Thursday, April 25, 2013

Essentials for the Forces and More: free 1940s Knitting Patterns

Did you know that the Victoria & Albert Museum has digitized some World War II-era knitting patterns and made them freely available on their website?  The patterns hail from 1940s publications  such as Woman's Weekly and from booklets like "Essentials for the Forces" by Jaeger Hand-Knit in support of the war effort.

This booklet in particular includes many patterns designed for men and women in the service (such as helmet liners and balaclavas) but there are some truly fashionable gems in this book for those who want to put together an authentic vintage look:

You can download the text of each pattern as a PDF or Word document (I linked to the PDF under each image in this post).  These knitted turbans are my favorite pattern, and the directions look very easy even for slow beginning knitters like myself:


The "When You're Off Duty" sweater is quite elegant (they are a bit hard to see, but notice that she's wearing dress clips at the collar):


The lion and tiger toys would make great handmade gifts for a young person (or a young-at-heart person!) today:


The Victory Jumper (a sweater) is just too cute:


Check out the rest of the knitting patterns on the V & A site. There is also a section on Ravelry for Victoria & Albert Museum patterns if you need help with directions, especially as the patterns use British knitting terms.

By the way, if you're on Ravelry my username is SerendipityVint. Connect with me!

Images courtesy of Victoria & Albert Museum

Monday, April 22, 2013

{Giveaway} Atiliay Mother's Day Gift Package to Benefit the Women of Freely in Hope

It's time for a very special Mother's Day-themed giveaway from atiliay on Etsy!

Serendipity Handmade is partnering with Olivia Lin, founder of atiliay, to help spread the word and raise funds for Freely in Hope, a non-profit organization that provides opportunities for young women in Kenya to reach their educational goals in a safe, secure environment.

When I met Olivia I was very impressed by her commitment to people in need through her work at atiliay (formerly the Yummy Year Project).  In her own words below she explains how she turned her interest in art and fashion into philanthropic work:

Ever since I was little, I was always drawing and coloring, doing little sewing projects, and making all kinds of arts and crafts.  My passion for the arts led me to a career in the corporate fashion world. Several years into my career, I knew I wanted to be more hands and actually make things while contributing something positive into this world. It was perfect timing because a shoe brand called TOMS was just emerging; for every shoe purchased a pair would be donated to a child in need and you could apply to go on a "shoe drop" with them.

I applied and went on a shoe drop to South Africa with TOMS in November 2007.  I met a wonderful group of people from the non-profit Food4Africa who changed my life. Food4Africa's mission is to provide nutritious food for children living in poverty in South Africa.

I knew that after this trip that I had to make a conscious effort to continue to support their cause. From then on I became more and more involved and interested in human rights, animal rights, and different causes within the US and around the world. I continued to support Food4Africa and am proud to be currently serving as the Fundraising Coordinator for the USA.

Over the past several years I have been trying make it easy for people to give to others. This is how the atiliay paper goods shop on Etsy was born!  atiliay products are created to help everyone spread the love.  Each item is paired with a non-profit organization (inspired by each holiday or the design) and with every purchase the customer gets to help that specific cause!
I met Nikole, the founder of Freely In Hope, while visiting the Share and Do Good shop (where I also met Collette!) and was really interested in her work. Freely In Hope gives women in Kenya the opportunity to achieve their goals and create a secure, sustainable future for themselves and their children through a high school and college education.
As young girls transition out of government sponsored primary schools to self-funded higher education, they are often lost in the stark reality of poverty. This leaves them vulnerable to the pressures of prostitution, early marriages and abusive relationships. A high school and college education can cost between $300-$3,000 annually, so Freely in Hope provides scholarships for promising high school and college students who are survivors of or are vulnerable to sexual abuse.  They also provide counseling and help students find a place to live.
As a woman it always strikes a chord with me when I hear about other women being dehumanized and violated.  While the harm these women have experienced is atrocious, their stories are also filled with hope, strength, and inspiration.


