A few ramblings about knitting, mainly vintage stuff and other bits and bobs

Thursday, 31 December 2015

Day 6 Ladies Sports Jumper Golden Eagle 636 - 12 Days of Christmas Pattern Giveaway

This lovely jumper shows of the early 1940s sportswear perfectly. It was designed to be casual enough for tennis but dressy enough to not look shabby. And I love the striped collar. There is also a long sleeve version if your tastes go that way. 

I really like the way that the stripes on the sleeves follow round the body and it's something to bear in mind if you are going to add some length in upper part of the body.

Made of a 34" to 36" bust (this is the bra band size, not the full bust) it's a good modern size. Originally it was made from 3-ply but looking at the tension, I think you could probably use a 4-ply or fingering as a decent substitute, especially something like Regia 4-ply. 

The pattern was free but can now be downloaded from Pretty Old Patterns

Wednesday, 30 December 2015

Day 5 Underwear Set Patons 131 - 12 Days of Christmas Pattern Giveaway

Even though winter is upon us (well in the northern hemisphere) it's never too late to start knitting your underthings to keep you snug on a chilly day: I love vests but that's probably because I'm a bit 'nesh' as my northern friends say.  

This is a great set from the early 1940s, but I think the design is from the late 1930s as her hair is not quite 'wartime' hair and since Patons reissued some of their comfy patterns in the early years of WWII it can be tricky to tell when they were originally published. 

The long-line vest has a pretty diamond design round the neck which is repeated round the legs of the knickers. The bust for the vest is 34" but this could be made larger by simply adding a pattern repeat.

Vest - bust 34"; length from top at centre back 25.5"
Knickers - length of front seam to lower edge of gusset 15"; leg seam 4"

The pattern was free but can now be downloaded from Pretty Old Patterns 

Tuesday, 29 December 2015

Day 4 Style for the Fuller Figure - 12 Days of Christmas Pattern Download

One for the more voluptuous among us today. This classic late 1940s short sleeve jumper has a wonderful lace pattern and is perfect and what is more? It's simple to knit. The back and front are the same so you could even convert this into the round if you wanted up to the armholes and then just work to and fro ans needed.

The bust is 40" but it would be easy to make slightly larger by just going up a needle size or even changing the yarn from a 3-ply to a 4-ply or fingering weight. If you wanted to make it several sizes larger, then you could add a pattern repeat for some extra inches.

I love the model here: she crops up on several other Bestway plus size patterns, always with the same hairstyle and usually the same pearls.

The pattern was free but can now be downloaded from Pretty Old Patterns 

Monday, 28 December 2015

Day 3 Feather Pattern Jumper Jaeger 3142 - 12 Days of Christmas Pattern Download

This great early 1950s sweater girl design is made on odd needles - it's basically 3 rows on a small 3.25mm US 3 needles and then one on a 'giant' 15mm US 19 needle with a couple of yarn overs thrown in to make the lace pattern. Although it's a 50s pattern there are a lot of styling from the 1940s with the longer sleeves and that sweet collar.

The original yarn, Jaeger Feather Fleck, is one of those light and fluffy lacey types so you might have to swatch with a few different types of wool. Also, since there is no tension given, you might have to work a bit on what kind of yarn substitution you use. I wonder if something like Debbie Bliss Rialto Lace or something similar would work.

Bust 32" to 34"; length 18"; sleeve seam 6.5"

The pattern was free but can now be downloaded from Pretty Old Patterns

Sunday, 27 December 2015

Day 2 - Fair Isle Mittens Bestway 1459 - 12 Days of Christmas Patterns Download

These mittens are a delight. Two patterns, too, in one leaflet and both beautiful. They are Fair Isle with the pattern written out in full and no chart so you might want to mark the lines as you knit them to stop from getting lost. They're worked on 2 needles so great if you are not a fan of dpns.

