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

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Time for Tea?

May I first apologise. It is obviously not the day after my last post, although I fully intended it to be. This week has passed in a trail of tax returns, admin and COLDS I'm afraid but also making plans which is a good thing obviously.

At the end of last week I published the latest pattern in the Vintage Gifts to Knit collection which is my lovely retro teapot cosy called Flower-ty Pot.

The cosy is knitted in Jamieson & Smith 2 ply jumper yarn and when experimenting I found that after 45 minutes the tea in the pot was still steaming hot, which has to say something about the insulating qualities of wool. The colours I chose for the flower-ty petals are the accent colours in my slowly proceeding kitchen. I have quite a few pieces of pink glass and green china so hope to pick them out as the kitchen progresses. In the foreground you can see a little embroidered tray doilly that I picked up for 50p at a local jumble sale.

Here's the pot from the other end! Whilst working on the pattern for the cosy I was reminded of George Orwell's famous essay on tea making. Even within my own family there is often heated debates about the right way to make tea. Below is an extract from Orwell's essay, agree or disagree?

A Nice Cup of Tea by George Orwell

Here are my own eleven rules, every one of which I regard 
as golden:

First of all, one should use Indian or Ceylonese tea. China tea has 
virtues which are not to be despised nowadays--it is economical, and one 
can drink it without milk--but there is not much stimulation in it. One 
does not feel wiser, braver or more optimistic after drinking it. Anyone 
who has used that comforting phrase 'a nice cup of tea' invariably means 
Indian tea.

Secondly, tea should be made in small quantities--that is, 
in a teapot. Tea out of an urn is always tasteless, while army tea, made 
in a cauldron, tastes of grease and whitewash. The teapot should be made of 
china or earthenware. Silver or Britannia ware teapots produce inferior tea 
and enamel pots are worse; though curiously enough a pewter teapot (a 
rarity nowadays) is not so bad.

Thirdly, the pot should be warmed 
beforehand. This is better done by placing it on the hob than by the 
usual method of swilling it out with hot water.

Fourthly, the tea should 
be strong. For a pot holding a quart, if you are going to fill it nearly 
to the brim, six heaped teaspoons would be about right. In a time of 
rationing, this is not an idea that can be realized on every day of the 
week, but I maintain that one strong cup of tea is better than twenty weak 
ones. All true tea lovers not only like their tea strong, but like it a 
little stronger with each year that passes--a fact which is recognized in 
the extra ration issued to old-age pensioners.

Fifthly, the tea should be 
put straight into the pot. No strainers, muslin bags or other devices to 
imprison the tea. In some countries teapots are fitted with little 
dangling baskets under the spout to catch the stray leaves, which are 
supposed to be harmful. Actually one can swallow tea-leaves in 
considerable quantities without ill effect, and if the tea is not loose 
in the pot it never infuses properly.

Sixthly, one should take the teapot 
to the kettle and not the other way about. The water should be actually 
boiling at the moment of impact, which means that one should keep it on 
the flame while one pours. Some people add that one should only use water 
that has been freshly brought to the boil, but I have never noticed that 
it makes any difference.

Seventhly, after making the tea, one should stir 
it, or better, give the pot a good shake, afterwards allowing the leaves 
to settle.

Eighthly, one should drink out of a good breakfast cup--that 
is, the cylindrical type of cup, not the flat, shallow type. The 
breakfast cup holds more, and with the other kind one's tea is always half 
cold--before one has well started on it.

Ninthly, one should pour the 
cream off the milk before using it for tea. Milk that is too creamy always 
gives tea a sickly taste.

Tenthly, one should pour tea into the cup first. 
This is one of the most controversial points of all; indeed in every family 
in Britain there are probably two schools of thought on the subject. The 
milk-first school can bring forward some fairly strong arguments, but I 
maintain that my own argument is unanswerable. This is that, by putting 
the tea in first and stirring as one pours, one can exactly regulate the 
amount of milk whereas one is liable to put in too much milk if one does 
it the other way round. 

Lastly, tea--unless one is drinking it in the Russian style--should be 
drunk WITHOUT SUGAR. I know very well that I am in a minority here. 
But still, how can you call yourself a true tea-lover if you destroy 
the flavour of your tea by putting sugar in it? It would be equally 
reasonable to put in pepper or salt. Tea is meant to be bitter, 
just as beer is meant to be bitter. If you sweeten it, you are no longer 
tasting the tea, you are merely tasting the sugar; you could make a very 
similar drink by dissolving sugar in plain hot water. 

