Monday, 26 January 2015

Thank you Secret Santa

I am a bit tardy with this one but better late then never! I kept forgetting that if you don't take photos in the morning at present then it is too dark by the time you remember later in the day. Add to that some very grey rainy days with no decent light at all and you get to this point - a late thank you.

Towards the end of last year Jessica from the marvellous blog Chronically Vintage had the genius idea to organise a vintage themed Secret Santa. It must have been a feat of organising to pull off but she did it and everyone who wished to participate was both given a Secret Santa and became one. People could give links to any social media sites that they are active on and write a short profile about themselves to help generate present ideas. I really enjoyed shopping for the presents to send to the person that I was allocated and I was very excited indeed when a parcel for me arrived in the post.

It was beautifully wrapped and was this is what was inside:



Such a pretty, sparkly brooch. A bunch of flowers tied with a bow. As I wear a brooch everyday I am always really pleased to add to my collection and it will go with everything.


Carefully sandwiched between two thick pieces of cardboard were these two knitting pull out booklets from some 1950's Women's Illustrated magazines. I thought it would be nice to have a further look at some of the great patterns that they contain. So much possible future knitting goodness!


A slim fitting jumper with a pretty beaded neckline.


A high necked jumper with unusual bands of cables up the sides.


A twinset with bands of mock smocking. I really like it when patterns tell you which colours were used originally and this one also gives us an idea of how much making the items would cost.


An amazing spotty jacket which looks like it might be a pain to knit - but worth it!


A ribbed dress with a large collar and elbow length sleeves.


This is a pretty, fitted jumper with its yoke detail and unusual collar.


A lace pattern fitted V neck jumper.


Another lovely twinset with a stitch pattern that looks like peacock feathers. This is gorgeous.


A very jolly stripy cardigan. I like the variation in the width of the stripes.

So thank you very much to my Secret Santa for such a fabulous present.

Wednesday, 31 December 2014

Alnwick Castle - or should that be Brancaster?




A couple of months ago I had a few days in Northumberland with my husband to celebrate our wedding anniversary. On one of the days we visited the spectacular Alnwick Castle which had been on my places to visit list for a long time. It was worth the wait.



Alnwick has been the home of the Percy family for the past 700 years! There is so much to see and do on top of just wandering around the castle grounds and enjoying the scenery. There is a museum about the history of the castle, an exhibition on the role of the people from the castle in the First World War and the Northumberland Fusiliers museum. The castle was used as a set for some of the scenes in the Harry Potter films and there is a dragon quest and broomstick flying lessons for children.



The Duke and Duchess of Northumberland still live here, using the State Rooms which are open to the public when they are not using them. The State Rooms are located in the building in the above two photos. Sadly, photography is not allowed in the rooms which is a shame as they are sumptuous. I did find this one of the dining room on the castle website. Imagine eating a meal in there!

State Rooms
As you may know, Alnwick was used as a location for the Downton Abbey Christmas special, and many of the State Rooms were featured as the interiors of Brancaster Castle. I love Downton and it was extra special to see it set somewhere that I had visited. It was filmed there for two weeks over the summer.

Christmas Downton Abbey
The programme was set in autumn 1924 and the family were invited to go grouse shooting at Brancaster Castle (Alnwick), an estate that Lord Sinderby (Rose's father in law) had rented. The interior scenes at Brancaster were filmed in the State Rooms of Alnwick and the grouse shooting scenes were filmed on the castle estate. I won't talk about the plot as I don't want to spoil it for anyone but you really must watch it!

Visitors to the castle in 2015 will be Downton Abbey exhibition which will feature props, photography and costumes from the programme. Costumes?! I might have to go! It may put me on until a new series starts!

You can find more Downton Abbey pictures on my Pinterest board.





Happy New Year everyone.


Friday, 14 November 2014

Grafton fashion fabrics


A couple of weeks ago at knitting club my lovely friend rummaged in her knitting bag and produced this leaflet for me. It was such a great find on her part and kind of her to give it to me. It is a concertina folded leaflet showing a range of Grafton fashion fabrics, made up in the styles of the day.

Grafton Somakan - a 'soft, gleaming acetate rayon that
looks and feels like fine silk crepe'.
I love this dress, that back detail is so interesting and the fabric is pretty. I wish it was in colour!

Grafton Range 3 - 'gay separates for leisure wear,
 with the emphasis on leisure! Cotton skirt print.'
Fabulous daisy and stripe print skirt.

Grafton Range 16 - 'casual sophistication is the theme of
this distinctive stripe design in rich, glowing colours.
screen printed poplin.
Mind out for the cacti! This photos wins one of random use of props awards.

Grafton Range 19 - 'for elegant town wear, a geometric one
colour design styled in a high necked dress with three
quarter sleeves and a detachable over skirt.
I also want this one. It is so elegant.

