This weekend I found myself casting on for some selfish knitting and, more unexpectedly, visiting the London Sewing Machine Museum, which was an absolute delight.
The museum is one of those hiding in plain sight. It is attached and adjacent to my local haberdashery store, where I also bought some soft muslin to line my Chantilly dresses to-be. Before I’d picked anything up, one of the ladies in the shop informed us that the museum was open, and that we should visit. “You’d never know you were in Tooting,” she said – and she was right!
Not that Tooting doesn’t have its charms; it is just that the Sewing Museum is also the kind of museum that’s packed to the rafters with so much information and antique models. It is relatively small, but the feeling is like that of the Soane Museum, Pollock’s Toy Museum, or anything that contains a collection of beautiful things that have been much loved, used and cherished. The sensation of escapism immediately takes over – there is absolutely nothing to remind you of the 21st century world outside. My eyes couldn’t help but drink everything in – here are a few of my favourite exhibits:
There is no museum shop, unless you count the haberdashery store next door! Also on display are some lovely vintage outfits and a Vogue catalogue from the 1960s, including some of the patterns featured therein. As you might guess, the patterns were yellowed and very delicate to handle, but that just made them all the more marvellous – especially amongst the many treasures of the museum. And if anyone reading this does visit, Merton Abbey Mills is a few stops away on the Northern line, so you can make it a lovely day of arts, crafts and textile history!
The last thing to share with you is my first personal knitting project for…well, a few months now. My copy of Kim Hargreaves’ Honey landed on my doormat a fortnight or so ago (I’m a big fan girl and normally buy her books within about 24 hours of release…no, I can’t help it and I’m not going to try either), and I have been mulling over the patterns. The collection is a wonderful example of how brilliant Kim Hargreaves is at texture and not making hard work of knitting projects. There is always enough to keep you interested and get you into a relaxing rhythm as you knit; plain rows to give you a rest, patterned rows to keep you on your toes. Beautifully balanced.
I decided that my first project would be the Jacqueline cardigan, in Rowan All Seasons Cotton. I have had 15 balls of Jazz, a fresh aqua, stashed for some years now, waiting patiently for a purpose – and this cardigan is it. I am a ball or so short of the required amount, but have planned a few tweaks to the pattern to make sure that I don’t run out of yarn (see my Ravelry for details if you’re interested; I’ll post as I go along). It is a discontinued colourway, so I need to make sure that I don’t come up short. Here’s the back so far – I cast on last Saturday 3rd:
So far, so happy. A big cosy cardigan is one of my favourite things in the world. A girl can never have too many cardigans. One day, I’ll make that phrase up in cross stitch 🙂