Vintage Knitting, Retro Dressmaking, Make do and Mend, Original and Vintage Inspired Knitting Patterns, Vintage Inspired books

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Susan Crawford Vintage at The Knitting and Stitching Show

Its already that time of year again and as is fast becoming a tradition, I will be having a stand at The Knitting and Stitching Show in Harrogate, Yorkshire, next week! 

The show is open from Thursday 26th to Sunday 29th November and is at the Harrogate International Conference and Exhibition Centre. 

You will find the Susan Crawford Vintage stand at the back of Hall A, stand number A696. As always we will have a wide range of our yarns, books, kits and patterns available, plus a small selection of preview garments from the Vintage Shetland Project for you to see. There will also be a rail of ex-display/sample garments for sale! These are a variety of sizes and designs and all one of a kind. Come and have a look!

As an Autumn treat to brighten your day, we are offering a 10% discount at the show for all newsletter subscribers. If you're not already a subscriber you can join by following the sign up link on my website.

It will be wonderful to meet friends old and new at the Show so please do drop by to say hello!
For now,
Susan xx

Saturday, November 21, 2015

My Shetland Adventure Continues

The last few weeks have been incredibly busy.  I’ve recently returned from a trip to Shetland and the beautiful island of Vaila, where I was working on further research and photoshoots for the Vintage Shetland Project book.

Arriving on Shetland - copyright Jeni Reid 2015

We had originally intended to stay a week, but this turned into just short of two, as gale force winds and high seas whipped up around Vaila preventing our departure. Our wonderful hosts, plentiful food and a huge amount of work to do meant our extended stay was in no way a hardship or a waste of time!

The stormy seas around Vaila
The limited hours of daylight at 60 degrees north latitude, caused a few challenges during the photoshoots.  However, the beautiful images captured on the visit were worth the horizontal rain and gale force winds.

Copyright Jeni Reid 2015
Here I am being held upright by the wind as we walked to the extreme western edge of the island for a very special view. Hidden inside her parka, is my daughter Charlie, who, along with her chap, Denis, accompanied us to Vaila. Charlie in her role as moving picture Director and Camera-Woman filmed behind the scenes, the photoshoot, and the incredible island of Vaila itself. This stunning footage will be edited together into a short film revealing a unique glimpse of our time on Vaila. Look out for further information of when the film will be available to view.

Denis was also with us for a very good reason, agreeing to be the primary male model in the book. Here he is somehow managing to look completely relaxed whilst surrounded by cameras. You may be aware of an additional photographer behind me in this shot and this is Jeni Reid, who took some amazing 'backstage' photos of the trip which will help decorate the book. 

Two days were also spent at the Shetland Museum Archive, where we set up a temporary studio to photograph each of the original museum pieces which are in the book. This was something I desperately wanted to be able to include in the book and thanks to the Crowd Funding campaign I have been able to do so.

Copyright Jeni Reid 2015
Exciting new research has revealed some crucial new stories and developments, which were previously unknown to me, but which are pivotal to the Vintage Shetland Project story and the completeness of the study as a whole. Whilst at the Museum, an additional garment came to light - the missing jigsaw piece in a way - that brings everything together and completes the collection. I felt it essential to include these new details. So this piece is now already being knitted and will be part of the final photoshoot.
This extra research, knitting and pattern writing is obviously going to take up more time so I have had to move the date of release to the Crowdfunders. All Crowdfunding books will still be sent out first with other pre-orders being sent out shortly afterwards. However for Crowdfunders this does mean that their books won't be despatched until early in 2016. If you are a Crowdfunder you should have been receiving regular newsletters about progress including one earlier this week telling you about this. If you've not been receiving your newsletters please check your spam box for emails from If there's nothing there either please let us know by contacting 

You can also sign up for my regular newsletter by following the sign up link on my website. And don't forget you can still pre-order your very own copy of The Vintage Shetland Project here.
More news very soon, but

For now,
Susan xx

All images copyright Susan Crawford unless otherwise stated. Images not to be used without the written permission of the copyright holder.

Tuesday, November 03, 2015

A Glimpse Inside The Vintage Shetland Project

As many of you know, I'm currently working hard on bringing together my research, patterns, photography and history for The Vintage Shetland Project

This very special book is based on garments held in the collection at the Shetland Archives.  I've selected a number of items from the collection and have meticulously charted and recorded stitch counts and patterns, to enable me to recreate them and from this information create multi-sized knitting patterns.  My choice of pieces has not only been based on beauty, but also on the stories which they have each revealed. From the Suffragette Movement to WWII, prize winning knits to highly experimental work the book is proving to be incredibly rewarding and fascinating work. 

I've recently held a photoshoot for the book, on the island of Vaila which is off the West coast of Shetland and surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean.  It is a truly awe-inspiring and majestic location - but more of that later, first let me introduce you to some of the patterns that will be in the book and also give you a peek at some behind-the-scenes photos.

