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

Thursday, December 19, 2013

How to 'make' a Christmas tree

Gavin and I had determined that this year we would not be buying a Christmas tree. The cost and the waste don't sit comfortably with either of us but equally I'm not a big fan of artificial trees so we decided the time had arrived to come up with something else. As owners of a wood burner we both scavenge and accept offers of wood in return for us taking the said wood away and a couple of months ago Gavin went to an acquaintance's house to chop up and take away an old dead conifer for them. Whilst waiting for the wood to season I noticed that we had several ideally sized pieces to use as decoration and suggested we make these branches back into a tree of sorts!

So last weekend we began by positioning the first of these branches in the centre of a medium sized planter.

We then arranged two further branches of a similar size around the centre branch along with some smaller branches and twigs.

We discussed a few options on how to hold it all in place but ultimately we found a part bag of plaster buried in the shed that was out of date and going off. We mixed this to a very thick consistency in a bucket and then added it to the planter encasing the branches. Within thirty minutes the plaster had set.

At this point we carried the arrangement inside and put it in position on our sideboard. It fitted beautifully. Any stray branches were clipped away just like with a real tree.

Decorating began with a coat of white undercoat - again found in the shed. We covered the plaster in the paint to resemble snow along with the edge of the planter and sections of the branches.

I really like how the branches look with their light dusting of 'snow'.

I then rather belatedly decided I didn't like the colour of the planter so we set about painting it in some green shed paint and the whole thing really began to look very Christmassy.

Next came the lights.

We had a spare set of lights which we wrapped around the branches from within the planter to provide uplighting through the tree which I think works particularly well. And then came the decorations themselves. I already had all the decorations so there was no additional cost involved. Admittedly its not the easiest tree to decorate so its important to pick branches that aren't too smooth so that you have places to hang the baubles from.

I have to say I am absolutely delighted with the finished results. We already had the lights and the decorations so this year our tree has cost us not a penny and after Christmas we can chop down the branches and put it on the fire. But in the meantime though I'm going to enjoy looking at my unique tree for a little while longer.

Don't forget you can still get 15% off products on the website until the end of December by quoting CHRISTMAS13 and hopefully I'll get the chance to pop back to the blog before Christmas Day but if I don't I would like to wish everyone a very Merry Christmas and very best wishes for 2014.

for now
Ruby xx

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

A Christmas Thank You

 If this week is anything to go by, the next couple of months leading up to the move to our farm in the countryside, are going to be very, very busy. The great clear-out has begun to try to reduce the amount of stuff we have both hoarded before physically moving house. With this in mind, it may mean I forget to blog - I admit it doesn't take much to forget to do so - so wanted to take the opportunity to thank everyone for reading and supporting me this year and by way of thanks I am offering £10 off the printed version of A Stitch in Time Volume 2 until the end of the year.

That means the hard back book will be only £25 (plus postage & packaging) until 31st December 2013. All you have to do is enter the code CHRISTMAS13 when purchasing through the shop.

As mentioned above, the offer will run until the end of the year, but if you would like the book to reach you before Christmas, orders need to be placed by Thursday 19th December if you are in the UK, or by Friday 13th December if you are in Europe or the USA. Unfortunately the last guaranteed Christmas deliveries to Australia, New Zealand, Canada and other countries not already mentioned have already passed but these orders usually take an average of two to three weeks to arrive.

If you've already got the book, or would like to purchase anything else from the shop I am also offering a huge 15% discount on all items in my shop (excluding A Stitch in Time volume 1 pre-orders) or on my ravelry page. Simply enter the code THANKYOU13 to get your discount on your order. The discount doesn't apply to postage and packaging but is available to all purchasers.

Visit my shop here

Visit my ravelry page here

Again I would like to thank everyone for their support throughout 2013 and here's to a simply fabulous 2014!

for now
Ruby xx

Thursday, December 05, 2013

All Change!

As we freefall towards the end of what has been in many ways a turbulent year, with many good and some dreadfully bad things happening, Gavin and I find ourselves closing 2013 with the most dramatic and exciting news we could have hoped for.

For most of the year I have been receiving treatment and ultimately surgery for early stage uterine cancer. I have been extremely lucky and have been given the all-clear and, whilst never life threatening as it was detected in its very early stages, it still scares you and makes you look at much of your life in a different light. For us, it has helped motivate us in our determination to find a new home. Since our daughter went to university we have been planning a move to a rural location but with other family commitments there have been many other added considerations when looking for the perfect place. And somehow amongst the constant fray of everything else, we found it. Our ideal home, workplace and inspiration all rolled into one. It has been an agonizing three months of applications, business plans, discussions and interviews and finally, two days ago we were offered the tenancy. Nestled in the hills in the crossroads of Cumbria, Lancashire and Yorkshire is the tenant farm that is to be our home.

