Wednesday 9 January 2013

Things To Make & Do - Wartime Farm Pullover

As you may have seen in yesterday's post, at Christmas I got my little brother to model my dad's pullover for me, simply so that I could take a few snaps for the blog and also, more importantly, to make sure it would fit its recipient. Whilst he did his modelling turn, my brother became rather taken with dad gift, so foolishly (big mouth strikes again) I suggested that I could knit him his very own if he would like?

 "Yeah OK...a bit longer though" 
"Oh, and while you're at it could you knit me a Christmas jumper too!"  
Yeah OK, no problem... big head gets bigger...ooh....what have I done!

Flattering as it is to have my knitting skills wanted, it was no mean feat knitting my Dad's pullover, and with the addition of a Christmas jumper, with fair isle snowflakes to match a pair of gloves he bought from Primark (or Top Man, I forget which) it could mean I will be knitting solely for him all flipping year! - Though I do have a cunning plan which might save me a few hours on the Christmas Sweater, if it works, but more on that later.

The gloves in question - I just hope they survive till next Christmas!

Anyway as Christmas is another twelve months away I've decided to take on the Fair Isle Pullover first. Now I don't know if it's just me, but once I have knitted a pattern I find it very hard to summon up the same level of enthusiasm for the Mark II version. So I have decided, instead of repeating the pattern again I'm opting for a similar pattern and one that was the inspiration for my Dad's pullover in the first place!

If any of you saw the BBC's recent Wartime Farm series then you will recognise the pullover pattern in question, worn by Alex Langlands.

Peter Ginn, Ruth Goodman & Alex Langlands the BBC's Wartime Farm Team
(Photo Source)
Now it's never been a hardship to stare at Alex, as my mum would say he is rather 'dishy', but in this series, I found it was mainly his Fair Isle Pullover that I was ogling. Naturally the knitter and obsessive clothes watcher, in me was drawn to the intricate fair isle, so I spent a lot of time trying to get a better look at the pattern. This pullover had such an effect -it was in every episode and aptly re-named Stank-Top by the eagle-eyed Mim:)- that even my Dad mentioned how 'smart' he thought it was! Sparking my Christmas knitting frenzy.

BBC's Wartime Farm Pullover link to pattern
Purchase the Pattern Here
So you can imagine my delight when just before Christmas I read on the lovely Charly's blog Landgirl1980 that she had been contacted by the queen of Vintage knitting Susan Crawford to help her gain the necessary permission to re-create the 'Official' Wartime Farm Knitting pattern, meaning that we can all have our very own versions of Alex's fabulous pullover!  It appears that Susan had become just as obsessed as I was by the pullover and had found within her (very envious) collection a pattern from the 30s which was clearly the inspiration for Alex's vintage version. You can read all about her detective work here.

But not only can you buy this fabulous Fair Isle pattern, in every size you could possibly need, but by purchasing it you'll also be giving to a worthwhile cause. The ladies have chosen to donate half the money from every sale to the Women's Land Army Tribute, who are raising money to create a long overdue monument to the Girls of the Women's Land Army!

The pattern costs a mere £5, with a whopping £2.50 of that going directly to the WLA Tribute, so purchasing the pattern should definitely leave you with a warm and woolly feeling inside and out - though the 'out' will certainly take a little longer to achieve :)

I have just downloaded my copy - it's fabulous so many sizes and already converted to round knitting hurrah! So I will be casting it on very soon, well, once I have finished my Custard Cable Cardigan which as of tomorrow will have been a year in the knitting, oh and that pesky Land Girl pullover I started ages ago and have yet to finish, both of which are for greedy old me!
Update: Have a look at my version here!

Wendy x

Tuesday 8 January 2013

Things to Make & Do - A Fair Isle Pullover

For the Chap in your life, be he young or old.
This fancy Fair isle pullover is just the ticket to keep him warm and looking snazzy whilst  potting up cuttings or just general pottering about the Garden. Worked in 5 shades of 4py yarn with a simple repeat fair isle pattern it will grow quicker than a well-loved cutting!

So as if by magic I finished my dad's pullover just in time for Christmas. To be fair I had promised it to myself more than him, so he would have been none the wiser if I hadn't finished, but knitting to a Dad-line is obviously the only way I seem to be able to finish anything!

Tickety Boo Tupney's
Stitchcraft Men's Fair Isle Pullover
Pattern Stitchcraft Fair Isle Pullover 1947
  • King Cole Big Value 4 ply 
    • 150g Dune (677)
    • 50g Red (667)
    • 50g Opal (678)
    • 50g Mustard (671)
  • Robin 4 ply
    • 50g Brown (51)
  • Pair of Needles (Rib) US 1½ - 2.5 mm
  • Pair of Needles US 2½/ 3.0 mm
  •                   OR
  • Circular (Rib) US 1½ - 2.5 mm 
  • Circular (Body) US 2½/ 3.0 mm
  • Tips on changing pattern to round

I opted to knit it up on circular needles, to hopefully save me some time, and once I had passed the K.1,  P.1 rib it was wonderfully quick to do. Plus it was much more enjoyable to knit as there was a lot less pesky purl rows to battle with the fair isle  and all the end tails that would need to be worked in once finished, were only on one side of the pullover rather than on both!

