Review: The Worn Archive

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I picked up a copy of the The WORN Archive: A Fashion Journal about the Art, Ideas, & History of What We Wear, on a whim while in Portland last October. I have read most of the articles in the 400+ page book which is an anthology of the first 14 issues of the Worn Fashion Journal magazine. What was so refreshing about the book and its entry into the Worn Fashion Journal is that it focuses on personal style over fashion trends. They focus on gender and body issues as well as how people create their own personal looks through thrifting, vintgae, modern and handmade items. Its more like Bust magazine with an emphasis on clothing and fashion than a Vogue magazine. Sadly, the publication is defunct now but the back issues are still available as well as the book.

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The book is printed on heavyweight uncoated paper that makes it feel like an art book and is filled with great illustrations. Its also beautifully designed.

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The models range in size, shape, age and color to present a diverse representation of people who care about how they dress.

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All in all, its been one of my favorite book purchases of the past year. I often pick it up and flip through it to look at the wonderful photography and illustrations or to skim an article again. ITs a refreshingly different take on fashion and beauty and I wish there were more things like this in the world, especially since Worn is no more.

Here is the promo video for the Worn Archive book launch which puts some faces to the staff behind the book and publication:

And this led me to their Secondhand Prom Mash-Up video which made my Monday!

(All photos from Drawn & Quarterly)

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Book: Complete Guide To Modern Knitting and Crochet by Alice Carroll

Complete Guide To Modern Knitting & Crochet

I found The Complete Guide to Modern Knitting and Crocheting by Alice Carroll on a whim through Abe Books after seeing a photo of the cover on another blogger’s post. The typography on the cover made it worthwhile for me to track it down. Even if the book was terrible, it’s too beautiful with its burnt orange, book cloth cover stamped with silver ink not to have.

Complete Guide To Modern Knitting & Crochet

The publication date is 1942 and the book is filled with basic stitch guides as well as an assortment of patterns from the period. Overall there’s a textbook quality to the book which I really like.

In the front of the book is a super handy chart of needle sizes in millimeters and the vintage numbering for them. Thanks to the book I learned that steel DPNs had a different numbering system from straight needles. That was worth the $5 plus shipping right there.

Complete Guide To Modern Knitting & Crochet

I actually think the stitch pattern guides will be useful as I don’t own many stitch guides and these would be considered commonly used in patterns of this time period.

Complete Guide To Modern Knitting & Crochet

I originally wanted to see the patterns in the book, especially the ladies garments which are of the period and even include a small range of sizes.  There is also a section to help design a garment with various necklines, sleeves, collars and pockets.

The book includes pattern sizes mostly in vintage sizing like 14, 16 or 18 but in some patterns, the sizing are listed as the bust size, most commonly at 34. I found a list of the common measurements for the numbered sizing on Chronically Vintage.

Size 14: 35.5 bust, 27 waist, 38 hips
Size 16: 37 bust, 28.5 waist, 40 hips
Size 18: 39 bust, 30.5 waist, 42 hips

There are patterns for accessories, home decor and garments for men and children as well. There’s even a his-and-hers cardigan set and a men’s fairisle reindeer sweater. I think my husband would never speak to me again if I made him a reindeer sweater. However, there are classic military-style pullovers that he would love.

Complete Guide To Modern Knitting & Crochet

I was actually surprised that the illustrations in the book were photography. Not that photography wasn’t common in the 40s I just assumed it would have been more cost effective to use illustrations for a large book so I was actually quite delighted.

Complete Guide To Modern Knitting & Crochet

Finally, in the back of the book was a folded pattern torn out of a McCall’s Treasury of Needlecraft book from the same time period for a hat and mitten set. This was the true treasure for me — I love seeing the items people tuck into books to save and this little pattern is no exception.

If you have an opportunity to pick up this book, I recommend it if only for true vintage details in the photos, patterns and garments.

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Book Review: Knits From an English Rose

Knits from an English Rose

Knits from an English Rose by Louisa Harding is a collection of knitted accessories with lots of textural lace and floral details. The book is mostly scarves, wraps, hats, and mitts with a few other accessory patterns as well. All the patterns in the book were knit using Louisa Harding brand yarns but its pretty easy to substitute out in most cases. Her Luzia faux fur yarn (which is some of the most realistic fur yarn I’ve ever seen) is a bit harder to come by as other brands of faux fur yarn don’t hold a candle to hers. Luzia is also insanely pricey so I’m probably not likely to knit the couple patterns that feature it anyway.

Most of my friends know I have a terrible soft spot for just about everything Louise Harding does. Her knitting books are always so beautifully styled and her aesthetic is modern vintage classic. So I always want to buy her books and patterns. In the end though, I don’t knit nearly as many of her patterns as I stock pile.

Louise Harding patterns have two flaws that make me a little crazy. First, she writes out her lace patterns and never includes a chart. So, despite loving the look of her lace scarves and wraps, I have never knit one because I really prefer knitting lace with a chart. I have knit a few of her lace patterned hats and love them so I should probably overlook the no-chart thing at some point.

