Monday, 14 April 2014

1940s slip stitch jumper - FINISHED!

Wasn’t this 1940s sweater a quick knit? From cast-on to put-on, just three months. That’s super-speedy for me.

Weaving in all the ends was a real faff (I felt the gap between stripes of the same colour was too great for me to carry unused colours up the side of the knitting), but the stripes did make it very easy to sew the seams up evenly. I adapted the sleeve placement slightly to match the stripes too. The original pattern said to place the sleeve seam about a quarter of an inch in front of the side seam, but I put them together.

When the jumper was finished, I did find it came up a fraction too short, despite me putting extra width in the front to stop it having to stretch too much. I think my body must be slightly longer than I realise (or perhaps my modern trousers are lower-waisted than I thought and I should buy some proper 1940s repro ones.) To remedy the shortness I picked up stitches all around the hem and knitted an extra inch of ribbing. You can see a faint line a couple of inches up from the hem. I think I'd have preferred the coloured section to be longer, so that's something I'll need to bear in mind if/when I knit another top with a contrasting midsection - I need to add a couple of inches to the body.

Unlike most of the vintage clothing I buy, which is usually a tad too fancy for everyday things, my knitted tops are ever so easy to wear. Along with my jewellery and handbags, they’re the easiest way for me to get a vintage look for work. Because of this, and the fact the accessories I wear for work are usually late 50s/early 60s, I did briefly consider knitting something from that era for work... but then I found a really nice 1940s Fair Isle pattern.  I have no idea what I'll knit next!

Saturday, 12 April 2014

A 1950s Lisner enamel jewellery set

You can’t beat a Lisner jewellery set. I reckon so, anyway. My mother-in-law usually gives me money for birthday and Christmas, and I always try to buy something special ‘from her’ rather than just fritter it on beer and pizza. This was my self-chosen birthday present, though it's taken me until now to photograph it. I saw the set on Etsy and couldn’t resist. Earrings, brooch and bracelet for under £40, with postage? Get in my basket! It’s by Lisner, and looking at this adds to my conviction than an unsigned yellow bracelet-and-earrings set I own is also Lisner as there’s such similarity in the enamel leaves.

I’m pretty sure this set is 1950s. It has the copyright symbol next to the name stamp, so has to be post-1955, but after 1959 the Lisner logo was in script rather than block capitals, as it is on this set. Then there's the style. 1960s jewellery is often larger, more brash... a bit camp, in that it’s fake, you know it’s fake, it makes no attempt to hide the fact it’s fake but it looks utterly fabulous anyway. My yellow probably-Lisner set has plastic daisies on as well as diamante and enamel, and the bright colours and use of modern materials make me believe that set is 60s. The daintiness of these blue pieces makes me think they're earlier, as do the screwbacks on the earrings. The pastel shades of the cold enamel are also very mid-50s. At any rate, I shall keep an eye out for vintage jewellery adverts online. If I can spot this set in one, it’ll give me a date.

I bought the set from JewelryCreatedForYou on Etsy, and she's got a blue enamel earring and bracelet set for sale right now. When my set arrived a few of the diamantes had shaken loose in transit, but it just took a couple of minutes with a tube of UHU All-Purpose Adhesive to fix that – and as I said to Mr Robot, it’s better that the stones shook loose in the post, and fell safely into the box than that they fell out while I was wearing the jewellery and got lost. It’s certainly not the seller’s fault; after 60 years the glue probably just gave up!

Do you have a favourite type of jewellery? I know lots of vintage-lovin’ gals are keen on Bakelite and other early plastics. There’s got to be another diamante fiend out there...

Friday, 11 April 2014

Vintage embroidery transfer haul

Embroider ALL the things!
I had a bit of a grotty day on Wednesday, so to cheer myself up I bought a bundle of vintage embroidery transfers on Etsy. I got them from Mr & Mrs Magpie's Inexplicable Emporium on Etsy. Mrs Magpie is my friend Claire, but I paid full price and she had no idea I'd be the buyer! She has more tempting vintage haberdashery items if that's your thing, and also custom-makes felt cloche hats to order. Delivery was super-speedy; the patterns were with me by last night.