Here we will finally have room to run our business properly. To store and distribute our books and yarns, to potentially have an occasional yarn shop or open day, to have a design studio and significantly to have a classroom/workshop from where I can run classes and also invite other teachers as well. In addition to this we will be able to realise our dream of keeping our own sheep and pigs and to grow even more of our own fruit and veg. There are lots of other plans and much renovation to be done which I will share with you over time. See the roof of the big barn on the left of the photo? We have some amazing plans for that!

But for now,
Ruby xxx

Friday, November 15, 2013

Just in Time for Christmas - The Junior Christmas Cardigan

So after the Perfect Christmas Jumper and the Junior Christmas Jumper what else can you need? You need the Junior Christmas Cardigan! Designed for ages from one year to eight years this delightful little cardigan is worked in one piece, backwards and forwards, from the bottom up to the under arm. The sleeves are then knitted and then the body and sleeves are joined together to knit the yoke. This is where the fun starts and You get to knit six prancing reindeer around the yoke using stranded knitting. The moss stitch edges add a simple but effective decorative trim with neat set-in pockets finished off with the same finishing touch. The cardigan is fastened simply with press studs with ornamental buttons sewn over the top.

The cardigan is knitted in Excelana 4 ply making it both cozy and very soft for little ones to wear.
It being machine washable on a wool cycle is also an added bonus for toddlers clothes!

You could knit one in the very feminine colour palette as in the photos or you could go full on traditional and knit the cardigan in Ruby Red with reindeers and edgings in Alabaster. Alternatively a more contemporary combination of Cornflower Blue with Alabaster or Saharan Sand reindeer would make a fabulously casual version. Its up to you of course!

Here's the information you need to make the cardigan:


Excelana 4 ply Luxury Wool, 100% pure new British wool (159m/174yds per 50g ball)
3 (3, 4, 5, 5, 6, 6, 7) balls for main colour (MC) - I've used French Rose in the sample
1 (1, 1, 1, 1, 2, 2, 2) balls for contrast colour (CC) - I used Ruby Red
1 2.75mm (US 2) circular needle (60 to 80cm long)
1 3mm (US 3) circular needle (60 to 80cm long)
A set of 2.75mm (US 2) double pointed needles
A set of 3mm (US 3) double pointed needles
Stitch markers
Stitch holders
Safety pins
2 (2, 2, 3, 3, 3, 4, 4) plastic press studs
2 (2, 2, 3, 3, 3, 4, 4) buttons
Sewing needle and thread

The pattern provides eight sizes as follows:

To fit ages: 1 yr (2 yrs; 3 yrs; 4 yrs; 5 yrs; 6 yrs; 7 yrs;  8 yrs)
Actual chest size in cm: 57.5 (57.5, 61.5, 64, 68, 70.5, 74.5, 74.5)
Actual chest size in inches: 22.5 (22.5, 24.5, 25.25, 26.75, 29.5, 29.5)

The sample in the photos is for an age 2 years.

You can buy the PDF pattern for £3.50 from my ravelry store
You can purchase the yarn in your choice of colours from my website

I do hope you enjoy knitting the Junior Christmas Cardigan

for now,
Ruby xx

Photographs Courtesy of the wonderful Verity Britton 2013

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Victory Pattern & Yarn Discounts with bygumbygolly

Many of you may be familiar with the lovely Tasha Moss who writes the vintage blog bygumbygolly. Tasha both knits and sews the most amazing vintage garments and I'm honoured that she often chooses to knit from my patterns and is a great champion of my work. What you might not know is that Tasha has just released her first knitting pattern called Victory - a very stylish, vintage shaped beret, featuring the V for Victory symbol, and using 5 colours of Excelana 4 ply.

 Tasha's version uses Cornflower Blue, Ruby Red, Nile Green, Powdered Egg and Alabaster.

This couldn't have been a better timed release now that Excelana is now back in stock and Tasha and I have teamed up to offer all our readers a very special offer:

Readers can now purchase the Victory beret pattern from Tasha with 10% off by using the code VICTORY10 at the check out. This offer only runs until the 12th of December so don't wait too long.

And also, so that you can knit your Victory beret I am offering 10% off the purchase price of the Victory beret kit - which is 5 balls one of each of 5 different colours. If you want to change any of the colours all you need to do is type in the order comment box which colours you wish to swap. With the yarns comes a Susan Crawford Vintage project bag to keep your knitting in. Again to get your discount enter the code VICTORY10 when placing your order on my shop.

