Sunday, 29 July 2012

Swimwear special

swimwear gold
All that glitters ain't gold but is possibly Lurex

Now summer has finally come to London, and the Olympic Games are in full swing (almost literally on my doorstep), my thoughts turn to swimming – it's all I want to do when it's hot, and probably the only Olympic sport I'll bother watching. Wouldn't it be wonderful if the synchronised swimming team took to the Aquatics Centre pool sporting gold crochet one-pieces like this?

Or the bikini this Cybill Shepherd lookalike (who was out of focus on a deckchair at the back, above) is wearing on her own page:

swimwear blue

Both of these beautiful bathing costumes are taken from one of my trusty favourites, The Home Pattern Book of Needlecraft by Joan Fisher:

Home Pattern Book
Published by New English Library, 1979

Fancy yourself in a hand-crocheted metallic bathing suit? Here are your (free, printable) instructions.

Not put off by its unseasonal cover image, I had a flick through The Ladies' Home Journal book of Crochet...

swimwear crochet book cover
Published by Mason Charter, New York, 1976

...and discovered a pattern for this pretty white one-piece with flower-shaped cutaway (shame about the dodgy shell-tasselled shawl). If you'd like to make yourself one (a swimsuit, not a shall-shawl), click here for all you need to know.

swimwear white
This is the daisy age

If you're not a crocheter, I've also dug out this lovely 1930s 'Simple bathing costume' pattern for your knitting pleasure:

swimwear knit
How very daring

This must have been rather risqu̩ at the time. Not many people wore two-piece swimsuits back in 1939 when The Pictorial Guide to Modern Home Knitting was published Рafter all, the word 'bikini' wasn't coined until 1946.

swimwear knitting cover
Edited by Catherine Franks (Odhams Press, 1939)

The book has a textured cloth cover and particularly nice endpapers:

swimwear knit endpaper
Caught red-handed

For your ahead-of-its-time 1930s knitted bikini instructions, click here.

All the above swimsuits are probably better for lounging around by the pool or at the beach than actually swimming in – imagine how heavy and uncomfortable they'd get when wet!

Well, I promised a swimwear special – and I haven't finished yet, I love the illustrations on old sewing patterns and I can't help slipping the odd one in now and again, even though I can't share the actual patterns. This cute beachwear collection is from New Zealand from 1969:

swimwear sewing pattern
Still the daisy age: see toes, left

And last but not least... this one's not makeable, but what a fantastic image. Jackie magazine had THE BEST fashion illustrations EVER:

swimwear jackie
Jackie magazine, 12 June 1976

Sunday, 15 July 2012

Highland fling

Last week, I was indulging in my favourite holiday pastime of trawling local charity shops, when Patricia Roberts Knitting Patterns book (1977) caught my eye. Because I was on a chilly island in the north of Scotland, this woolly cape looked like exactly what I wanted to be wearing, despite it being the middle of July:

knitted cape
Poor-quality image but you get the picture
Not just a knitted green cape (or perhaps more of a cloak) but a balaclava hat and floral maxi skirt, pulled together with a Scottie dog brooch. Now this was an outfit I could work with.

The junk-lovers' paradise I'd found myself in was the Blue Door in Kirkwall, Orkney, which changes hands every few months to allow different charities to raise cash.

patricia roberts cover
I don't think it's meant to be rude
As promised on the cover, there really is a design for all the family, including a Fair Isle cardie with teapot motifs for the chain-smokin' man in your life:

patricia roberts car
You light up my life

patricia roberts man's cardie

And I love these gardeners in neckerchiefs and tricoleur bobbly jumpers posing with their tools:

patricia roberts gardeners
Hoe, hoe, hoe
The book's back cover has a little picture of each pattern, mainly alternative views to the ones used inside. I particularly like Hodge, middle row left, and Walking the Dog just above it:

patricia roberts cover back
Published by Book Club Associates, 1977
These days, Patricia Roberts has a posh shop in London's Belgravia selling lovely ladies' and kids' knits – and DIY kits.

If you're heading for cold climes, don't get caught without a cosy cape. Click here for your free knitting pattern.

(All designs © Patricia Roberts, 1977)