Original colours for the abstract design were yellow as the main colour with red, brown and green for the design

For the floral design it was blue as the main colour with green, maroon and yellow for the design

Date: estimated mid 1940s

Measurements: length 9"; width across hand above thumb 3.75"

Materials: 3-ply or light fingering; 2.25mm US 1 and 3mm US 2.5 needles. The original used Emu Unshrinkable 3-ply Botany Wool

Tension: 17 stitches and 20 rows to 2 inches using 3mm US 2.5 needles over stocking stitch

Language note: Some words commonly used in the 1940s may be offensive, yep it's one of those patterns that uses the N-word

The pattern was free but can now be downloaded from Pretty Old Patterns

Saturday, 26 December 2015

Day 1 Ladies Jumper Templeton 906 - 12 Days of Christmas Pattern Download

To celebrate the 12 Days of Christmas (yes, it's counted from Boxing Day until the night of the 5th of January and yes, I am slightly pedantic) I am offering a pattern free for 24 hours from the shop every day - but you have to download it from here (see the link below)

Day One is this slim and elegant jumper from the early 1950s with a great diamond motif made using 4-ply or fingering yarn.

Unfortunately it's only in one size but if you go up one size in the needles, you'd get an extra inch or so and if you need it a bit larger you can either do the maths and work it out or you could try with a thicker wool. I did a post about grading a pattern that might be useful.

Measurements: bust 33"; length from shoulder 19”; sleeve seam 19”

Materials: 4-ply or fingering; 3.25mm US 3 and 2.25mm US 1 needles; press studs. The original used 9 ozs of Templeton's Opalsheen Knitting Wool (wool and rayon) but as this has been discontinued you'll need to substitute,

The pattern was free but can now be downloaded from Pretty Old Patterns

Wednesday, 23 December 2015

Happy Holidays - planning and scheming

I always find this time of year to be a bit of an oddity. Things are winding down but at the same time we are beginning to make plans for the new year. I don't tend to celebrate Christmas apart from eating far too much and watching a great deal more telly than I usually do so I too have been making plans.

This year my lovely man decided to start showing his artwork at comic cons so we spent the latter half of the year spending the weekends surrounded by geeks and fans and cosplayers. It was a lot of fun but tiring and I didn't manage to keep up with the shop at all. My plan for 2016 is to concentrate on the shop much more and to make this happen I will have to get the house tidy and sorted and find space to create a mini office.

It shouldn't be too hard but when you have a bedroom floor that is covered with junk apart from a small space by the bed, it can be hard to see how this is going to happen. So first things first and I need to sort out the bedroom which means I will be having a festive ebay session and try to sell all the clothes that are too small (which is most of them), all the shoes that I don't wear (except for my Westwoods) and all those other random bits and bobs that I have accumulated.

Then it will be operation Vintage Knitting Pattern and I will be sorting and scanning and selling all the lovelies that have been gathering dust over the past few decades.

Have a great holiday - rest, be kind to others and yourself and come back in the new year with vigour and fingers ready for knitting (or crocheting)

Monday, 20 July 2015

Summer Sale Wonders

Remember those good old fashioned summer sales that people used to camp out for weeks just so they could get a bargain? I'm having one of those but from the comfort of your own home. Go grab yourself a bargain with the Pretty Old Patterns Half Price Summer Sale

Saturday, 23 May 2015

Dorette Designs - a rare kind of knitting

Dorette emerged after WW2 in early 1946 and were a subscription based magazine to start with, so tend to be relatively scarce. They were produced 6 times a year and were only in production for a couple of years seem to have stopped publication in January 1950 as the last number I have seen in the series is 25.

These images come from Number 3 and was printed in 1946 as Miss Australia as a model and mentions her recent trip to Britain. She was in the UK in August 1946 so I think Number 3 dates from September/October 1946.

The books were meant to be the best in beautiful knitwear designs but they also tried hard with the book itself. The paper is not the usual flimsy post-war type but is smooth and very cleanly printed. There were never fewer than 44 pages to them and featured a range of garments, all specially designed for Dorette.

