Vintage: Jester knitting patterns

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I took up knitting about eight years ago. That’s when I started to collect vintage knitting patterns and couldn’t resist the patterns by The Jester Wool Company of Leicester. These are very distinctive as unlike all the others the pictures of the garments are drawn not photographed. The children’s patterns come in booklet form with a charming little paragraph about the child in the pattern, and precise washing instructions for Mum. I have tried to find out more information about The Jester Wool Company and the only thing I have found is an advert for Jester Wools that shows the trademark Jester alongside the words, ‘I’ve robbed the rainbow to make you Gay. Jester Wools for Gayer Garments’. The patterns appear to date from the early fifties and obviously the word ‘gay’ had different connotations then. If you have any information, please let me know. The children’s illustrations are very much in the Janet and John tradition and reinforce that wonderful cosy view of a fifties childhood.

I've Robbed the Rai#2D7307C

Jester advert, 1953

baby with toy

baby in blanket

boy with book

boy with chisel


child with balloon


child with walker

Fishing boy

girl at zoo

girl skipping

rock pool

after the bath

blue girl

boy on bike

Read: Mollie Clarke’s pictures

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If you like those ever so cute illustrations by Mabel Lucy Attwell then you may well like the children’s book illustrations by Mollie Clarke. She used to write ‘learning to read’ books for school children in the 1950’s and she illustrated them herself.

She did a set of books about Sally and her day at school, and another set about Andrew. The great thing about young children’s books is that they show you so much about what life was really like in those days. For young children everything is new so their books usually show what was familiar to them, and this is what makes the illustrations so charming.  These were the days when girls were brought up as girls, staying at home and being domestic, whereas the boys in the books were a lot more active and interested in cars and planes and making things on their work bench. Here is a selection of some of those pictures.

Fairy Queen MC

This is Sally, dressed up as the Fairy Queen.

cowboy MC

Andrew is dressed up as a cowboy.

Sally help mother MC

Domestic duties! Never too young to learn.

washing stuff MC

Sally needed to learn these words.

Sally has her lunch MC

Sally has her lunch.

Andrew's Bag MC

Andrew’s school-bag. A dentist’s nightmare.

skipping rope sally MC

Look at those navy knickers.

Goodnight Andrew MC

Andrew with his teddy.

pram and sally MC

Sally takes dolly for a walk.

scarecrow MC




For Little Children MC

Mollie Clarke does cute animals too.

scooter MC


On a scooter

bear and sadcastles MC

Read: Martine

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The Martine series of books is the French equivalent of the English Topsy and Tim, written at the same time and aimed at slightly older children. We enter a world of French sophistication that is totally different to that of the homespun Topsy and Tim and much more adult.

The early sixties were a time when little girls started wearing dresses with extremely short skirts, and if the illustrations by Marcel Marlier are anything to go by, these little girls possess an obvious degree of Gallic charm. “Thank heavens for little girls, they grow up in the most delightful way”, and all that.

Martine’s parents are wealthy and their world is very modern for the era, they only go to the best shops, eat the best food and travel to places like New York to visit friends.  Martine herself is very attractive and all her friends, both boys and girls are exceptionally pretty, and all the animals have smiles on their faces and romp about in a charming fashion. Martine has a pet dog, Patapouf, who gets into all kinds of mischief, so much so that he has a whole series of books to himself.

The books in the Martine series, written by Gilbert Delahaye and illustrated by Marcel Marlier, are interesting examples of 1960’s chic, and hopefully I have given you a flavour of that in the pictures below:

01 Martine and mirror

Here’s Martine.

02 Martine checkin

Martine and family at the check-in desk

Martine lobster in 1st classjpg

Marine enjoys lobster for lunch in First Class

Martine at the fair

Martine at the fair

Martine ice cream

Martine enjoys an ice cream

Martine housework

Martine does the housework. Note rug (endangered species?) and 1960s rubber plant

Martine washing up

Martine does the washing up

Martine en Corvette

Martine’s family in their imported Chevrolet Corvette, standing sans seat belts. No health and safety in those days.

Martine camping

Martine camping

Martine shelling peas

Martine and mother shell petis pois with elegance

Martine supermarket

Martine at the supermarket

Martine dept store

Martine at the department store

Martine gardening

Martine’s friend on the beach

Action Man Recycled

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Recycling gives me a feeling of smug satisfaction. I can trace this all the way back to when I used to collect empty packets to take to the playgroup for junk modelling. For years I was a keen customer of Charity Shops and kept coming across old Action Man figures in their toy boxes. Put those two together, and what have you got? Remember those awful Barbie type figures with a spare toilet roll underneath their skirts? Well, I decided to use an Action Man figure instead, and knit an outfit to cover him. The results are below – of course I had to cut their legs off first!



Scottish dancer.JPG

The Scotsman

Burglar Bill.JPG

Burgler Bill

Hello sailor.JPG

Hello Sailor

Pantomime Dame

Pantomime Dame

Onion seller.JPG

Onion Seller

The poodle


Just William

Just William

The Biker

The Biker

the monk.JPG

The Monk



Swan lake dancer.JPG

Swan Lake ballet dancer

The tree.JPG

The Tree

bell boy.JPG

The Bellboy



Pearly King.JPG

The Pearly King

new dad

New Dad

Saturday Night FeverJPG

Saturday Night Fever


The Beatnik

That's all

That’s all, folks!