Grafton Barcarolle - 'novelty basket weave 'Minimiron'
cotton  in many plain colours, guaranteed fast'.
I very much like the structure and shaping of this dress and the fabric sounds interesting. Minimiron sounds great to me!

Grafton Range 9 - 'luxurious Caple screen printed cotton
satin. The superb two tone design of huge poppies on a
white background is a bewitching choice for evening wear
and the fabric's soft draping quality is shown to
perfection in this specially designed dress with deeply
swathed skirt.'
Gorgeous and bewitching no less!

Grafton Range 2 - 'beguiling young dress with the cool
look of summer enchantment. Range 2 cotton in a print
of delicate shaded flower heads against a darker trellis
of leaves on white ground'.
Beguiling and enchanting?! You can't go wrong in one of these.

Grafton Range 5 - 'charming 'young miss' dress with
trimmed cross-over back and big patch pockets. Any little
girl would be enchanted with the nautical design of brightly
coloured fishes and mothers will like the hard wearing
 cotton.'
Big pockets and brightly coloured fishes?! I will take one.

F.W.Grafton & Co Ltd were based at 65 Oxford Street in Manchester and was first started as a calico printing business at different premises in 1856. They then expanded into other fabric types. I have struggled to find out much about the company but I have found examples of their furnishing fabrics here and here.


An outfit for an autumn day revisited

On Wednesday I got home to find that a parcel had arrived for me. I wasn't expecting anything so I was very excited to see what was inside this mysterious package. I was overjoyed with what I found.


The parcel was from my auntie who had read my previous post and had hada rummage around which came up with this photo of my grandma in the coat that I now have! I am so very pleased to have this. It is great to see her wearing it. It made me smile to see her feeding the ducks as she was always feeding ducks, garden birds, hedgehogs etc.



My auntie also included two scarves of my grandmas, both of which would go marvellously well with the green coat. They are both well worn and I am very pleased to have these further physical links to my grandma.

This scarf is particularly autumnal with that gorgeous array of coloured leaves and the conkers in each corner. I am pleased that it contains orange and purple as it will go well with my hat and mittens that I wore in the previous post. The colours are more vibrant in real life. It has been raining here the past couple of days and the light has not been brilliant for photos but I didn't want to wait any longer to post this. Excuse the creases. I hate ironing!



This is the second scarf which is a beautiful midnight blue with lovely golden roses scattered over it. Again it will go really well with the green coat and several other outfits in my wardrobe.

I wanted to share these to further tell the story of my grandma's coat and it has made me very happy to have these pieces of hers to take care off. Many thanks to my auntie for kindly giving them to me.

Sunday, 9 November 2014

An outfit for an autumn day


It was a beautiful autumnal day today. Sunny with a nip in the air, a bit damp after rain, glorious colours, fallen leaves to swish in and the smell of woodsmoke. I wanted to reflect the colours that I saw around me in my outfit and thought that using nature as my palette should hopefully work out pretty well. I recently completed some knitting projects, in fact, I stitched one piece up this morning so I wanted to give them their first outing too.


I started with my coat which is a gorgeous shade of green and lovely and warm as it is made of wool. It was my grandmas and I am very pleased to be able to wear it. I am hoping to be able to find a photograph of her wearing it. You can see Grandma in a rather amazing coat in my header photograph, she is on the right. I wish I had that particular coat, look at the glorious collar and buttons!


My scarf is a perfect autumn accessory as it is a leaf print in shades of red, orange, green and cream. I gave a little squeal of joy when I found it in a box of scarves in a charity shop. My fabulous poppy brooch, apt as it is Remembrance Sunday, is from the wonderful 1940's style for you.


I do love a clasp top bag, they are my favourite as they remind me of my grandma. I can picture her walking around the town with hers in the crook of her arm, bustling through the crowds. I can also picture her opening it up in the passenger seat of my granddad's Triumph Herald to dish out humbugs to those of us sat in the back. This lovely brown bag was one of hers and I treasure it. It is showing quite a bit of wear which I don't mind as it means that it was well used and loved but I daren't use it all the time as I don't want to wear it out more.




It was my second mitten that I was busy stitching up this morning. I fell for the burnt orange yarn and thought it would be perfect for some autumnal mittens. The pattern is a 1940's one, I think the cabled cuff is a really lovely bit of detail. They are very comfy and marvellously cheery which can be important at this time of year. I am putting a couple of pairs into my Etsy shop in the next day or so.



My new hat is so cosy and warm! I knitted it from a late 1950's pattern; it is a lampshade shape. I do like the ribbon trim, it is so smart. I did enlist my mum there as I wasn't happy with where I had sewn it on and couldn't face altering it so Mum kindly unpicked it and sewed it on again. I really like to see purple and green together so I felt happy pairing it up with my coat.


I am looking forward to more outings in my autumnal outfit.