Swallows and Amazons For Ever

A friend of mine who is a DJ / record collector once told me that he had a dream about finding a rare and very expensive record, in his dream the record was €5 and he found it at a foreign fleamarket, anyway to cut a long story short – he then found said record whilst on tour in Europe, at a fleamarket for five euros. I wasn’t sure if I believed him until today…

Recently I had a very frustrating dream where I had stumbled across a stash of old rowan books in a charity shop (sad I know) and I had to keep going back to buy them – in that stash was Book Number Ten: Swallows and Amazons For Ever – the one everyone wants cos it’s got Kate Moss in it and loads of Kaffe designs. Ever since I heard about this book I sort of secretly desired it even though I’m not a massive Kate Moss or Kaffe Fassett fan, it always intrigued me… well enough that I’d actually dream about owning it.

So today after a morning of bad luck (came off my bike on the way to a hospital appointment!) I decided to cheer myself up with a visit to my favourite East Dulwich charity shop. I headed straight over to the shelves where they keep the knitting patterns and what should I see looking up at me? Yeah you guessed it. Rowan Knitting Book Number 10 for 75 pence! 75p! I nearly had a heart attack  (someone is currently selling this book on eBay for £51.99). Anyway the rest is history…

Update…

Ugh, when I started this blog I vowed I wouldn’t do what I do with all of my other blogs, i.e. go AWOL for weeks without a post. Anyway, I’m back and the main reason for my silence is because not much has happened on the knitting front. I’ve been feeling a bit uninspired whilst finishing off the Short Raglan sweater (above) – the completed pieces were just sat in a bag for weeks. Finally I took action, stitched the seams together, finished the neck and blocked it (still haven’t woven in the ends). It’s looking great, a behemoth of a jumper, very boxy and bulky, not going to be able to wear it for at least 6 months without sweating!

Anyway some things that did happen while I was on hiatus…

I finally discovered a really quick and easy Pom Pom maker by Clover. I volunteer at an arts and crafts class for disabled people once a week where I have been teaching knitting techniques – a couple of weeks ago we made French knitting necklaces, on the Monday just gone we made pom pom accessories and the pom pom maker really came in handy. We tried these pom pom looms too but the results were rubbish!

A few weeks ago I did a carboot sale in Pimlico (which was a waste of time  - no one wanted to pay more than £1 for anything) but I did get some nice Vintage Aran knitting patterns – in hindsight I wish I’d bought the lot but the seller was a real battleaxe and would only let me have 3 for £2!

At the same carboot I got this Dover quilting book, which has a lot of swastika designs (it’s pre WWII and probably refers to the Native American use of the symbol). Anyway, got me thinking I’d quite like to make a quilt, especially after seeing Kaffe’s quilts. It’s probably not something I am going to get into in a big way but I’ve always coveted patchwork quilts and would love to make my own.

Another Dover book I have been reading recently is Mary Thomas’ Knitting Book, written in 1938, it is interested insight into the history of knitting and details many different techniques. It’s a bit like a potted encyclopaedia of knitting, I’ve learnt a lot from it even if it can be a bit of a tedious read at times. I would recommend it to any intermediate or even beginner knitter – you can read as many modern, trendy knitting books as you want but this has the fundamentals and is very simple to follow.

As well as knitting I also enjoy sewing my own clothes, I have just started this Wiksten Tank dress in a pale grey fabric and I’m waiting for some hand dye to arrive so I can try some dip-dying like this.

Finally, Drops, are having a month long sale this May. Everyone knows I love Drops, lovely cheap wool (real wool or alpaca or mohair etc.) so I went a bit nuts. I don’t know what I’m going to make with it all, probably something grey?!

It’s cold outside…

Spring is still to rear it’s head and it’s going to get even colder this weekend. In some ways I don’t mind because it gives me an excuse to keep knitting big woolly hats and sweaters even though the weather is supposedly warming up! Anyway, I was out in the miserable cold on Lee High Road earlier today and I stumbled across a few shops I hadn’t visited before, one was a second hand bookshop which had a selection of 70s knitting books and magazines, the other was Knitshop.co.uk which I knew was in Lewisham but only happened upon it by chance this afternoon.

I opted for a Phildar magazine in the book shop which has lots of classic 70s woolly warmers in it… most of it is horrendous but there are a few gems. That said the pattern inside the front cover for a hooded Aran jacket complete with tassels – which was my main reason for buying it – doesn’t actually seem to be included. Bummer.

In knitshop I got a few skeins of yarn. Whilst they don’t have a great colour selection and it’s a bit muddled inside, the yarns are good quality and well priced considering they are an independent shop who don’t sell branded yarns. I got one skein of Alpaca Quito yarn in ‘Anthracite’, which is heavenly soft, drape-y aran type wool, a skein of Alpaca Fino in ‘White’, which appears to be finer, sturdier but still as soft as the Quito and a skein of Simply wool in ‘Black’ which is similar in texture to Rowan’s Creative Focus Worsted. I’m not sure what I’m going to do with them all but I’ll probably post the results here soon enough!

The Vintage Aran Dress

Sirdar, 1967

I have been stock-piling vintage knitting patterns, my battered leather binder is filled to the seams with designs from the 1940s through to the early 90s. In amongst the batwing jumpers and lacy twinsets is a selection of cute cable knitted dress patterns from the 60s and 70s. If I ever accumulate enough wool (thirty-six 50g skeins to be precise) I will knit one and risk looking like the Michelin man!

 This version is a from an issue of Mon Tricot magazine from 1973, I love the relaxed fit and matching socks!
This pattern from Emu is not technically a dress but look at that cabled skirt!

Below I have pasted some images of other Aran dresses I have found on the internet, whis is your favourite?

Dream Sweater

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I am a bit obsessed with this image that I found over on the Patternity blog. I was dreaming that it might belong to an old knitting book or magazine that I could track down through a bit of research but alas all I came up with was a photo of Paulina Porizkova on an Erotica forum (?!). I just love the “ballet” styling, the over-sized cable jumper, thrown on and the soft tones – I probably wouldn’t have thought to knit a sweater in blush pink but I might now. One day I will design my own version of this, it looks supersoft…

Cast On: Short Raglan Sweater

plait

Today I have cast on the Short Raglan Sweater by Amand Griffiths from Rowan Book Eight. I decided to use Drops Alaska in Mustard as it is on special offer at the moment, £1.20 per ball, not bad for a 100% pure wool yarn. Although in hindsight I wish I’d waited and bought a more luxurious “drapey” yarn or a heavy cotton / linen blend to make it more wearable in summer. I might knit two though, as the Mustard shade I’ve picked might not be the easiest to co-ordinate!