If you've not knitted a fair isle project before I have an introduction to stranded knitting video on my website and Tasha also has a great tutorial on her blog. And if you want to share the process of knitting the beret with others, why not join in the Knit for Victory knit a long hosted by Tasha?

 So, to purchase the Victory beret click here


to purchase your Victory beret kit click here

for now
Ruby xx

Monday, November 11, 2013

The Airlyne Rug Maker and the competition winners

Thank you everyone for taking the time to enter the mystery object competition. It is indeed a rug maker. In fact it is the "Airlyne" home rug maker.

I was a bit naughty and as some of you pointed out I photographed it turned upside down. When it is the right way up it is attached to a table and the strap is put around your foot and the rug maker is operated by pulling down with your foot. The needle comes up through the plate on which your canvas or other backing sits, drawing the tuft through. I rather unsuccessfully tried to take some photos of this but it didn't go too well I'm afraid. Trying to operate the rug maker and hold a camera steady at the same time isn't an easy task!

Here's a really bad photo of the needle coming through the plate. The tufts would be threaded through it.

The rug maker specifies that it is for use only with 'Airlyne' Axminster wool and I'm very fortunate to also have a skein of this yarn. Obviously I'll never be able to use the yarn but it is wonderful to have the full set of equipment and materials.

 The artwork on the skein band is simply beautiful 

There are further instructions on the reverse of the band explaining further the pile or tuft length required depending on whether you plan to make a rug or a full carpet and how much wool it takes.

What makes this a particularly neat and tidy story is that Axminster rugs and carpets are produced in the town of Axminster, which is situated in Devon, just like the John Arbon mill. Production was started back in 1755 by a gentleman called Thomas Whitty. Unfortunately a fire destroyed the factory and it was only 102 years later in 1857 that a carpet manufacturer happened to hear the story and finally in 1937, carpet manufacturing began again in Axminster. And whilst not all their carpets are 100% wool anymore, 90% of the wool that is used is sourced from British farms. So quite an appropriate story for this month of Wovember!

So back to the business at hand, will the following lucky winners please contact me as soon as possible on susan (at) susancrawfordvintage (dot) com with your name and mailing address:

Helen McIntosh
and as I mis-counted the number of tickets I had available, also Carol.

Well done everyone.

for now
Ruby xx

Thursday, November 07, 2013

New limited edition colour in Excelana 4 ply

I've been working for some time on four new colours to add to the Excelana range and I'm delighted to reveal that the first of these new colours has now arrived and is absolutely beautiful.

This new shade is called 'Dark Mandarin' and is a gorgeous, rich burnt orange. I literally ooh'd out load when I opened the box and saw the packs of yarns. I had a very very specific shade of orange in my head when I sent the samples off to the dyers but there is always a certain amount of hope involved as water, temperature, even the batch of wool being dyed itself can impact on the final product. We have recently started using new dyers as well so there were very many variables which meant I was feeling nervous as I opened up the box. Fortunately my nerves were completely unnecessary and the finished yarn is exactly what I had in mind.

It was very important to me that the new colours both worked together and also worked well with the existing range and as you can see from this photo Cornflower Blue and Alabaster put with the Dark Mandarin make a beautiful combination - a design idea is already almost fully formed in my head.

I couldn't resist working a couple of samples this morning. Here it is in simple stocking stitch

and again using the stitch pattern for The Rose Jumper which was my original inspiration to find the perfect orange.

At the moment Dark Mandarin has limited availability and can only be purchased from mine and the John Arbon website as will the other new colours. It will also only initially be available in 4 ply. If the colours sell well they will then become part of the permanent palette.

To purchase this stunning colour simply go to the online shop here.

If you would like to know the full specification, here's the details:

Excelana 4 ply luxury wool 
100% pure new British wool
159m (174yds) per 50g ball
Standard tension: 28 sts + 36 rows = 10cm
 using 3mm needles over stocking stitch
Colour name: Dark Mandarin 

Wednesday, November 06, 2013

Knitting and Stitching Show Ticket Giveaway

October has been a somewhat strange month which I will hopefully be able to tell you more about sometime soon, and now November is already with us and in only a couple of weeks time I will be setting up my stand at The Knitting and Stitching Show in Harrogate. The show runs from Thursday 21st to Sunday 24th November. I've exhibited here several times before but for the first time my stand will be in the modern part of the complex in the Textile Gallery. If you're coming to the show you can find me on stand number TG103.

