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

Thursday, February 28, 2008


Why necks? Well for two reasons. The first is why I haven't blogged for a week. My neck, my dammed annoying neck. Part of my long term reoccuring mobility problems are due to two of the vertebrae being partially fused together and having a fondness to pop out of joint. Tension in my neck caused by this happening at the weekend caused my shoulder to dislocate, the muscles in my thorax to twist and my hip to pop out too! All this has meant repeated visits to the therapist and no knitting or computing. I've got my last visit this morning to put the neck and finally the hip back in. However, enough of the moaning. I really only wanted to tell you yet another saga about the neck so you would understand my absence (shouldn't be here now - but don't tell anyone!)

The second reason to focus on necks is that last week I made my own version of a Tippet (a neck warmer). I took the basic stitch pattern from the 1880 Ladies Knitting Book and 'filled' the instructions out somewhat, and in view of the ice still on the ground I thought I would share the pattern here.

Ruby's Tippet



Two balls Noro Silk Garden
I Large button
1 pair 5mm needles


Cast on 39sts using 5mm needles

1st Row: *yfwd, SL1, K2tog, rep from * to end of row.
Repeat this row throughout.


This one row pattern gives a very nice exaggerated rib effect but much more textural than a normal rib.

Work without shaping until tippet measures 54 cm (21.5inches)

Work buttonhole as follows:

1st row(RS): work 6 patt reps., K2, Cast off first st., K1, cast off 1,
yfwd k2tog., patt to end.

2nd row: Patt to last st before cast off sts., K1, turn, cast on 3sts,
bringing yfwd between last 2 cast on sts., turn, K1, yfwd, K2tog, patt to end.

3rd row: Work 6 patt reps., K1, yfwd, (K2tog)twice, work 6 patt reps to end.

Now work a further 26 rows in patt.
Cast off.
Darn in ends. Sew on button.


Copyright Justcallmeruby@2008

I will try and get some professional photos done at the knitonthenet shoot in a couple of weeks as I don't really think the photos here do it justice.

Unfortunately, I can't find the camera card with the photos of my 40's hair do at
present. My beloved has put it somewhere safe, but as soon as I find it I will put them up.

And finally, last year the lovely Susie Hewer, ran a series of marathons culminating in her entering the Guiness Book of Records for knitting the longest scarf whilst running a marathon.


This is her after the race last year.

Susie did all this on behalf of the Alzheimer's Research Trust. Susie has just announced she's doing it again, and is going to try and beat her record.

You can find out all about it here.

P.S. Susie's also a redhead!

for now
Ruby xx

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

A is for ...


To be precise, Blue Sky Alpacas. I finally took delivery of the pattern I have been waiting for

30's gown

It still doesn't seem to be available anywhere in the UK, so in the end I ordered it from Purl in New York. It only took about 5 days and it was here. But obviously, to make ordering from New York worthwhile I ordered a few more which include

crochet sweater

this gorgeous crochet sweater in Suri merino


fitted jacket

the equally lovely fitted jacket in Bulky Naturals.

I've long wanted these two patterns aswell so am very pleased. The 1940's gown is in Alpaca Silk which is one of my favourite yarns. I used it recently to knit 'something' for the forthcoming 'A Stitch in Time' book and saw it and many other lovely things get photographed for preliminary publicity at the weekend. I can't say any more on that front but wow, wow, wow. I just can't wait to see it. My friend, Theo, of the Shellac Sisters was one of the models. You will also be able to see her modelling a design of mine in the next issue of knitonthenet. The other model is Fleur de Guerre, who is a professional 1940's model. Which brings me to

B is for....

At the end of a very long days photography, Fleur agreed to pose in my butterfly dress to finally get some professional photos for the website in waiting. I am just delighted with the photos. Fleur just looks fantastic. She even managed to look beautiful and poised standing in shoes that were TWO sizes too small for her. What a Star!