Update: A lovely Raveler has one numbered 27 so these lovely booklets went on until at least May 1950

Saturday, 2 May 2015

Peter the Penguin

It's the May Bank Holiday weekend here in the UK and it's freezing so to celebrate / commiserate, I thought that I'd offer this great pattern for a penguin to remind us that there are places that have it worse.

The pattern was published by Weldons in the mid 1940s but I've seen Pete in later booklets too so he was obviously popular.

Originally he was made from 2 strands of 3-ply held together but the pattern also says that he can be made from the 'NEW' thick wool or as we know it double knit.

Click on the link below if you want to download a free copy of Peter the (slightly sad looking) Penguin

Peter the Penguin Weldons 293

Sunday, 26 April 2015

Before and After

I'm lucky that most of my collection of patterns need very little work to make them into usable copies. I have a very simple work flow of scan the pattern, tweak the exposure, and maybe cover up a few tears or minor creases on the edges. Occasionally though, I come across a pattern I want to include but it's severely creased so I have to crack out Photoshop and try to make it look a little better.

I'm not an expert in any way with it but have learnt in the past year more small tricks to get a clearer copy of some of the worst ones and I'm feeling pretty happy with the results I'm now getting. This does take time but I love the end product and I hope you do too.

Saturday, 25 April 2015

Hints and Tips for Vintage Knitting

Knitting from vintage patterns is not difficult. The same 'rules' apply to them that apply to modern ones, you just have to be a bit careful. Make sure that you read the pattern through first and familiarise yourself with the abbreviations and instructions. This is the first in a series of posts that aims at helping you get more comfortable with using vintage patterns and making the garments you want to wear.

Old UK


Until the early 1970s Britain and the much of the commonwealth used Imperial needle measurements (which were based on wire gauges from the early 19th century). These were different from both metric sizes and US sizes and getting them confused can be the cause of a whole load of misery.

I have used the information from Ravelry.com for the metric to US conversion and you will see that not everything has a direct comparison so use you best judgement on what will suit the best.

Substituting Yarn

Most, if not all, of the wools suggested have been discontinued but you can sometimes find vintage wools on Ebay and Etsy and even in Ravelry user's stashes. Modern substitutes will work very well but you may find that some of the weights do not match the modern equivalent. In some cases 2-ply did not mean a lace weight yarn but more a 4-ply that was made from 2 plies (similar to Jamieson & Smith’s 2-ply Jumper Weight) and 3-ply and 4-ply could be interchangeable in some cases. Experiment and see what you come up with. To be completely sure you yarn will work, make a tension square.


It is important to check your gauge or tension before you start knitting your garment. One stitch more or less to the inch can have a dramatic, and not always welcome, effect on the garment. I tend not to worry about gauge in socks and accessories but always make one for a garment. It is also a smart thing to do to check that any yarn substitutions work before getting too involved.

Most patterns will give the stitch gauge but not always the row: aim to get the stitch count right. To make a tension square, cast on twice the number of stitches required for 1 inch plus 8 extra. If you need the square to be in the pattern work out the number in the pattern repeat.

Knit 4 rows (garter stitch) then start with your tension pattern – normally it is stocking stitch (1 row knit, 1 row purl) – but knit the first and last 4 stitches on every row. Carry on for 2 inches (or a complete pattern repeat if it’s larger than 2 inches) then finish with 4 rows of knit. Get a darning needle and break the yarn leaving enough to thread back through the live stitches. Thread the needle with the yarn end then slip the stitches off the needle and onto the thread. 

If you want you can wash your square and block the square but most vintage books just say to pin the square then measure the stitches. Ignore the garter stitch edges and measure across the square. If you have too many stitches you need to go down a half or even full needle size; if you have too few, go up a needle size.

