Fashion Heirloom: A 1950s Knitting Notebook Owned by Peggy Butler




Old family trunks are always full of wonders.

While going through our Irish family trunks, I came across this knitting notebook which belonged to our children’s great-paternal grandmother, Peggy Butler (born Guthrie and sister of the great theater director, Tyrone Guthrie).

Peggy deserves more than one post. She was vibrant, colorful character and an incredible artist. Among her many achievements, she was the founder of the Kilkenny Art Gallery Society and instigator behind the Kilkenny Arts Festival in Ireland –  a festival that celebrates every summer Irish culture from literature, to music, to arts.

We will keep her story and contribution to culture in Ireland for another post.

In the meantime, here is a glimpse of one her knitting notebooks – written in an immaculate handwriting and full of models ranging from a stocking top, to a liege helmet, to a shaped undervest. The details of instruction and construction are incredible and makes you appreciate the time it took to create every piece.

I found a postcard of Queen Elizabeth II’s coronation in the notebook which gives an illustrated indication of the period when the notebook was kept.

Living in rural Ireland in the 1940s-1950s, fashion was mostly home made and handmade. Peggy, known for her originality and creativity, designed all of her clothes and drew her influence from the many places she travelled, including the Balkans.

Here is one of one of her creations I inherited and certainly inspired by Peggy’s time in the Balkans: A headband she made out of braided wool and covered with a floral silk fabric, tied with an elastic band.

Photo credit: Ifat Kafry Hindes taken for a Sassy Mama Q&A

2 Responses to “Fashion Heirloom: A 1950s Knitting Notebook Owned by Peggy Butler”

  1. Wow what a stunning find! Such a fantastic treasure with a great history!

    • Thank you Hannah!
      We appreciate even more handwritten notebooks in this computer age.
      I see you are starting to knit! You must keep a knitting diary too!

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