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November 2005

Family knitting

Knitting stuff from the family album; late 40's and early 50's. Looking back at these photographs, I'm surprised how many layers of clothing people wore in those days! Here's one of me and my cousin Rog at the seaside. We've been paddling in the oh-so-chilly North Sea and are getting our feet dried. I'm not sure where the photo was taken; probably Cleethorpes, Bridlington or Scarborough.


I'm wearing a smocked dress, knitted playsuit and cardigan. At least that's what you see; underneath would be knickers, vest and liberty bodice. Rog is wearing a shirt (sleeves rolled up; very Northern seaside!), tie, sleeveless slipover knitted in an Argyle pattern and shorts (plus, no doubt, the obligatory pants/vest/liberty bodice combo underneath). A liberty bodice was a nasty little sleeveless number you wore over your vest as an extra layer so you 'didn't catch a chill'; the bodice fitted tightly, fastened with small rubber buttons down the front and felt incredibly restrictive. I hated wearing mine.


Here's Rog wearing the Argyle slipover again. I'm ladylike in another smocked dress and fluffy knitted cardigan.


This was taken at Withernsea, summer 1950, with my Dad. I'm well wrapped up again; this time in a knitted playsuit (no, I'm not a funny shape; that's a dress bundled up round my middle under the playsuit), topped off with a colourful knitted cardigan.


And finally, here's one taken in 1948 in the allotment at the back of our house in Goole. The Fairisle jumper worn by Laura (Mum's sister, mother of Rog) was a favourite family pattern. I love the dancing people borders and the puffed Forties-style sleeves. I'm obviously very intent on something happening off-camera. I wonder what it was!

Four generations of knitters


Here we are - four generations of knitters photographed c 1949, although my knitting skills probably weren't up to much in those days! I'm the titch in the smocked dress; behind me (left to right) are my Grandma Elsie, Mum Amy and Great Grandma Amy. Grandma Elsie crocheted as well as she knitted and made lace collars, cuffs and doilies; filet crochet tablecloth edgings and curtains. She was the person who thrust a hook into my chubby little hand and showed me how to crochet. I think I was extremely fortunate, growing up surrounded by these talented ladies and learning how to knit, crochet and make clothes.

You know it's going to be a bad day when.... read a horoscope like this one:

'Your physical vitality is feeling extra strong today, dear Leo, although your thoughts may feel a little clouded'.

Extra strong vitality? Nah, nearly fell asleep over my cup of Darjeeling this morning. And I was still in bed. Clouded thoughts? Well, maybe that's a tad more accurate, but I don't know what's causing the clouding.....

My morning mood did not improve when colour proofs of my new book arrived in the post. This little number


is a close-up of a rather pretty baby blanket which has been lovingly photographed for the book accompanied by a cute baby with an even cuter soft toy. But (don't you just hate the 'but' word?) it's been photographed back to front so all you see is the wrong side of the blanket. Groan.

Repeat after me: Tomorrow is another day. Tomorrow is another day.....

Scarf, episode 2

The feather and fan half-scarf is now unravelled and the yarn is wound ready to start again. I went to Peter Jones in Sloane Square this morning and bought three balls of Jaeger Matchmaker DK in shade 865 which matches the deepest purple in the hand dyed wool.


I probably didn't need to buy three balls; two will probably be enough but I'm not running out of yarn again! I'm going to try a sample worked in two-row stripes of alternate yarns; if that doesn't look right, I'll do four-row ones.

Gazing out of the bus window on the way to Sloane Square, I saw a jay flashing his beautiful plumage and several magpies strutting their stuff as well as squirrels, crows and a couple of blackbirds. There are lots of green spaces in South London - Streatham Common, Clapham Common, Battersea Park and Wandsworth Common are all fairly near where I live - and this area feels as though there are less buildings and more open spaces than over the river. North Londoners will probably disagree with me.....

Changing rooms

Well, to be accurate, it's changing one room from this:


into a proper spare room. You know the sort of thing I'm after; a room that has a comfy bed and other niceties to make a guest feel at home. The guest will be my friend Gavin who left London today to live in Brighton. He'll be commuting to London three days a week, and I'd like to offer him somewhere more comfortable to kip than in a sleeping bag on the floor. We're all getting too old for that! I've been trying to clear out said room all year and I have made some headway, but there's still an awful lot of stuff to chuck out or take to the charity shop. Better make a start tomorrow....

On my iPod this week, I'm listening to: Neil Young - Prairie Wind; Sandy Denny - No More Sad Refrains; Stanley Clarke, Al Di Meola, Jean-Luc Ponty - The Rite of Strings; Frank Sinatra - Songs for Swingin' Lovers.

Knit and rip

Trying the cram the stash from Ally Pally into a box under my bed, I came across a skein of Silkwood hand dyed wool I bought at Stitch earlier this year. Perfect for a scarf, I thought, now that winter's almost here.


I cast on and knitted a bit in chevron rib. The yarn looks great in the ball, changing from purple and aubergine to cerise and dusky pink, but the stitch doesn't show off the colour changes very well. Rip and back to the drawing board. I tried out several more stitches, and settled for traditional feather and fan. I like this. It's a doddle to knit and the yarn looks great.


Plenty of wool still left in the ball, or so I thought. Just to make sure, I weighed knitting and needle - 50g. OK; better weigh the rest of the yarn (plus the other needle in the interests of accuracy) - bugger, there's only 60g left. Plan A: rip and make a narrower scarf or Plan B: rip and find a plain yarn to match the Silkwood colors and knit alternate two- or four-row stripes of plain and hand dye. Do I have anything I can use in the stash? Nope. Hmmm.

Do I have a thing about purple?

Do I have a thing about purple? Well, yes. I love purple in all its glorious shades, hues, tints and tones. Imperial purple, lavender, African violet, Windsor purple; you name it, I'll love it! I think it's all part of getting older and turning into my mother who adored purple. Hmm...


This is some of my pre-Ally Pally stash. Mainly Rowan, Jaeger and Debbie Bliss yarns in purple or black plus some Debbie Bliss Aran Tweed in deep pink. The pink tweed was half price from Loop in Islington (lovely shop) and how could I resist?