Hair was done on the day by the wonderful, talented, funny, warm Nina of Nina's Hair Parlour. She is the best hairdresser on the planet. She even put my hair up in a 40's rolled style which I'll show photos of in the next blog. It was so complicated and she did it in ten minutes, and it stayed in all day. Genius. I struggle to even tie my hair back successfully! I love Nina.

so finally

C is for ....
Claudette Colbert


We all need a muse and she is mine. Not only is she beautiful but she was a woman very much in control in an era and a business where not normally so. She became at one point the highest paid actress in hollywood and even dictated how she was photographed. The caption on the photo is inaccurate. She was actually born in 1903 and died in 1996. One of the most fascinating things about her I think, was that she was cast in Bette Davis' role in All About Eve then fell and badly hurt her back. Bette Davis' then got the part. Life is full of twists.

The photo is from Hollywood Knits by Bill Gibb, published in the 1980s but unfortunately out of print now. It features publicity shots of hollywood stars in knitwear and Bill Gibb has then created knitting patterns from the photos. The garment Claudette is wearing is high on my list of to do's. And if I think Claudette would be happy to wear a garment I have designed I'll be very happy.

for now
Ruby xx

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Prom success and my valentine's present

It was indeed a successful trip to Manchester with my daughter. We bought her prom dress relatively quickly - it was the second dress she tried on - she went back to it after trying on seven more! But the decision was certain and unchangeable which is what I wanted to hear. Prevarication was not on the menu. I'm not going to reveal anymore at this point but save the reveal for May when she is all ready to go.

I finally got a chance to scan in the cover of my wonderful valentine's present. It is this book

ladies knitting book

I don't know whether the page below can be read clearly but it was published in 1880. This is the earliest knitting book I have.

knitting book insert

and contains two hundred and sixteen RECEIPTS (or patterns to us. I don't actually know why they were called receipts - does anyone else know?)

What I really love is it is signed presumably by the owner on January 30th 1881.
There are very few pictures but patterns for things such as a gentleman's muffatee and an opera cloak - you would have to be very brave to embark on knitting a cloak without even a picture to see whether you like it or not. There is also a pattern for a Tippet, which goes as follows:

"Useful little presents to poor children or as school rewards and can be made in the following way:

Take any soft wool (scarlet or any bright colour) and cast on about 27sts, using coarse wooden pins, not finer than size 2. Then wool forward, slip 1, knit 2 together. Knit every row alike.
Knit till long enough and cast off.

They can either tie round the throat, or fasten with a button or elastic. They are warm and quickly made".

I do love the way the patterns aren't prescriptive, just a guide really, and leave the knitter to find their own way to a great extent. There are other guides in the book, such as what to do if you have plump arms and a pattern for a 'Scotch Cap for pence'.

I think I shall make myself a Tippet but I'm not so sure about the Scotch Cap.

for now
Ruby xx

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

The Internet and Prom Dresses

I have struggled for the last two or three days without proper internet access. Our router decided to die and left me unable to get onto the internet without having to go round to other people's houses and borrow their computers. A new router has now arrived and my beloved worked into the early hours of this morning to get it fixed. Unfortunately I'll have to wait until tonight before I can use it. So this will have to be a photo-less post. My apologies.

It is the half term holidays at the schools here, and my daughter and I, are going to Manchester on the train, later today, to look for her prom dress. Her school prom is not until May but most of her friends have already got their dresses, so its panic stations now. We're looking for something vintage, an original 50's/early 60's ballerina length dress. We think. My daughter is the most undecisive, changeable shopper on the planet. Takes all day to buy one thing - not like her mother at all. So I'm not expecting this to be easy. If we do get a dress, we've then got to tackle the shoe issue. She hates buying shoes. Has the tiniest feet imaginable yet insists all shoes make her feet look big. I'm five inches taller, three shoes sizer bigger and several stone heavier - she should worry!

