The clocks went back today, marking the end of Daylight Saving Time in Europe. As if on cue, the weather has turned distinctly wintry, with heavy cloud on Mt Pelion, intermittent rain and some chilly winds nipping spitefully about. The waters of the Pagasitic seem unsure of themselves, taken aback that the gales have ceased but ominous cloud remains, so the waves are tentative, hesitant, though I don’t doubt they are more than prepared to rear up in rage if required. No vessel visible. Not one. Those who ply the waters here are generally wise to the ways of the weather, and they clearly are taking no risks.
Resetting the clocks makes me reflect on the passage of time; of the seasons and their cycles; of the impermanence of things. There’s been much in the news of the exciting tomb discoveries at Amphipolis – perhaps Alexander the Great’s mother is buried there – and it all serves again to emphasise that things come and go, things change, they stay the same, they change again. Cycles and circles. Never ending. Round and round.
All the talk of Alexander and the kings of Macedon, the pomp, ceremony and finery associated with royalty, brought the colour purple to mind. Purple is closely associated with rulers and potentates throughout history, who paraded before the minions, clothed in garments of deepest purple, a dye so expensive and time-consuming to produce that only the sumptuously rich could afford it.
There’s quite a bit of purple in my yarn stash. It’s a useful colour to have on hand. Jason, silently philosophical as ever, should get a new hat. And he has. His hat is knitted in the round; it’s knitted circularly, without seam, as most of my hats are. It has four ridged bands which represent the seasons. Green is for spring and fresh growth; yellow is for summer sun; deepest orange for autumn’s fading glory, and red for winter. Red for cosy fires, red for cheer through long, grey days, red anticipating the return of warmer days.
My friend Sally adds to my collection of vintage knitting and sewing publications when she comes across them. She outdid herself a few years ago when she sent me a 1930s magazine together with this rather hysterical pair of knickers she’d knitted from a pattern in it. Only Sally would have the patience! Worked in very fine cotton, at a gauge of 10 stitches to the inch, it must have taken her weeks.
I can’t lay my hands on the pattern at the moment, but it was similar to this one in the 1935 Lux Book, published in Australia by Lever Brothers, which calls for 2-ply wool and “Tension of Knitting about 7sts and 9 rows to one inch.”
Well, compared to the gauge/tension of Sally’s valiant effort, I can see why the text trills that the design “needs practically no concentration and very little time.” Gulp. I seriously doubt that the average mother and housewife of those days, and it’s clear from the list of Contents that the Lux Book is aimed at her, had much time to spare on “pantees” such as these.
Knitting garments for the family was often more of a necessity than the pleasurable pastime it is for many of us today. Lady Margaret was quite right about knitting though – “Nothing can stop it!”
The Lux Book of 1941, like others before it, continued the trend of knitted underwear with patterns such as this, described as “Woman’s Vest in 3 sizes.”
The American publication of 1912 contains this little gem of a corset cover. Designed as underwear for the time, today, more than a century later and maybe with a bit less ribbon, it’s an attractive top.
Patons and Baldwins published many booklets, which contained useful knitting info and a wide variety of patterns. I’ve featured some here, together with the undergarments so popular at the time. You will note that the earlier publications tend to display the knickers modestly folded!
Note the knitted petticoats, essential pieces of underwear for woman and girl.
This booklet is not dated, but the Art Deco cover indicates the period between the late1920s until the 1940s; I’m guessing somewhere in the ’30s.