Here is my beautiful model, Ria, knocking at the door of Vaila Hall whilst wearing these beautiful pair of gloves featuring a Norwegian flower motif and knitted in organic Shetland wool produced from the sheep of Vaila.

Here I am hard at work, photographing Ria in the gardens of Vaila Hall. She is also wearing a stunning Aquascutum coat from the 1950s.

Here's a detailed shot of the mittens. Typically of the late 1940s/early 50s these mittens have extra long cuffs to ensure the gap between coat and hand is protected. These mittens are knitted in Jamieson & Smith 2ply jumper weight wool.

One of my absolute favourites is this amazing and highly unusual sleeveless pullover whose pattern and colours echo the rugged landscape and coast of Vaila. If you look to the horizon you can just see the island of Foula in the far distance.

The Vintage Shetland Project featuring 26 patterns, essays and histories is available for pre-order for only £25 (plus p&p). 

You can pre-order your copy here 

Please note that despatch will commence in early 2016.

The island of Vaila is a very special place, owned by Richard Rowland and his wife Dorota, accessible only by boat and home to Shetland sheep, ponies, seals and many, many sea birds.  Richard describes Vaila as a microcosm of all that is Shetland - incredible scenery, nature, space and peace.  I'm so very fortunate to be able to use the island as the backdrop for my book.

When you arrive on Vaila you feel you have stepped into a fairy tale - after all how many places do you know that has a watchtower at the bottom of the garden!

And so, my thoughts are turning to the next photoshoot for the book.  I'm now on my way back up to Shetland and then to Vaila.  I'm excited to see how the landscape has changed since I was there a few weeks ago and also very excited to see the newly prepared pieces in this stunning location!  Look out for more behind the scenes photos and shots of beautiful Vaila on my Instagram feed in the next few days.

For now,
Susan xx

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Diamonds Are Forever and It Cannot Fail to Please Released as Single Patterns

I'm really pleased to announce that, due to demand, I have released Diamonds Are Forever and It Cannot Fail to Please as single PDF patterns.

Diamonds are Forever is knitted in the round from the bottom up and features a stunning yoke knitted in an extra-special Excelana 4ply wool limited shade of Deepest Charcoal, to work alongside Persian Grey. The yoke also features Saharan Sand and Sweet Chestnut reflecting the amazing range of natural colours found in the fleeces of our Shetland and Icelandic sheep.  

Gentle waist shaping with 1.5 inches of positive ease, creates a flattering yet tailored fit.  This design is reminiscent of early 1960s knitwear designs which focussed on what was considered at the time, a woman's more 'active' role in the working world.  It also reminds me of the sweaters which Bond Girls from the 1960s wore, (hence the name) and the way that women reflected the changing times with their wardrobe and didn't compromise on design.
This beautiful colourway will be available to order as a very limited edition kit from mid-November. More details will be announced once the kits are ready. 

You can buy the PDF pattern from the Susan Crawford shop on Ravelry here (You do not need to be a member of Ravelry to make a purchase from the site).

The PDF pattern costs £5 (however, please see the bottom of this blog for a very special offer).

You can also purchase or take a look at all the possible colour combinations of Excelana 4ply in our shop here.

Materials required:
Excelana 4ply (100% pure British wool - 159m/174yds per 50g ball)
7 (9, 9, 12, 12, 14, 14) balls, shade Alabaster - A
1 ball, shade Saharan Sand - B
1 ball, shade Sweet Chestnut - C
1 ball, shade Persian Grey - D
1 ball, shade Deepest Charcoal - E

Needles and Notions needed:
One 2.75mm (US #2) circular needle
A set of 2.75mm (US #2) double pointed needles (DPNs)
One 3.25mm (US #3) circular needle
A set of 3.25mm (US #3) DPNs
Stitch markers
Stitch holders

The second freshly released pattern, It Cannot Fail to Please, is a beautiful form-fitting pullover, featuring an all-over lace design, which has 4-6 inches of negative ease to really show off the lace detail.  It is knitted flat, in pieces, which are seamed together.  The lace pattern is incredibly easy to knit and there is only shaping at the armholes and sleeve heads.

Some of you may well know this show stopping sweater from A Stitch in Time volume 1 where it has remained one of the most knitted patterns since the book first came out in 2008! These newly released photographs show the design knitted in our own Excelana 4ply wool in the gorgeous Damson Wine shade.

I'm also pleased to say that I've spent time re-writing this pattern, extending it to include both written and charted instructions, plus additional sizes.  I do hope you enjoy it!

You can buy the PDF pattern from the Susan Crawford shop on Ravelry here (You do not need to be a member of Ravelry to make a purchase from the site).

The PDF pattern costs £5 (however, please see the bottom of this blog for a very special offer).

You can also purchase or take a look at all the possible colour options of Excelana 4ply in our shop here.

