Jean Moss and me

posted in: knitting history | 27

The title of this blog post may come as a bit of a surprise, particularly to the legendary Jean Moss herself, but when I was asked to take part in the blog tour for Jean’s latest book, “Sweet Shawlettes”, I knew I wanted to write a little about the Jean Moss who has influenced me so much.

In 1991 as a young wannabe knitwear designer I purchased Jean’s first book “Designer Knits Collection”. I was sold! With its beautiful photography and Jean’s obvious love of vintage fashion I couldn’t have asked for more.

Two particularly gorgeous designs ‘Berlin’ and ‘Vienna’ really helped cement my love of 1930s knitwear and styling.


Jean also began designing for Rowan who were young, vibrant and offered cutting edge design. One of Jean’s designs ‘Monotone long sleeve sweater’ featured in one of my favourite Rowan books of all time – number six, and I knew I wanted to be like Jean one day.

Later into the 90s, as a struggling newbie at Rowan, I got the chance to assist Jean in a workshop. I was completely awe struck and as a result probably completely useless, but I loved every minute of it. I particularly remember learning double knitting on that day – as well as a number of knitting related folk songs – and thinking about that really helps explain the breadth of Jean’s skills and talents. At that time patterns in the UK didn’t really feature advanced skills such as double knitting, patterns didn’t always have schematics or full colour charts, but Jean’s did. I feel Jean really helped drive knitting and pattern writing into a new era whilst at the same time still producing stunningly creative designs, which brings me neatly to “Sweet Shawlettes”. The book itself is beautifully produced with exactly the sort of top quality photographs and styling that one would expect in a book from Jean. The concept of the book, which is a collection of cowls, capelets, shawls, scarves etc., gives Jean free reign to incorporate unusual and interesting techniques and also celebrate her love for colour. The range of patterns also ensures there is something for everyone.

The book is divided into chapters, such as Folk and Country and very pleasingly, Vintage.
Not surprisingly most of my favourite designs in the book feature in the Vintage chapter. The first of these ‘Fizz Capelet’ is beaded and shaped using short rows and is so very very pretty. The art deco shade of blue also appeals to me immensely.

My absolute favourite though is ‘Treasure Jabot’. I thought I was the only person left using the word jabot, so I instantly felt so much better seeing it in Jean’s book. This delicate frill is worked in DK weight pure silk and would be equally lovely in alpaca or cashmere for christmas gifting. What I really love about it though is the very clever way the jabot is knitted and makes use of lots of the ‘re-found’ techniques which Jean has always known about.

There are many, many more beautiful designs such as the ‘Mantilla Shawlette’ and the ‘Arabesque Scarf’ which really makes this a timeless book. A book which I could happily keep returning to for years and years .


If you would like to own a copy of “Sweet Shawlettes” Taunton Press and Jean Moss are kindly offering one of my readers the chance to win a copy. Just go to the projects gallery  on Jean’s website before returning to my blog to leave a comment, letting me know your favourite design and why you chose it.  You must include your email address so that I can let you know you’ve won. I’ll choose a name at random next Monday – 26th March 2012.

If you want to find out more about Jean’s designs, workshops etc. you can find out more on her website.

The tour is nearly over but you can take a look back at what these other fabulous people also think of “Sweet Shawlettes”

Wed 7 March: Jen Arnall-Culliford
Thurs 8 March: Needled (Kate Davies)
Fri 9 March: Rock and Purl (Ruth Garcia-Alcantud)
Sat 10 March: Woolly Wormhead
Mon 12 March: Yarnscape (Alison Barker)
Tues 13 Mar Confessions of a Yarn Addict Anniken Allis
Wed 14 March: Joli House (Amanda France)
Thurs 15 March: This Is Knit
Fri 16 March: The Knitting Institute (Knitting Magazine)
Sat 17 March: Life’n Knitting (Carla Meijsen)
Sun 18 March: ConnieLene (ConnieLene Johnston)
Mon 19 March: Just Call Me Ruby (Susan Crawford)

The tour then continues with a final three dates which are:
Tues 20 March: Tiny Owl Knits (Stephanie Dosen)
Wed 21 March: Ulla-Bella (Anita Tørmoen)
Thurs 22 March Heike Knits (Heike Gittins)

You can also purchase the book directly from Amazon if you can’t wait to find out if you’ve won a copy.

Jean has had some very sad news this week and I would just like to take this opportunity to say my thoughts are with Jean and her family.

for now
Ruby x

Photos courtesy of Alexandra Grablewski/Taunton Press, Reed International Press and Rowan Yarns

27 Responses

  1. Lieke
    | Reply

    So difficult to choose… She designed such a wide variety of shawls! My favourites are Penumbra, because I just love stripes (and that brooch) and Miss Garricks, because of the many possibilities!
    My email address:

  2. Anita Fern
    | Reply

    I think it's a beautiful collection and rather hard to just name one! For me, it would be Kitty as I have just the perfect retro wiggle dress to wear with it – heels and perhaps a little pillbox hat or beret to complete the picture.


