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Mostly Knitting Blog

Want to find the new stuff on, or read about my latest projects and discoveries? This is the place.

The National Library of Australia Online Archives

A screenshot of the Australian National Library's online archives, Trove.

Today’s “favourite things Thursday” is all about Trove, the online Archives of the Australian National Library.

You can search many of their collections, but for me the great forgotten treasures lie in the newspaper and magazine archives, the pictures, photos and objects archive and the diaries and letters archives.

Whether you want to learn about the jazz knitting craze of the 1920’s, embroider a bin chicken, or read thank you letters from wounded soldiers in World War 1, to the girls who knit them socks (and a knitting pattern). You’ll find what you’re looking for.

Some favourites of mine include:

I hope you’ve enjoyed this little look into just some of the treasures you can find in the Trove archives. Let me know what you find in the comments, or if there’s something you’d like to find, let me know!


Week 10 of And So To Sew and Embroider

This week’s installments of “And So To Sew” and “And So To Embroider” bring us to week 10. This week we’ll learn all about the techniques used to sew a woollen dress from a commercial pattern, how to sew a tailored collar and cuffs (pattern included), and how to use simple embroidery stitches to create motifs and borders.

Tailored collar and cuffs from "And SO To Sew" bulletin 10a

Check out “And So To Sew” leaflet 10a, sewing with wool.

An embroidered border from "And So To Embroider" bulletin 10b

Find out all about “And So To Embroider” bulletin 10b. Designing with Stitches.

As always, I have included modern video or photo tutorials for everyone who enjoys learning by example.

If you’d like to stay up to date with every new item I add to the website, subscribe to the email list over on the left (on desktop), or under this post on tablet or mobile. You’ll receive a quick email every time I add something new.


New Lace Edging from 1911!

A knitted lace edging featuring lace diamonds with a large eyelet in the centre of each

This week’s new knitting pattern is a lovely lace edging from 1911, The Dorothy Knitted Lace.

This lace edging is a nice addition to what I call the “English Laces” here on (since the first lace edging of this style that I found was called English Lace). You’ll find the others in the ever-growing Lace Collars, Edgings and Insertions collection, which I update regularly.

As always, I have updated the knitting terms used in the pattern, charted it and checked it for errors.

If you are enjoying the new knitting patterns, don’t forget to subscribe to the site over on the left (on desktop), or underneath this post if you’re on tablet or mobile. You’ll receive an email whenever I post something new.


Shisha Mirror Embroidery by Jean Simpson

Cover of the book "Shisha Mirror Embroidery" by Jean Simpson.
Shisha Mirror Embroidery, A Fresh Approach by Jean Simpson

This week’s favourite thing is a colourful (and shiny!) embroidery book that I picked up at the op shop (thrift store) for a dollar. Woo! I do love a bargain 🙂

“Shisha Mirror Embroidery, A Contemporary Approach” by Jean Simpson.
Published in 1978 by Von Nostrand Reinhold
ISBN 0-442-27641-9

As you can tell by the title, this book is about incorporating mirrors into your embroidery, specifically the technique that is commonly known as shisha embroidery, in which the mirrors are held down only by stitches.

The book begins by covering which types of mirrors and fabrics will work the best, then goes onto techniques. There are ten different ways to attach mirrors, including the traditional method and even one that creates three dimensional shapes with padding underneath. Each method has a set of step by step instructions and drawn illustrations, making them easy to follow. These instructions are what grabbed my attention when I first found the book, but they’re just one of the really interesting things I found that I’ll use.

The next chapter is called “Mirrors For Your Clothes”, but if you look past the very outdated clothing (current style trends aren’t quite that boho), you’ll find it is full of motifs, ideas, stitches and other information. Rather than being a chapter full of projects, it’s a description of the ways that several textile artists have used mirror embroidery on their clothing, including the fabrics, threads, embellishments and techniques they have used. At first glance you might be tempted to skip over this chapter because of the outdated styles but it’s full of a lot of interesting information and tips that can be used with any style of clothing, as long as it has mirrors 🙂

Next up are accessories, including everything form handbags and purses, to hats, socks, and shoes. Whilst this chapter does include some projects, the instructions for many are quite minimal compared to today’s project books and are most useful for inspiration and a supply of motifs and designs. This chapter finishes with several pages of instructions and inspiration for making decorative tassels, some with mirrors and some without. The styles of the tassels range from simple, to almost 3D sculptures in their own right, and would be a great addition to the chunky woven wall hangings that are popular today.

Chapter four, “Interior Reflections”, is an inspirational chapter with sample projects using techniques to inspire your own work. It covers different types of pillows, chair pads, quilts, banners, boxes, and holiday decorations. My favourite project among these is a banner of a smiling sun, with the most amazing tassels hanging from the bottom. (see the gallery below for a photo).

Chapter 5, symmetrical designs.
Previous chapters have concentrated on creating larger designs by repeating small motifs or making art pieces with asymmetrical designs. This chapter concentrates on larger designs, with a symmetrical look. It includes five designs that you can trace or enlarge, with details on the way the designer embroidered them., plus lots of photos for inspiration.

Chapter 6, Mirrors with Needlepoint.
Some very dated needlepoint pieces here, but if you can look past the designs you’ll find a few tips on working mirrored embroidery on needlepoint fabrics.

The last chapter is only two pages long, but I wish there was more! This chapter is a very quick look at some embroidered art dolls that have mirrors on them. They’re all quite different and a good source of ideas for using mirrored embroidery on any 3D soft sculpture.

I really love this book, but the few copies that are available online are quite expensive. If you’d like to learn shisha and mirrored embroidery without forking out US$20 (or more) + postage for this book, check out shisha embroidery on YouTube, where you’ll find a huge number of tutorials. But make sure you walk the dog, grab a cuppa and a snack first because you’ll be there for days.

If there’s a vintage embroidery book you’d like me to review, please let me know, and if I have it, I will!

As always, if you’d like to be notified of new posts and patterns via email, sign up over there on the left (on desktop), or underneath this post on tablet and mobile. Happy stitching!


And So To Sew and Embroider: Week 9

This week, our And So To Sew bulletins are all about learning techniques for both sewing and embroidery.

And So To Sew 9a - cover

“And So To Sew” leaflet 9a is all about techniques that are used in the sewing of vintage sportswear. Every technique from making the pleats of a classic sports skirt, to matching patterns, finishing seams and hems and reinforcing garments at stress points.

Cushion design from And So To Embroider bulletin 9b
Cushions from “And So To Embroider” 9b

“And So To Embroider” bulletin 9b teaches us all about embroidering on wool. It also includes three new stitches, how to use them to design motifs, and some project ideas to embroider them on.

As always, I have included a selection of video and photo tutorials for each technique as we all learn differently and not all of us have a teacher close by to help if we get stuck!

I hope you are enjoying this series of 1950’s leaflets from the Needlework Development Scheme. We have a way to go yet, with some of my all-time favourites coming up! If you’d like to stay notified when new things are posted, sign up to be notified by email (over on the left on desktop, or under the post on tablet or phone). You’ll receive a short email with information on the new post so you can choose whether it’s something you’d like to look at. At the moment, that will be three emails per week.

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