Monday, March 3, 2014

Let's learn 5 tweed-effect knitting stitches for jackets!

I wrote about contemporary knitted jackets here. I keep playing with the idea of knitting a Chanel style jacket for myself one day. Today I'd like to share 5 different patterns which not only look tweed-like but also have a firm texture.
The use of these stitches for jackets is limited, because of the lack of stretch, which we often seek in knitted garments. You could use these stitches to create a jacket, a coat, or even a dish cloth.

For a Chanel-style jacket you could take a sewing pattern, make a muslin using a firm fabric and ten simply knit the pieces. The firmer fabric is needed to reproduce the drape of the thicker knit, that way you get a good idea how the finished jacket will look like. The pattern has to be simple, without a lot of figure lines. Think about the 60's and Jackie Kennedy. Short jackets with just a little shaping, just fitted enough. You could use a bit shaping at the waist (sides) and optionally could knit the back in two pieces for a better fit. An example of such jacket could be Simplicity 1699:

You should use a stitch that results in a firmer texture. You want to avoid stretchy patterns because the jacket should keep it's shape. Now let's see the stitches! I used an acrylic yarn in a rather ugly pink color (couldn't find another color in my stash...) but the stitch definition was good enough to show the details in the pictures.

K = knit
P = purl
S = slip

1. single stitch basket-weave

The first one of the patterns is used in the white jacket in the above post. The stitches are zigzagging in a basic cable pattern, it is a sort of basket-weave design. The easy thing is that you cross the stitches as you go, there is no extra needle needed. It works easier with a slippery yarn, like cotton and silk-wool mix. (I made my sample with an acrylic yarn and it wasn't so easy)
- cast on multiple of 2 +1 stitch
R1: S1 knitwise, bring yarn to front, S1 purlwise, bring yarn to back,
*K second stitch on the left needle through back loop, K first stitch in back loop, slip together from needle* K1
R2: S2 purlwise, bring yarn to front, *P second stitch on left needle, P first stitch, slip together from needle*, K1
 2. double stitch basket-weave 

The second pattern is a lot like the first one, only you cross two stitches instead of one. This results in a denser cable knit. You also need an extra (cable) needle, which makes the knitting a bit fussier i.m.o.
- cast on mulitple of 4 sts
R1: K2 *slip 2 sts to cable needle at the back, K2, K2 from cable needle* K last 2 sts
R2: purl
R3: *slip 2 sts to cable needle at the front, K2, K2 from cable needle*
R4: purl
 3. tweed stitch

This is a tweed stitch, which has a fabric-like appearance. By slipping every other stitch you make horizontal lines on the right side. It is not as dense as the first two patterns, because of the slipped stitches it has less stretch than a normal stocking stitch would. As a variation you could use two colors altering every two pattern rows, or even 3 colors!
- cast on a multiple of 2 +1 stitch
R1: *K1, bring yarn forward, S1 purlwise, bring yarn back*, last two stitches K2
R2: *P1, bring wool back, S1 purlwise* last two stitches P2 
4. long tweed stitch

This one is the easiest to knit, but is also has the most stretch, which is not ideal. The idea is the same as with the stitch above: by slipping every other stitch purlwise you make little horizontal lines on the right side in every other row. The horizontal lines are placed diagonally. While the pattern is created by altering knit and slip stitches, you need to cast on an extra stitch, to avoid slip stitches at the sides.
- cast on multiple of 2 +1 stitch
R1: K1 *bring yarn forward, S1 purlwise, bring yarn back, K1*
R2: purl
R3: K2 *bring wool forward, S1 purlwise, bring yarn back, K1* last stitch K1
R4: purl 
5. brioche honeycomb stitch

