Vintage knitting and sewing are clearly enjoying a resurgence of interest, judging from the incredible range of craft blogs and new publications on the subject. But the range of books, patterns and guides out there can be really overwhelming – and modern interpretations of old patterns can leave a lot to be desired, especially when fit is concerned.
I’m working on knitting this 1940s men’s pullover/tunic from a collection of vintage patterns compiled by Jane Waller. I recently discovered that Jane’s hugely popular ‘A Stitch in Time’ book from the 1970s has become the go-to bible of vintage knitting lovers. In trying to track down a copy of the re-worked reprint which was published by Jane and Susan Crawford much more recently, I noticed that it’s going for crazy money on Amazon.com – people are clearly really into their vintage patterns… (Incidentally, it’s much cheaper on Amazon.co.uk)
The cover of the re-published ‘A Stitch in Time’ vintage knitting and crochet collection.
I did manage to get my hands on the reprint: I’m lucky enough to live near a copyright library here in Dublin, and they had it! Unfortunately, I couldn’t hold on to it for very long, but I had a good look through it and there are some really beautiful patterns in there with, happily, a range of sizes. I’ve copied a couple of patterns and hope to get stuck into them soon.
Several years ago, I came across a lovely book on sale on Amazon called Knitting Fashions of the 1940s by Jane Waller. The book has a great selection of patterns, but I found it quite hard for a beginner knitter to use given the limited sizing ranges (a more seasoned knitter would likely make the necessary adjustments without much hassle). I recently picked it back up again and am determined to see at least one project through!
Jane Waller’s lovely 1940s knitting pattern book.
I’ve started working on the ‘pull-on vest’ pattern – which is actually for men, but I thought it would make a very useful short-sleeved woolen tunic top to wear with leggings or skinny jeans. Crucially, though, what drew me to the pattern was the simplicity of the stitches involved (basically, knits and pearls). Phew…
I think the style of tunic also means that the fit doesn’t have to be spot-on:
The ‘pull-on vest’ pattern from Jane Waller’s book.
The only downside is that I’m working with a 4-ply wool and that stuff takes an age to knit up (I’m using a stone grey from the Debbie Bliss Rialto 4-ply range). After about a fortnight I’m almost finished the back section, though, and the front follows exactly the same pattern so I’m pretty optimistic that I’ll manage to get through it without too much stress (and before the end of the year!).
I’ll post details of the fit and finish (the pattern is presented in just one size) once I’ve completed it.