Favourite Things – part 1

posted in: Books, patterns, yarn | 5

Over on my ravelry group we have just had a little competition where participants named their favourite Susan Crawford or A Stitch in Time design and why. I have really enjoyed reading all the comments and getting an idea what some of you have liked most from a rather large collection of patterns. I added up the patterns just from the four books the other day and it came to 169 patterns! Add to this single patterns, commissioned designs etc and its around 200 designs to choose from. Because there are so many it can be quite easy to forget some of them so this has been a great way to be reminded of some of the best. So I thought I would take the opportunity to do a bit of a retrospective here on the blog.

I thought I would begin with the oldest patterns which are those from A Stitch in Time, Vol 1. We first published this book back in November 2008.

Unsure of what interest there would be for the title we actually produced the first 500 of these books ourselves – when I say ourselves, I of course mean Gavin. On an entry level commercial digital press a maximum of 30 books a day would be printed out and then each evening Gavin would go down into the cellar and bind each of these books on a professional book binder we had bought. We really didn’t anticipate the response the book would receive and it soon became clear that we would not be able to keep up with demand. We took the decision to have the book printed by a book printer and the rest as they, is history.

Probably due to the fact that the book has been available for over 4 years, a wide variety of patterns have been chosen as favourites. In fact, 25 of the 59 designs in the book have been picked out as at least one person’s absolute favourite of all my patterns.

This first group of designs all scored one vote each and here they are:

Young and Pretty modelled by the glamorous and beautiful Fleure de Guerre, who among many other things writes the highly successful blog, Diary of a Vintage Girl.  This is a late 1940s jumper knitted in
ribbing and worn with negative ease to get that figure hugging look. The sleeves are gathered up at the top
to create these fabulous puff sleeves. A fairly simple garment to knit, it just requires a little patience at the sewing up stage when the frill is being attached. Fleur and I will be appearing on TV screens together later in the year but more on that another time!


The new cowl neckline is from 1932 and is knitted in very fine yarn on a large needle to create a very light and airy
effect. I used Kusaki Zome silk from Habu Textiles to achieve this effect. This garment has been a real favourite with knitters in warmer climes. It features the ever-elegant Theodora Burrow as the model looking every inch the 1930s film star on a trans-atlantic cruise! Theodora is of course, a member of the amazing Shellac Sisters.


This One for Parties from 1935 was a tricky one to find the right yarn for as it was originally knitted with quite a ‘stringy’ yarn called “Knopsyl” described as an artificial silk composed of twisted strands of uneven thickness. It also had a very open tension of 4 sts to the inch worked on large needles. Unusually though it had extensive making up instructions.


Such a Debonair Little Jumper is from 1938 and is knitted in standard 4 ply yarn. A beautiful lace pattern topped with a slimming ribbed yoke this garment seems to look amazing on everyone who wears it.  This one was  not straight forward to multi size as it has a stitch repeat of 28 sts which is approximately 2.75 inches wide.  To create bigger sizes by adding pattern repeats would have meant huge leaps between sizes so different needle sizes are used for the different sizes. Tension (always important) is particularly important on this type of pattern as the fit of the garment can be radically changed simply by not getting your tension absolutely spot on.


This glamorous garment is from 1946 and showed early signs of the approaching 1950s shape with its cap sleeves knitted in one piece with the main body of the garment. The sewn on sequins added some much needed glamour to post war evening wear yet the garment still only uses a maximum of 250 grams of 4 ply Shetland wool. Not particularly noticeable on this photo is a decrease row worked a couple of inches down from the front shoulders. Decreases are worked along the row creating very slight gathers giving a very attractive fit over the bust line.


This is Made so Quickly from 1936 and one of my personal favourites. I have made this particular top three times to date. I wear it predominantly in warmer weather and it is one of the most comfy and easy garments to wear. It always seems to look both vintage and contemporary at the same time so working with any aesthetic. The version for the book was knitted in Rowan Organic Cotton to make it a little more functional as a summer garment as the yarn used is a double knit weight. Although I am planning to make myself an autumn version in Excelana DK and add long sleeve instructions to the pattern as in the 1936 version.


Here is another garment from 1936. This one is called Frilly Sleeves (no prizes for guessing why) and is knitted in a 4 ply weight pure silk. The original garment from 1936 was knitted in artificial ‘Suede’ yarn which also had weight and drape. The sleeves are truly enormous and fabulous and are created by dropping stitches from the needle very much like Cryscelle from volume 2. The key hole neck line is particularly flattering and the moss stitch colour is so neat. This garment really reflects the use of knits for evening wear in the 1930s.


