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Monthly Archives: April 2013

Who You Gonna Call?…Dambusters!


On Saturday I was lucky enough to sing at St Peter’s Church in Wellesbourne, which was playing host to a special event! Philip West (an amazing aviation artist) and the local historical society Walton History Group arrange a special celebration for the 70th anniversary of the Dambusters Raid. This bombing raid, known as Operation Chastise was completed by the 617 squadron and Squadron Leader George L. ‘Johnny’ Johnson was there! Johnny as he is affectionately called was the bomber aimer in one of the specially modified Avro Lancaster Mk III’s and told us all about his time in the war, from training to be a pilot (which he was dreadful at and had no intention of being) to becoming a husband and bomber aimer for one of the most significant raids in WWII history.

We also had the pleasure of meeting the daughter of Barnes Wallis; the creater of the bouncing bomb too! She shared stories of how her father tested out bouncing bomb ideas in the garden using her marbles.


I volunteered to sing some 1940’s songs in exchange for one of Philip’s fabulous prints and an autograph from the artist and George Johnson! My cheeky request was accepted and I was so happy to be part of this wonderful event. Everyone was wonderful and we got to meet some amazing people such as Iris Erwin who’s husband Sgt E C Erwin was one of the Path Finders in the war and was captured and sent to a P.O.W. camp. He escaped a few times, but was soon found again and put back. He survived the war, but unfortunately no longer alive, so his wonderful wife now holds on to his amazing paraphernalia. From a rice paper P.O.W. map of Germany and the border hidden in the back of a bible to his RAF jacket, she has kept everything immaculately. She even has a wedding card in the shape of a black cat’s head of which he took with his to war and it never left his pocket, even in the prisoner of war camps. I was so taken with this wonderful lady that I am planning to ask her for an interview as a feature in Military World Magazine soon. She completely stole our hearts, especially as whilst I was singing a bit of Gracie Fields, she came and shuffling and bobbing along with her little walking stick. She reminded me a little of a wind up tin toy doll and we wanted to take her home with us!

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I do not wish to say much more as I plan to do a write up on this event in the magazine, so do not want to be repeating myself! Rest assured there will be more photos added and I will post a copy of the article once it has been published!

Vintage Knitting for Knit Wits

1940s pixie hat

1940’s Pixie Hat by Kitten von Mew

So I have started to knit. I tried doing this as a child and did ok on a standard knit and changing colours for stripes, but got bored as every one does and went back to playing pirates. Pirates don’t knit.

So now I have started again and with baby steps have become confident at basic knitting and purling, knitting together and casting on an off. I can see those talented people finishing off their Fairisle masterpieces with 5 needles, rolling their eyes at me as they cast off their sweater using their toes and start crocheting a matching beret just using their eyelashes… but this is a huge challenge for me. Anything that needs a precise pattern is a complete nightmare for this Kitten. I enjoy my crafts and yes have made some dresses, but alot of that is following a basic pattern and then botch jobbing it to suit me.  You cannot do this with knitting! If you drop a stitch it screams as you with its big gaping mouth, whilst its brothers and sister mock me until I have to pull them all off and start over. I have also tried cable knit and have resorted to the fact that I am ‘Knitslexic’ with some things. I know how it should look and find it perfectly logical to follow the pattern…until my blasted hands get in the way and my brain starts singing ‘I Wish I Was in Dixie.’ I suddenly look down to find that my twisted rope pattern resembles mores of a half eaten bread pudding.

I did however manage to make a 1940’s adult sized pixie hat! Although the pattern was for beginners, I found it a little complicated to follow, so have created a basic pattern that any beginner can follow and knit themselves a wonderful little hat for the chilly seasons and windy WWII event fields! It will go great with your Heyday Coat or Gab Jacket and why not knit a matching pouch bag using the same basic pattern?

40s knitted hat

1940’s knitted pixie Hat

What you will need:

  • 7 1/2 Needles
  • Thick to Chunky Wool
  • Large needle

Cast on 44 stitches and knit 4 purl 4 to the end of the line. Do this for the next 9 lines to create a rib effect

After this, garter stitch (that is just regular knitting to me and other beginners) until the whole thing is about 8″ long. You can obviously do this longer if your head is larger. I measured from behind my front curls (I like some of my hair to halo my face and soften the lines, but you can always knit one that comes right to the front of the head if you wish) to where I wanted the point at the back.

Cast off and fold it in half. The ribbing pattern will be the front of your hat.

Take your needle and spend the rest of the weekend cursing as you try and thread your wool into it’s eye. Once you have succeeded, grab a cup of tea as a reward and blanket stitch the back of your hat together, making sure it is inside-out as you do so.

Next you need to make the chin strap. If you have more patience, you can do 2 long knitted ribbons to tie in a bow. I had no patience left, hence I did a short strap and button. Simply cast on 6 stitches and knit 2, purl 2, knit 2 for every line until it is 7 inches long.

Change to standard garter stitch for the last inch. I just dropped a stitch to make the button hole on the second row of garter stitches. Im sure advanced knitters would have a heart attack at this, but it works for me. Cast off when your work measures 8 inches or more for larger heads.

After you have finished the strap, turn your hat the right way and sew it onto one of the pointed corners at the front of your hat. Sew a button one the opposite side for the strap to attach to.

Turn the hat around and tug the back point a little so it is more accentuated.

You can either leave it plain or adorn it with little pom poms as I have done! 3 on each side grouped together at the ears and 2 dangling from the point.

If you want to make a matching pouch bag simply copy the instructions for the basis of the hat, but sew up each side, leaving the ribbed top open. Thread your needle with wool and then sew in and out all around the ribbing to create a drawstring top. Adorn with pom poms and lie down in front of reruns of The House of Elliot, exhausted and surprised at your own talents.