Friday, 25 May 2012

Knit your own crown jewels

crown jewels
Happy Jubilee time, Liz!

Apparently the country has gone Jubilee crazeee and, while Union Jacks adorning everybloodything as far as the eye can see is getting a tad tiring on the eyes, at least we, Liz's subjects, get to enjoy a four-day weekend.

Hmm, well you know what they say, if you can't beat 'em, join 'em... so how about getting out the Lurex yarn and knocking up a posh tiara, sash, choker and ring, fit for the Queen? 

This priceless crown jewellery is taken from the 1983 St Michael Fun Knitting book – hideous of cover, wacky of content – which I stumbled upon in a second-hand book tent during the Apple Festival in the village of Appledore in Kent:

Fun knitting
A bit on the '80s side for my liking

'Rubies, sapphires, diamonds and emeralds are displayed to outrageous effect in knitted Lurex settings. Imitate full regalia complete with sash and tiara for a truly devastating effect using simple stitches to construct intricate designs...'

Even the most anti-royalists knitters would find that hard to resist. So what are you waiting for? Here are the instructions (parts one, two and three) for your cuddly crown jewels, all jazzed up with eye-wateringly eighties illustrations. You'll be the belle of your street party in this glitzy ensemble (elbow-length white gloves optional).

Saturday, 19 May 2012

Patchwork in the park

picnic patchwork
Born into a light
People, pack your wicker baskets with cucumber sarnies, cheese and pineapple on sticks, fizzy wine and the mini salt and pepper pots – we're having a picnic. Don't forget the corkscrew! How sweet would it be to head up to Hampstead Heath on a hot afternoon and lounge about on this work of art? Being extremely careful not to drop any crumbs, naturellement.

A patchwork quilt this size can take years to stitch by hand. Of course, you can cheat and use a machine to sew the pieces together, but it's a labour of love working out the design, deciding on fabrics and cutting out the shapes nevertheless.

Choosing from endless juxtapositions of colours is so satisfying and can get very addictive. Here's a section of one of mine in progress from a while ago (I'm resting my head on the cushion I made it into as we speak. Lovely):

I took the haphazard approach to design

But my mind literally boggles (if that is possible) at how much planning and work and care and time must have gone into the out-and-out feast for the eyes below, with its ding-dings of pinks and yellows among the various shades of green. And to photograph it lurking in the undergrowth, well that is, as they say, what I'm talking about.

green quilt
Village green preservation society
Both of these outdoor delights I dug out of Patchwork & Appliqué (Marshall Cavendish, 1979), a veritable goldmine of, well – patchwork and appliqué projects:

patchwork & applique cover

Got some scraps of fabric to use up? Click here (and here and here) for the beginners' guide to patchwork. Make do and mend is the latest thing y'know.

quilting bee
Room for one more?
I'm definitely joining a quilting bee when I grow up.

Sunday, 13 May 2012

The sweetest thing in capes

cape top

We're told this 'delightful little 1930s knitted jumper's shoulder cape will stop the tops of your arms getting scorched in the sun'. I don't know – as if we need an excuse to wear a cape. According to the instructions, its main colour is coral and the stripes are grey and light oatmeal – very nice (but for some reason I was picturing red, off-white and blue).

'Will this one do?' the coy headline alongside the back view asks. Oh alright then, I suppose it'll have to...

cape top 2

Taken from the 1981 publication The 30s Family Knitting Book (Jane Waller, Paperduck), in which it is reproduced from a May 1933 edition of Woman's Weekly, it's a bit like thinking about the Land O' Lakes butter with the maiden holding the packet into infinity that did Sally's head in in Mad Men...

land o lakes butter
It's called the Droste effect

The book features 50 knitting patterns taken from popular magazines of the 30s such as My Home, Wife & Home, Good Housekeeping and Woman & Home, interspersed with charming contemporary adverts and other snippets from the editorial pages.

It's hard to imagine a less authentic 1930s-looking family than this uncomfortable trio on the front cover though:

cape top book cover
Where's the fancy-dress party?

Step back to 1933 via 1981 by clicking here and here for the cape jumper instructions. And when you've finished your knitting, Barbara Mole will tell you how much you're supposed to tip when you're on a cruise:

cape top problem
Thank goodness that's sorted

Saturday, 5 May 2012

Happy cat cushion

cat cushion
The cat that got the cream
Isn't she cute with her satisfied smile and Peggy Moffitt-y eyelashes? Imagine her sitting in an armchair, cheering up your abode and making all your guests feel welcome. Perhaps she could become a glamorous ladyfriend for the printed pet cat of a few posts back?

Here's how you can make her out of a piece of vintage fabric (an old pillowcase would do nicely), some black embroidery thread, some stuffing and – the pièce de résisitance – a little bit of fringing for her exaggerated eyelashes.

Taken from my trusty Complete Book of Handicrafts (Octopus, 1973)

handicraftsbook cover