This Dashing Little Swim-suit from 1938 is one of three swimsuits in the book all modelled by a now famous lingerie model and burlesque artist, Miss Miranda. The 1938 original of this swimsuit was knitted in Golden Eagle “Seawul” a 4ply weight pure wool designed specifically for swimwear. The swimsuit consists of an all in one costume with a daring halter neck revealing a bare back and built in shorts. The skirt is knitted separately and is worn over the costume supported by a purchased belt.
You can see the incredibly daring back of the garment in this image. The top of the costume is very well constructed giving a contoured shape. This swimsuit will be getting a re-visit when I get back to work on the Swimsuit Project in the summer.


The Jersey with a soft bow is from 1946 and can be knitted with either long or short sleeves. Believe it or not, in 2006 when I started on this book, fine yarns were really difficult to get hold of in the UK and this particular garment was one of the most difficult to find the right yarn for.  It had to be approximately a lace weight yarn that had plenty of structure. Now in 2013 it would be so easy to find an appropriate yarn to knit this garment with but I had no end of trouble trying to find something back then. I finally sourced a 100% silk yarn that would knit to the 10 sts to the inch tension required and we were able to reproduce this gorgeous jumper. It is one of those garments that because of the fineness of the knitting would easily pass as machine made – in the right way!


These Lacy Gloves deserve something of a fanfare. This pair were knitted back in 2007 by my mother in law and they are still going strong. I wear them constantly throughout the winter months. I had them on today to go to the shops. No darning has yet been required and the pattern is elegant, attractive, simple to knit, professional and neat – the name Lacy Gloves really doesn’t do them justice. They are knitted flat and seamed, but can very easily be knitted in the round on double pointed needles instead. They are knitted in Jamieson & Smith 2 ply jumper weight yarn (ie. 4 ply weight Shetland wool) and I think every lady should have at least one pair of these gloves in her handbag at all times.


Accessory for your Spring Suit is another mid 1930s  effortlessly refined and stylish garments that look great no matter what. Its also beautifully warm and surprisingly easy to knit as much of it is knitted in garter stitch. The collar and bow are knitted in one piece and then sewn on to the neckline of the main garment. Again knitted in 4 ply wool this pattern needs a yarn that is both soft and yet has good definition. This one would be a perfect candidate for Excelana!


Finally for today is the Tea Garden Dress. This pattern is from a 1943 Australian knitting magazine. Still knitted in pure wool, the model in the magazine is shown lounging in bright sunshine in her 100% woollen outfit. The skirt trim around the bottom of the skirt is not included in the original pattern, but the skirt proved too short for Theodora so we added an optional trim depending on the length needed. It features all manner of tailoring details; a hidden pocket, concealed fastenings, plackets, shoulder pads and a double layered collar with decorative top stitching. Definitely not one for the sewing-averse!

And so for today that is the end of my visit down memory lane. Tomorrow we will look at the next group of short listed designs. You may well also know that after three re-prints and thousands of books later, A Stitch in Time, vol 1 is currently out of print. So why torment you with all these beautiful garments from a book you can’t get? Well at the end of the week I shall have some exciting news about the future of A Stitch in Time, Volume 1 so do keep tuning in!

for now
Ruby xx

5 Responses

  1. LandGirl1980
    | Reply

    I adore the "Frilly Sleeves" one and also the grape one with the bow. And. THOSE GLOVES!!!!! Delicious!

  2. Kate-Em
    | Reply

    I would really struggle to choose a favourite out of all the patterns as they are all gorgeous. However, out of these it has to be the debonair little jumper as I love the lace pattern and the little bows.

  3. Helen Le Caplain
    | Reply

    It's hard to pick, just from this selection – I can't believe this book isn't already part of my knitting collection (note to self, add to Amazon wishlist in time for birthday).

    Must say I'm rather excited about your tv collaboration with the lovely Fleur!!


  4. Tasha
    | Reply

    Such a Debonair Little Jumper has long been on my "short list" to knit! Of course that short list is pretty long. lol And how interesting how the availability of yarns has changed so much in just a few years. There are SO many options now, it's wonderful!

  5. Sandy
    | Reply

    Brilliant round up!

    I'm actually attempting Frilly Sleeves at the moment (around also knitting my 4th Jan Sweater!) but alas I'll be omiting the important sleeves bit as I'm after a more daytime top. LOL!!

    Can't wait for round up 2!

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