Friday, 22 April 2016

'Home Fires': The Knitwear

For me, Sunday evening television has livened up with the welcome return of of 'Home Fires' - Series Two on ITV. I enjoyed the first series, but this has surpassed it in my opinion and to be honest I much prefer 'Home Fires' to 'Downton Abbey' any day - with apologies to Julian Fellowes! I have to admit to re-watching the previous three episodes just because I've found the story-lines so engrossing and also to admire both the outfits worn and easy-on-the-eye Captain Novotny!  

Kudos has to given to the programme's wardrobe department. They've managed to find plenty of authentic 1940s knitwear for this series and it probably helps that many of the actors are very slim, so easily fit into these garments. One thing that I've noticed is the knits have that worn appearence with a few having genuine-looking frayed edges that comes with wear, rather than artificial ageing by a wardrobe hand. Its great to see a WWII tv programme with a wardrobe that clearly evokes both the period and the fact that many people didn't have a lot of clothes, so the ones they did wear frequently received a lot of wear and tear. Look at farmer's lad Stan Farrow with his holey pullover...

Being a keen collector of vintage knitting patterns, I've recognised a few of them during the series; this and a recent post by Wendy of The Butterfly Balcony, gave me the idea to write a post specifically about the patterns and share them, in case anyone wants to recreate one or more of the 'Home Fires' knitwear. So here are some screen captures of the knits, which I've matched up with their corresponding patterns.

As knitting wool was so scare during WWII due to a high proportion of Britain's wool clip being used to manufacture military uniforms, patterns that eked out every last strand of yarn found favour with knitters. Fair Isle was one of the most popular of patterns due to its colourful motifs that was bright and colourful, yet economical with wool. This Fair Isle jumper worn by doctor's daughter Laura Campbell, is part of a twin set from Bestway and I recognised it immediately as I have an identical one from the 1940s knitted in the exact colourway and in a fine 3ply. 

You can find an updated pattern for this jumper available  in a wide range of sizes in A Stitch in Time, Vintage Knitting Patterns 1930-1959: Vol 2 written by Susan Crawford & Jane Waller.

By the way, keep an eye out in 'Home Fires' as you might notice that this jumper is 'recycled'; being also worn by the village busy-body.

Coming to one of my favourite characters, exchange telephonist Claire Hillman, the 'rabbit-ears' jumper that she's wearing above nattily matched with her helmet, is knitted from Weldons No 528 pattern. This has been a favoured pattern for a while and I've previously toyed with the idea of adapting it into a cardigan.

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Looks like the wardrobe department have another version in a different colour-way. I think I prefer the pattern contrast against the dark blue wool.

This colourful jumper worn by vicar's wife Sarah Collingbourne, minus its neckties, was knitted from Bestway 1511 - I love the model's pose on the cover. Fancy knitting one yourself? There's a re-written version for a size 38-40" bust in Jane Waller's book Knitting Fashions of the 1940s, which uses 4ply wool.

Here's another Fair Isle design that appears to be a wardrobe staple for character, Erica Campbell. An identical pattern can be found for it in Patons Knitting Book No 262 and is featured - albeit in a different colourway - on the front cover.

The Neapolitan ice cream colours of this jumper knitted in a traditional wavy Old Shale pattern is bound to be a favourite with knitters. I can't find an identical pattern for the knit featured with its slashed neckline; however, Sirdar 1140 is a close match and the Your Victory Jumper available free from the V&A website is another variation.

The pattern shown above taken from Subversive Femme's Etsy shop is a dead-ringer for farmer Steph Farrow's jumper. The chevron pattern, colour combo and eyelet detail are really eye-catching, but not too overpowering.

One of the most feminine knits in the programme has to be the cream jumper with its lace-work yoke and embroidered flower details as worn by troubled book-keeper Alison Scotlock. I've found a pattern, which looks line an identical match on the Fab 40s Fashions website.

Here we come to the patterns that I haven't been able to find a match for, but thought I'd include them anyway...

The blue cardigan below worn by Butcher's wife, Miriam Brindsley, looks very Thirties in style, with a longer line than its waist-skimming 1940s contemporaries.

I've enjoyed pulling this post together and aim to update it if I recognise any further knits shown in the remaining programmes. If you have any ideas on the 'mystery' knits, please let me know and I'll add them to the above.

 I'm also planning to do a similar post, but on the dresses featured - so watch this space.

In the meantime, happy viewing!

If looks could kill - however, she does have a nice button detail on her shoulder!

Sunday, 3 April 2016

#VintagePledge 2016 - Berry Beret

After sewing Monkeychild's Alice dress, my second #VintagePledge item is a Fair Isle knit. I returned to a 1940s pattern that I had previously used to knit my friend Rachel a beret from.

It's a great pattern to knit and not complicated either; taking me just over a week from start to finish. The pattern is written and not charted and I find these type of patterns easier to follow than charts; less of a strain on the eyes too!

This was a stash buster and luckily I had some toning shades left over from other projects. These were a mix of Debbie Bliss 'Rialto 4ply' and 'Baby Cashmerino', and I still find that they're a pleasure to knit with and not coarse either. 

After finishing, I hand washed it and blocked it over a plate. When wet the beret did look quite big and I was worried that it might resemble The Goodies' 'Ecky Thump' head-gear in diameter!

Photo Source
Happily it lost some of the size after drying and fits with just the right amount of 'flop'.

I've already started my next knitting project, which is a Fifties dolman sleeved bolero - also in a berry-red shade.

P.S. For those of you who are interested, the beret can be seen on  my Ravelry page here: Knit1Monkey.

Saturday, 26 March 2016

A Happy Coincidence

I brought a really gorgeous book from my local charity bookshop this week, Vintage Flowers by Vic Brotherson. Its the sort of book I enjoy browsing through with a cuppa; the colourful photos and styling make it a real page-turner for me. I'm keen on growing my own flowers too, so its given me some planting ideas for spring and summer. I noted there were some photos of a few Dartmouth Pottery mantle vases in the book and made a mental note to look out for some. Anyway, on an ad-hoc stop off at a charity shop in town this morning, what did I find but an identical vase to one in the book...

...what a brilliant coincidence. That's made my day.

Not only did I buy the vase, but also a 1970s Indian print dress and a 1960s sequinned evening jacket from the same shop:

I really love the dress, but am unsure whether the elasticated waist suits me. I'll probably wear it as it is for a bit, then might remove the elastic and just cinch in the waist with a belt instead. Luckily, I brought a suede belt last week that might look good with it:

The Style pattern on the right is another contender for this year's Vintage Pledge - its only got three pattern pieces too! 

My other charity shop buy this week was a pair of Pied a Terre black nubuck boots, which haven't had much wear. My friend commented that they looked a bit steampunk.

Yesterday we dug out around the old greenhouse foundations to get it ready for Husband to repair as soon as we have a spell of decent weather. It was hard graft as the nettles and ground elder had formed dense root mats, which made it tough for the spade to cut through, but we did have a glorious sunny day. 

You'll see from the photo below that this area is looking a lot better than when I blogged about it in my previous post here and I've got my planting plan for this raised border well under way. I felt that I needed my damson gin session last night after all that digging! 

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