well, you asked

By request, another treat from The Archers pattern book. Here is the fragrant Caroline Bone / Pemberton / Sterling resplendent in a knitted suit of lemon hue. In this frothy confection, she may well run the risk of being mistaken for one of Ian’s more outlandish Grey Gables deserts. . . and yes – it is floor length! Check out the saucy glimpse of 1980s ankle.

And imagine the never-ending horror of actually knitting it.

Curiously, 1970s and 80s knitting has been preoccupying me this week. The other day, my good friend Matthew sent me a copy of the January 1982 edition of Spare Rib, in which this amazing sweater featured:

I have to say that I love this — not only does it make me nostalgic for a certain kind of politics, its a reminder that knitting has always been associated with feminism, despite some claims about its more recent integration. The pattern is described as “a luknitics exclusive” and it seems that “Luknitics” was a business registered in in Perth in the early ’80s. I am wondering whether any of you know anything about Luknitics or their patterns? I really want to find out more . . .

Also, while on a trip to the butchers in Stockbridge yesterday, I nipped into a charity shop and scored 10 early 1970s copies of Golden Hands Monthly. A few of the craft activities are very much of their time (pasta art? aigh!), but there are lots of diverting, amusing, and indeed inspiring articles and tips, patterns and designs. I was pleased to find that all of the pull-out sewing and embroidery patterns were still intact, and that I actually really liked many of the skirts and dresses. I also found the Golden Hands knitting and crochet patterns so interesting that I’m starting to question my own taste. For example, there is something in me that really likes this crocheted bonnet-with-integrated-ear-muff:

. . . and I am fascinated by this vest:

The pattern also includes proud photographs of the back of the work, with all of the different coloured ends neatly sewn in, and claims the extra effort involved as a sort of victory for thrift: “with no weaving, you save yarn!” A writer for Spare Rib might have seen the costs of this garment rather differently, once the extra hours of labour were factored in. This really seems to be 1970s knitting at its most crazily time consuming. And yet . . . there’s just something really pleasing about all those tiny, different coloured hexagons . . . no . . . I. . .must . . . resist. . . intarsia. . .

Finally, here is an example of domestic time very well-spent — this is our Christmas cake, and that is Tom’s hand feeding it the first of many glasses of whisky. We had our stir-up Saturday yesterday (I believe Jill Archer’s stirring-up is actually today?). Tom uses the recipe in Jane Grigson’s fruit book, with the quantities of everything increased by 25%. I like a nice, big cake. Hope you have had a lovely weekend, too.

26 responses

  1. I’m sharing your 70s/80s knit fascination at the moment. I recently managed to score myself a rather fantastic Golden Hands Bumper Book of 200 patterns, published in 1974 – all for £3. I hope I don’t get too sucked in and start knitting myself a pair of flares!

  2. I once shared flat with a “Golden Hands” subscriber. They were both practical and inspirational, with historic textiles shown in some detail. I’ve thought quite a bit about those “Archers” patterns. One of the challenges for the designer must have been to come up with hand-knitting patterns for character types, such as Caroline, who would not have been seen dead in a hand-knit, hence that concoction.

    • you are absolutely right, there are some marvellous articles about textiles in Golden Hands — I’m finding the combination of practical info and interesting features really inspiring.

  3. I have lots of issues of Golden Hands that my mother gave me years ago – I really loved them – although mine contain a lot of woodwork and lapidary and not a lot of textiles! I remember one article about making a rug by plaiting together old pairs of tights – hideous as it looked, I always wanted to make one..

  4. Stirring up traditionally takes place today – Sunday – because the Collect (prayer) for the day in the liturgy for the Anglican church, as written in the 1662 Book of Common Prayer, beseeches ‘Stir up, O Lord, the wills of thy faithful people that they, plenteously bringing forth the fruit of good works, may of thee be plenteously rewarded’.

  5. These are marvellous! Somewhere in my unfiling system is a whole heap of craft mags from before 1980, inherited from great-aunts and grandmothers. I pored over them obsessively in my early teens. Perhaps I’ll root them out and take another look.

    (By the way, is the graffiti’d phrase widely recognised as the punchline to “My mother made me a homosexual”? I remember my father saying that, but I’ve no idea where it’s from.)

  6. We don’t get the Archers here in Canada, so I was fascinated to read your posts and have enjoyed the comments from readers as well. And I poured over the knitted garments too. I am curious to know were the performers dressed up in these garments for the radio broadcasts, or were the patterns issued as merchandising for the audiences.

  7. I made my cake a couple of weekends ago – I’ve actually made it in October in the past but time got away on me. I don’t feed it much though as the cake stays very moist on its own.

  8. I have a very entertaining copy of ‘witknits’ featuring such 80s stars as Paul Nicholson, Chris Biggins, Matthew Kelly et al sporting voluminous jumpers with various jungle/animal inspired motifs. Love the archers shots.

  9. Oh the memories come flooding back! I remember almost knitting a Peace World jumper at about the time of that feminist one – it had the earth and a peace sign on it and was in chunky wool and I have always regretted not buying the kit at the time… Instead I knitted a rainbow striped one.

  10. Step away from the hat pattern, Kate………..

    I have recently bought a stitchcraft magazine from 1968 – and i really liked the patterns – i think i am losing the plot……….
    L

  11. I love all those vintage knits, all of which one could reasonably imagine making, unlike Caroline’s ruffles and frills. What a vision she is. Thanks for all those hilarious Archers woolly photos, they’re priceless!

  12. Oh my very Lord, will you look at that dress?!

    I particularly like the way it features that special 1980s ‘tights with prominent toe-seam/ open-toe sandal’ combo. So fetching.

    I also think those hexagons would make a very pleasing cushion cover.

  13. All I can say is it’s a good thing you live thousands of miles away, because I want to reach right through this screen and snatch that cake and if you lived close I couldn’t be held responsible for its disappearance. It looks beyond yummy. Off to search out that cookbook!

  14. Oh my, what a magnificent looking cake (Hmmm, whisky fed… it’s going to be so delicious!).
    Your Fugue tam and mittens set is very beautiful too (as are the photos – the londubh, dreich and red colours all looking so magical against the late Autumn landscape)!

  15. The graffiti behind the very butch young woman in her feminist (or is that womanist?) jumper is only the second half of an old graffiti joke that goes: Someone wrote on a wall “My mother made me a lesbian”. Someone else came along and wrote “If I gave her the wool would she make me one too?” Spare Rib readers would have been in on that joke at the time.

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