I've been wanting for ages to get back into embroidery - I haven't done any for years - and the 1930s embroidery book I got at Oxfam earlier this year has only fuelled that desire. The transfers include all sorts of designs. There are complete sets for different sizes of dressing table mat, large panels that would work as fire screens, others that would make excellent cushions, and even complete bag patterns.

I can do this!
As I don't want to spoil my original transfers, I think I'll get an embroidery transfer pen and some heavy-duty tracing paper and reproduce the ones I have. That way I don't need to cut these ones up in order to position them correctly on whatever I'm embroidering, and if I like a particular design I'll be able to put it on everything. There's one design, in particular, that has a very late 20s/early 30s look and would be perfect for using on a 20's style dress. Mr Robot has been really getting into Sewing Bee; I wonder if I could persuade him to make me some dresses if I bought him a sewing machine?

First, though, there's that time to find. I swear I don't know how other people do it - I must be about twice as slow at doing everything as everyone else, and I don't even have kids.

The pink and grey jumper is almost finished - it was complete, but I decided it was shorter than I liked, so I picked up a load of stitches around the bottom and am adding a couple of inches of extra ribbing. Hopefully I'll have photos to share next week. I had tried to be organised recently, and had put all my circular needles in a bag together... and I can't find the bag! Happily, a vintage one was stashed with my pile of vintage knitting items, so I'm now completing the jumper on an authentic 1940s circ. I'll say this for Abel Morrall's of Redditch, they weren't joking when they said their needles were rustproof. Moreover, the join between tips and cables is waaaaay nicer than on my modern Pony circs, which usually leave me swearing in frustration.

My next crafty project is the HP Lovecraft swap I've just joined on Ravelry. I'm hoping it will encourage me to get my knitting design head on again, it will certainly encourage me to knit faster and complete more items, and perhaps someone will end up with an embroidered Cthulhu...

Monday, 7 April 2014

Remember Me to the Bees book launch

Last Monday night I went to my friend Judy Darley’s book launch. (Judy blogs at Skylightrain.) Her first collection of short stories, Remember Me to the Bees, is now out, published by Tangent Books, so she threw a launch party. It was typically Judy – simultaneously businesslike and creative, with readings and music and the opportunity to purchase books. (If that sounds harsh, I don't mean it to: I really admire how hard she works to make her writing, which she is passionate about, a success, and it makes me realise just how dedicated a person has to be in order to be a writer. I couldn't do it!) The venue was The Birdcage on Clare Street in Bristol, which is a cafĂ©, an events space and a vintage clothing store all in one.

I’ve got a few friends who write, and the work of most falls within the crime, fantasy or science fiction genres; I think Judy is the only person writing ‘straight’ fiction. We always have really interesting chats about the process of writing, so of course I bought a copy of the book and am greatly looking forward to reading it. There seemed a bittersweet quality to the exerpts she read, with relationships breaking apart or already broken, but quietly, without melodrama.

The Birdcage’s vintage stock wasn’t my preferred era – there was a lot of 70s and 80s. That said, they did have a couple of really splendid 70s statement pieces, and even though I'd never wear them, I certainly admired them. The stock is used to decorate the venue too, so there are statement outfits on mannequins around the place. There was, however, an excellent stuffed macaw wearing a pearl necklace, and they sold really nice food and drink. The ladies is papered with old magazine pages, including some of Bowie and Jagger in their prime. Mr Robot says the gents is similar, but with old Playboy pinups. I don’t really approve of magazine vandalism but, well, Bowie*…

Photos by PP Gettins
 *You can get really good scanners nowadays. Why not scan the old mags and use the scans for wallpaper? Then you only need an A4 printer, and you get the look of using real pages but can keep your magazines.

Friday, 4 April 2014

Yesterday, shoes happened

It is spring, and that means my inevitable bleating on about being unable to find shoes.


I had a patchy year with shoes last year; one pair I mail ordered were too large (bizarrely, the other pair in the same size from the same firm were just fine), and my last pair from Hotter were appallingly bad quality - seriously, the rubber bit on the bottom of the heel fell off after a fortnight, and the leather wasn't even faintly water-resistant, so I spent a lot of time with damp feet and trying to polish out white salt marks when the shoes were dried.

