Monday 17 June 2013

Little red riding hood meets the mid 1930's tunic and hat combo

Yet another project based on a wool and silk mix, this tunic is knitted with Rennie Castle yarn (58% Lambswool / 42% Silk)), colour Venlaw, in a dk weight (comes on a cone). There is 4 ply version that actually comes in balls for hand knitting, but  here the cone version was used because of an opportunity to buy it at a discounted price. 

The yarn is nice and tweedy - the main pinky-red shade is peppered with lots of multicoloured tiny flecks, but I would say that the representation of this colour on most on lines sources is not terribly accurate, as it is rather muted, not an intense red at all, and with a decisive pink tinge (pics below are closer to reality). It knitted well but when washed stretched quite a bit, and I am not sure what surprises are awaiting ahead on further washes...

In the meantime I am wearing it as it is, and I have to say, for a mid 1930's inspired project, this tunic proves to be very versatile and works with a variety of modern garments too. I was somewhat worried that I would end up with a costume-y looking, difficult to wear piece, but far from it. And the cherry on the cake is the quirky hat: makes the whole thing really fun to wear.

P.S. Despite the title, there's no hood to speak of, but a sailor collar...

Thursday 6 June 2013

Charlecote Park

As we eventually got some sunny weather in this part of the world visiting manor houses has become more pleasurable altogether. Still, I'm pleased to report that my Miss L Fire shoes managed to survive last week's deluge over at Berkeley Castle. 

This time around, armed with sunglasses instead of umbrellas, and clad more lightly, we set our views on Charlecote Park, a stately home in Warwickshire which has been the residence of the Lucy family since the 13th century. The current house was completed in 1558, visited by Queen Elizabeth I in 1572 (said to have spent two nights in the North wing of the house, right behind me), and remodeled during Victorian times. The property is owned by the National Trust since 1946.

I'm not going to give you any more details on the place's history - you can easily google it if interested, and this post is information-heavy image wise as it is. I am just sharing a few things that I liked, such as these beautiful inlaid ebony chairs with amazing woven upholstery (made in India), together with the most wonderful furniture examples of Italian pietra dura work, of which I caught some details below. 

The place is worth visiting for these pieces alone, the workmanship is divine, and my pictures don't even begin to suggest how breathtaking these objects really are.

table detail

sideboard detail


This detail is from a massive table in the main hall, dating from the 16th century and said to have came from the Borghese Palace in Rome, removed during Napoleon’s Italian campaign in 1796, and finally making its  way into this house in 1823.

bedroom wallpaper


malachite and garnet studded writing set

portrait of Mary Elizabeth Lucy, mistress of Charlecote during Victorian times

detail from another Italian work of art - a beautiful alabaster sculpture of a bird bath with four doves that stands in a bay window of the Great Hall


Behind the house flows river Avon, and the parkland spreads over nearly 200 acres, home to the heard of deer in the image below and also to Jacob sheep that I haven't had the chance to capture.

I have to say I liked the Victorian outbuildings far more than the Tudor main house. This building here accommodates a brewery and laundry on one side, and a collection of carriages dating to 18thc and 19thc on the South facing side. Look at that brick: isn't that the most beautiful brick you have ever seen?

Here is the newest and lightest of the carriages - this is a late 19th /early 20th c import from New York!

My absolute number one favorite thing at Charlecote Park: the 4 Tamworth pigs with auburn hair, so lively and happy, and with that incredible colour that would be the envy of any redhead! There's a little video of them here. These sweeties would brighten anyone's day!


The Elizabethan gatehouse stands as it was built in the 16th c. - it's squareness and restraint proportions are more pleasant to my eye than the architectural ensemble of the the main build.

Posing with the statues in the park and showing off my birthday present to myself: an early 1930's dress that got its first outing (and the first outing of a cotton frock this year, although I've been wearing it with this knitted vest over for most of the day).


Finally, wild boars carved in stone adorn the pillars at the front gate. I got friendly, but then was time to leave.

P.S. All in all it was a great day out, with many more interesting things to see than I managed to include here, a word of advice though if you decide to go: opt for a picnic food wise, their cafeteria is poor. Unlike the beautiful cakes baked in the Victorian working kitchen!