Some people would answer that they don't like tea in itself, that they 
only drink it in order to be warmed and stimulated, and they need sugar 
to take the taste away. To those misguided people I would say: Try 
drinking tea without sugar for, say, a fortnight and it is very unlikely 
that you will ever want to ruin your tea by sweetening it again. 

These are not the only controversial points to arise in connexion with 
tea drinking, but they are sufficient to show how subtilized the whole 
business has become. There is also the mysterious social etiquette 
surrounding the teapot (why is it considered vulgar to drink out of your 
saucer, for instance?) and much might be written about the subsidiary 
uses of tea leaves, such as telling fortunes, predicting the arrival of 
visitors, feeding rabbits, healing burns and sweeping the carpet. It is 
worth paying attention to such details as warming the pot and using water 
that is really boiling, so as to make quite sure of wringing out of one's 
ration the twenty good, strong cups of that two ounces, properly handled, 
ought to represent.
All of the works and pictures on are considered to be in the public domain (copyright protection has expired) and, as such, you may freely use the text of the works in any way you see fit.

I have to agree with George completely on no sugar and my Ruby nan always insisted that you could tell how well bred someone was by whether milk went in before or after the tea!

The Flower-ty pot pattern can be bought via ravelry for £2.50 or via the blog links and until the end of the month I am donating 50% of the sale price to MSF Help for Haiti.

Thursday, January 21, 2010


This might seem an unimaginative post title on a blog mainly about knitting, but there is a reason for this. Back in September I was asked if one of the jumpers from A Stitch in Time could be featured in, you've guessed it, Knitting magazine. I duly sent the jumper off for photography and then out of the blue a friend told me she had seen my jumper on the cover of a magazine. I had no idea it was to be the cover but I am stupidly excited by this. When you entrust your designs to a third party to present them on your behalf, it is very scary. Its like letting your child take the bus by themselves for the first time. Will it be ok? Will they look after it? My biggest concern is always how a design is photographed. With photography and styling being my secondary obsessions this is a stress I bring on myself. But there was no need to worry. The cover image and the images inside the magazine are delightful. Here's a little peek.

Here it is on the cover(twice) of the February issue.

And here is the beautiful shot from inside the magazine. The jumper is called Frilly Sleeves and is made using Knitshop Mulberry Silk which is a fabulous yarn. I useda colour called khaki gold which has got a wonderful faded quality about it.

In addition to the featured pattern I have also written a little article to accompany it called why we love vintage, which begins on page 46.

I'll be back tomorrow!

p.s. The jumper is now safely back at home and packed away.

for now
Ruby xxx

Monday, January 18, 2010

Help for Haiti

Like everyone I have been moved by the distressing images on our TV sets cataloging the disaster in Haiti. Reading postings in the Designers forum on Ravelry about how easy it is to pledge a percentage of your sales income to a nominated charity I will be donating 50% of all my single pattern sales, from today until 31st January (2010) to help with the awful disaster in Haiti. By following the Help for Haiti search button on the Ravelry pattern page you can see all the patterns now being sold with a percentage of the sale being donated to charity.

You can see my individual patterns on ravelry here or you can purchase by following the links on the blog - which are currently not there! I will add them in the morning! (Any additional patterns that I add during the period will also be included.)

I've chosen to donate the 50% of pattern sales to MSF - Medecins Sans Frontieres.

for now
Ruby xx

Thursday, January 14, 2010

What every girl needs is ... a Motoring Hood!

This cute yet stylish pixie hood with attached scarf is the latest pattern that I've just released as part of the Vintage Christmas Knits (soon to be Vintage Gifts to Knit) collection. Its knitted in Berroco Ultra Alpaca Fine which I've never used before. It was a very nice yarn to knit with. None of the splitting that often comes with alpaca yarns and a certain smoothness on the needle which made it very quick to knit. It also doesn't have as many loose fibres as on a pure alpaca yarn. The whole hood is worked in a basic K1, P1 rib. There is a small amount of shaping at the back of the neck of the pixie hood to ensure a comfortable and snug fit and of course you can make the scarf part as long as you like. With the scarf being attached to the hood it is incredibly warm and so snug. Perfect for keeping out cold, driving winds.

