Having a frustrating time of it, kids.
I have been knitting and writing and drawing myself into a froth, but most of it is for clients–which means no show and tell until the clients do the showing, at which point I can do the telling.
I can show you yarn, though. I've started a Tumblr feed called Yarn Shaming. I love yarn, you love yarn, but yarn does not always love us back, does it? The feed is a place where the occasionally ugly truth can be aired.
Speaking of ugly truths, I reached a point in my workroom where the options were either to clean the place out or to brick up the doorway and pretend it was never there. City real estate prices being what they are, I settled upon the former.
After two months of digging, tossing, and organizing I can see the top of the desk and the bottom of the Orphaned Yarns bin. I also slotted upwards of 100 million loose knitting patterns into binders.
For somebody who uses patterns as little as I do, I've acquired more than my fair share of them–mostly old, and mostly (thanks to a very, very generous reader in England) British.
The English Bequest (which how I like to think of it, even though the donor is only sweet and not deceased) now has its own set of binders.
If you've been reading this blog for any length of time, you know I'm a museum-quality Anglomaniac and even the scent of these leaflets–a bewitching combination of damp, printer's ink, and coal smoke–was enough to make my heart beat out the bass line of "Jerusalem."
They're all mid-1960s or earlier (I don't collect anything newer than that).
Some of them I love for their very mid-century English take on boudoir allure, like this glamourpuss in handknit lingerie made from Lavenda, a fine wool produced by Lister & Co. of Bradford.
Lister's promise at the time was "Distinctive and Charming Results." If you ask me, they nailed it.
On the masculine side, you have rugged numbers like this:
Butchy McPipesmoker's cardigan was made from Femina Botany by Bairns-Wear Yarns of Nottingham. The company placed a marvelously reassuring message on the back of the pattern:
There's something about the blue ink and the upright typeface that says, "We're sure to beat Hitler, madam, so certainly we can help you to figure out your sleeve cap."
But my favorite pattern covers are those that display quintessentially English people doing terribly, terribly English things, like sitting on the hearthrug toasting crumpets in the fireplace.
Patons and Baldwins, Ltd. produced my favorite works in this genre. I am unable to so much as glance at them without beginning to spin elaborate Blightycentric fantasies.
These small leaflets ought properly to be viewed while Vera Lynn sings "There'll Always Be an England," so chuck this on the Victrola before you scroll down.
Mrs. Armstrong and her daughter, Judy, put together a jigsaw puzzle because this is not America, Judy darling, and we won't be able to afford a television until the mid-sixties. Judy will be arrested for setting fire to a crocheted effigy of Margaret Thatcher during a Poll Tax riot in 1990.
After an exhausting day at St. Winifred's Comprehensive School in Thwack, Enid Ormerod and brother Christopher Robin play at skittles on the green. (See "no television," above.)
Meanwhile, at No. 16 Canterbury Close, Surbiton, young Susan White-Hamilton and her Aunt Gwladys catch a glimpse of their neighbor, Colonel Anstruther, through that gap in the hedge. The Colonel's rather eccentric routine of morning exercises–a practice he acquired while stationed in Cyprus–are a subject of much neighborhood interest.
Lifelong friends Gertrude Antrobus and Edith Moffatt, of Windy Cottage, Muckleford, Hants., rejoice at the successful performance of their champion Setter bitch, Vita's Furry Delight, at the county dog show.
Modern technology unites, rather than divides, the generations. Jane Pilkington of Royal Tunbridge Wells uses her portable wireless to revel in the song stylings of Mr Jagger and his Rolling Stones; while mother Constance listens in to "Mrs Dale's Diary" and learns that Mrs Dale has been worried about Jim lately.
And down at the Fox and Grapes, Alf and Reg exchange the latest village news along with subtle, but meaningful, brushes of arm and thigh.
Oh, Britannia. You rule.