  3. lindarumsey
    | Reply

    Frost is my favourite – just right for next winter!

  4. .x.Helen.x.
    | Reply

    Mantilla is gorgeous. I love knitting lace and i think this would look fab over a simple dress at a summer wedding (the first hint of sun and im thinking about summer already!)

  5. LeStyleophile
    | Reply

    I've been completely cape-crazy after knitting the gorgeous Town & City Tufted Cape from Vintage Gifts, so naturally I'm in love with all the designs in this fantastic book! It's a tough call between Fizz, the Mantilla shawlette and Kitty, but at the moment my favourite is the Mantilla shawlette: I just love the colour, the lace detail and the styling in the photograph! It's retro-glam perfection.
    My email address is

  6. Anushka
    | Reply

    I do like twine, although the jabot is definitely up there too!
    byanushka @

  7. Knittingdancer on Ravelry
    | Reply

    There are so many that I like, I would choose the Fizz Capelet because it looks so very elegant and lady like to me.

  8. shirley2647
    | Reply

    They are all soo beautiful but have to say that my favourite is 'Treasure jabot'. Love the way the frills fall. My email address is :

  9. Farrago
    | Reply

    It has to be Green at Heart for me. I love patterns that combine lace with cables!

  10. Barbara
    | Reply

    The book is full of lovely designs, but I think my favourite is Enigma – such a simple idea, such an ethereal effect.

    barbaraknitsagain at

  11. Wooly Knits n Bits
    | Reply

    My favorite is Madame Alfred. It's casual enough to wear with a pair of jeans to run errands. I would make mine in a bright blue shade with some green as the accent colour.
    Thanks for the opportunity to win such a wonderful book

  12. Anonymous
    | Reply

    It has to be Green at Heart. I love the shape and it looks really cosy!


    (e mail –

  13. Rlynn
    | Reply

    My favorite, hands down, is Evergreen. It's versatile yet chic, and I can see it in many color combinations.

    My email is frosch at gmail dot com

    My thoughts are with Jean and her family to endure the sad news…

  14. Susie Hewer
    | Reply

    Hi Susan,

    I love so many of the designs and have knitted lots of Jean's patterns over the years but my favourite has to be Ceilidh – just perfect with my red hair and I have just the right yarn ready and waiting!

    Hope things are going well in your world.


  15. ShinyNewThing
    | Reply

    I've been enjoying this blog tour. My favourite is still Bronte as it looks like such a versatile length, suitable for over the shoulders at the office or to dress up an outfit in the evening.

  16. MarieAnge
    | Reply

    I would love to make Purple Patch Shrug for my daughter. She loves vintage buttons and this would be the perfect item to display them on.

  17. mvink
    | Reply

    My favourite is Vamp! It is so elegant and beautiful! I love the colours and yarn chosen. Such a lovely design.

  18. Anonymous
    | Reply

    Definitely Twine. It's gorgeous. The texture, twist, and bulkiness make it perfect for Fall here.

    potatoe911 at hotmail dot com

  19. Anne
    | Reply

    The book looks really great, and I love the harlequin pattern. Also love some of the earlier designs you featured. Would love to win this!

  20. Maggie
    | Reply

    This book looks great! I would like to make the kardamili first, because it would be great for summer evenings. Thank you for a chance to win a copy of the book 🙂

  21. lesleyanne
    | Reply

    Polperro, I love the vintage shape with the traditional gansey stitches, and Polperro is my favourite place in Cornwall from a sailing holiday 10 years or so ago 🙂

  22. May Loh
    | Reply

    The 'Fizz Capelet' is so so pretty! Makes me wish i could knit and sew! Lovely blog by the way….got to follow you now!
    May x

  23. janna Edrington
    | Reply

    My favorite is the Evergreen. Cute, a little funky. But it was a tough choice!

  24. fabriquefantastique
    | Reply

    jean has always been just about my fav designer…..for decades

  25. Julie
    | Reply

    So hard to choose just one. I love Mantilla – so elegant. But I am intrigued by Madame Alfred. I have had something like this in my head for a while, but am not skilled enough to get it down on paper. I'm very interested to see how it goes together.

  26. Leila
    | Reply

    That Mantilla shawl is gorgeous! What a nice giveaway — I don't know if you are willing to send a book to America, but if so, I would love to win it!

  27. the itinerant artist
    | Reply

    My choices as there were a couple I really loved are Ceilidch for me and for my sister who shares her name with it, Grace.
    I've loved finding new blogs as a result of this tour.

Leave a Reply to Lieke Cancel reply

Your e-mail address will not be published. Required fields are marked *