After all that, I decided to try some different firms, and yesterday popped into Hush Puppies. They had a couple of pairs with a 1920s/1930s-looking heel, including these ones. The style is called Freya, and you can only buy it in red online, but they also had brown and navy in the shops, and the assistant said last year they had it in lots of other colourways, so she was hoping for cream again this summer. I guess the lesson there is, drop into the shop if you can as they might have even more choice! I really loved the little heart cut-outs, and I thought they would look great with colourful tights.

The other style I liked was Lonna; if I like these I might pop back in a few months for a pair of those – I'm hoping for a more summery choice of colours later in the year.

That isn't my carpet, by the way, it's work's. This is what happens when you get moved into an area previously occupied by games magazines...

Wednesday, 2 April 2014

Jolly Roger?

How did it happen? You think it’s love, you think it’s for life, and then one day you realise it’s all over. I’m not talking about Mr Robot - we’ve been together 20 years at the end of April. No. I am finally admitting that Roger Moore is not a brilliant James Bond.

ITV (non-Brits, it’s one of our telly channels) has been showing one Bond film each Sunday for the part few months. I’ve been looking forward to them, and two of my favourites, You Only Live Twice and On Her Majesty’s Secret Service have already been on, but as time has gone on, I’ve enjoyed the films less. Last weekend they showed Moonraker. I didn’t enjoy it.

To be fair to Rog, he is hampered by the fact that many of his films were made in my least-favourite decade, and he has to contend with safari suits, a dreadful ‘humorous’ American sherrif in a couple of films, and theme songs with some of the most godawful lyrics this side of a Tim Rice musical – seriously, listen to the theme from The Man With the Golden Gun. But then he also gets one of the best villains, in the shape of Christopher Lee as Scaramanga, one of the most genuinely scary films in the whole Bond oevre (Live and Let Die, which scared me no end as a kid), and a cool underwater car.

My mother-in-law is of the opinion that Sean Connery is the best Bond and that Roger Moore is the Saint. I disagree with the first part, I prefer George Lazenby or Daniel Craig, but she’s spot-on on the second bit. It’s not just that Moore played Simon Templar brilliantly in the 1960s/70s TV series, but he embodies the spirit of Leslie Charteris’ original novels. He’s lighthearted, witty, amoral, like Templar... he lacks the brutality of Bond.

I will continue to watch the Bond films because it’s been a while since I’ve seen some of them, and it’s a rare treat to get the chance to see them in sequence, but I fear I have a slog ahead of me. For Your Eyes Only, which always used to be one of my favourites, is next, but after Rog is Timothy Dalton, and then comes Pierce Brosnan, who is my least favourite Bond, though that is because he’s hampered by the worst Bond-by-numbers scripts. But then, hopefully, we’ll get the Craig films, and they’re well worth the wait.

Do you have a favourite Bond or Bond film?

Thursday, 27 March 2014

Whole lotta something going on…

Do you have a busy time of year? I've been fairly inactive for a couple of months, but have realised that my Busy Time is about to kick off. May is always busy for me, but this year the fun looks like beginning even earlier. Next Monday my friend Judy Darley is launching her book, Remember Me to the Bees, at The Birdcage in Bristol. The Birdcage is a cafe/vintage shop, and I've never been there before. Mr Robot is photographing the launch, so I hope to have some nice pictures for you.

After that I've got a steampunk birthday tea party, a trip back to Norfolk, a couple of nights on Burgh Island... and that's just April. May brings the BathVA vintage fair, as part of Bath in Fashion week, and the Vintage Nostalgia show, then June has Brass Brunel (the Bristol steampunk weekender) and a Gatsby-themed party. That's a whole lot of outfits to plan and packing to do! I've only really thought about Burgh Island, but some of the outfits will do double duty there and for the Gatsby party.

Honestly, it'll be a relief when July rolls round... Until I get bored! Have you got anything exciting planned in the next couple of months?