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

Saturday, August 31, 2013

A visit to the John Arbon mill in pictures

We spent a lovely few days down in Devon visiting our good friends John and Juliet Arbon who run and own John Arbon Textiles where Excelana is made. The mill has recently moved to new premises and so I paid John a visit to see the new mill in action. I get very excited by machinery, particularly old machinery like at John's mill so thought I would share some of my favourite 'machinery and related paraphenalia' photos - now that is not a phrase you'll hear from me very often!

And finally, here's John in action

For now,
Ruby xx

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Dolce and Gabbana and me!

Imagine my surprise when I received an email pointing out a famous admirer of my work. No less than Dolce and Gabbana in fact.

In their autumn winter collection there is a very pretty, simple lace jumper, short bodied with a deep rib waist band, a boat neck also finished with ribbing and quite full short sleeves. And here it is, Cashmere perforated Knit Sweater, for sale at £640 here.

Look familiar? It certainly looks amazingly similar to The Jan Sweater from A Stitch in Time Volume 2
don't you think? This jumper has proven incredibly popular and knitters versions of it can be found on blogs, tumblrs and pinterest boards all over the internet as well as on ravelry.

Its hard to believe that this 'interpretation' is coincidental. However Jan is of course a vintage pattern and I can lay no claim to the original design and nor would I try to - although Dolce and Gabbana do appear to be suggesting it is their original design. This I find very hard to stomach. However life is far too short and therefore I would alternatively like to request that rather than paying £640 for a machine made, mass produced copy, people purchase A Stitch in Time Volume 2 for £35 along with approx 6 balls of Excelana 4 ply Wool for £30 and make a much more economical yet infinitely more beautiful and unique version of this iconic jumper - oh and maybe also mention to anyone who will listen that the Jan Sweater was here first - and that she is from the 1930s not the 1950s as described on Matches Fashion website!

for now,
Ruby xxx

Thursday, August 08, 2013

Help Save Mutonia

Long time readers of my blog will probably remember that I have been very fortunate to spend time at Campo di Mutoid or Mutonia in Italy as a guest of my good friend Woolly Wormhead and the other mutoids. The camp, both legal and rent paying, is under threat from one individual who is attempting to force the local Santarcangelo council into evicting this talented community and destroy the incredible artworks that dominate. Many of the people who live in the camp are talented and respected artists many of whom are commissioned worldwide to create art pieces based on those found at Mutonia. Visitors like myself also cannot help but be inspired by the sculptures and other art pieces at the site.

The Mutoids since their arrival in the 1990s have transformed a derelict industrial site, where machinery was left to rot and rust without any thought to the environment. The Mutoids have used these abandoned materials to create their art, bringing life back into their immediate surroundings but also into the industrial waste itself.

Below are some photos from my trip to Mutonia in 2010 showing the camp and the artforms and also a derelict gravel pit a mile or so up the path from the camp which reveals just how great a transformation has taken place.

Entrance to the Mutoid camp

amazing works of art scattered around the camp

fabulous metal sculpture from waste products

some of the metal men that the Mutoids have become world famous for

living accommodation fitting in seamlessly with the surrounding woodland

the time machine

straight out of H G Wells!

Woolly's inspiration is all around her

home as a work of art

bringing a derelict plot back to life

a metal insect

amazing fire flies at night all around the camp

the gravel pit - an example of how the Mutoid camp looked before their arrival

just waiting to become a work of art

yet more examples of what the location would look like if the Mutoids hadn't been allowed to rent the land

As you can imagine there are a lot of legalities for Mutonia to deal with collectively and individually, with lawyers time to pay for. So to help raise funds for the campaign Woolly has launched an e-book called Hatopia, which is a collection of 10 of her hat patterns all shot on location at Mutonia.

Copyright Woolly Wormhead
You can view the collection and purchase the book here and by doing so, know that you have helped save Mutonia!

The entire collection costs only £9 with a whopping £7 of each sale being donated to the fund.

To find out more about Mutonia and the campaign go to Woolly's website here
and also do take time to read this Mutonia statement:

