Thursday, June 29, 2006

Nobody seems to want a tatty copy of VKB No. 39. Think again. You don’t have to pay for it. You don’t have to love it. You just have to be mildly interested. I have this morning acquired a new email address, invited by my grandson Alistair in Beijing. I am now miles dot jean at googlemail dot com. You could write to me there. (I remain jean at milesandmiles dot demon dot co dot uk, as well.)

I’ve finished the shrug. Here (or, rather, there) it is. I’m reasonably pleased with it.

And then what did I do? I am embarrassed to say. I was meant to pick up the Princess. But it was Tuesday, I was tired from our Monday expedition to Glasgow, the Princess will need a wee bit of figuring-out, Wimbledon is on – I cast on the Paisley Long Shawl I recently bought from Fiddlesticks. It’s terribly easy, ideal for Wimbledon knitting. And I’m getting on swimmingly.

It’s one of those you start in the middle with a provisional cast-on, and eventually pick up the stitches and knit the second half in the opposite direction. I am a coward when it comes to provisional cast-ons, and have used the machine-knitter’s expedient of knitting a few rows in a waste yarn. Not elegant, but it gets the job done.

Now that I’m doing it, I might as well go on until I get to a good stopping place (and Wimbledon is over). Buying yarn by mail order involves an element of risk (except for Koigu), but I’ve hit the jackpot this time. The shade is called “mahogany”; it’s a dark, dark plum. The JaggerSpun Zephyr wool-silk is delicious to knit with.

The border is knit in with the main part, saving a lot of trouble. It’s got rows of faggoting. I adore faggoting, perhaps beyond any other knitterly effect. (Contrariwise, I hate bobbles.)

AND the new Knitter’s turned up this week; not bad at all, as I had already learned from Mary Morrison. AND VKB No. 6 comes up on eBay this evening. There has been some bidding on it. I am hopeful but not utterly confident. It all adds up to an eventful knitting week.

Thanks for yesterday’s comments. I am inclined to agree with Vivienne that people actually were somewhat differently shaped, back then. The childrens’ patterns in that wartime book ask for a 22” chest, which I remember as indeed a good omnium-gatherum size for children. I did a day course with a distinguished childrens’ designer at Stitches East once. All I can remember – not even her name – is her remark that children don’t expand much, they just get longer.

Helen’s suggestion is an interesting one, that the patterns were offered in one size because we were meant to be able to adapt, but there’s no hint of it in the text.

As for those waists, I’m pretty sure they were rarely achieved without girdles. Not the least significant part of the revolution that brought us Twiggy and Jean Shrimpton, was the reversion to natural underwear. These days you really have to be pencil-slim, and you have to do it all by yourself – it’s perhaps a comfort to infer from your remark, Vivienne, that you are allowed a bit of latitude at the waist in compensation.

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