Eek!!! Vintage knitting pattern excitement…

Ok, it might be a little bit sad that I’m so excited about this, but yeah, you guessed it, I don’t care!  One of our lovely customers (well more of a friend really) has very generously given me some gorgeous old pattern books, which belonged to her grandmother:

I’m pretty sure the Patons Woolcraft booklet is still being produced, although in a rather abbreviated form.  I am so thrilled to have these – they date from the 1940s and 50s, and show how much has changed in the world of handknitting since then.

‘Practical Knitting Illustrated’. in particular, is an incredibly comprehensive guide to the craft.  It starts with ‘The ABC of Knitting and Crochet’ (from Abbreviations to Zipp Fasteners), includes many patterns, and ends with instructions and information on how to adapt the basic patterns to achieve an infinite variety of garments.  It has a whole chapter on re-sizing a pattern to your measurements – just as well, as all the patterns are one-size only.  The 2 ladies patterns in my size (38″) are referred to as *ahem* ‘outsize’…, and clearly intended for the well-padded granny…

There are some lovely patterns, some more practical than others:

As well as some classic vintage posing…

… and things you never knew existed:

Baby cloak, anyone??

There are chapters devoted to every age-group, which give the impression that a lot of thought has gone into the requirements of each category  – advice on the requirements of the teenager with regards to knitwear emphasise the need for both growing-room and fashion-consciousness, ending with ‘Remember this is a critical age.’  As if they might retreat gibbering into a hole for the next 40 years should you knit them the wrong style of sweater…

The thing that really stands out, as you’ll probably know, is that nothing is knitted in anything thicker than a 4-ply – many are in 2- or 3-ply.  Here’s what they have to say about double knitting yarn:

 ‘The advantage of these yarns is that they knit up quickly, but the result is clumsy and not altogether satisfactory.  For children’s dressing gowns and very heavy sports wear they are sometimes useful.’

In all honesty, I agree – it’s lovely to knit in 4-ply, and garments do look neater and more professional.  But it is undeniably time-consuming, and I sometimes wonder how women fitted in knitting themselves a 2-ply underwear set in-between all the 3-ply matinee jackets and 4-ply mens jumpers…

One thing I notice about this book is the encouraging tone – again and again they emphasise cheerily that ‘you can do it’, and provide comprehensive instructions for all the techniques involved.  There is also a section on making things fit when they’ve come out slightly the wrong size. which I rather like…

I’m so happy to have this little piece of knitting history to look after, and I hope to be able to re-size some of the patterns to fit my ‘not-so-small figure’…  Otherwise Paul’s going to have a balaclava.  I forgot to photograph the balaclava.  Really though, I’m sure you can imagine how hilarious it is.

Anyway, no knitting for me at the moment, as I’m wrestling alternately with lining paper (removing not installing – there were 4 LAYERS on one wall…) and my Portrait Blouse.  More details on that later, but all I can say at the moment is that I seem to be making it look much harder than it is…  Nothing new there then!  Ah well.

So here’s wishing you calm seas and smooth sewing!  Have a good week!

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