Wednesday, 28 July 2010

French knitting bag

Anyone who has ever dabbled in the art of French knitting will tell you that the problem is not learning how to do the knitting itself - it's fun and easy, and a great introduction to yarn crafts for young children. No, the big problem is knowing what to do with it afterwards.

French knitting creates a long, long knitted tube. You can curl it round and sew it up to make a place mat or coaster, but that's hardly inspiring stuff for a young French knitter. I used to make worm cosies, which were just colourful lengths of tube. Sadly, I could never pursuade a real worm to use one.

A 1979 edition of Penny comic comes up with this inspired idea of making a French Knitting purse - a really keen French knitter could make a momentously long tube and create a shoulder bag. Now that's something a bit more exciting than a coaster, especially if you decorated it with beads and sequins, or buttons, or...

If you've never tried French Knitting, Penny also provides easy to follow instructions, below:

Traditionally, French Knitting "dollies" or "knitting nancies" were made out of old wooden cotton reels with four nails hammered into them. These days, cotton reels are made out of plastic, so this little bit of fun has been taken away from us by our society's obsession with petrochemicals. Great. There's no need to go out and buy an expensive ready made French Knitting dolly, though.

There are wonderful ways to make a knitting dolly out of Smartie tubes, toilet rolls, or an old table leg. Visit, and for instructions and inspiration. You may be able to find a second-hand wooden cotton reel, or try drilling a hole through the middle of a small length of thick wooden dowelling from a hardwear shop. Make your own recycled knitting nancy and let me know how you get on...

Monday, 26 July 2010

More Roger Moore

Missed this delightful photo of Roger Moore from my last post - it was tucked away at the back of Stitchcraft magazine so I didn't see it. He's modelling a "workman-like" brioche rib jumper, "for odd jobs in the garage and garden".

How times have changed. If I'd taken the time and effort to make a man a brioche rib jumper, and he then went and wore it while changing the oil on his car, I wouldn't let him back into the house. Even if he was Roger Moore. But here's this lovely pattern in Stitchcraft, just for men to use for messy jobs in the garage or garden.

To make brioche rib:

1st row: K1, * wool forward, slip 1 purlways, K1, repeat from * to last st, K1.
2nd row: K1, * wool forward, slip 1 purlways, K2 tog; repeat from * to last st, K1.

Second row forms brioche rib and is repeated throughout the jumper.

Friday, 23 July 2010

Roger Moore, licensed to model knitwear

Before making it big as The Saint and James Bond, a fresh-faced Roger Moore used to earn a crust by modelling knitwear. He was rather good at it, actually. Check out The Man with the Golden Cardigan pose on this Mens Book by Stitchcraft cover from the 1950s.

Same double-knit, button-up cardie, only in moody black and white. He's laughing because the creative team have made him stand in Teddington Lock and a fish has just gone up his trouser-leg.

Probably my favourite, a "country cardigan in a manly cable and rib pattern" with obligatory 1950s nonchalant pipe-smoking pose. That's Canterbury Cathedral in the background, ecclesiastical architecture fans.

More Roger Moore here.

Wednesday, 21 July 2010

Retro 1960s Siamese cat model bag

Just finished this one-off Siamese cat shopping bag - now on sale for £9.00 including UK postage (add on £2.00 for airmail shipping). It's a 100% unbleached cotton tote bag measuring approx 37cm by 41cm, with long handles so you can wear it over your shoulder.

Siamese kitties are hand-painted and finished with a shiny transfer. Gentle hand-wash only (as is the case with all kitties). Drop me an email to reserve and I'll send you payment details, or if you're an Etsy fan, the bag is listed here.

Monday, 19 July 2010

Machine-wash at your own risk

Here is Britain's most unhygienic family, proudly boasting about how many times they have had a bath in the last year. Father leads the dirty stakes - he's "washed twice". Mother isn't far off with a paltry "washed 4 times". Only the dog lets the side down, he's "lost count".

Wait. Hang on - I've read the small print now: they're talking about how many times they have washed their Patons Flair jumpers. It all makes sense now. "Now you can knit and know that the good-looking things you will make will stand up marvellously to the rough and tumble of family life".

In a brilliantly confusing manner, the advert ends, "These handknits were machine-washed and spin-dried. Machine-wash your own handknits if you must, but hand-knitting does deserve hand-washing". In other words, don't do what we did, kids.

From Stitchcraft magazine, 1964.

Wednesday, 14 July 2010

Knitted Siamese kitten

Just finished this cuddly knitted Siamese kitten, based on our wee feline terrorist, Ping. I designed the pattern myself, basing it on one of those lovely stylised Siamese china figurines from the 1960s.

When you are taking photographs of anything with Siamese cats around, it is inevitable that one, or more, will pop up un-announced as you are about to press the shutter and photobomb your carefully arranged photo opportunity. Here is Ping checking that I have got the settings right. Yes, it all seems OK. You may continue, human.

Monday, 12 July 2010

Thursday, 8 July 2010

1950s kettle holder and oven glove

Here's a simple knitting project from a 1950s booklet by P andB wools called Second Stage Simple Knitting. Make a thick, decorative "fancy rib" square and add a loop to turn it in to a kettle or pot holder. Make seven identical squares and sew them together to create knitted oven gloves.

Kettle holder: you will need oddments of double knitting yarn, and a pair of No 3 needles.

Using the wool double all the time, cast on 20 sts.
1st row: K2, P2 to end.
2nd row: Same as the first row.
3rd row: K every stitch.
4th row: Same as the third row.

Repeat these 4 rows 6 times more, then from the beginning of the 1st row to the end of the 3rd row once more. Cast off.

The loop: Using the wool single, cast on 18 sts. Do not knit any rows but cast off the sts straight away. Stitch the loop to one corner of the holder.

Oven glove: Make 7 pieces exactly the same as the kettle holder square above. Stitch the 7 pieces together so that they make a long strip. Fold back the two end pieces and stitch them down at the edges to make the gloves.

Tuesday, 6 July 2010

Rude cross stitch bookmark

Cross stitch doesn't have to be all pretty violets and home-sweet-homes. Here's a cross stitch bookmark which doesn't want to sit quietly in the front room playing the harpsichord, no thank you. It was made for me as a present by my outsider artist friend Sian Pattenden, many years ago.

I do like the way that this bookmark instantly flags up whatever you're reading as unbelievable. "The life of Charlemagne? Old arse, I'm afraid".

Friday, 2 July 2010

Mr July

His name is Wendy. He lives in the 1980s. He has a lovely pink tank top knitted in Extra DK. He would like to meet Nik Kershaw. We love you, Mr July.