Materials required:
Excelana 4ply (100% pure British wool - 159m/174yds per 50g)
5 (6, 6, 7, 7, 8) balls, shade Damson Wine

Needles and Notions Needed:
1 pair 2.25mm (US #1) needles
1 pair 3.25mm (US #3) needles
Stitch holder

To celebrate the release of these gorgeous patterns, you can purchase them at 50% off the normal price until midnight on the 1st of November (GMT).  Simply use the following code when proceeding through the Ravelry checkout - GULLIVER 

Now, I can hear you all asking, what has Gulliver got to do with anything?!  Well, Gulliver is our new Shetland Ram!  With the invaluable help of The Shetland Sheep Society, we got in touch with a wonderful local breeder who was looking for a new home for one of their favourite rams, Gulliver.  Last week, we made the short trip to South Lakeland in Cumbria, to pick up 'Gully' and bring him home to Monkley Ghyll. He's now settled in and waiting

to meet our Shetland ewes on the 5th of November, which is traditionally the date when Shetland rams (or tups), are introduced to the flock. Gulliver has 'Smirslet' marking which intriguingly features back white legs. His fleece is also the less common light fawn which I can't wait to turn into yarn! By putting him in with the ewes on the 5th this ensures that lambs will be born five months later, in April, as the days are starting to get longer again and the weather kinder.  And so, with romance about to blossom on the farm, I shall sign off.

For now,

Susan xx

Images Copyright Susan Crawford 2015. Images not to be reproduced without the permission of the copyright holder.

Friday, October 23, 2015

Temporary Suspension of Pattern Support

As you all know, I am currently in the midst of preparations for the publishing of the Vintage Shetland Project book.
I simply have such a huge workload at the moment, that it is with much reluctance I have had to decide to make some temporary changes. This is to ensure that I have enough time to finish the Project by the deadlines needed. 
So, with this in mind, I have decided to temporarily suspend pattern support until the beginning of the New Year (2016). 
It’s not been an easy decision to make, however, if you visit the Stitch in Time Susan Crawford Vintage Designs group on Ravelry I am sure there are many fabulous members who will be very happy to help with support whilst I am unavailable. 

I hope you all understand and thank you all again for your continued support. 

For now, 
Susan xx

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Can you help me with some research?

I'm currently working away on the research for the Vintage Shetland Project and I wondered if you, dear reader, could help me with some of that research. One of the most striking of the garments in the Project is the 'Rose Cardigan' featuring a repeating flower/rose motif. This type of flower motif, usually accompanied by stem and foliage, seem to have been popular for a relatively short length of time in the late 1940s-early 1950s and I'm ploughing through my pattern archive trying to find as many examples of this type of motif as I can to date their arrival and demise.

Trimmed with Roses from A Stitch in Time Volume 2 is another example of these motifs, only the motif is bigger and uses a combination of stranded and  intarsia techniques to create it.

So how can you help? Do you have a vintage pattern or pattern book archive - particularly containing patterns published in the UK? I'm only looking for flower motifs from before the 1960s, I don't need any 1970s or 1980s examples. If so, could I ask you to take a flick through your patterns and see if you can find any examples of flower/rose motifs of this type. If you do find any could you scan the cover image, an image of the garment if different from the cover and the chart/instruction for the flower - I don't need the pattern otherwise, just the motif. If there are any other date references these would be very useful too. Please then email the information to

To say thank you let me know in your email any single PDF pattern of mine available on my ravelry pattern page you would like and I will send it to you via ravelry free of charge.

for now,
Susan xx

Friday, October 02, 2015

Yarndale Success!

What a whirlwind Yarndale was this year!  As some of you may know, Yarndale is a yearly yarn festival taking place at Skipton Auction Mart in North Yorkshire, England.  It took place last weekend, the 26 -27 September.  As I’ve mentioned in a previous update of my blog, we decided to try a different layout for our stand this year.  One which gave a preview of the Vintage Shetland Project.

What wonderful feedback and interest we received!  We had three of the garments from the Project on display for people to examine and lust over, with a preview brochure for you to take home.  Plus we also had a ‘squishing rail’ of hanks of our lovely Fenella yarn with shade cards available.  My colleagues Tracy, Jo and Tess were also on hand to answer any questions, take pre-orders of the Vintage Shetland Project book and orders for all our yarns and kits.  We were overwhelmed by the response to the garments and the interest in the book.

Included in this post are photos taken by one of our fantastic customers, at the Yarndale show.

Here you can see the Beaded Yoke Sweater knitted in Limoncello from our Fenella yarn range and also a beautiful cardigan which is knitted in six shades of Jameson & Smith 2ply jumper weight.  This particular garment is one which I’m also displaying at my mini trunk show during Shetland Wool Week.  Here’s some more photos showing some of the detail on this very wearable cardigan.

My colleague Tracy’s, favourite garment was also on display.  This beautiful slipover is knitted using 5 shades of Jameson & Smith 2ply jumper weight and is such a timeless piece.

I know she is itching to start knitting it for herself!

It was such a pleasure to be able to share these garments with you at the show and to receive such positive and supportive feedback.  Thank you to you all.

For now,

Susan xx