Social media are very useful! It was through Ravelry that I was first alerted to the fact that on Facebook there was a film company wanting knitters to make costumes for a film and exhibition focusing on one name from one war memorial in one village in England.
People responded to the call from all over the UK and from North America. It turned out that the film company was WAG Screen, a community group who specialise in making films about Lincolnshire’s history and heritage. The war memorial was in Thimbleby, Lincolnshire, and the man on whom the film is focusing is Robert Crowder. There are more details on the Tell Them of Us tab here.
The knitters who responded were asked to fill in a form about what types of knitting they were familiar with. I responded and mentioned that I am used to making reproductions of garments from photographs. To cut a long story short, I was asked to recreate a jacket for Grace Crowder, Robert’s sister, who by all accounts was a resourceful woman and herself a knitter.
Pauline Loven, who is responsible for the costumes, sent me a copy of the photo, and we discussed with type of wool needed. I thought DK would be about right, and while Pauline sorted out the yarn, I began work on the pattern.
As always when taking a garment from a photo, the key is to find the areas of the photo which show the true pattern up best. In this case the photo was clear, and I could see many of the stitches. The areas circled gave the best definition.
The lapels were definitely garter stitch, and the rest of the jacket was some sort of double moss stitch, but with a break. By looking closely at the pic, increasing and decreasing the magnification, I came up with two possible stitch patterns:
I then worked up a swatch in an odd bit of DK I had lying about. After 3 or 4 rows it was clear that the first idea was wrong, so I went on to the second. After half a dozen rows it was clear that this pattern was correct.
I then made the final chart.
Once this part was ready, I then spent some time working out the edgings. On first sight it looked as if there was a band of a darker colour at the cuffs, but closer inspection showed that this was just a trick of the light! The cuffs are knitted long, then folded back. Again on first sight I wondered whether the cuffs and collar were knitted in rib, but comparing them to the bottom of the jacket (which one area shows is definitely garter stitch on smaller needles) it became clear that they too were garter stitch, but on the smaller needles.
A few days ago the yarn arrived from Pauline. Rowan is one of the yarn companies sponsoring the project, and my yarn is their Pure Wool DK. I swatched the main stitch pattern in it, to get the needle size and the stitch tension. I was able to use that to start working out the numbers for the pattern.
Pauline also sent me a photo of the actress playing Grace, a woman called Victoria Rigby, and her measurements. (There is a video of Victoria playing Grace reading one of Robert’s letters from the front line in 1917 on YouTube here.) It is so much easier only having to think of designing ONE size rather than the 10 to 15 I usually have to do!
Now I have started knitting the back. I have the pattern written to the armholes, and by then I will have the row tension, so can work the next bit out.
There will be another instalment of my progress as I go! And you can follow the progress of the film on the Orkney To Omaha blog.