Vintage Knitting, Retro Dressmaking, Make do and Mend, Original and Vintage Inspired Knitting Patterns, Vintage Inspired books

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Designed in Paris


for the want of a stitch the pattern was lost!

Designed in Paris is a late 1950s pattern which appears in A Stitch in Time Volume 2. It is a beautiful tunic style textured jumper knitted in two colours of Excelana 4 ply. It has proven a very popular design but recently I received an email from a lady who was having trouble reproducing the pattern as it looks in the photos.

When I receive a pattern query I always return to the pattern and have a good check through it. When everything seems mathematically and typographically correct I usually knit a sample square so that I can provide the knitter with very precise instructions on how to cope with the difficulties they are having.

On this occasion I began to work the four row pattern and immediately realised that 1. On the first couple of pattern rows things didn't work quite according to the instructions and 2. By following the instructions I was getting a different pattern!

This obviously seemed very odd so I looked closely at the finished garment and the book photographs and it dawned on me that the finished piece had resulted in a quite different looking pattern than the instructions would suggest. So how on earth had this happened.

Below is the only photograph that the original sample knitter and I had to work with when we were creating the new version of the pattern.

Looking at it now I can see that there is a difference between this and the new version but at the time, immersed in rewriting 80 patterns I somehow managed to miss the fact that the stitch pattern doesn't quite look the same. What would appear to be the cause of the mistake in the knitting is that the very first set up row as written makes it difficult to work the first pattern row as described and the sample knitter had made a choice of how to proceed. Unfortunately looking at the pattern notes there doesn't seem to be any mention of the problem and I consequently have also missed it. 

So where does that leave the pattern? If you follow the instructions as written in the book you will actually get the stitch pattern as shown on the original black and white photo above NOT the stitch pattern shown on the new version of the garment although because of the set up row not being right it makes it very tricky to actually get started on this variation which is were the trouble begins. I am aware that most people when they are knitting this pattern want the stitch pattern as shown in the new version so first of all let me take you through how you create this stitch pattern whilst still being able to use the pattern as described in the book.

On rows 1 and 3 of the 4 row pattern you are told to 'knit into loop only below next st and drop st off needle'. Instead of carrying out this action you need to knit into the 'space' below the next st on the needle as shown below:

Step 1: Place right hand needle into space below next stitch on left hand needle

Step 2: Wrap yarn round needle knitwise and draw yarn through space

Step 3: Drop stitch on left hand needle off the needle

Step 4: Knit the next stitch. 

Step 5: Repeat steps 1 to 4 across the row.

All other instructions within the pattern remain exactly as specified. The only change is the stitch as described above. The set up row can also be left as in the book.

If however, you would like to try knitting the jumper using the stitch pattern as in the original pattern you need to follow the 4 row pattern as described. However in order for the very first row of the pattern to work you need to finish the stocking stitch pattern worked first on a right side row and then work a row of knit stitches from the wrong side of the work providing you with a purl ridge to work into. Once you have done that the pattern makes sense. Let me show you how to carry out the action 'knit into loop only below next st and drop st off needle'.

Step 1: Insert tip of right hand needle into the front loop (the purl ridge) of the next stitch on the left hand needle

Step 2: Wrap yarn around needle knitwise and draw through loop to make new stitch

Step 3: Drop stitch on left hand needle off the needle

Step 4: This creates a loop lying across the front of the work

Step 5: Knit the next stitch. This secures the loop at the front of the work

Step 6: Repeat steps 1 to 5 along the row.

And there you have it. Two very different looking patterns created simply by working one stitch slightly differently on the two patterns. If you have the pattern you can now choose which stitch pattern you would prefer to knit. I'm rather tempted to knit myself the original version so that I can see how it looks compares to the new version.

but for now,
Susan xx

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Film on the Farm

Last week saw a very special event taking place at the farm. Not only did we finally have our long planned Farm Warming, but we also combined it with the Premiere of my daughter, Charlie's graduation film, Mutoid, all about six year old Aran, the son of my very good friend, Woolly Wormhead

We decided to use our 'slightly' shabby 15th century barn as the venue for the screening and the after-party.

We set about pressure washing the interior and then utilizing a number of old doors left behind after the farmhouse renovation, Gavin built a magnificent door of doors.

We created a large screen above the 'stage' area hung from roof beams and set about decorating the barn with bunting, paper lanterns and wild flowers from the surrounding fields.


Fairy lights were then strung around the barn and the scene was set.

We all sat entranced as we watched Charlie's poignant and revealing film. Aran himself sat on the front row, mesmorized at the sight of himself on the big screen.

After the film and some refreshments including our very own Elderflower Champagne we finished the evening with music. First there was an impromtu performance on the piano from one of the guests.

Then a very special acoustic performance by Seattle Yacht Club, arriving at the farm directly from their gig at Kendal Calling.

The band's guitarist is Charlie's boyfriend, Denis, and in addition to her 'official' degree work, Charlie has directed all of the band's videos to date. 

All in all the night was a great success and it was wonderful to hear the sounds of laughter, chatter and music emanating from this old, old barn, empty for so many years, but now coming alive once again.

As Aran put so very simply in the film, 'I think I will live here forever'.

