Since my first foray into the Ravelry swaps, I've particpated in several others, including the All Things Vintage swap, where I was lucky enough to be paired with someone I consider a maven of vintage knit and crochet– JustCallMeRuby, co-author of the new book A Stitch in Time. The book, a re-publication of the 1972 classic "A Stitch In Time" by Jane Waller (who also co-authored this reprint with Ruby), is a collection of original knitting and crochet patterns from the 1920s through the 1940s, with an overview of the style of each decade and its social context. And, it is beautifully photographed in full color. If there ever was a knitting or crochet book that could be called a "coffee table book," this is it.
To say Ruby spoiled me is an understatement. Among the many items included in her box from across the sea, were several different skeins of yarn. She gifted me with three skeins of a yummy marsh grass colored silk fingering weight yarn called Habu Textiles Kusaki-Zome (I am already working this into a small shawl, attempting for the first time a complicated lace pattern that I hope will showcase the yarn but more later), and a skein of Noro Silk Garden in one of my favorite colorways - black, grey, and brown (yarn calling out to be made into a hat if there ever was one).
But my favorite is a skein of Filatura Di Crosa Superior lace weight cashmere and silk. Cashmere! Silk! The Dark Chocolate Brown color rivals the wonderful dark chocolate bar from Green and Blacks with drops of crunchy gingerbread that also was included in the box. I had never worked with fingering weight yarn, let alone something as fine and soft as this laceweight yarn. The soft (and I mean sooooft) halo of this yarn precludes anything with real texture. And an open mesh would be just so - so - so plain Jane. After scouring my various crochet stitch books (the Harmony Guide to Crocheting, 101 Crochet Stitches, ad nauseum), I think I found the right pattern that will do this yarn justice -- the Janetta Lady's Collar published in Patons & Baldwins' No 20 Specialty Knitting Book* (no worries, this one's crochet). This collar, hand-crocheted in fine Angora, is called a "finishing touch which Paris sponsors for little woollen dresses." Only a pattern published before washing machines became de rigeur in most American and British homes could so blithly dismiss this extremely charming item as "practical from the washability point of view (just squeeze gently in a very light lather, rinse well, pull out to shape and press beneath a cloth, and it will come up like new)." Hmmrmph!
My inspiration to go vintage (other than obvious)? Ruby's handmade Celia scarf in a lovely pinkish red also included in her box. So soft and wearable – it keeps the chill off one’s neck. I hope I am worthy. More later.
* Just a reminder that this pattern was published in Australia, and thus reflects British stitch and hook terminology.