This is almost the same as the long tweed stitch, only the yarn remains on the wrong side when slipping the stitches. It has the same elasticity, but a totally different, really 3-d pattern on the right side.
- cast on multiple of 2 +1 stitch
R1: K1 *S1 knitwise, K1
R2: purl
R3: K2 *S1 knitwise, K1*
R4: purl 
Finally a few vintage patterns which use the above stitches.
stitch 4: toddler's coats from 1965 and 1940:

stitch 5: ladies' tailored jacket from 1952
stitch 1: hooded sweater from 1958

Sunday, March 2, 2014

VFG Fresh Vintage

Fresh Vintage: Feb 27 to March 5, 2014

 VFG Fresh Vintage

No matter what your unique personal style is, or your budget- you can be sure you will only find the best Vintage from VFG trade members.
Take a peek at this weeks fabulous offerings!

My Vintage Clothes Line on Ruby Lane
The Spectrum on etsy

Marzilli Vintage on Ruby Lane

Poppys Vintage Clothing at Ruby Lane

Marians Vintage Vanities Clothing
willnillyart on etsy

  So once again if you like what you see above and would like to see even more, please just follow the link below to view more of our Fresh Vintage offerings for this week.

Vintage Prom ~ VFG Fashion Parade for the week of February 24th

Vintage Prom

Look like no one else in an authentic vintage gown or tuxedo. This week we pull out our best vintage formal wear and accessories for your big event.

Vintage 1950s Lipstick Red Sheer Lace Princess Cut Fit and Flare Party Dress XS S
1940s  Men’s Vintage 2 pc Black Wool Tailcoat Suit SZ 38
50s Vintage Iridescent Green Plaid Taffeta Circle Skirt Party Dress
You can find more fabulous vintage items from more sellers at the

Friday, February 28, 2014

1940 Valerie jumper - bodice, up to the armholes!

Just a quick catch-up before the weekend on the Valerie jumper:

Knitting in round this is what the sides look like. I increased by make ones, picking up and knitting the loop of the previous row. (more details on how to do this under the tab 'knitting hints'.

At the end of skein 3 (at about armhole height). I really love the 'dense'  structure and the 3-dimensional effect of the diamond pattern:

The front neckline, slightly altered. I widened it a bit but kept the shape which is somewehere between a V and a U

finished front:

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

vintage 'kick-proof' baby bootie pattern from 1963

Continuing the big baby bootee project, may I present this weeks free and tested baby bootie pattern, from the early 60's. These booties have turned-down cuffs with a lace pattern and a 'kick-proof' construction. Quite different from the other patterns I tested! This bootie takes slightly more time to knit due to more stitches and the extra-long cuff, but the main part is knit in garter stitch, which speeds up the work a little. The pattern suggest to use white wool, but again, I used my grey test-yarn with a contrasting color for the ties.

"Kick-proof bootees are knitted in garter-stitch with turn-down pattern trimmed cuffs"

The secret of the kick-proof construction lies in the ingenious elastic ribbing hidden under the cuffs. Very smart indeed!

close-up of the lace 'leaf' pattern:

material & sizing:
  • The original pattern instructs to use 10 sts to 1 in (=40 sts to 10 cm). This is lace weight yarn in combination with no.13 needles (=metric 2.25) and should result in a 4 in (10 cm) length of the foot.
  • I made my sample with the usual, sport/fingering weight yarn and a gauge of 26 sts=10 cm (6,5 sts to 1 inch) with metric size 3 needles and these booties turned out quite large indeed. They measure 14,5 cm (=5,7 in) from heel to toe! For a smaller size you should either use the suggested, much thinner yarn in combination with the 2.25 needle or modify/resize the pattern. Resizing is possible, though using another yarn is a much faster solution. 