"The Mutoid Waste Company arrived in Santarcangelo di Romagna, Italy in 1990 to perform in that year's "Festival Dei Teatri", a renowned annual festival held in the town. From that time on Santarcangelo became a base for the group and it became their home. Their art, their way of life and they themselves became an accepted part of life in Santarcangelo. Over the last 23 years they have increasingly collaborated on projects with local institutions such as schools, and their ties with the local community have strengthened. In recent years some of the Mutoids have chosen the Yard as a safe place to raise their own children.
The Yard is unique: a place that follows the rules whilst living completely outside them, a place that advocates an alternative outlook on life, a place that allows people to discover new things - and it's wonderful that such a place is considered a true part of Santarcangelo and that the locals readily accept the Yard as part of their community.
Despite these many years of mutually respectful cohabitation there is one voice that has continually spoken against the Mutoids presence; a single objector who now seriously threatens this culturally important phenomenon.
Mutonia is not a campsite (even though its inhabitants live in caravans, buses, trucks and temporary constructions that look more like works of art than houses); it's not a standard travellers site (although many of its inhabitants have a semi-nomadic lifestyle); and the group have never illegally occupied the land.
In recent years Santarcangelo's local council has been searching for a solution to the situation, seeking help from other government bodies, with the ultimate aim of declaring the Mutoid Yard as a Site of Cultural Interest.
Unfortunately the Yard currently finds itself under a very real and serious threat of eviction - a reality which would not only destroy this unique community but also disperse its inhabitants and their artwork."

And finally here is a photo of Woolly in the Time Machine itself - inspired herself and inspiring others with her creativity, her vision and her ideals.
for now,
Ruby xx
All images other than Hatopia cover, copyright of Susan Crawford 2010

Sunday, August 04, 2013

August 4th 1992 - a very special day!

Charlie aged 5
Today is a very very special day. My wonderful daughter, Charlie, is 21 years of age. I cannot believe where the time has gone and how our lives have changed and how proud I am of how my beautiful child has developed into a caring, intelligent, determined, responsible, creative, loving, loyal, funny, energetic, erudite, stylish and even more beautiful young woman.

Aged about 8
 Charlie was born 10 weeks prematurely and weighed only 2lbs.

In an incubator at the Special Care Baby Unit where she lived for the first 9 weeks of her life

Her lungs were collapsed and she should not have survived and yet she did. Something back then should have told me what a strong little character she was going to be!
Posing for the camera!
About to go off for a cycle and proudly wearing sporting badges for swimming, cycling and gymnastics

in my mum and dad's garden

Wearing her Forever Friends cardigan
Since moving to Edinburgh to study for a degree in Film Production at Edinburgh College of Art she has matured even more and is handling the difficulties of adult life without complaint and with great maturity.

Developing her own sense of style
I am even more proud of her coping so well when she is only one of a very small percentage of students at ECA who are categorised as of a low income family. Her childhood was 'unstable' living as we did then, with her complex father who had quite extreme psychological problems and often very aggressive moods swings. This led to us moving home 12 times in 10 years with nowhere ever feeling like home. I did all I could to minimise the effects of living in the enviroment that we did but Charlie was still a witness to things that she should not have had to experience. We also existed on very little money as her father stopped working very soon after she was born and didn't work again for many years. Charlie therefore didn't have the things so many other children around her had and we suffered the humiliations of running out of money for the electric meter, school dinners, petrol, rent and much more, on many, many occasions. From the day I finally managed to break away from her father we never received any financial support from him so things remained difficult and yet Charlie never asked for anything, never complained, and was never jealous of her friends.

Happy as always having fun in Llandudno North wales
If anything, the things we went through together have probably bound us even closer together and when Gavin came into my life it was equally important that Charlie liked him too. She did and the rest is history. We moved in with Gavin shortly before Charlie was 13 and though life has remained a struggle financially we have had a stable, happy and warm home life ever since.

Being Avril lavigne
Charlie showed the type of woman she has become only a couple of weeks ago when she received a call in Edinburgh from her oldest friend, Helen. Helen's father, Tim, had been seriously ill for around three years but they had just been informed that he did not have long left to live. Helen and Charlie have been friends for so long they are truly like sisters and their lives have remained intertwined. Charlie immediately rang me after she had heard from Helen, desperate to come home. I agreed she should get the earliest train possible back to be with Helen. Sadly before Charlie could even get on to the train home, she had received a second call from Helen to tell her that Tim had passed away. Gavin was about to jump in our car and make the 4 hour drive to Edinburgh to bring Charlie home in case she was too distressed to travel, yet somehow she got herself on to the train and got home. She then spent the next week looking after Helen and her mum, assisting in arrangements and just by being there. She was amazing. After the funeral service, Janet, Helen's mum, told me what a wonderful woman my child had become and how Helen couldn't have got through the week without her.  And indeed she has.

Charlie with boyfriend Denis

Charlie and me ready for her 18th birthday party
Thank you Charlie from the core of my being for being the best daughter, friend and woman I could have ever have hoped for. My heart swells with pride at what you have accomplished and what you have become from such a dreadful beginning and a difficult life. I can't wait to see what you do with the rest of your life!  

with love

Saturday, August 03, 2013

Follow me on bloglovin

If you are looking for a new way to keep up to date with my blog posts since google reader departed, you can now follow my blog with Bloglovin Look out for a new blog post tomorrow. for now Ruby xx