This week I've released two new patterns, both of which I am really pleased with.
These two patterns were originally part of the Red Riding Hood Yarns Winter Yarn Club this year. The themes for the packages were all decades. In each package, the recipient received yarn, pattern, a knitting accessory and a little edible goodie.
I chose the 1960s as my month. I did naturally think I would choose the 70s but to be honest I'm already quite influenced by kids clothes of the 1970s, perhaps as I was born in that era and have fond memories of hand knits growing up, so I didn't really think that would be much of a challenge. And really, my pattern Griffin pretty much perfectly captures the 1970s essence and I didn't think I could improve on that!
I also knew that in designing these garments I wanted to capture what the kids wore in this era. When we think about 60s fashion, the visions that come to mind are very much adult. Very adult in some respects.
Clothing for kids was different then, it was more about serving the purpose rather than following trends. Clothes for kids weren't one-season wonders like they are now for so many kids. Kids really didn't wear mini-me versions of adult clothing. Thank goodness. There were some fashion trends that did transcend the age barrier but they were more things like hem lengths and fabric selection.
Maybe I'm romanticising but I think the difference in kids clothes between now and then also reflects a difference in approaches to childhood. Were kids more carefree and independent then? Were they given more space to roam? Spent more time outdoors? Weren't so dictated by after-school activities? Allowed to just BE children more than they are now? I get that impression, but then as I said maybe I'm just romanticising.
The girl's pattern was the easier of the two to develop an idea for. My older sisters were born in the 60. I remember a professional portrait photo of a little dark haired girl in a sailor dress and her brother in a wee waistcoat, which is where the idea for this sprang from.
The sailor theme was a constant part of children's fashion for a large part of the last century, so even though it isn't specifically 60s; for me, it was. Little girls began dressing in sailor dresses around the 1930s and the trend continued strong right through until the end of the 1960s at least. I have to say, it is a pretty cute trend and it has had some resurgence since then, firstly in the 1980s and I have seen some recent spatterings of its influence.
Another thing I remember from our hand-me down baby clothes (and given I was the third girl you can bet most of my clothes as a baby were hand-me-downs) were the embroidered hemlines of baby clothes from this era. I'm thinking particularly of a pale pink dress with a pleated skirt and embroidery that fluttered through those pleats. There were plenty of other skirts and dresses with such embroidery.
When I decided this dress need something more than a plain hem, along with the modified Old Shale lace I went with, I used the contrast colour as a homage to that embroidery. I really love how it turned out.
The skirt is meant to be mini-length in line with the fashion of the time. I have to admit though, my modern day prudence did see me make the mini-length a fair bit longer than it would have been in the 60s. I still remember dresses in the 70s that really only just covered my bum!
I also deliberately made the sailor jumper flap a bit narrower, to give it a more modern feel. If you prefer it wider, that could definitely be easily achieved by making the neck-ties wider or working some increases into the neck-ties as you move into the flap going over the shoulder.
Isn't jumper flap a weird name? I was sure it would have some fancy official name but it seems not, jumper flap it is. Well, at least that's what all my research turned up.
I have to add that even though we styled these photos with bare legs and arms, Lily hasn't worn this dress in this way since. It looks gorgeous plain and simple like this, but for more practical wear it gets worn over a long sleeved t-shirt.
The boys pattern was definitely more difficult. I resisted the urge for a sailor inspired boys jumper, I thought that would be a bit twee and possibly wouldn't translate to what our kids wear these days. Who knows, but I decided to go for something a bit different.
I looked at loads of photos of kids clothes from the 1960s. The thin vertical stripes kept catching my eye and I decided to go with a simple crew neck jumper with thin stripes on just one side. Hannah from RRHY requested that the boys pattern could also be made as a vest. Experience tells me that many parents aren't that keen on a crew neck vest for their kids, so I changed tack and went for a v-neck cardigan. This cardigan, however, does begin with saddle shoulders which I have found just work fabulously for wee boys.
If you've knit my Griffin pattern you will be familiar with the unusual way I like to construct my saddle shoulders. I don't like having lots of yarn ends to weave in if it's not necessary so my technique is a all-in-one approach, which is quite fun.
The styling for this cardigan is deliberately simple; a classic fit that's finished off with 2x2 rib.
The single stripes are worked using a crochet technique called Surface Slip Stitch. You can work these stripes with leftovers, which I love. The yarn I used was leftovers from the RRHY Winter Yarn Club of 2012 which is pretty cool. if you want to know more about Surface Slip Stitch, there is a simple tutorial for working it here on my website.
This cardigan has gotten loads of wear. In fact, my husband says it is his favourite design of mine. He too loves the simplicity, as it seems do many people. Of the two patterns, this one does seem to have been the most popular which did surprise me. I honestly was worried it was a little plain. But really it has reinforced my ideas about simplicity in designs. I really do like simple clean lines.
Both of these patterns are knit from the top-down and are seamless.
And they are both available for purchase via my Ravelry store.
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Textile artist, knitwear designer and teacher.
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