How about a little Christmas knitting…

As it’s the beginning of September, and as I’ve been clearing odds and ends from my stash (many of which are being transformed into a Colinette-type throw, why I bought enough mohair to refill Cardigan Bay I do not know, I don’t even like it), I was looking for patterns with which to enliven the existence of my friends and family.  And I found some.

no. no.

Perhaps a cowl or two? These are fetchingly described as ‘wind cheaters’ and, yes, he is wearing one too. What you can’t quite make out on this shot – it’s difficult enough on the original – is that the white fringed job that Mrs Stepford is wearing has fringes on both ends, so you fold it over to give a second attractive line of fringing half-way down. Plus, of course, it gives the appearance of really pronounced musculature in the shoulder area, as though Mrs S had either been spending time with Arnie in the gym, was about to go ‘arrrrghhhh’ and burst out of her clothes as some sort of middle-class Incredible Hulk, or had developed a strange disease. She’s also clearly spaced, but then knitting pattern models from the 50s and early 60s often are. Quite what this says about the modelling scene in about 1961 I hate to think. And there I was, thinking the 1970s were the times of true excess. Clearly not.

I rest my case:


What is in the cigarette that the chap – definitely the right word – in the ‘evening scarf’ is holding? (‘A’ for ‘A twit’?) Something tells me I won’t be knitting any of these for my brother.

Nor will I be knitting these, but only because he doesn’t play golf, of course.

golf gordon bennett

Otherwise I’d be seriously tempted.

Can you imagine the reaction you would get, appearing on the golf course with these? ‘I say, old boy, you’ve got something rather strange on your golf clubs, you know’. ‘Ah yes, I’m afraid Gwladys has been busy again…’. ‘You want to give her some of these, old man. [Hands over tablets] Keeps my Winifred’s needlepoint under control.’

And let’s not get onto the subject of Uncle Bill, who is clearly the sort of uncle who is not mentioned at the dinner table, but who appears every so often when his on-course betting business goes astray, seduces the housemaid and then disappears for another twelve months, possibly with the silver-backed hairbrushes from Mother’s dressing table:


I mean, he’s even nicked Father’s pipe.

All I can say about the final one is please don’t:


Judging by the caption, the writer suspected that reaction: ‘I can see quite a lot of you blanching with horror at the thought of a knitted tie, but this one will break down all your prejudice’. No, it won’t. And what the heck is ‘wool string’?  But oh for the days when chaps wore ‘week-end tweeds’ rather than crappy jeans and a nasty band T-shirt that has seen better days. Maybe I should knit one after all, as encouragement?

Pass me those dodgy cigarettes, I’m heading back into the stash…


26 thoughts on “How about a little Christmas knitting…

  1. Ellie

    These are slightly scary! I bet they were totally fashionable once (not sure when!). Call me weird, but I love the Shetland pattern mittens (as a sufferer from VERY cold hands most of the time, these would be useful and beautiful).
    Your commentary made me laugh!
    Best wishes

  2. knitsofacto

    My mother actually knitted me two of those neck warming monstrosities, of the chaps variety, to wear under my riding jacket in the very depths of winter. They were de rigueur at my riding club on frosty mornings, and that was the 1970s! But I always felt like a complete twit in them.

    And I had an Uncle Bill, well a great uncle to be precise, and yes, he really was the black sheep of the family. I think he ran off with the woman he bought his kippers from in Mac Fisheries in the end! Or more probably staggered off … they weren’t young!

    This post is like therapy!

    1. kate Post author

      Hee hee hee…

      D’you know, I knew I’d seen those ‘wind cheater’ things somewhere! I wasn’t into riding – I was ballet instead – but my best friend was. I’m sure she had a yellow one. Horrific…

      I did wonder about the Uncle Bill thing being associated with the name, as most of the Williams, Wills, Wils and Guillaumes I’ve known seem to have been, ahem, let’s say ‘dashing’! However, my childhood Uncle Bill was adopted rather than real, but he always seemed quite a nice chap (looking back, I’m sure he was gay). He would never, ever have been seen in such a cardigan. Let alone the hat.

    1. kate Post author

      It could be quite nice, I suppose, depending – but I’m still not sure why you’d want to combine angora with something called wool string. I suppose it would give it body and stop it wearing too much, but it sounds sooo unattractive.

