Wing and a Prayer. 

Am linking this post to Lakota's Ta-Dah Tuesday.  Why not pop over to her blog and have a look at what other people have been up to.  She's also running a festive giveaway - after all, Christmas is rapidly approaching!!

Sunday, 25 November 2012

Make A Wish - Stir Up Sunday - a 1940's Christmas pudding!

So today is stir up Sunday, the Sunday when, tradition dictates, you should make your Christmas pudding!

For the past 11 years, we’ve relied on Mr Y’s mum to provide the pud, and a fine job she has done of it too.  However, as we aren’t South West bound before the festivities, and as Christmas isn’t Christmas without a pudding, I had to decide whether to buy one or make one and I, potentially misguidedly, picked the latter option. 

I thought selecting a recipe would be pretty easy but having consulted numerous cookery books, I was proved very wrong.  So many choices, so much variation and no way of knowing which one would be best.  In the end, I went with my never failing Marguerite Pattern Every Day Cook Book, bought for a bargain 50p in a charity shop a couple of years ago!  I made a slight addition to the recipe in the form of a lot  little more alcohol on the basis that the extra splash of brandy will help mask the taste of a potentially yukky pud and if it doesn't mask it, the eater might be suitably merry enough not to care :o)

I did moot the idea of a Wartime pudding but had it made clear to me, in no uncertain terms, that that wasn’t an option!!  However, if you fancy giving an early wartime version a go, I’ve included the recipe at the end of the post :o) 

We all had a stir, wishes were made and the puddings (yes, note the plural!  I’ve also given myself the task of making a pudding for my parents!) have been packed into their ceramic basins and are cooking nicely; 6 hours down, only 2 to go! 

Personally, I can't stand the stuff and will be tucking into a chocolate, fruitless, variety on the day but I'm hoping it'll be all smiles come tasting time.

As I had plenty of time of my hands watching the pot (which I've found incredibly boring!) I thought I'd do a little crafting.  Still peeved by the “price verses quality” issue found with the pudding decorations in Cath Kidston last weekend, I decided to give my own a go. 

Taking some felt from my bumper stash plus some sequins, beads and thread – no glue here, just good old fashioned stitching - I made my own pudding decoration.  It received the seal of approval from the little Y's and hope that it will make a rather lovely addition to the tree.

As to the wartime pud, if you fancy giving it a go, the following recipe came from "Food In Wartime" which was published in January 1940 and features over 200 meatless dishes - perfect for a vegetarian like me!  Because it's an early war recipe, it's more luxurious than the more heavily rationed, later war years recipes.
Wartime Christmas Pudding Recipe
1/2 lb wholemeal flour; ½ lb breadcrumbs; 1 lb stoned raisins; ¼ lb ground almonds; ¼ lb sultanas; ¼ currants; ¼ mixed chopped peel; ½ lb brown sugar; 6oz suet; 3 eggs; grated rind of half a lemon; ½ teaspoon each of mixed spice, groundmace and cinnamon.

Turn all the ingredients into a large bowl and mix thoroughly with a wooden spoon.  Fill well-greased pudding bowls two-thrids full so that the puddings have room to swell.  Cover with greased paper, tie on scalded cloths.  Boil for eight to ten hours.  These quantities make two medium sized puddings.  When required for use, reheat the puddings by boiling for three hours. 

Monday, 19 November 2012

Feeling Festive

It's back to normality with a mighty big bump this monday morning after what has been a wonderful weekend. 

Norwich was brilliant.  We left the car at home and opted for a far more relaxing journey by train.  The landscape has changed so much since we visited just a couple of weeks ago.  The trees are holding onto only a handful of leaves, the tree skeletons now clearly visible, winter just around the corner.  I truly adore this time of year.

There are so many wonderful shops in Norwich.  Of course there are the normal shops found in most towns and cities but Norwich also offers a wide range of independent shops hidden down the many pretty little streets and lanes. 

Although the city’s Christmas lights weren’t lit, many shops had dressed their windows in preparation for the festive season.  A veritable festive feast for the eyes!

There are plenty of sweet shops in the city but the best one we found is the one below which, along with stocking an incredible range of sweets in jars as well as lesser know varieties of tasty treats, played the music of The Andrews Sisters and Glenn Miller!

One of my favourite shops to visit is the huge department store Jarrold’s, where you are likely to find something for everyone.  Having done battle with the crowds in the toy department we happened upon the haberdashery department and were surprised at how much they had managed to pack into a relatively small space.  I picked up some Christmas ribbons, cream ric rac (something which had proved tricky to track down in an actual real shop and will allow me to finish another 1940's dress) and some pretty buttons.  I have no idea what I’m going to actually use the buttons for but at just 5p each, I couldn’t leave them behind.

