01 Jul 2010

Before we left what I call the middle of England but what seems to be considered part of “the north” to the English — I suppose in the way Long Islanders consider everything above New York City as “upstate” and most everyone in the USA considers Chicago the “midwest” even though Denver is actually pretty close to the middle of the continent — we made a quick detour to see Liverpool. I’ve already written about the Beatles Story museum. I mentioned that we also visited a couple of yarn stores, but I didn’t go into any detail. Today I want to write about knitting and Liverpool, sort of.

First, I finished the Lithuanian baby socks AND got the instructions written out, so the Twitalong is ready to begin. I promised it in June, but I think I missed it by one day. I did mention the materials in June though, so that’s worth something, isn’t it? You don’t need to have a Twitter account to follow along. I will also post the finished instructions on the blog when it’s over.

baby socks

Lithuanian Baby Socks for Twitter KAL

The best part of traveling is meeting people. And there’s not much that is more fun than meeting your internet friends face-to-face. That was definitely true for the time we spent in Liverpool, where we spent the whole day with UK knitwear designer, Susan Crawford (@astitchintime on Twitter), and her partner, Gavin.

If you’re not familiar with Susan’s work, shame on you! OK, not really. Shame is not a good thing. But if you read my blog, I will assume that you are interested in knitting, history, and writing, amongst other things. Susan’s work touches on all of these areas.

Susan's Books

Susan's Books

Her first book, written with Jane Waller, is A Stitch In Time: Vintage Knitting and Crochet Patterns 1920-1949. (The subtitle also says “Volume 1,” so there’s an excellent chance we will see more in the future.) This is not simply a book of vintage patterns reworked for today’s knitters (Susan’s done that in her second book.) It’s a veritable encyclopedia of knitting patterns, with the original patterns reproduced in their entirety, along with reworked instructions, photographs, and additional schematics and charts. For anyone who loves vintage designs, and for anyone who needs to reproduce vintage costumes for film, theatre, or reenactments, this book is the resource to have. It’s 354 pages, and includes over 60 designs ranging from a large selection of sweaters to suits and accessories. There are even some undies and swimsuits.

sample spread from book

Original Pattern Spread

The patterns are organized by time period, so skimming the table of contents is like a quick ride in a time machine. But you must take a slower journey through the pages of the book to appreciate its richness. Not only are the knitting projects meticulously detailed, the styling of the models is done to be appropriate for the time period. Many of the older patterns told the reader what to wear with the knitted items, down to what color stockings, shoes, and purse to accessorize with, and the attention to detail given to the styling and photography in this book makes it a treasure.

spread from book

New Pattern Instructions and Photos

sample page

Period-style Photography and Layout

Susan’s second book, Vintage Gifts to Knit, is exactly a book for modern knitters who want to knit some of their own beautiful vintage pieces, as gifts to themselves or their loved ones. This book has fewer sweaters and more accessories than the earlier book, which is quite appropriate for gift knitting. The layout of the book is gorgeous, done in the style of vintage knitting patterns. Even the photo styling, in both books, is modeled after what would have been done in the period of the original publications. The photos were taken in color, but they have the look of the old style black-and-whites that had the color painted on.

OK, to be honest, as we walked around Liverpool and sat drinking coffee and beer and eating dinner late in the evening, we didn’t talk much about knitting. We talked (and talked and talked) about Liverpool and England and America and politics, with a few asides into knitting and publishing and running our own businesses. But we’re definitely planning on getting together again before Dom and I return to America, so I am sure Susan and I spend a large chunk of that time on our favorite pastime, while the men talk about computers and business. Not that Susan and I are not geeks and business people, but we’d rather talk about the creative side of our work, given a choice.

I’m sure we’ll be seeing each other again. It’s always refreshing to talk to someone else in the knitting & publishing business, and it was especially interesting to talk to Susan and Gavin because they work together in the business, as Dom and I are starting to do. Sharing tips and secrets to success is imperative.

More soon. Next stop: Beatrix Potter’s Hill Top Farm House!

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