I've got lots and lots of yarn and patterns and books and kits, with quite a few new products launching at the show and I've also got 6 tickets to give away to 6 lucky readers of the blog. The tickets are valid for any one of the four days of the show but can only be used once and gives you free entry to the show. Because of the nature of the giveaway this one is only open to UK readers and will close this Sunday the 10th November at midnight BST. You must include an email address in your entry and you must reply to me on Monday 11th November with your postal address as I will be sending the tickets out on Tuesday 12th November by first class post.

(No cash alternative is available. The tickets are non-refundable and the prize does not include cost of travel to or from Harrogate or any other associated expenses)

So to win a ticket what do you have to do? Simply tell me what you think this piece of equipment is for. If no one gets it right don't worry, I'll just pick the six most inventive answers! And I'll reveal just what it is next week. Need a clue? It uses wool!


And good luck! I look forward to reading your entries.

for now,
Ruby xxx

Thursday, October 03, 2013

Torshavn - free pattern

I had so many patterns planned to be released, published, uploaded, introduced, you name it, before I head off to Shetland, however, as often seems to be the way the four page list of things to do grew and grew and grew and before I knew it, I've almost run out of time and my case isn't even packed yet!

So instead I will simply introduce Torshavn.

This great little cowl takes only only ball each of two colours of Excelana DK, knits up extremely quickly and is a fabulous introduction to both traditional Faroese patterns and stranded colour work.

Torshavn is knitted from the bottom up in the round using an all-over 6 stitch/row pattern repeat. The intuitive pattern is adapted from one first recorded in the 1920s in the book "Foroysk Bindingarmynstur ". The pattern repeat cleverly ensures that no weaving of colours at the back is required as colours are never carried across more than a few stitches at a time.

I've deliberately made the cowl quite short to fit in with vintage styling more. I often wear a winter coat that has a decorative collar - quite widely cut and very 1950s in style and topped with a brooch - so rather than cover this up I have designed the cowl to sit inside one's collar to fill the gap above your coat and to keep you snug. No need to tuck in under your coat as you would a scarf and no hiding of your favourite coat.  However if you prefer a more contemporary look you can very easily make the cowl longer by increasing the number of stitches cast-on by 12 stitches at a time.

So, to celebrate that Shetland Wool Week is nearly here and that I am off to Shetland I am offering the pattern for FREE until the end of October. You can download the pattern on my ravelry page here.

Here is the information you need to know if you would like to knit Torshavn:

Materials Required

Excelana Luxury DK, 100% pure new British wool, 119m/130yds per 50g ball
1 ball each shades Persian Grey & Alabaster
1 4mm circular needle, 60cm long

Finished Size
Circumference: 52cm (20.5in)
Height: 15.5cm (6in)

You can purchase the yarn for the cowl here

If Faroese knitting and patterns interest you I am also running a Faroese knitting workshop on the 27th October with the lovely ladies from Purlesque. Expanding on the basic Torshavn cowl we will expand the techniques employed and the patterns used to create a cowl unique to you.

You can find all the details on the Purlesque website here.

Internet connection being what it is when you're in a beautiful cottage overlooking the Atlantic Ocean I may not get to blog properly until I return, but I will tweet and instagram as often as possible so please do take a look at my feeds on both of these for photos of Shetland.

So for now,
Ruby xxx

Friday, September 27, 2013

Off to Yarndale!

The first stage of an exciting few weeks of travelling hither and thither begins today with the short trip to Skipton to run my stand at the new Yarndale event that's taking place this weekend.

I've got lots of new and different things on sale on the stand including gorgeous yarns from Juno FibreArts who I'm also working very closely with on a top secret yarn for the Vintage Shetland Project (at this point, I can't say any more than that!) and a big stash of Jamieson & Smith Shetland wools to choose from too.

If you've been thinking of  Blouse with a Gathered Neckline or Dark Red Pretties do come and take a look at the beautiful Lace Weight yarn I have had specially dyed in my own colourway by Juno to match these two iconic garments.

Or would you love that top that Jennie wore on the Call the Midwife series - otherwise known as Ladys Evening Jumper?

Well Juno has also recreated the colour so that now you can.

I also have small amounts of lots and lots of Jamieson & Smith 2 ply jumper weight yarn which as you all know can be used for so so many of the projects in all my books so why not make yourself that Such Flattering Puff Sleeves or a Bubble Stitch Yoke?

I've now also finally got exactly the right bright red yarn to knit Sun Ray Ribbing in a gorgeous Alpaca blend.

I've also got a small selection of Jamieson & Smith 2 ply lace which is perfect for vintage knitting. And of course, I have the Wartime Farm kits in Jamieson & Smith too. The Excelana kits are currently sold out I'm afraid (although they will be back in stock in a few weeks) but we do still have some of the original Jamieson & Smith colourway left.

