Saturday, November 15, 2014


Scotland play New Zealand here in Edinburgh today. New Zealand are the best rugby team in the world, so they will probably win, but if Scotland play with the oomph they suddenly seemed to have last weekend, it could be fun to watch.

The All Blacks always begin a match by dancing the Haka, a Maori war-dance, while the opposing team stand there trembling. It's fun to watch. Somebody tried throwing rose petals at them once, but I don't think they had much effect.


I had to be up at St James Centre again yesterday to get the insulin which was mis-prescribed the week before, so I went into John Lewis and recklessly bought an 80cm 4mm Symfonie circular, since I couldn't find the one I think I must have had already. I was right – it's exactly what I want at this stage. I whizzed around blissfully last night.

And now I must return to the Unst Bridal Shawl. My current, tentative plan is to do two scallops a day and then allow myself to do some more whizzing. That's how I got Rams & Yowes finished. I really should pause the sweater altogether until I've got Archie to try it on, but I don't think I can bear to.

The postie was kind again yesterday – Centenary Stitches arrived. (and I've still got Kate Davies' Yokes to look forward to!) It's terrific – very highly recommended.

It is an absolute triumph of intelligent amateurism – although that word isn't quite accurate, since many of those involved are professionals. Intelligent enthusiasm, then. The focus is the film “Tell Them of Us” made by a group called WAG Screen, “a community filmmaking group who make films about Lincolnshire's history and heritage”. (“WAG” probably doesn't stand for “Wives and Girlfriends” in this context.) The film is part of the WWI centenary, and concerns a particular Lincolnshire family in a particular village.

The costumier, although no knitter herself, realised early on that the film wouldn't look right unless the characters wore a lot of knitting. She put out tentative feelers on the internet, and was overwhelmed by the response. Much was translated from contemporary patterns, other things derived from old photographs, a few designed anew. The book is a collection of the patterns (in modern form), illustrated both by stills from the film and by engravings from the old pattern books.

Each pattern is attributed to its translator or designer, and, if different, its knitter. Liz Lovick did a prodigious amount. She also edited the book. How does anyone manage to get so much done? Not having to cook lunch won't entirely account for it.

Mary Lou was involved – her Sports Sweater is on the cover, both “translated” and “knitted by”, and had caught my eye before I discovered that it was her work. Knitsofacto is also thanked in the credits, and I may well have overlooked other familiar names.

The book begins with essays about WAG, about the Lincolnshire village and family the film is based on, about the process of costuming. There are also fascinating essays about the history of British domestic knitting (Liz Lovick), the process and the considerable difficulties of translating vintage knitting patterns (Lovick again), and about the way old patterns were shaped, from Judith Brodnicki. Some surprises there, at least for me.

How easily I might have missed this book -- how glad I am to have found it!


  1. Anonymous12:24 PM

    Have ordered the book, Jean as it is now out of stock. Catriona

  2. Jean you are one step ahead of me - I haven't got mine yet, but did get to have a quick browse through the proof at the event. I am so happy you like it. The books were shipped to Orkney in error, so we are all waiting. There will be a US printed and mailed edition as well, thanks to Judith.

  3. I pre-ordered one and it arrived yesterday - have not had a chance to do more than glance at it. It will be received with glee at my local guild.

  4. There was certainly plenty of enthusiasm! I'm just sorry not to have knitted anything in the end, but I was part of the behind the scemes team early on and sourced a lot of donated yarn from lovely people like Garry Jamieson and Sue Blacker, hence the credit. So glad you like the book :)