Vintage Buttons

Sometimes you get lucky. Before David's birthday dinner, we went walking around Glasgow's West End and eventually dipped into our favourite second-hand shop.

Dave spotted a tin filled with old buttons and asked the owner how much they'd be. "Oh, I have plenty more.. haven't really looked through 'em. So many, you know. Was going to throw most of them out," the owner said, in his characteristically abrupt way. And a few seconds later he emerged with three more tins and a big shopping bag.

You know what happened next.

At first I reckoned I had scored maybe 200 vintage buttons but I was way off the mark. I have tentatively sorted maybe half of the buttons (the big 'uns first!) into three boxes. The large plastic bag remains uncharted territory. You can see some of the already-paired-up buttons in the picture on the left. Judging from the style and a few Canadian(!) coins I found, the button collection appears to have been amassed between mid-1930s to late 1970s: a few buttons have a distinct late Art Deco feel to them, some are definitely made from Bakelite and some are still on the original cardboard.

An early Christmas gift from me to me. How much? You wouldn't believe me..

Buttons and Books

These are my Buttony Mitts. I test-knitted them for Lilith of Old Maiden Aunt. Basically, she asked me one day if I wanted free handpainted yarn and I replied with my best teenage "dooooh" face. The yarn is gorgeous. It is a soft alpaca-merino-bamboo blend and is handpainted in shades of forest green, khaki and pine. It knits to aran-weight but Lilith had decided to use a 4mm needle to create a warm, durable fabric. It worked a treat. The pattern itself was well-written and taught me how to make paired increases. If not for other commitments I could have finished the mitts in the course of two evenings (I love instant gratification projects).

Lilith is planning to make Buttony Mitt kits available on her site, so keep an eye out for those.

Other commitments? Among other things I went to Edinburgh on Friday night for a panel on the future of the book at The Scottish Book Trust. I was pleasantly surprised to see a relatively large turnout (fifty people or so! on a Friday night! in November!) and was even more pleasantly surprised by the panellists who all had interesting points to make. I was particularly impressed by Donald Smith (of the Scottish Storytelling Centre) who knew his book history and made good points about the book (codex) as a material object. The panel ran out of time, so the Q&A session was cut short, but I managed to raise a point about the socio-economic implications of digitalising books which was well-received. I suppose "you had to be there", but I really enjoyed myself.

As an aside, I was cornered by an American who wanted to know what I had bought my cardigan. Score!

PS. I trust the permalinks are working for people now. If not, let me know.


We went to the 3D/2D Craft Fair today. Having recently visited survived the Crafts For Scotland/Hobbycrafts, I was wary of visiting today's fair but came away quite impressed. Not only does this craft fair have superior quality control, they are also far more diverse whilst remaining local. Unlike Hobbycrafts you don't have navigate around bowls filled with glitters or squeeze through packs of people fighting over grossly overpriced novelty yarn. I greatly appreciate that. Anyway, excuse my crap photos.

I like owls a great deal - both because of their association with Athena (the Greek goddess of wisdom and knowledge) and the far more contemporary piece of pop culture that is "Twin Peaks". The owls are not what they seem, you know. So I spotted this pin and loved it on sight.

Sadly I didn't get the vendor's details. He had some ace ceramic flying ducks with rather wonderfully quirky expressions.

My loot also bears testament to my continuing button obsession: these are handmade by Pat Longmuir of 'Paraphernalia' who does commissions too.

I recently bought some über-lovely Berocco Ultra Alpaca in the "Moonshadow" shade. I once said that I wasn't overly concerned with yarn I couldn't buy in this country because I'd always be able to find suitable substitutions. I was clearly wrong because I'm now deeply in love with the Ultra Alpaca and the only substitution I can find is twice the price for yard yardage - and in limited colourways too. Le sigh. Anyway. Pat's buttons might just be earmarked for that yarn..

PS. I'm doing NaBloPoMo in case you're wondering. That means the 'self-indulgent knitting plus random linkage' to 'brainy stuff, you know' ratio is going to be horribly skewed. Just warning you.