There is a great place called Affleck's Palace, which is an old building crammed full of small stalls, lots of small businesses selling vintage clothes, hand made clothes, jewellery etc. Like a real life etsy, except they have been trading since the 1980's if not before. This is the ethos from their website:

"We are an independent enterprise, for the independent entrepreneur, existing amongst the wilderness of multiples hiding behind their 'dog eat dog' corporate facades which boringly blight our city centres.

The objective is now and always has been to encourage an exciting interesting place, which in our modest way would be something more than just a shopping centre based entirely on commercial interests.

The very essence of this business was started on the principle of youth culture in all its extremes, and letting people 'do their own thing' to achieve this objective. We try our best to nurture our fledgling entrepreneurs , and watch them fly!".

I really admire this attitude. It is so important for talented people who haven't got a fortune or an angel or a very understanding bank manager to have a way of getting their product out there. The building may be a little rough around the edges and there may be a lot of 'youths' there, but if you're in Manchester, give it a go.

I have been very busy on the knitting front but all for knitonthenet and A Stitch in Time. We are in the process of getting patterns and yarn packages together to send to all the knitters who have kindly volunteered to help. The first promotional photographs are being taken at the weekend - but more of that later.

for now
Ruby xx

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Lovely lovely books

Its been a very busy week with very little time for blogging or, unfortunately, even for knitting. However, the post I've been waiting to do is about my trip to our local antiquarian bookshop. It is situated on the balcony of a wonderful victorian arcade and has all the atmosphere and charm you would expect, even down to a special reading room that only invited customers are allowed into. (More on this later)

I made several purchases the first of which is the Patons Story of HandKnitting


It was written back in 1985 so the 'current' knitting trends are somewhat dated, but the historical side of british handknitting is fascinating. On the back cover is a picture from an early Patons publication which I'm very fortunate to own, but more importantly, its how I imagine myself and my life to be when I'm knitting.

Patons lady

I'm afraid I don't often seem to experience such serenity, but I keep on hoping!

The second book I purchased is one of the Batsford series, which I now have a fair few of. This one is the Complete book of Traditional Knitting by Rae Compton


This book looks at traditional knitting patterns from Shetland, Fairisle, Aran, Iceland, Sweden, Central Europe - the list goes on. A very interesting book.

The third book I bought is this one


and it is glorious. 860 pages of techniques from 'faggoting' to 'punch work', which both sound like something which used to happen in victorian taverns to solitary sailors on their way home!

The illustrations, such as this one, are beautifully executed


I think these instructions on sewing a collar are brilliant


Such detailed explanations and so clearly illustrated.

I love this page on how to swiss darn

swiss darn

Each picture is a little work of art.

I did get to go in the special reading room to pick two books for my valentine's present. I haven't been allowed to have them yet, so I will have to reveal them after February 14th. But the room was wonderful, there was an emormous leather club armchair in front of a cast iron fireplace and mahogany bookshelves from floor to ceiling. There were the most beautiful volumes of children's stories which I was also very tempted by, but even my man has his limits, so I chose my two special books and left the magical room behind. It almost felt that if you looked behind you, it wouldn't be there anymore.

Finally, back to my Patons story of handknitting book. The inside cover has these two fantastic illustrations of shade cards from the original Patons range.


Patons shades

some of the yarn names sound incredible, like Lady Betty Fleecy, Petticoat Fingering (ooh er missus!) and Pomeranian. In the Beehive Scotch fingering there are 132 colours available in 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6 ply. Heaven!

for now
Ruby xx

Friday, February 01, 2008

The snow is falling heavily and people are throwing snow balls but in my heart I'm thinking of spring and the chance to wear beautiful summer dresses.


This fabulous crocheted dress from John Paul Gaultier caught my eye when my March Vogue dropped through the letter box this morning. Wouldn't wear the hat but the dress is wonderful. I love the crocheted JPG built into the fabric.

Here comes summer?

for now
Ruby xx