  3. Meghan

    When I started knitting in the 80s my instructor had several WW II era patterns. Your cowls were known as dickies. You could knit a turtleneck dickie and put it under a v neck sweater, viola fake turtleneck sweater. My mother actually knit one for my father, he is perpetually cold. I never did knit a tie. My husband did admit to wearing one in his early 20s. Crazy days. Where’s Michael J Fox? I’d love to go back in time there for a weekend. Back to when I was 100 pounds and nothing hurt. Now I’m all wistful. Thanks for the flashback.

    1. kate Post author

      I think in some circumstances – such as fighting the Battle of the Atlantic – those dickie things (thanks for that, didn’t know) would be quite useful!

      My Dad had some knitted ties but they were manufactured in a silky sort of stuff and were very trendy for a while, especially among academic staff in red-brick universities. I seem to remember one being maroon and another in a sort of old gold colour. They went with cord jackets (blench) and earnest discussions about the bomb, structuralism and – in the case of my Dad – obscure aspects of maths and physics. Scary. I’m not sure I’d want to go back!

  4. Lydia

    Mmmm, should I knit some fairisle cosies for my son’s golf clubs? Would that brighten up that corner of the room? My mother knitted lots of the neck cowls, she thought they were just wonderful and she needed them as the old house was so draughty and cold. I did keep a couple but I seem to have lost them after all these years. You have just reminded me of them. They had a fringe too. I loved reading your post today, made me smile with my breakfast cup of tea……

    1. kate Post author

      Yes! My work here is done! (Someone has to knit those things, hee hee hee..)

      I seem to have uncovered a whole universe of next cowl/dickie/wind cheater wearers… Who knew?

  5. Judith

    I find the vaguely organic hairiness of that tie deeply unsettling. Like it has the capacity to shuffle across the bedroom floor in the night and throttle him.

    1. kate Post author

      I still think the golf-club cosies (there could be a series of pattern books in them, perhaps?) take a lot of beating. They’ve got tassels.

      (THough the monogrammed scarf is extraordinary…)

      1. stitchknit

        Your post caused me to take a look through my vintage collection! Such a mix…. Some hilariously funny, not so much the knitting as the poses and the situations the photos were taken in. And, then some absolutely classic, stunning patterns that would fit in today. Makes you wonder what people will think of our current mix of knitting/crocheting?

        1. kate Post author

          Well, I started knitting in the late 1980s and I’ve got some absolute horrors, which I remember thinking were very fashionable indeed… though thankfully I didn’t get round to knitting anything with intarsia kittens on it or gigantic shoulder pads, so my Guardian Style Angel must have been looking over my shoulder. I do wonder…

        2. stitchknit

          I started knitting decades ago, but started buying patterns in the 60’s. There are some seriously dreadful items included. Some of my moms books/patterns from the 40’s have timeless, gorgeous designs in them. I hope for time someday, to make up at least 1 vintage pattern.

        3. kate Post author

          Those forties patterns are gorgeous, aren’t they? I’ve managed to get hold of a few, but not many – and I missed a whole box that came up at a local auction – didn’t know they were there, and the box went for £1, bought by the husband of someone who has used them as wallpaper in her chi-chi guesthouse!!!! Sob!

        4. stitchknit

          Oh no…..that was sad! Last estate sale I was at, I was buying boxes of yarn for .50c ..filled the van & asked to come back for another load. They said No, they were done for the weekend & taking the rest to the dump. Must have been 4-5 more truckloads of yarn I couldn’t take. Didn’t know whether to be mad or cry.

        5. kate Post author

          OMG – that’s terrible!

          A local charity shop for a cancer hospice had a whole load of high-quality yarn in – Rowan, Sublime, etc – which must have been somebody’s stash. One of the members of our knitting group discovered this and spread the word; we’d cleared it within a few days. The women in the shop had no idea how to price this bounty, so it was ridiculously cheap. I know that several of us made donations as well. At least this anonymous knitter’s stash is being loved and appreciated and – more to the point – knitted up. Dumping yarn is just criminal!

    1. kate Post author

      You do wonder, really, whether in 40 years’ time people will be cackling over the Rowan magazine in the same way. Hm. I do that sometimes now…

      1. croftgarden

        Playing the “do you remember game” is one of the fun parts of a long life. I’m certain swing cardigans and asymmetric jumpers will all go the way of fluffy knitted ties!

        1. kate Post author

          I’m sure you’re right – they’re so impractical that they have to go. Fluffy knitted ties at least had a purpose…

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.