I want to spread love to other mothers in our world.  This Mother's Day I created the Floral Collection to raise funds through atiliay on Etsy for Freely In Hope.  Forty-nine percent of proceeds from all items in the Floral Collection will be donated to Freely In Hope's Arise Scholarship Fund. The floral watercolor block prints are a Mother's Day card that double as artwork for the home or office:
  • 6 prints will provide school supplies and uniforms for a woman in high school
  • 100 prints will provide a woman with a high school education for a year
  • 200 prints will provide a woman with a college education for a year
Five percent of all other items purchased from the shop will also be donated to Freely In Hope to empower these women with an education. 

Please join me this month in spreading the word about both atiliay and Freely in Hope to benefit women in need.  You might also win a wonderful prize!


The amazingly talented Olivia has created a lovely Mother's Day Gift Package valued at $40 USD to be delivered to the woman of your choice in time for Mother's Day:

The Mother's Day Gift Package includes:

  • One Red Roses Art Print/Card with an option for a personalized message on the back of the print
  • One frame with mat for the Art Print / Card
  • One set of five blank cards (A2 size) that includes one of  the following designs:  pink peony, pink roses, red roses, green succulents, orange zinnias
  • One reusable cotton bag with the Red Roses design
  • One Red Roses gift box


No purchase is necessary!  Just be a follower of Serendipity Handmade and enter through Rafflecopter below.

 {additional entries}

Although no purchase is necessary please consider purchasing a Raffle Ticket for $2.50 USD that will give you a special mini notecard and TEN (10) extra entries to win the Mother's Day Gift Package!

Olivia created a special mini notecard pictured above especially for this giveaway that you will receive as a thank-you for your purchase/donation!  Forty-five percent ($1.13 USD) of each raffle ticket (after Olivia's production costs) will go directly to Freely in Hope!

This giveaway is open to U.S. residents only and will close on May 3, 2013.  The winner will be announced on this post on May 4, 2013.  Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Please tell your friends about this very special giveaway / fundraiser, and thank you for helping me spread the word about both atiliay and Freely in Hope!

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Crochet WIPs

Working on some simple crochet projects this week, as I'm evaluating another book which I'll review for you later.  I wanted to test out the instructions in this particular book, and I followed the directions to make a simple granny square and also made a rather complex triangular shaped motif:

I've never made crochet anything into a triangle before and it's harder than it should be, believe me.  Frankly, I have no idea what could be made out of a bunch of triangles anyway.  An odd-shaped afghan perhaps?

I'm also trying my hand at crocheting amigurumi for the first time.  If you follow me on Instagram you will have already seen my very first amigurumi, which was retro-themed, naturally.  I made a 1-up mushroom from the 1980s Nintendo video game, Super Mario Bros.:

You can find the free pattern, "Yet Another Mario Mushroom", and other cute amigurumi patterns at Ami Amour blog.

Right now I'm working on a cute little bear, just for further practice and to use up some scraps I have.  I'm using Julie's free "Bearies" pattern which you can find at Gleeful Things blog:

via Gleeful Things

I'll let you know how it turns out!

In other news, be sure to catch my next post, which will include a special giveaway in support of a very important cause.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Madison Avenue Monday: Sunbury Felt

This ad makes me want to go for a ride in the sunshine.  The cute fuchsia jacket is made from vintage jacket pattern Vogue 9057.
From Needlewoman Needlecraft no.82, 1960-61

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Re-purposed Vintage: the Art-o-Mat Vending Machine

Restored vintage cigarette machines + art = the Art-o-Mat!
Art-o-Mat at the American Conservatory Theater in San Francisco. 
Photo via Facebook
I do believe this is one of the coolest re-purposed/recycled vintage projects I have ever seen.  These former cigarette machines now vend a cellophane-wrapped carton of art!  The Art-o-Mat is the brainchild of Clark Whittington from Winston-Salem, North Carolina.  He refurbished his first cigarette machine in 1997 and now there are over 100 machines nationwide in the United States (you can find one near you by clicking here). 