These hood and scarf ensembles were also known as Pixie Hoods, obviously due to the point at the back of the hood where the seams meet. However, a sophisticated girl would also wear a Motoring Hood when out driving in the open top at the weekend. Just like I do all the time!

The individual pattern is available as a PDF download either by following the link here or in the right hand column of the blog or it can be purchased directly through ravelry. The individual patterns from the collection each cost £3.00

Vintage Christmas Knits can now be pre-ordered via the knitonthenet shop or ravelry (ebook only on ravelry). The printed booklet costs £14 (+ shipping) and the e-book version £10.


All pre-orders of the print version will receive a signed copy.

Writing this post has made me realise that I haven't added two of the four patterns available to the blog, so I shall be back later to put that right.

for now
Ruby xx

Thursday, January 07, 2010

And we think we've got it bad!

After several days of snow, ice and freezing temperatures, the shine is beginning to wear thin. True, everywhere looks beautiful, even the garden which at this time of year looks barren and dead seems magical

Our glitter ball taking on the appearance of a christmas decoration and showing just how thickly the snow fell, and now obviously - a snowball!

My summer time bench hiding the need for a good lick of paint.

The buddleia managing to look skeletal, metallic and beautiful all at the same time.

and finally the chickens thought they would get in on the act.

However, compared to the winter of 1947 we ain't seen nothing yet.

Snow began to fall on 24th January and continued for a week leaving 10 foot snow drifts behind. Vast parts of the country were cut off and food was even dropped by the RAF to isolated towns and villages. Snow continued to fall everyday until March 16 and it remained so dark that between February 2nd and 22nd no sunshine was recorded AT ALL.

Electric and gas were in short supply and coal wasn't able to be dug or delivered. When the thaw finally came at the end of March it resulted in flood and storms!

Here are a few pictures from that winter

Black and white images courtesy TopFoto

Other than the photos being in black and white, it doesn't look that much different to looking outside my front window right now!

Hope everyone is keeping warm,
for now
Ruby xxx

Monday, January 04, 2010

Happy New Year!

I hope everyone has had a lovely christmas and wishing everyone a wonderful 2010

I hadn't intended to leave blogging over the entire christmas and new year holidays but once the holidays started I decided to stay away from the computer as much as possible and to actually feel like I had some time off. In other ways I didn't to be honest as I had lots and lots of knitting to do, but I rarely get the chance to sit knitting for hours these days, so this was in fact a lovely treat. I will share photos of what I got done in the next post where I can. Some of the knitting can't be revealed as yet unfortunately and I also didn't get the chance to take a lot of photos that were planned either!

I did however, get these lovely Fair Isle gloves photographed. They are knitted in Jamieson and Smith 2 ply Jumper Yarn. The gloves are slightly longer in length than standard so that there is no gap between the glove and the cuff of the wearer's coat.
The pattern will be available later tomorrow and is part of the Vintage Christmas Knits collection which is coming along nicely.

The christmas knits booklet has been delayed slightly but should finally come together over the next couple of weeks. It is also having a name change. Those who have already ordered the booklet will be sent an email offering them the choice of the booklet with its original name or with the new name "Vintage Gifts to Knit". I have had wholesale requests for the booklet but with a name change to give the booklet more longevity on the shelf. Which does make sense. The cover will remain the same in every other way just the title will be different. Which means anyone who has already ordered has got a true limited edition as it will never be printed again as Vintage Christmas Knits.

I am very excited about the number of talks and workshops I'm giving in 2010 so I am going to try and add a section to the blog page with a permanent listing but I thought I would mention a few of the them here:-

27th-27th February - Unravel, Farnnham Surrey- two talks - you can see the details on the linked page.
27th-28th March - Make, Do and Knit, Liverpool - our own two day textile event in my home town
9th-13th August - Knit Camp - 4 workshops - listed here
1st-4th September In the Loop 2 - Shetland Museum, Shetland Islands - Keynote Speaker.

I'll try and blog a fair bit this week to get up to date with everything, including a make up post which has been requested by a lot of readers now so I'm going to get it done!

I'm feeling really positive about 2010 - and so delighted to have actually got through 2009 - I truly hope we all have a great one.

for now
Ruby xxx