A few ramblings about knitting, mainly vintage stuff and other bits and bobs

Thursday, 16 June 2016

Bathing Belles KAL

I have long had a fascination with knitted swimwear. I don’t know why but there was something about having something so seemingly impractical as a knit designed to be formfitting and then to drench it. Didn’t the designers know that wool has stretch? But the more I looked into it the more interested I became and the more I realised that a well-designed and properly fitting suit could be achieved. No sagging crotch, no baggy bum just a beautiful sleek garment.

My favourite period of swimwear is the 1930s (but I love the fashions of that time so it’s to be expected) as the variety of designs is huge. Kate-Em has done a brilliant blog post on patterns in magazines and there is a wonderful range of beach and lido wear out there.

The idea for this KAL is very simple – knit a swimsuit from a vintage pattern, or adapt one if you like. There is no specific type of vintage, the choice is entirely up to you. I have I posted a few swimsuit patterns that you can use, or use one of your own and there are loads of great free and paid for patterns to rifle through.
The plan is to cast on before the end of June to give people a chance to find the perfect suit and get any supplies needed. There’s no deadline for finishing as life can get in the way but I will be offering some prizes for those who finish by the end of August as a wee incentive – 3 patterns of your choice from my Etsy shop. If you finish by the end of September, you can have 2 and if it’s not until the end of October then you can claim 1 pattern.

So go forth, find a pattern, find your yarn, find your needles and set to making the perfect knitted swimsuit.

Tuesday, 7 June 2016

Bathing Belles Vintage Swimsuit KAL - The Patterns

Here are the 3 patterns that I am offering for the Swimsuit KAL (click on the image to get the pdf). I tried to find ones that had a slightly larger bust (for vintage swimwear) but there are loads more out in the wilds of the internet or you are more than welcome to use a pattern from your collection.

1947 Swim SuitThe first is a "Regulation Swim Suit" from Good Housekeeping's Family Knitting Book from 1947. It looks like a good solid suit that might actually be able to be used for swimming. I think this one might be able to be sized up another few inches if you were to get a slightly larger gauge (maybe 8 stitches to the inch. The pattern is a twisted slip stitch producing a firm fabric.
The measurements are 35 to 37" bust and 38 to 40" hips
The materials are 3-ply or light fingering; 2.75mm US 2 needles as well as a set of dpns of the same size and a medium crochet hook
The original used 6ozs of Patons Beehive Fingering 3-ply
Tension/gauge: 9 stitches to 1 inch

1948 BikiniThere is also a bikini for those who like a fun bit of colourwork in the panties and I think the bra is wonderful. This beauty comes from Knitting Illustrated (1948) by marvellous Margaret Murray and Jane Koster. The slipped stitches in the shorts gives it a nice, firm fabric but the brassiere is only stocking stitch so if your a bit worried about heft, a simple twisted knit would firm it up a tad.
The measurements are for the shorts 12" length at side edge and round the widest part (unstretched) 32". The Brassiere is to fit a 34 to 36" bust
The materials are 3-ply or light fingering wool, 2.75mm US 2 and 2mm US 0 needles; elastic for the waist; braid for the shoulder straps; and 2 buttons
The original used 3 ozs of 3-ply in light blue and 4 ozs in dark (no brand given)
Tension/gauge: 10 stitches to 1 inch

1930s Swimming Suit
Finally we have, potentially, the most challenging, but also the most fun suit (possibly, maybe). In this one, your own measurements are used to make the perfect swimming suit from The Complete Knitting Book (1934) by Margory Tillotson. There is only the schematic to follow so you'll need to have your measurements and an idea of what tension you knit at to get a well fitting suit. The recommended gauge is 7 stitches and 8 rows (which makes up one block on the schematic) but neglects to say which needles nor which yarn weight to use. I have to say that 7 stitches seems a bit baggy for a cossie but again you could use a firmer stitch pattern to help firm things up a bit.

So there we go. I think that I'll give people a few days to look through the patterns and decide what they fancy doing before posting next. I am drawn to the 1930s schematic as I'll get something that might actually be able to fit me but I also want to do something I might actually finish. I'm really excited about this and hope that we will all be bathing beauties soon.

Hopefully we can get a bit of chat together over on my Facebook page

Monday, 6 June 2016

Finding the words to say . . . What?

I want to try and play with words again and see if I can make them make sense for other people. I want to write stories. I love language: the way people use (and abuse it), the tempo, the timbre, the nuances. I love the way that words feel. I shocked myself this morning though, when I realised how small my spoken vocabulary has become. I don't consider myself to be particularly eloquent but have always imagined that I got by pretty well but I found myself using 'amazing' several times when talking about the exploration of the Pacific by Polynesia peoples. What they did was amazing but there were other ways I could have described their ability to cover vast tracts of water. I was disappointed in myself and wish to find a way to use more, and better suited words. But how to go about such a challenge?

My bookcase is relatively light. I have some books I have returned to throughout my life - Littlenose; The Moomins; The Bone People; Victory; Jude the Obscure; The Gone Away World; Wolf Hall; Terry Pratchett is always there as is Iain (M.) Banks and of course my enduring love of vintage knitting books, but I have so few books.

Some people suggest that reading helps develop stronger language skills, but I am not a great, nor vociferous reader. I can read, and am not afraid of a complex or challenging read, but I am not one of those that always has a book on the go. Perhaps I should try to read a little more to see if it can help. I enjoy a wide range: science fiction, some fantasy, quite like modern fiction and dabble in the classics, will gladly open a book on poetry and non-fiction is something that I do enjoy. Yet where do I start? Many of the those that grace the best sellers lists I find dull and poorly written. The stories derivative, the characterisations unimagined and the language ungainly and more about the author than the story. They seem to have been written with the soul purpose to fill up critics list of 'must reads' but I wonder if the critics have read them.

I think that I am going to ask random strangers and friends to recommend a book for me to read and see if that expands my words and helps me write more myself. I know that there are those "100 books you should read before you die" type of lists but I find them a bit unoriginal (not the books, the lists) and I've probably already read many of them. I really would like to find new authors and stories so what is on your 'best books ever' list? And what do you think I should read next?

Thursday, 2 June 2016

Swimming Along

I've had it in mind to knit a swimsuit. You know one of those fun things from the 30s or 40s so I'm going to arrange a KAL for anyone who was to join in.

I'm going to offer a couple of patterns from free here, or you can use one that you've had your eye on, and we'll spend the next couple of month making sweet swimsuits together.

At the moment I'm thinking of starting mid-June but haven't fixed a finishing date. I know that life sometimes gets in the way of knitting so it might be that there won't be a determined end date but that support and encouragement will be offered for as long as it takes us to get there.

I'll be running it through Facebook with other bits going on over here (probably) so click a like on my page there to stay up to date.