In addition to all that, I will be launching a new design at Yarndale in advance of anywhere else. The pattern uses only 2 balls of Excelana DK (1 ball each in two colours) and features a colour work pattern inspired by Faroese patterns published in the late 1920s. Here's a little peek!

If you can't make Yarndale the pattern will be available from the website and ravelry on Monday. A small selection of patterns from Volumes one and two will also be available at the show and will then be launched as PDFs single patterns very soon!

So in the meantime, I look forward to seeing some of you at stand 144 this weekend and I'll be back next week with a lot more news about pattern releases, yarns etc, etc!

for now,
Ruby xx

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Competition Winner!

And the winner is Mariela! Congratulations you have won a copy of Jean's fabulous new book. I'll be in touch for your details, or if you see this post please email me with your address and I'll forward it the publishers who will send out your copy directly.

Best wishes
Ruby xx

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Knitting's Golden Age

Some of you may remember that last October I headed off to Boscombe with a very brave, Miss Fleur McGuerr to take part in some filming for a BBC documentary. You can read all about the day's filming on my blog here

At the time the documentary didn't have a name and we didn't know when it would be scheduled to air. Well I'm delighted to say that the day has come and at 9pm this evening on BBC 4 the first in the series of documentaries entitled Fabric of Britain will hit our screens. This first episode is titled "Knitting's Golden Age" and Fleur, myself and The Call of the Sea swimsuit all appear along with such luminaries as Sandy Black and Kaffe Fassett - although neither of these appear in a knitted swimsuit!

If you are able to please do watch. The documentary's produced, Georgina, will hopefully letting me know how viewers from the US and other countries will also be able to view in the near future.

To celebrate the Knitted Swimsuit Project page on the website will be 'properly' open a little later today and a number of swimsuit patterns including The Call of the Sea, A Dashing Little Swimsuit and more are now available as single PDF patterns for the first time. I haven't been able to merge three patterns into one as I had originally hoped and mentioned in an earlier blog post as they are basically just too big but hopefully the thoroughness of the patterns will make up for that! In the hope that someone may like the outfit I wore for the shoot, The Princess Twinset and Crowning Glory beret patterns will also be available as single pattern downloads for the first time too. Yarn kits for The Call of the Sea featuring Coquette will also be available.

I hope everyone enjoys the show and that everyone is inspired to knit their own knitted swimsuit!

for now,
Ruby xx

Monday, September 16, 2013

Great Little Gifts to Knit Giveaway

The lovely and as I have mentioned before, greatly influential, Jean Moss, has once again very kindly offered a copy of her latest book to readers of this blog. “Great Little Gifts to Knit” is in Jean’s own words ‘totally new ground’ for her and akin to ‘an unknown voyage of discovery’. 
 This may be, but the book is quintessential Jean, with clever, witty, well designed knitted gifts to make for every occasion. Here are a few which just say Jean to me in big bold colourful letters:

The Jubilee Jacket and Hat is very reminiscent of World Knits

 Fiesta Shrug - vintage Jean at her best with clever colour and stitch combining worked over a simple shape


Wensleydale Tea Cosy - a great excuse for Jean to let loose her incredible knack for putting together a fabulous array of colours


and finally the Odalisque Turban and Hat - much more vintage in style and ‘inspired by the louche and lanquid odalisques in the paintings of Matisse’.

To be in with a chance of winning a copy of the book, take a  look through all the projects in the book in the photo gallery on Jean’s website then come back to my blog and leave a comment telling me which pattern you like the most. I’ll choose the winner this time next week but in the meantime if you would rather purchase the book and get casting on right away you can buy it from amazon as well as other book and yarn shops.

If you would like more chances of winning why not call on some of these other marvellous people who will be taking part in Jean’s book tour over the next couple of weeks:

Tues 17 Sep    Zeneedle Margene Smith
Wed 18 Sep    Redshirt Knitting Erika Barcott
Thur 19 Sep   A Friend to Knit With Leslie Friend
Fri 20 Sep      Craft Sanity Jennifer Ackerman Haywood
Mon 23 Sep   Connieleneknits Connie Lene
Tues 24 Sep   Knitsofacto Annie Cholewa
Wed 25 Sep   Ulla Bella Anita Tormoen
Thur 26 Sep  A Really Good Yarn Julie Schilthuis
Fri 27 Sep     Urban Yarns Alexa Ludeman
Sat 28 Sep     Linda Marveng  Linda Marveng
Mon 30 Sep  Yarnings Jen

Good Luck!
for now,
Ruby xx