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

Friday, July 30, 2010

This Weekend

I will be here:-
Knit Nation - 29-31 July 2010

I hope I get to see some of you there.
Do come and say hello.

Look for me signing my books at Loop, Booth 137 on Friday and Saturday at 3.00 pm

for now
Ruby xx

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Knit Camp

I am writing this post to express my sincere apologies to anyone who is booked onto any of my classes at Knit Camp, Stirling in August. Unfortunately, despite my best efforts to resolve several issues with the organisers this was not to be and I have therefore been left with no alternative but to withdraw from the event. Again I cannot apologise enough, and the thought of having to take the action I have has made me physically ill, however with no contract and various other issues I felt I had to take the decision that I did.

I have spoken to some participants on ravelry and I hope this message reaches other students. I sincerely hope that everyone attending Knit Camp has a wonderful time and hope to meet some of you in the future. The demand for vintage themed knitting workshops weekends seems to be building so maybe that is the way forward.

I don't know what else to say. I feel absolutely terrible about this but you just have to do what is right.

For now
Ruby xx

Thursday, July 22, 2010

End of the Pier Show

I realised today that it is two weeks since I last blogged. How can it have been so long, yet again? Well for week one, I still didn't have my computer. I finally got it back a week ago. It then took quite a few days to get things up and running again. I still can't use my printer and have one or two other problems - no right click! - but I'm getting back to normality again. The second week's lack of blogging is due to much more pleasant reasons.

First of all, my very good friend Woolly Wormhead, her partner Tom and gorgeous young son Aran, paid us a visit in their bus. They stayed for a couple of days and I realised what a toddler unfriendly house we have. We have stuff everywhere! We had a wonderful time though, and Woolly and I found time to go through some italian stitch books and discuss cables, twists and decreases which was fascinating. The italian stitch patterns are charted, albeit with different simples but Woolly explained them to me and I'm hopeful I will be able to make use of this new knowledge. The best part of all though was making soil castles in the garden with lovely Aran and getting a big hug and kiss bye bye from him. Broody? Not exactly, but nostalgic.

Our next visitors then arrived.

My friend Donna Druchunas with her husband Dominic are travelling through europe whilst Donna works on a new book about Lithuanian knitting. We met up a few weeks ago and showed them the bright lights of Liverpool. This time we shared the victorian splendours of Southport, and in particular, the pier.

Southport pier was first opened in 1860 and at one point was 4380 feet long. It is a fabulous metal and wooden structure extending far out into the irish sea.

Southport Pier in Victorian times

After experiencing gales, collisions with boats and a fire it somehow survived until 1990 when it was nearly closed down by the local council. It is the second longest pier in Britain at a length of 3650 feet. Recent renovation was supported by individual donations where local residents could sponsor each and every plank of wood.

The Pier as it is today
Taking a walk down the pier in bad weather is almost something you just have to do, and is almost a requirement if you haven't experienced a soaking wet, english summer's day.

What really makes it worth the walk, is the victorian amusement arcade at the end. The various amusements actually vary in age from victorian through to the 1950s but all operate with one old penny.

 You have to change your money to 'old money' and then you can have your fortune told

You can be scared by the guillotine or the haunted churchyard

Or be absolutely petrified by the laughing sailor. Truly the most unpleasant of 'amusements'

You can watch a puppet show

Or even play a game of football. Note the players' oversized handknitted jerseys!

You can even 'Watch what the Butler didn't see'

We had a great couple of hours, turning the clock back and keeping dry!

for now
Ruby xx

Thursday, July 08, 2010

Summer Sweaters

A slightly different post to what I had originally intended, I thought I would dwell for a moment on that dreadful wardrobe conundrum - wearing knitwear in the summer. We have had good weather over the last few weeks here in the North West of England, but in fact it has probably been three years since we have experienced more than two consecutive days of sunshine. And it has been wonderful. But, other than throwing a little cardi on of an evening I was struggling to wear my knitwear. So I decided to look at some of my previous work and see how I could interpret it for summer wear.

The first garment I decided to revisit, is a free pattern on knitonthenet, from a couple of years ago, called Blanche.

I have worn the original garment so often it is now almost falling apart and is actually in the mending pile for a bit of careful darning and repair. However it is a really flattering pattern, short sleeved with a low square neck, making it perfect really for summer wear if it only wasn't in merino wool! So I checked my stash and found some Tilli Thomas Pure and Simple in a soft yellowy gold called Rattan and an additional skein of Tilli Thomas Rock Star in the same shade but with beads threaded through the yarn. Both yarns are 100% silk and the same tension as the original yarn used - Filatura Di Crosa Zara Plus - 18 sts to 10 cm (4 inches). The yardage is considerably longer on the silk yarn so I only needed 2 skeins of the main yarn and the 1 skein of the beaded yarn, so although quite an expensive yarn per skein, it was quite reasonable over all. And this is the rather lovely result.

I knitted the 38-40 inch although I'm a little bigger as the silk will very likely stretch and I would like the sweater to still look fitted. Interestingly enough, this was me in the original photos for knitonthenet, but I was dreadfully self conscious and didn't think people would want to look at photos of me so hid my face. I've got a little bit better these days but still don't like seeing myself!

The next pattern I revisited didn't require any interpretation except to make it in my size! It is The New Cowl Neck Line from A Stitch in Time.

It is knitted in Habu Silk A-4 which I still had quite a lot of since using it on a number of garments in A Stitch in Time. I decided to use this warm, earthy, coppery tone which I have never worn before but which I really like. I followed the pattern for the third size exactly, other than making the waist belt longer than the pattern and gathering the cast on edge of the body into it slightly more than in the original.