One thing I learnt the hard way was that when choosing to convert a fair isle 'flat knit' pattern to 'in the round' you will need to remove TWO stitches from the quantity - The pattern was designed for flat knitting, which would mean that the first stitch of the front section and the last stitch on the back section will meet at the seams when finished. When knitting in the round these two stitches become ONE stitch as there is no seam. It took many hours of head scratching for me to figure out why when I started the pattern it just would not meet up and was 2 stitches out though I had the exact number of stitches required! (37-39" chest) 145 for Front + 145 for Back = 290 -2 for on the round =288.

The only downside to knitting in the round in fair isle is row jogging. This is because rather than knitting back and forth, you are knitting in a spiral meaning the last stitch of the row below gets pulled up to the next row. I had intended to get a picture of this as it is quite noticeable - once you know it's there. I also had intended to have this running under the arm where the original seam would have been, but due to frustration over dividing up my stitches for the armholes it ended a couple of repeats into the front of the pullover, Blast!

Front view
I convinced my brother to model it for me so that I could see if it would fit my Dad.
I  made a classic blunder of not reading the pattern properly and so sewed the shoulders together before realising I should have picked up stitches and worked on each section separately first. So I ended up by working the neckband in one piece, beginning and ending at the centre V which actually worked out fine and meant the only seaming needed was at the centre of the V, mistakes sometimes pay off and less sewing is always good!!

Armhole Band
When picking up for the neckband I divided each side of the V and back into equal sections with pins and aimed to get as evenly as possible the 189 stitches in. I will be honest and say that I worked with what would comfortably fit rather than sticking to the required 189 which was much easier and it still looks OK!

The only change I made to the pattern was to add an additional Dune row (main beige colour) in between each pattern section, I did this to make it a little longer and to give my brain a little rest between each fair isle section.

The inside a close up from the purl side Yarn Floats - The pullover was turned on its side when taking the picture, so they actually run the width of the pullover not vertically as they look here. 
As I was using the acrylic yarn I was convinced, that I had to rule out the possibilities of blocking. so I had to hope that it would be fine without and after a few flattening tugs across the width and the odd loosening of a float or two, it flattened out a treat!

I have since learnt that you can actually block acrylic yarn! Yep, it's done slightly differently but certainly can and should be done, see beadknitters post all about it here!

I am glad and relieved to say he loves it (see above and the fact that he was prepared to pose for the cover shot!) and he was quite taken aback by it, so much so he wore it for three days straight! To be honest, if he hadn't liked it I would have been disappointed, but I would have quite easily been consoled by the fact I could have kept it for myself!

Wendy x

Thursday 3 January 2013

Last Minute Christmas Swapping

Hello there, How are we all? I hope you had a wonderful Christmas and are having the most fabulous start to the New Year!

So before the craziness which is Christmas began, I took part in Lakota's 2012 Christmas Swap and I was lucky enough to be partnered with a Knitter of Wonders, Lucy who blogs over at 1940's Style For You! I honestly could not have been happier with the pairing as I have been a long time admirer of her wonderful knitting skills and her blog. So after a few emails a fair bit of Charity shop rummaging and a trip to the post office, parcels had been swapped, opened and enjoyed!

So what did Lucy send me, well take a look!

How beautiful is the wrapping, it certainly puts mine to shame and just look at that gorgeous paper!

Needless to say, it took me absolutely no time at all to rip the paper off beautiful though it was, to unearth the treasures within and WOW what treasures they were!

  1. An amazing copy of 'Practical Family Knitting Illustrated' from the 40s with most of the plates in colour!
2. A beautiful hand knitted Turban!
3. Chocolates! Coins, a Lindor Teddy and a box of Roses which got devoured before I had a chance to photograph em, yummy! (Proof that they existed can be found here!)
4/5. Hand cream, which went straight into my handbag so got missed from the picture and a delicious smelling Yankee candle which I also seem to have missed Ooops!

  6. A Cute Cottage Tin of Pins 
7. A fabulous Heart made with little bells 'Jingle all the Way'
8. A Keep Calm Notebook, perfect for all my New Years Resolutions!

Some of the gems inside 'Practical Family Knitting Illustrated' 
So many more things to be added to my to-knit list!
It's hard to choose a favourite, but I think the Beautiful hand knitted turban steals it, it has to be the neatest knitting I have ever seen, no wobbly stitches here, and is in the most lovely shade of blue yarn (not sure the photo does it justice) which is also lovely and soft and goes with my Debonaire Little Jumper a treat!

I love everything, and I was honestly blown away by the sheer thoughtfulness of the parcel, all I can say is THANK YOU Lucy, it's perfect in every way!

And here is what I sent to Lucy
1. 60s Bag with one of my knitted rose's 
2. Appliqué Christmas stocking, made with my own fair hand
3. A selection of knitting Patterns some from my stash and some from some thorough charity shop rummaging.
4. Fair isle slipper socks,  Sadly I can not confess to knitting them, they came with the below pinned to them from a charity shop and as far as I can tell have never been worn.
5. A flower Brooch, thanks to Lucy's post on the swap I now know it's a Gentian carved brooch, proof if it were needed that it has gone to a good home :)
6. A Couple of my Mums hand crocheted angels which (again I forgot to photograph) for the little Y's to adorn the tree.

Lastly but not leastly, I want to say big Thank You to Lakota for yet again organising a fabulous swap, it really was the perfect way to start Christmas!

Wendy x