These booties are knitted from the soles up to the cuffs. There is a seamline running from the back of the booties through the soles. Below a picture of the instep front (left) and back (right). You can see that the toe shaping is made by yarn overs which result in two rows of small holes:

toe shaping front and side view:

the little lace pattern on the cuffs:

the bootie before sewing up with the ribbing:

the cuff folded down:

abbreviations for beginners:
k = knit
p = purl
k 2 tog. = knit two together
the instructions use different abbreviations, I just did the same 'yarn over' every time:
w.r.n. = wool round needle
w.o.n. = wool over needle
w.fwd. = wool forward

suggested pattern modification:
  • when knitting the last repeat of 1st and 2nd row of the cuffs, repeat it 2 times instead of 3 and then continue with 5 rows of garter stitch before finishing. I feel that 3 repeats would be too long to balance out the lace rows properly.
  • use metric size 2.5 needles and fingering weight yarn for smaller size, to fit 3-6 months old baby.
the original pattern:

source original pattern and newspaper images: AWW through Trove

Monday, February 24, 2014

Schiaparelli's 1936 wardrobe plan

"If you own a fairly large variety of cheap clothes and change them a dozen times a day, you will never appear chic; cheapness is always apparent."
I hate when this happens but last year I accidentally deleted a complete post with text and a bunch of pictures I've prepared!!! It took hours to find and edit the best pictures and to write the text, but with one mistake it was all gone. Finally I had the time to prepare a new version, hope you like it!

As I wrote here fashion designer Elsa Schiaparelli was often asked to contribute to fashion articles in the 30's. In a 1936 magazine interview she advised on building a basic wardrobe from scratch: "how to dress inexpensively and yet look smart as a star" (link to full text: click here) The article only describes the main clothing items, basic things like underwear, stockings and blouses are not listed. Her most important message is that good,  simply made clothes never date. You can better invest in quality than quantity. So true!
did you know...
...that Schiaparelli had her own signature shade: shocking pink? The color is said to be inspired by a pink diamond by Cartier. Schiaparelli used it often in her collections and for the packaging for her 1937 fragrance, named Shocking. She asked Surrealist designer Leonor Fini to create a perfume bottle imitating the curves of movie star Mae West. She once called the shade "life-giving, like all the light and the birds and the fish in the world put together, a color of China and Peru but not of the West – a shocking colour, pure and undiluted."

If you want to start building your own (vintage) wardrobe, these are the key items she suggests to start with:

  • a good suit
  • a good coat
  • two plain dresses for afternoon and dinner
  • a smart evening dress and an evening wrap
  • sweater
  • shoes
  • hats, bags, jewelry

So, how to be chic on a small income? To give you an idea how such a mini-wardrobe would look like, first an impression from an 1936 AWW issue:

Sounds easy, right? Now let's see the comments of Ms. Schiaparelli on every item, plus more inspiration from the late 1930's!

"Buy a good suit and live in it, rather than a lot of cheap clothes.Let it be a good, tailored suit, carefully made, with beautiful material and don't be afraid to be seen in it too often."

Preferably a black coat with a fur collar. "For winter you should have a 3/4 fur coat, if you can not afford fur, a heavy tweed." Add for a cool summer climate a 3/4 cloth coat.

"For the first dress I would suggest a good crepe, with two different scarfs to be worn with."

evening dress:
"Add a little jacket for informal parties and leave it off for the formals."

"A good sweater for weekends in the country and general sports."

- 1 pair of Oxfords
- 1 pair of pumps with Cuban heels
- 1 pair of evening sandals (in either silver of gold, they last a long time)
"Shoes should never be conspicous. a shoe to be really smart should be as pain as possible, with a heel that suits the girl who wears it."

shoes, hats, bags:
- a minimum of 2 hats, one felt and one dressy hat
"Shoes, hats, bag and gloves ar frightfully important and should be considered together. All should match in color."

newspaper images: AWW through Trove
"Cheap jewelry should never be worn, unless it happens to be something that you positively know suits your type. Pearls, including cheap imitations are always in good taste. Plain gold jewelry in a modern design is always good."
"Buy good clothes only and never be afraid to wear them too often, or of not being in style."

above: Ms. Schiaparelli herself