I'll try and add  a new tip or hint every week to build up a full guide but if you have any tips of your own, please leave them in the comments section below and I can work them into later posts.

Saturday, 4 April 2015

No idea

No idea what size this was going to come out

No idea if I’d have enough wool

Since there was no gauge given on the pattern and it’s vintage double knit and 3-ply I had no idea what to aim for, especially as it is on 5.5mm needles but I did this on 5mm as the 5.5mm was too loose.

I've loved this pattern for ages. It's taken from The Pictorial Guide to Modern Home Knitting, edited by Catherine Franks, which was published by Odhams in 1939 originally and then quickly reprinted in 1940. The book is marvellous and well worth hunting down a copy as it has lots of lovely vintage patterns but is more a book on how to make your own patterns.

Anyway, this jumper. I had some old Patons Clansman but only 250 grams so knew that I was unlikely to get an entire garment from it so had thought about mixing it with another yarn to bulk it up a bit and make it go that little bit further. Then I remembered this pattern and realised that it would be perfect. A quick hunt through my stash brought up some Hayfield Courtelle 4-ply and I was away.

I followed the pattern to start with but quickly realised that by dropping half a needle size, it was going to be too small so unravelled what I had and started again but added 10 more stitches to the cast on (the body is worked from side to side) and increased the number of stitches cast on to make up the edge of the armholes. I also added an extra set of stripes to the body to counteract the smaller needles.

The waist ribbing was picked up across the bottom making sure it was kept nice and loose as it would need to keep some stretch. 

The sleeves were a bit trick as I was getting short of wool. I considered making them shorter but it looked wrong and shifted the pattern from a classic late 30s style into the bubble style of the 80s. I did the cuffs first then worked the sleeves top down, grafting them together.

I finished the sewing up with about a metre of the brown wool left over, Phew!

Since I couldn't find any buttons for the front to match the green wool, I crocheted some covers and slipped them on.

The original jumper doesn't have the buttoned neckline, but when this was being made it seemed quite tight and I was worried that there wouldn't be space for a head. After washing it though, it loosened up and now has a lovely drape to the cowl front and shows the green wool better.

Finished measurements (laid flat):Bust 35”, waist 24”, length 20” and although it's too small for me, it's ideal for a wonderful friend who loves the vintage look and wearing unusual clothes

Sunday, 29 March 2015

Lister 515 - Fair Isle Skating Outfit

Fair Isle Skating Outfit
This is an amazing skating set (or just an amazing set of clothes) consisting of a Fair Isle jumper with matching hat and a flared skirt with gloves.
The Fair Isle is fully written out but there is also a rudimentary chart that is used with the written pattern to help you keep track
The jumper uses 8 colours although this could be reduced if you want a more subtle sweater
Date: estimated later 1930s
Measurements and materials
Jumper - bust 34 to 36"; length 18.5"; sleeve seam 17"
3-ply or light fingering; 3.75mm US 5, 2.75mm US 2, and 2.25mm US 1 needles.
Original used 6 ozs Lister's Lavenda 3-ply in black, 1 oz in blue, green, violet, and mauve, and 1/2 oz in yellow, stone, and pink
Cap - average adult head
3-ply or light fingering; 3.75mm US 5 and 2.25mm US 1 needles.
Original used 1 oz Lister's Lavenda 3-ply in black, 1/2 oz in green and stone
Skating Skirt - length 25" (0.5" allowed for dropping); waist adjustable
4-ply or fingering; 3.75mm US 5 and 2.75mm US 2 circular needles; 1 zip 6" long; 1 yard petersham
Original used 14 ozs Lister's Lavenda 4-ply
Gloves - Fit average woman's hand
3-ply or light fingering; 3.75mm US 5 and 2.75mm US 2 needles
Original used 2 ozs Lister's Lavenda 3-ply in black
Tension: 7 stitches and 9 rows to 1 inch using 3.75mm over stocking stitch

Monday, 9 March 2015

Pin and Needles - the ultimate craft magazine

In September 1949 a new craft magazine hit the newsagents and it's name was PINS AND NEEDLES. With their bold and bright, almost cartoon like, covers it must have been refreshing to see in the post war era.