Aran and Charlie before the film screening

for now,
Susan xx

All images copyright Susan Crawford 2014

Saturday, August 02, 2014

A Sttich in Time Volume 1 Delivery News

Earlier this week I sent an email out to all pre order customers advising them of anticipated despatch dates of the new volume of A Stitch in Time volume 1. It seems a few people for one reason or another don't seem to be receiving their updates so I thought it wise to share the message here on the blog so that its easy to find:

"I'm delighted to be able to advise you that firm plans have now been made and are underway to enable us to commence despatch of A Stitch in Time volume 1. All pre orders currently placed will be despatched between beginning and mid October of this year. We will despatch in the same order as orders were placed but we should have all pre orders despatched within a two week period so no one should be kept waiting too long. An individual email will be sent advising you that your book has been despatched. For those of you who have ordered the e-book you will receive the updated version in mid October. The website and online shop have now been updated to reflect this change."

Orders placed for volume 1 up until 31st August will be despatched in this first wave, then orders placed after this date will be despatched by the end of October.

Please note that the pre order price of £30 will end on the 31st August and the book will then be on sale at its RRP of £35

If you would still like a copy of volume 1, you can order it here

for now
Susan xx

Monday, July 14, 2014

A Talk at Toft

This weekend I will be travelling down to the Warwickshire to the fabulous Toft Alpaca stud farm, home of Toft Alpaca Yarns.

I have always wanted to have the opportunity to visit this beautiful Alpaca stud farm and I'm finally about to get the chance and you can join me. I will be giving a talk this Saturday, the 19th July about my life in hand knitting, how I got to this point, designing, creating my own books and yarns and what is happening next. In addition to the talk you get to go on a tour of the stud farm, which includes meeting the wonderful alpacas themselves, along with delicious refreshments.

The whole event only costs £25 per head. I'm delighted to hear that the event is all set to be very well attended but I believe there are a few extra seats available, so do go along to the Toft website to book your ticket if you would like to come along.

for now,
Ruby xx

Friday, July 04, 2014

Sample Knitters and the Vintage Shetland Project

Temporary cover image
 After three years of researching, pattern writing, pattern ripping up and more pattern writing, I'm finally in a position to begin knitting the samples for my book The Vintage Shetland Project. There are 25 designs to be knitted up - all reproductions of 25 vintage pieces from the Shetland Museum archives. There are a mixture of womens and mens clothing along with some accessories such as gloves, socks and hats. The majority of the pieces are fair isle along with two or three lace garments.
They are a mixture of 3ply and 4ply weight items.

I have found a wonderful model for the womens garments so can now get all the samples knitted up in the right size for the book's first photoshoot, which is taking place on a remote island off Shetland later this summer.

I am knitting some of the garments myself but also need assistance with sample knitting. Most of the garments are knitted in the round with steeks where needed. All colour work is in easy readable chart format and the patterns will have been technically edited prior to knitting. I have several lovely knitters who have offered to help me with the knitting but for the timescale we are now working to, I am looking for a few more keen sample knitters. If you are interested in being involved please email me at using the subject title Sample Knitting.

I really need experienced fair isle knitters on the whole although not all the pieces are particularly complex. I will send you full details of what's required in response to your emails. If you know of anyone else who you think may be interested do please pass the information on.

This project has taken a long time to reach this point and it really is very, very exciting to finally be ready to start to see these amazing garments come back to life.

for now,
Ruby xx

Saturday, June 07, 2014

Designer of the month!

I'm very excited that for the month of June I have been chosen to be designer of the month at the wonderful Ginger Twist Studios on London Road in Edinburgh. 

The shop is owned and run by the delightful Jess who has filled this little shop with a stunning selection of yarns, books and patterns including a number of my own favourites, New Lanark wools, Navia and my own Excelana! Its almost impossible to leave this bright and cheery emporium without purchasing some woolly goodness.

Jess and I first met about a year ago when I visited Ginger Twist Studios for the first time. I called in without warning to be greated by the warm, smiling face of the owner.

Jess brings an incredible amount of enthusiasm to her work and her love of colour and her own fabulous vintage style is reflected all around her in the shop.

Here is the Town and City Tufted Cape knitted in Nile Green Excelana and trimmed with Persian Grey, styled by Jess and on display in the shop. The pattern and the yarn are both available at Ginger Twist.

Another example of Jess's great style is her version of the Plaid Cap from A Stitch in Time volume 2. Knitted in Persian Grey Excelana with stripes worked in bold contrasting colours. Looks fabulous don't you think?

If you're in the Edinburgh area why not call in on Jess and take a closer look at these and some other Susan Crawford samples and patterns that she has on display. On June 21st it is also the first Edinburgh Yarn Crawl and if you're taking part you might very well meet two redheads for the price of one!

for now,
Ruby xx

images courtesy of Jessica James and Karina Westermann

Sunday, June 01, 2014

Moving On - a woolly music video

 ECA (Edinburgh College of Art) has been my daughter's 'home' for the last four years where she has been encouraged and nurtured as a film maker. One of ECA's former students, Ainslie Henderson, is a BAFTA winning animator and he has recently produced an animated music video for one of my favourite bands, James, and it is all made of wool! It is a beautiful piece of animation that leaves you close to tears and the fragility of the wool fibres seem to echo the same fragility of life. Ainslie has also captured some wonderful footage of the wool fibres as they unravel. The song is obviously marvellous as its James, but do take a look and a listen and see what you think.

Moving On from ainslie henderson on Vimeo.

for now,
Ruby xx