My blogging life is fast becoming like my knitting life - fuller and fuller of WIPS. I blog about something or other and then, at the end, just mention I happen to be embarking on another exciting project. But the next blog post? ... nothing, nada, nix. I forget to follow up and having whetted appetites say no more.
|The Somme 1917 watercolour painted by J Brunt a private soldier|
Today was no different. I had an idea as I was running some early morning errands (which, after I chatted in shops, forgot something, went back and then met two neighbours it was nearly lunch time and well into the afternoon as I sat down to blog). I thought I would blog about going to knitting festivals (L'aiguille en Fete and Unravel to date, WonderWool and Unwind to come). And then I remembered at the end of last week's post I posted a picture of a manly waistcoat in a conservative colour (not my usual style) and a promise of more next week. So I will keep my promise and put off yarn related travels till another day and tell you about Tell Them Of Us
I heard about this exciting project on Annie's Blog. A community project making a film about the lives of real people who lived through, and suffered the effects of, WW1. Because the people depicted in the film actually existed there are photographs of them and as near as possible the actors will wear costumes like those worn by the men women and children of 1914 - 1918. That is where knitting comes in, so many hand knitted garments and so a plea went out to knitters to volunteer to knit for the wardrobe. They now have more than 200 volunteer knitters and over 90 of us have finished our first garments. Some of the patterns are contemporary with the war and some have been created by the clever co-ordinators of the project just from the photographs.
The yarn for my allotted project arrived in the post just before I left for my holiday
|Lovely BFL dyed a lovely soft brown|
The pattern was e mailed and I rushed to print it off and swatch before I left. Patterns of the period can be a lot less detailed than the modern ones we are all used to, there is also less use of standardised terms. When you are knitting up vintage patterns it is advisable to read right through before putting yarn around your needles.
In this case there was no mention on how the borders were to be worked. The usual way of finishing armholes and button bands were not mentioned at all (except for the left front that simply said 'work 6 button holes'). You need to use common sense and scrutinise the photograph or sketch very closely as well as the written word. The stitch used for the back is plain stocking stitch and for the front a sort of rib with one row knit and one p4k1. Without some sort of edging stitch this waistcoat was going to curl! So I incorporated a two stitch garter stitch border along both fronts and around the armholes. This kept the work flat after blocking. However, it did not work for the back neck that due to some short rows actually had an unusual upward curve and, with my two rows of garter stitch mod, just gaped in an ugly fashion. So I unpicked this bit and finished in stocking stitch concluding that the back neck was meant to curve outwards forming a little draught proof roll collar. Apart from being a little bulky (the yarn is aran weight) it was the perfect simple project to take on holiday
|Sitting on our balcony sewing up the waistcoat|
The only other modification that I incorporated was on the pockets. The pattern instructs to knit the garter stitch top and then cast off for the opening and cast on again on the next row before carrying on up the front, later picking up from the cast on edge and knitting the pocket lining downwards. Instead I knitted the linings separately first, incorporating the live stitches in the next row after the cast off instead of casting on. This meant there was slightly less bulk at the pocket edge.
You have already seen the shot of the waistcoat blocked and ready to post, but here it is again
|Ready for William Crowder|
And the watercolour at the top of the picture? My Grandfather William Acaster was a volunteer and served throughout WW1, mostly on the Somme. One of the few working men of the time who could drive a motorised car he was immediately employed as a driver in the army. Perhaps this saved his life, as far as I know he never actually 'went over the top'. When my grandmother died in the 1990s an old sketchbook was found in the back of a cupboard. Inside the front cover was written
G Percival & L Hardy
Book property of R W Acaster and all above mentioned
with pay, don't forget it
Some Soldiers on the Somme
La Guerre 1916 - 1917
The book contains cartoons, mostly in pencil ridiculing German soldiers and British Officers, two water colours of Northern France and one or two satirical cartoons from the 1920s. It is still a bit of a mystery, not all the drawings are by Percival or Hardy, the watercolours by someone called Brunt and several are not signed, perhaps they are by my grandfather.