There had been craft magazines before, most famously Stitchcraft, but nothing that had covered the range of crafts that Christine Veasey imagined for hers. I have 49 copies of this wonderful magazine ranging from the first edition until to No. 167 for December 1966. Published quarterly until November 1952 it then went bi-monthly. By March 1955 it had become successful enough to go to being a monthly publication which it continued to be into the 1980s (but under a different editor and company).

Initially it was mainly knitting and crochet with a bit of needlework or embroidery. There was the occasional wood working project, usually furniture but sometimes toys or garden items. As time passed, the subjects spread to include dress making, tatting, hair pin lace, and cooking. There was always a good coverage new sewing patterns that you could buy directly from the magazine offices. Christine Veasay went to America on regular trips and brought back ideas that were new and fresh and translated them to the British sense of taste.

In March 1955 a section called Home Making was introduced. Britain suffered a severe housing shortage during and after the Second World War but by 1951 houses were springing up all over the UK. Although a great many were council owned, tenants could decorate them as they chose and Pins and Needles was there to help. They offered decorating advice, what the latest colour schemes were, how to renovate old furniture, how to build new furniture: everything to make your house modern. Within a few months, the Home Making section had been re-branded into Weekend Workshop which was aimed more at men with 'Bertie Buggetwise' as their guide to making everything from glass topped coffee tables to built in wardrobes, and advice on how to plumb in sinks and put up tv aerials. 

Unlike Stitchcraft which was marketed by Patons and Baldwins to sell their yarns, Pins and Needles had to rely on other sources of income namely advertisers. Initially it was mainly yarn and handicraft suppliers with the odd advert for a knitting or sewing machine but as the years progressed more and more general catalogues, along with calls for people to become agents for them, became common. Whereas the early advertisers stressed their value for money and quality product, the latter ones start offering credit as a means of payment and offering the latest this and the newest that, possibly paving the way to the economic crash of 1973.

Aside from it being a crafting magazine, it also documented the changes that the British people were undergoing and reflected not just fashion trends but social and economic ones too. The Britain of the late 1940s was one of hardship, rationing and a country coming to terms with the cost, both financially and socially, of a global war. By 1957, full employment, a rise in consumerism, wages, and export led Harold MacMillan to make his 'never had it so good' speech and Britain was booming.

Saturday, 7 March 2015

Pins and Needles Covers

The covers of Pins and Needles

No. 1 Winter 1949
 No. 11 Summer 1952
No. 12 Autumn 1952
No. 15 March 1953
No. 17 July 1953
No. 18 September 1953
 No. 19 November 1953
No. 20 January 1954
No. 22 May 1954
No. 27 March 1955
No. 29 May 1955
No. 32 August 1955
 No. 35 November 1955
 No. 36 December 1955
No. 37 January 1956
No. 39 March 1956
 No. 40 April 1956
 No. 41 May 1956
 No. 49 January 1957
No. 52 April 1957
 No. 53 May 1957
No. 56 August 1957
No. 58 October 1957
No. 59 November 1957
No. 60 December 1957
No. 61 January 1958
No. 62 February 1958
No. 63 March 1958
 No. 64 April 1958
No. 65 May 1958
No. 66 June 1958
No. 68 August 1958
No. 69 September 1958
No. 72 December 1958
 No. 74 February 1959
No. 75 March 1959
No. 76 April 1959
 No. 82 October 1959
No. 83 November/December 1959
No. 86 March 1960
No. 92 September 1960
No. 98 March 1961
 No. 99 April 1961
No. 121 February 1963
No. 153 October 1965
No. 167 December 1966
No. 105 October 1961
No. 124 May 1963
No. 165 November 1966