We found our way to the Cath Kidston shop and it did not disappoint!  Well, in most part it didn't but I was really disappointed with the quality of the Christmas pudding decorations.  The felt is a lovely colour and the decorations are very pretty but they've used very poor quality felt and the white is so thin that you can see the brown through it.  At £4.50 a time, it's just as cheap to design and make your own pudding.  I'm very pleased I didn't order them online or I'd have been very disappointed!  Anyway, the window display was so pretty, the entire store was actually, with items perfectly placed for maximum product appeal.   

The shop was packed with people.  I bought my knitting bag, and I’m happy to report that it’s plenty big enough for my knitting, tape measure, spare needles, notepad, pencils etc and then some!  It is good quality and the big plus is its waterproof so I can take it on my travels!  I picked up a couple of Christmas gifts before having enough of the  leaving Mr Y in there to do a little shopping himself (once I’d steered him in the general direction of the things I like)! 

Once it got overcrowded, probably due to Norwich playing Manchester United (not the best day to choose to shop) we stopped and did a little people watching.  Although I don’t like to be in the swarming crowd (crowds make me stressed), I do like to step back and watch people go about their general business, shoppers with bustling bags, Christmas shoppers getting a head start and people simply spending time with family and friends. 

On Sunday, as if our tired feet hadn't had enough of walking, we went into Ipswich for their Christmas market where we were re-united with the critters who greeted us with snuggles and tales of a wonderful weekend spent with adoring grandparents.

The market in Ipswich was heaving and far too busy for my liking.  Getting to the stalls proved difficult and taking photographs of anything was nearly impossible. 

There were lots of vintage stalls mixed in among some craft stalls, a nice mix actually.  From a clothing front, there was nothing to my liking, lots of 1980's jumpers and faux fur hats but there were some nice home wares.  One stall had some stylish vintage French enamel items and I stupidly dithered over an enamel roaster so when I went back for a second look it had gone!

I was rather reserved on the purchasing front and only bought 12 Christmas baubles in a little box.  They aren’t 1940’s, but they are vintage and incredibly delicate.  At just £8.00, they had to come home with me.  I also bought another lot of baubles, this time from Paperchase.  I’d never been in before, don’t really know why, but I think, well I know, that I expected them to be ridiculously expensive but I was actually pleasantly surprised and am pleased to say that I was wrong.  They have lots of non-traditional stuff like glass robots and crocodiles (a Christmas crocodile??) but they also stock some vintage inspired pieces which are well worth a look.

Mr Postie was busy while we were away and there were some lovely packages waiting for me on the doormat including a rather tatty copy of issue 6 of Needlewoman Needlecraft magazine (only issues 3, 4, 5, 8, 9 and 10 to go now!) and a collection of old black and white photographs that I'll show you properly in a later post.

Our thoroughly enjoyable weekend has put me well and truly in a festive mood, after all, it’s only 36 sleeps until the day!  I suppose I better pull my finger out and get making! :o) 

Thursday, 15 November 2012

10 Years Ago

Today is a happy day; a time to look back at the years gone by and a wonderful weekend to look forward to!

10 years ago today, on a cold, crisp November day, I nervously clung to my dad’s arm as I walked down the aisle of the amazing church, below, to the tune of Pachelbel's Canon.  I was so excited to be married in the church that I’d admired since I was a child.  It towers over the lawns of Christchurch Mansion, a wall stands to mark the boundary between churchyard and park.  In the wall, a little doorway, bricked up long ago, a reminder of the historical link between the two architectural wonders and the privileged private entrance from the "big house". :o)

This photo was taken when it snowed back in February, not on "the day", although snowy wedding would have been   rather lovely!
In front of family and friends, many who had travelled far, we said our vows.  Hymns were sung, rings exchanged and the register signed,
I was 21 when I got married and hadn’t even given vintage fashion a second thought.  Although our wedding wasn’t a vintage affair, it was certainly a family one.  The occasion brought together family and friends who used their combined skills to create table decorations, wedding favours, cravats, waistcoats, bouquets and the like.  Fun was had and memories were made in every favour we tied and in each glue gun burn we got from gluing pine cones onto wire!  Mr Y still has a small scar on his stomach where the wire cutters caught him when he was cutting a particularly awkward piece of wire! 

You’ll know from my previous posts that I simply don’t “do” pictures of me.  I’m an incredibly camera shy person and actively go out of my way to be behind the camera, never in front of it.  (I’m also very shy in person which can be somewhat of a trial when manning the stall!).  However, as it’s a “special occasion”, I though I’d finally put one on here, albeit a very small one!