Over 400 different artists now participate in the Art-O-Mat project.  On a recent trip to Northern California I had the opportunity to spend a a couple of hours at the Crocker Art Museum in Sacramento.  I spied the Art-o-Mat machine near the gift shop on the first floor when I first entered the museum:

A closer look at the contents:

I had planned to purchase the origami pack and visit the museum gift shop after visiting the exhbits but I completely ran out of time (I had a plane to catch). So I went hunting on the web for some of the art and artists in the different machines. This textile design by Aimee Alexander is pretty cool:

via the Art-O-Mat website

I also like this pinhole camera and print set by Rebecca Sexton Larson:

via the Art-O-Mat website

The restored machines are works of art themselves. Here are a couple of my favorites:

At the Emerge Gallery in North Carolina
photo via the Art-O-Mat website

At the Reynolda House Museum of American Art in Winston-Salem, NC
photo via the Art-O-Mat website

Find out more about the Art-O-Mat project at their website. I think it's a fun way to discover new artists and collect original art, and I hope to visit more of them in the future.  

Friday, April 5, 2013

Spring Cleaning?

via Pinterest

It's that time of year, isn't it?  And it's never as fun as she makes it look in the photo. 

I thought I'd re-post Peg Bracken's snarky and fun housekeeping tips from the I Hate to Housekeep book again this year for the reluctant housekeepers among my readership (we are a silent minority, I think!).   Reluctant to clean or not, everybody likes to live in a tidy space even if we would rather pursue our hobbies than clean house.  As such, I find some of Peg's practical advice, originally directed to the 1960s housewife, to be applicable today:

And Peg's writing is always good for a laugh.

Do you have cleaning tips that make housekeeping faster, easier, or possibly even fun?  Feel free to share them here.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Adventures in Pompom Land: Book Review + Freebie + Giveaway

Just when I thought I had already seen every possible to way to make a small furry animal figure out of yarn or wool, Lark Books sent me a copy of Adventures in Pompom Land: 25 Cute Projects Made from Handmade Pompoms by Myko Diann Bocek.  Talk about cute overload!

If you like to knit or crochet amigurumi I think that you will love the little creatures in this book.  Take a look at a few of the adorable projects:

At first I was a little dubious about the idea of making animals with pompoms, given my memories of the those "pompom pet" type glue-based and purchased pompom crafts that I remember from childhood (do you remember those too?).  As soon as I picked up this book I realized that these projects were very different, as the animals in Adventures in Pompom Land start with handmade pompoms that turn out fuller and lusher than anything you can buy in a craft store.  That makes these projects great stash busters for leftover yarn.

Most of the projects also require basic needle felting supplies and you will need to know how to create simple shapes to make the arms and legs for some of the animals (it's very easy; you may remember that I learned how to do that recently!).  The rest of the supplies you will need are very basic and you probably already have them on hand if you craft:  pipe cleaners, safety eyes, sharp scissors, floral pins, clothespins, and yes, glue.  I'm looking forward to making one or two of these little guys myself.


Would you like to try out one of the projects in this book?  Get started by making this super-cute squirrel:

Just head on over to my Scribd page to download a PDF of instructions for the Squirrel.  Be sure to also download the Learn How to Make Handmade Pompoms PDF as well.

You may also want to visit Myko's blog, Myko Bocek Studios, for inspiration about the various ways that you can embellish your pompom animals further when creating decorations for your home, office, or kid's room.  They would be perfect as holiday ornaments or gifts as well.

Lark Crafts has provided Serendipity Handmade readers a chance to win a copy of Adventures in Pompom Land.  Just enter through the Rafflecopter widget below.  This contest is open to U.S. residents only.  Entries are open until 11:59 p.m. on April 10, 2013 and the winner will be announced on this post on April 11, 2013.  Best of luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway
Disclosure: I received a copy of this book for review but as always, my opinions are my own. 

Monday, April 1, 2013

Madison Avenue Monday: The Fresh Material - Young America Creates

A Celanese Fortrel ad for the Young America Creates series of Butterick patterns, which as I mentioned before in this post was probably the early roots of what would eventually become reality shows like Project Runway.  Cute concept too:  the designers as a band, the ad as an album cover.

From the Butterick Home Catalog, Summer 1970

You can see some of the actual patterns at the Vintage Pattern Wiki on the Young America Creates category page.