Sunday, 26 February 2012

Vintage knitting patterns - part 1

I had a wonderful present brought over by my mother-in-law on Friday night; a huge box of buttons, a bag of fabric, lots and lots of reels of cotton and, the best part, around fifty vintage knitting patterns.

All of these came from the house of a relative of Mr Mongoose's who passed away rather suddenly towards the end of last year. From what I know she had been a knitter for her family, like many women of her generation, and a serious hoarder. As I picked through her wonderful collection of buttons, I could see she really did save anything she thought might be useful - pins, thumb-tacks, hooks and eyes and buckles, as well as all those beautiful buttons. There were no knitting-needles or equipment, sadly, perhaps she had already handed them on to her daughter or a friend when she'd not been comfortable knitting any more.

I sewed myself some project bags and needle-holders using the beautful sewing-cotton she'd saved, neatly stored in 1950's or 60's flat plastic organisers, ordered by colour. She may have saved things, but she was also neat and orderly and everything was carefully reeled and the threads tucked in so nothing became tangled over time. Looking at her patterns, she may have started knitting properly in the late 1940's, so perhaps her experiance of post-war Britain left her with the abiding feeling that nothing must ever be wasted, just in case.

On to the wonderful knitting patterns!

Most of them are pattern booklets, with two or three patterns in each, like the one I'm going to share with you. There are some clipped from magazines and some bigger collections, such as the 'Woolcraft' guide (price 9d!).

This gem includes patterns for most objects a knitter might make at that time - a babies layette, mens socks, gloves, tank-top and jersey, jerseys and gloves for children, and women's cardigans. Most inruiging are the multiple sock types in the big pattern book - five differant heels, and lots of sizes. I had the impression sock-knitting was a dying art in the second half of the 20th century; perhaps this booklet dates to the years just after the second world war, when hand-knitted socks were a necessity. It's got a declaration on the back page that it is produced 'in complete conformity with the Authorised Economy Standards', so it may have been when rationing was still in place. Here's some pictures pages, below.

In the post above you can find another vintage pattern from this hoard; a pattern for a late 1950's / early 1960's bed-jacket that I hope I can knit up to a nice light cardigan. I've included a modern chart for the lace, and 'translated' some of the directions.


Pictures from 'Woolcraft' booklet - c 1946


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