My goodness, how young we look!!  It certainly doesn’t feel like it’s been 10 years, it's so scary how time flies!  The amazing journey that began at the altar as just the two of us is now a journey of 4 as we have been blessed with 2 beautiful little girls and are looking forward to what the next 10 years. and beyond, will bring us all.

To celebrate, we’re child free this weekend (something which fills me with mixed emotions as I'll miss the little critters) and are heading to Norwich for a spot of Christmas shopping.  Oh, and to take a peek in the Cath Kidston shop where a much coveted knitting bag beckons.  (Yes, I could probably buy it on line but I want to actually see how many balls of wool I can successfully stuff into it!)

As if that weren't enough, On Sunday, we’re going into Ipswich for the Christmas Craft and Vintage Market to see whether there are any true vintage treasures to be found.  It’s coupled with a foodie Christmas market so even if I don’t find vintage, Mr Y will find food!!

Whatever you are up to, I hope you all have a lovely weekend :o)

Sunday, 11 November 2012

We Will Remember

They shall not grow old, as we that are left grown old;
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning,
We will remember them.
They shall not grow old, as we that are left grown old;
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning,
We will remember them.


Friday, 9 November 2012

Vintage Haberdashery Heaven - Christmas come early!

What an incredibly lucky lady I am. 

In this previous post I told you about the kindness of a stranger and how they had generously given me a collection of knitting patterns, including issue 1 of Needlewoman and Needlecraft.  Well, last week, the same amazing lady contacted me again with the offer of some knitting and crafting things.

Delivered this morning to a very excited household were two rather large heavy parcels.  I had been expecting them but what was contained inside them was far more than anything I had imagined.  The collection of items was so vast that it took me a very happy 2 hours to sort through everything.

It would be impossible to show you everything that arrived, such was the volume of items, but I have picked out some of the most pretty and colourful things and hope that you like them!  Here goes!

Along with lots of little squat balls of thread, there were over 120 embroidery silks which means my 1930's sweet jar is now perfectly full!

Some pretty pastel crochet threads, so incredibly fine.  In the central part of two of them I found some delicately crocheted edgings; stored away and forgotten about maybe?

A vast range of shades of the most beautiful threads.  I've never seen anything like them before.  They are delicate and fine yet have a wool like texture.  There were over 50 of them but the amount wound on the cards isn't great so I wonder what they were meant to be used for. 

Various mending threads including wool for Chilprute underwear, the needle still threaded and slipped into the wound wool by the hand of it's last user.  Stocking threads, darning wools and my favourite of all, the little green and navy Greenwoods card with the rather dashing sailor on the front.

Two items were still in the bags they were originally packaged in.  One still with the receipt from a shop in Hanley, close to Mr Y's old stomping ground from when he did his teacher training.

More amazing examples of vintage packaging, so much more appealing than the ones we get today.  My favourites are the two Newey's ones.  The blue one from the 1930's and red from the 1940's - stunning in both colour and design.

Numerous bindings, grosgrains, ribbons and lace!  All so pretty and many in shades that you simply cannot replicate today.  Matching binding to vintage fabric should be a whole lot easier now.

In an old cardboard box, there were crisp wrappers containing clean, white starched collars new and never used.  Delving deeper, I discovered four CC41 collars, again, unused.  Precious clothing coupons would have been exchanged for these simple pieces of white cotton yet they, too, look unused.

The most delicate of collars.  Dating from, I believe the 1930's, these collars are simply splendid.  So pretty, feminine and fine, obviously belonging to one incredibly petite person, so tiny in size.  I hope to have them cleaned and then frame them, they're too pretty to be in a drawer somewhere.

Last, but by no means least, a little collection of small, pretty things which were discovered  among the various paper bags and mountains of threads.  I love the little handmade flower pins, the green bakelite needles, the pretty box of pins, well, all ok it really!

The owner of this amazing collection certainly took great care of all she had.  Tiny pieces of embroidery silk wound round pieces of wrapper, carefully kept.  Threads shorter, I'm ashamed to say, than I throw away.  A mended stitch ripper laid alongside another, new in it's wrapper.  Items kept until they could no longer be used, because they had to be, the result of living through a period of great austerity and rationing, nothing like the throw away society that we live in today.

It was an immense gift from an incredibly generous, thoughtful couple and one I'm truly grateful for.  Some things will, obviously, be used to create vintage inspired pieces.  Others, like the packaging and collars, will be kept and used for display purposes, meaning that the items treasured by this amazing woman, can be enjoyed by many more people in the years to come.