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

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

The Anniversary of the third battle of Ypres

 I was going to post a new blog post today but today is the 31st July which is the anniversary of the third battle of Ypres or Passchendaele, the day great uncle Herbert is thought to have died, so I just thought I would ask you all to remember all the young men who died on this dreadful day and also if you haven't downloaded it yet, do download a free copy of Herbert's Scarf so that you can make his scarf in remembrance. If you haven't read about Herbert's story you can read it on this post from April.

for now
Ruby xx

Sunday, July 22, 2012

The Comforts Committee

Browsing through vintage knitting patterns this afternoon I found this beautiful illustration on the back cover of "Knitting for the R.A.F" published by the Royal Air Force Comforts Committee, based at 20 Berkeley Square, London.

Ration coupon-free wool could be obtained by 'Working Parties' of at least 10 people, on the understanding that all items made from the wool would be for the Royal Air Force and would be sent directly to the Comforts Committee. An official Registration Certificate would be issue to the group on receipt of a Form of Guarantee, which had to be signed to acknowledge the undertaking being given.

The Comforts Committee was established by the Air Council in 1939 with the following purposes:

1. To ascertain the requirements of the Royal Air Force in both patterns and quantities of comforts required.

2. To arrange for the collection and storage of gifts in kind made to the Royal Air Force and to use cash donations to their best advantage.

3. To supervise the distribution of comforts within the Royal Air Force so as to ensure fairness and economy.

The bit I really 'like' is this: "The Committee consists of representatives of the Departments of the Air Ministry directly concerned with the welfare of the Royal Air Force, 'assisted by two lady members'.
Now I am only guessing, but I would imagine the two lady members probably did a little more than assist the Committee and yet even in the pattern booklet itself the airwomen of the W.A.A.F. are portrayed in a rather stereotypical fashion.

Whilst there is no doubting this is a great sketch it seems somehow inappropriate to depict a member of the armed forces plumping up a pillow or possibly sewing something in a suggestive manner to illustrate the knitting pattern in question, or here, hopefully, playing leap frog?

To balance this though this airman is shown comically yet still manfully, endeavouring to darn his socks!

I love this booklet nonetheless and it certainly wouldn't be true to the period if there wasn't a little bit of condescension thrown in here and there.

To encourage participation and involvement the scheme provided an enamel badge to each 'Working Party' registered, with additional badges available at the cost of one shilling. Heads of working parties were encouraged to only allow party members to acquire a badge if they contributed around a 100 hours of their time to the Comforts Committee.

 Acknowledgement slips were attached to each knitted item so that the airman or airwoman receiving it could respond in person if they so wished. The whole scheme itself is incredibly practical and well organized, ensuring that the best use was made of limited resources and people's efforts and desire to help. Finally to spur knitters on further, there was a letter from the Secretary of State for Air no less entreating and thanking knitters for their efforts.

for now
Ruby xx

Wednesday, July 11, 2012


I'm aware the title to this post sounds somewhat dramatic, but I have become aware that whenever I have completed a major project, in this case, Coronation Knits, I suffer an emotional and physical crash. I usually come down with something, a bad cold or flu, am extremely tired, can't focus on tasks yet can't sleep and can't stop thinking. These 'symptoms' have now occurred after each book I have worked on or each major event that has taken place over the last few years. In one of the forthcoming interviews in the Coronation Knits blog tour, Woolly Wormhead asked me about the good and bad about being a self publisher and running my own business. And without a doubt 'PPCF' is one of the bad. Once a book is published the hard work continues with publicity, sales, marketing, distribution, more promotion, costings analysis, all sorts of less exciting tasks than designing but as a self publisher, all tasks that have to be performed and done by me. And this is were it gets so hard. How do you balance needing to take a break with what should be one of the busiest periods of a book project? Up to now I would say I basically haven't been very good at finding this balance and have either made myself more ill by trying to push through the physical and mental barriers or I haven't followed up the publication of a title in the best way to make the most out of things. Any one or two person small business with the sort of limited resources that many really small businesses have must surely experience the same problem. How do you get it all to balance? Is it even possible to do so? This blog tour has been a great aid to some self analysis and has given me a lot of food for thought about how I need to go about dealing with this whole process in a far more organised and planned way. I'm not saying I'll actually manage to make it happen but I'm going to give it a go. I can't afford a Project Manager unfortunately so I'm going to have to get better at it myself. And for me that seems to be the reality of being my own boss – at this point in time, I'm my own everything! And there isn't a way round that. I have been on business planning courses where they tell you to concentrate on the things you are good at and the unique benefits you bring to the business and get other people to do the things you can't do as well or don't feel are valuable ways to be spending your time. In an ideal world that is what I should do, but in the world that I live in, where finding the money for the mortgage each month is a real achievement, outsourcing any task is a major decision which may impact on being able to pay the electricity bill when it arrives.

I do hope this post isn't coming across as a feel sorry for me post as it certainly didn't set out to be that. But micro businesses in the UK make up a huge percentage of all businesses in this country, and many of them are run by women, trying to balance all sorts of work and family commitments and I'm sure many have the same issues as I do. And I would be really interested in any thoughts anyone has about how you may have made it work, made it easier, found more hours in the day, managed to grow a money tree in the back garden! Anything really. Because despite PPCF I really love what I do but I need to find better ways of doing it so that I can continue to do this for a long time to come.

Now I am going to go and knit without feeling guilty. And don't forget to keep following the Coronation Knits blog tour. I'm currently visiting the amazing Tasha's blog and will be stopping at Tom's next where there will also be a chance to win some beautiful Juno Fibres yarn to make the Diamond Stole from the book.

For now
Ruby xx