Saturday, 12 April 2014

Knitting legacies

Yesterday my friend and partner is woolly endeavours, Nic and I met up to make some really exciting plans for some summer activities which we will be telling you all about very soon.

As a reward for being serious and focussed for several hours we treated ourselves to a bit of a tour of our favourite charity shops.As we both need to be disciplined about the amount of 'treasure' we bring home with us, vintage china was admired and carefully put back, handbags were acknowledged as bargains and left on the hooks but as any charity shop treasure hunter will tell you, finding an innocent looking plastic bag on a bottom shelf can be fatal, especially when you're both textile artists and  it's full of hundreds of vintage knitting patterns.... As if that wasn't enough, the lady behind the counter noticed our interest and produced another four large files from under her desk like rabbits out of a hat. We really could have spent hours going through them and certainly plan a return trip but here is a sample of a few that I couldn't walk away from.

I like looking at old knitting patterns for many reasons, particularly as they offer a window into the day to day lives of people in the relatively recent past. This boy, whose jumper is described as a windjammer. looks like he has come straight out of an Enid Blyton book with his short trousers, shirt and tie under his casual woolly and keen interest in aviation. Mercifully Robin Nylona Multiply turns out to be a very fine wool, nylon blend knit at 30 stitches to the four inches. It's a sign of the times that in an era when new, man made fibres were coming onto the market that Robin marketed their wool highlighting the nylon content rather than as we do now, concentrating on the natural fibre.

I really like the colour photography of the earlier patterns. However, this child seems a little swamped in blue wool. A lot of the patterns of this era seemed to dress children head to toe in very warm woollen garments. I think we sometimes forget that houses at the time were not as well heated as they are now but I also remember that my mum would dress my sister and I up warmly and leave the pram out in the garden, just to make sure we got plenty of fresh air. Despite this rather overwhelming outfit I am quite smitten with the hat and can see mysself adapting it for future baby knitting.

I rather like this next pattern. The artwork has the feel of a cinemascope movie and, If I can instill a little more discipline in my waistline I would happily wear this little cross over top.

This next pattern brings things a little more up to date as by the late 50's and early 60's it was being acknowledged that younger adults had style and tastes of their own and this pattern is attempting to meet their needs. I have a feeling that the couple on the moped aren't actually going anywhere but I love the fact that she is pulling on his scarf to give a sensation of speed. I can't help remembering the one and only time my dad took my mum on the back of his moped. As he leaned into corners, she leaned out. Mum took the bus home.

Both the colour palette and the styling of this pattern move it firmly into the 1960s with its rather groovy mother and daughter headgear sets. Some may have stood the test of time better than others. The caps are rather chic. Helmets? Not so much.

Finally, I have one pattern which came home with me because it has no particular merit other than making me laugh out loud.

Caption anyone?


Anonymous said...

On old knitting patterns; Plenty of UK homes are not now well heated because too many people cannot afford to use the heating systems which they may have. Lots of young children would benefit from being warmly dressed in woollen handknits, but not all families still have the know-how to make warm clothes for their children and for themselves.

Marion said...

Twinset and ... bullets???

Natalie Lyons said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Natalie Lyons said...

It's a sharp shooter!

Probably Jane said...

I don't usually publish anonymous comments but will on this occasion as your point is well made and noted. I try to do my bit to share knitting skills with anyone who wants to learn!

Mairead Hardy said...

I think the man pointing at the gun is saying 'Noooooo! It comes out THIS end!'

The mother and daughter hat pattern leaflet is vaguely familiar... I think my aunt made a set for me and my mother. *Shudder*

Michele Marshall said...

I love old patterns - especially like the "going steady" one. A friend and I often go through an old box of patterns - it a bit like going through old albums remembering when you knitted each one!

Sharon in Surrey said...

Dawn? With your second??

Love those old patterns!! I buy them & use them for Charity knitting that's going to relief camps & orphanages. The people are smaller & thinner so the patterns work better than our huge North American ones.