My second grumble is that most of her garment designs are knit flat and seamed. Now I understand there are often advantages to this technique for stability and structure, I’ve stumbled across handwarmer patterns designed to be knit flat which I think is ridiculous. Luckily, most of her hat patterns are designed to be knit in the round which is probably why I’ve knit a lot of those.

Knits from an English Rose

Now, I’ll talk about what I love. Louise Harding has an amazing sense of color and of drama. She also creates a lot of scarf patterns which are not so easy to find these days with everyone loving cowls and shawls so much. I prefer scarves partly because they are more vintage as compared to the modern cowl trend. I find scarves easier to wear — I can twist them tight around my neck to brace myself against the cold and then either drape it loosely around my shoulders or neck when indoors.  Scarves can be tied, wrapped or draped with a lot more ease for me than cowls. That’s just my personal preference.

Knits from an English Rose

There are several capelet/wraps in Knits from an English Rose that I think are beautiful. The Lulu Lacy Capelet actually has sleeves which is quite lovely and whimsical.

Knits from an English Rose

Louisa designs a lot of berets. I love berets. Berets are good. Louisa also tends to design berets with a deep band which I find very attractive. There are two berets in English Rose that I’d knit in a heartbeat, Faye Ruby Beret and the Bette Bow Beret.

Knits from an English Rose

Knits from an English Rose

Louisa add lots of embellishments to her patterns like knitted flowers, knitted bows, buttons and ribbons and I’ve found that if I take the time to add these embellishments, the finished pieces are always worth the extra effort. I suspect the same will hold true for the patterns in English Rose.

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Book Review: Sweater Girls

Sweater Girls Book

I was so excited to finally be able to purchase Sweater Girls by Madeline Weston and Rita Taylor. The book had previously only been available in the UK (under a different title) so I had to wait about a year since seeing initial photos to be able to purchase it domestically.

Sweater Girls updates vintage patterns with modern yarns and needle sizing and features over a dozen sweater, cardigan and twin-set patterns. The last chapter of the book includes a few accessories like a shawl pattern, knit stockings and a hat.

Sweater Girls Book

I have to admit that the feature photos for a lot of the patterns are the sweaters hung on a hanger which never shows anything in the best light. I’d much preferred if the front and back photo of each sweater had been on a model to get a better understanding of the proper fit. Many vintage patterns feature a nipped-in ribbed waist and then a blousier fit through the bodice. That sort of detail is difficult to glean from a sweater on a hanger. While most patterns included a photo of the sweater on a model, it seems a waste to have the other photo be the shapeless hanger image. Not that the photos are pretty to look at and beautifully styled, but as a pattern book, I’d prefer that they include schematic drawings with measurements instead.

Sweater Girls Book

The Hedy Tyrolean-Pattern Cardigan is one of my absolute favorite patterns in the book especially after I saw the version that Tasha from By Gum By Golly made. What a fabulous vintage design! She made hers from Knit Picks Palette so I think I’ll try to use the same yarn, just in a different colorway.

Sweater Girls Book

The sweater pictured above, The Wallis Pleated Caridgan, has very interesting shaping but appears to be too big for the model. I’ve seen similarly mis-sized sweaters in other modern conversions of vintage knitting patterns that are a result of upsizing for modern proportions or misinterpreting the yarn requirement for the pattern. This pattern in particular makes me wish that small images from the original patterns had been included to give a different perspective on fit. Maybe the original yarn use for the Wallis Pleated Cardigan was a much lighter weight? Wouldn’t that alter the overall fit and drape?

All in all, this is a very pretty book and I appreciate efforts to modernize vintage patterns to fit a wider variety of sizes and someone taking the time to convert needle sizes and yarn weights to modern standards. I know that it must be an epic undertaking. And for that, I am grateful for the effort.

I look forward to trying several of the patterns included in it despite my misgivings about how some of th photo styling was handled.

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A Head For Trouble

There is a fabulous new knitting book out called Head For Trouble: What To Knit While Catching Crooks, Chasing Clues, and Solving Murders by Julie Turjoman, which is full of Agatha Christie-era hats, cuffs and accessories. There are 20 patterns to choose from and it was a challenge for me to pick just a few to show you.

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Patterns show above are (clockwise from top left): Mercy Cuffs, Maisie Cloche, Georgianna Scarf and Daisy Collar and Cloche.

The Maisie Cloche is a MUST KNIT for me asap. Not just because its named for one of my favorite fictional flapper sleuths but because it is stunning.

Head For Trouble is available now as a download from Ravelry for $19.95 or for purchase as a printed book from Amazon for $20.54 at present.

Turjoman has a previous ebook called A Head For Fashion which features six darling pattern for $14.95 download from Ravelry or they can be individually purchased on Ravelry.

(Thanks to Laura at The Corner of Knit and Tea for the tip! I am now $20 poorer!)

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Teen Angst and Paperback Books

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Sometimes there’s a book that comes along that reminds, with a razor-sharp dagger into my soul, why I love books. Eleanor & Park is one of those books. It may have come into my life 25 years too late but it touches all those spots in my heart I thought had hardened over in the intervening years. They remind me of the furious need I had when I fell in love and painted the whole range of high school hell that colored my youth.

I don’t know that other people will be touched by this story in the same way that I was. But, on these pages, my teenage heart lays bare. Complete with a Smiths soundtrack.

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