I did this due to the 12 inch difference between my waist and bust and I wanted this one to sit on the waist rather than on the hip, where the belt would accentuate the width of my hip rather than the comparative narrowness of my waist. It does require high waisted skirts or trousers to accompany it, but as the original is from the 1930s this would be appropriate anyway. I've paired it here with my long white linen skirt which has a knack of looking very 'period' but is actually only a few years old.

I am still knitting the last garment I want to talk about, and it is the Adorable Bed Jacket from Vintage Gifts to Knit.

I am knitting the 40 inch and am using Anchor Artiste Crochet Linen, which is about a 1 ply laceweight yarn, but using 3.25 mm needles as specified in the pattern.

This is resulting in a fabulous openwork style lace pattern and is coming out pretty successfully to the required garment size.

I just love how this looks and shows how versatile a little pattern this jacket is. It looks completely different from the original but just as good. The fabric being produced is a little crisp at the moment but I'm sure once it is washed it will begin to feel more like an aging linen fabric. I have still to decide on the perfect ribbon trim but I would like to see the washed results before making a final decision.

At 6 a.m. tomorrow a hose pipe ban begins in our area so no doubt it will rain solidly for the next two weeks, but here's hoping I'm wrong.

so for now,
Ruby xxx

Sunday, July 04, 2010

Intern Opportunities Available

Via Arbour House Publishing and knitonthenet we have two great intern opportunities available. The full details are available below. If you are interested in applying please contact the email given below rather than contacting me as I am not involved in the initial selection process. They are two really exciting posts with lots of opportunities for personal development.

Arbour House Publishing is offering two unpaid internships to work independently on fixed term projects this summer. Each 6 week placement will start after 25th July, and end by 26th September (details to be confirmed).
Location is not important because attendance on site is not required. Virtual interviews will take place by phone or skype on the week beginning 19th July. 
We are looking for enthusiastic entrants into the web design and publishing sectors and are committed to helping them develop valuable skills for their chosen career.
Web Design Intern 
Project: Building and populating two/three websites to a specified brief. Existing website construction skills are required and a knowledge of Drupal would be a particular advantage.
Publishing Intern 
Project: Book Design. To include production of sample book covers, text editing and manipulation, image correction and replacement, and index creation. Graphic design skills are required for this project.
Requirements for both of the internships are:
Ongoing undergraduate education. 
Unlimited computer/broadband access with relevant software. 
Availability throughout six week period. 
Minimum 15 hours per week.
Please note, these are unpaid positions. Full credit will be given for work undertaken and references provided on completion of projects. 

In the first instance, please send a CV and cover letter to Ingrid Murnane at ingrid(at)arbourhousepublishing(dot)com by 15th July 2010.


The last ten days have been filled with frustrations, all caused by technical difficulties. I am not a natural on the computer but have learned how to do a lot of things over the last three years or so since moving much of my business online. I don't have any IT training and rely heavily on advice and guidance from my husband, friends and forums. However since getting my IMac just under two years ago, things began to make a lot more sense. The apple system just seems to operate more in line with my mindset than PCs ever did and as a result I have gained confidence, that is until last Friday, nasty, horrid, bad, bad, Friday. My wonderful foolproof IMac just decided to die. Well actually the hard drive has died. It has proven itself immune to being read from any source and needs to be sent to a specialist. The death of the hard drive almost caused one of maybe only three or four arguments my husband and I have ever had. Who was supposed to be backing up the hard drive? The answer from each of us was the other, the reality was neither. I have no excuses other than I genuinely believed that it was being done on my behalf. I never actually thought to double check, so a valuable, and unfortunately costly and time consuming lesson has been learned.

I have therefore been predominantly without computer or internet access for 10 days except for when my daughter, like now, has left her Macbook home alone. My pride and joy, my IMac was accepted for repair by the apple store yesterday and I found out that I had miraculously had the sense to purchase apple care when I first bought it, so the repair of the computer itself including a new hard drive is covered. Ordinarily apple keep the old hard drive, which they return to the manufacturer, but they have kindly agreed to let me keep it so I can send it off for data recovery. This however is a more costly affair, costing several hundred pounds and maybe taking several weeks. So unfortunately, much ongoing work is currently held up, accounts not available, photographs and emails lost. And so it goes on. But hopefully much of this valuable data will eventually be recovered and as I have already said, an important lesson has been learnt. So if everything seems a bit slow over here its because even more than is normal, I don't know what's going on!

My other main technical gripe, is much to my disappointment, with blogger. I have been aware for a while that there is a significant lack of space on my blog pages for patterns both to be purchased or free, and also for my books. I recently discovered that additional pages could be added to my blog so that I could set up independent pattern pages etc., to make it easier for readers to find things while they wait for me to develop my website. Although this has been delayed by lack of computer access anyway, I have found the system sadly lacking. The design control panel does not function properly with error messages coming up for a whole raft of functions. It has taken several hours today just to get one page to remember its styles and settings. I have therefore decided that putting all these hours into something that was supposed to be a quick temporary fix is really turning into a waste of time that would be better spent getting the website built. So please do excuse the blog if it is somewhat untidy for a little while and some of the links to products etc are missing. I will add the basic items that need to be present but not all the information that the currently empty pages suggest. Treat them as a taster of the type of thing that will be coming on the website and in the meantime I will just keep blogging as normal - once I get my computer and data back - at which point normal service will be resumed!

for now
a technilogically frazzled
Ruby xx