Tag Archives: 40s

Where to find vintage knitting patterns online

Are you a fan of vintage knitting patterns? I certainly am. Luckily for us there are many places to get that vintage pattern fix. There are currently numerous good pattern books in print. But sometimes you want just one individual pattern. That’s where the technological marvel that is the internet comes in! Please enjoy this handy vintage link-fest!

Vintage Knitting Patterns – For Sale

The Retro Knitting Lady
This is one of my favourite sites, even just for browsing. The Fair Isle section is a spectacular wall of 1940s and 50s knitting fashion! You can pay for a pdf, or have the original mailed to you.

Iva Rose
This site sells reproduction knitting patterns and specialises in 1920s and 30s fashions.

Vintage Knitting Patterns
You can order some extremely comprehensive and properly reprinted collections of vintage patterns from here. There are patterns dating from 1895 to 1963!

“The largest collection of knitting patterns in the world” apparently! I can believe that, looking around the site. There are a couple of freebies available on it, but most patterns are for sale. Please note: you can only buy physical copies of patterns.

Knit on the Net
Susan Crawford has published many vintage reproduction and inspired patterns in print, but some are also available individually online. Worth a browse if you can’t be bothered translating old pattern formats.

Vintage Knitting Patterns – For Free

A Rarer Borealis
A blog that posts an eclectic mix of free knitting patterns from the 20s-50s. From the bizarre to the cute and peppy, it’s well worth bookmarking.

Subversive Lesbian Anarchic Femme
Another blog with free vintage patterns posted to it – lots of 30s and 40s stuff from Australian archives.

London V & A
The Victoria & Albert museum has a small selection of WW2 knitting patterns available. These are wearable, but historically noteworthy patterns of military wear and wool-saving clothes for the women and children left behind. 

Free Vintage Knitting Patterns
Well this does what it says on the tin! This is an enormous site that has gone to great lengths collecting free knitting patterns wherever it can find them. You will find patterns for every need, from blankets to jumpers to dog clothing. 

Vintage Purls
Free mid-century knitting patterns for everyone, from New Zealand publications.

Antique Pattern Library
The patterns and guidebooks scanned in here are from the 1850s onwards and include knitting, crochet, needlepoint, tatting, tapestry, all sorts of crafts! A mix of mostly American and English patterns as far as I can tell. A very large site.

A Good Yarn
A scan of “Fleisher’s Knitting and Crocheting Manual,” 1922 is available here.

Where NOT to buy vintage knitting patterns

Copyright is a bit of tricky issue to navigate at times, but there’s honest mistakes and then there’s shamelessly and repeatedly ignoring a pattern source in favour of profit. If a vintage pattern site does not explicitly state that the copyrights have been checked then it’s probably not a good resource.

The reason  I’m providing an actual blacklist is because most of the vintage knitting patterns being sold on the sites below have been stolen from the completely free sources I have listed above. This swindles you, the customer, and the honest sites who have done their homework and make revenue from advertising. Plus it’s just rude.

  • Ebay seller Bythelightofthemoon
  • vintagepatternshop.co.uk
  • Etsy seller toknittowoo


Filed under Guides/How-to's

FO: Jocosa Jumper

Hello! I hope you all had a marvellous Christmas! England remains bereft of snow, but no matter, because I’ve had a lovely relaxing holiday anyway. The fridge is full of delicious leftovers and there’s been lots of quality family time. My little brother brought home his shiny new Xbox Kinect and I played Fruit Ninja ’til my arms almost fell off. But I now hold about 75% of all the high scores so it was worth it. Also, I got a wool voucher for Christmas! Gosh, how did my parents know???

Now, as for that jumper I’ve been working on…it took a bit of frantic knitting and sewing, but I did it! I made a whole jumper in time for Christmas lounging.

Jocosa jumper

Yes I am very festive here

I deem it a success! It’s comfy, it’s the right length to wear with jeans, people even complimented it before they realised I’d knitted it too!Jocosa Sleeve

This is the photo that shows the colours best I think. The sleeves were the trickiest bit because I had to recalculate the sleeve cap to make it fit the larger yoke (all because I did not wish to faff around with neck openings!).

The original pattern also called for a massive amount of stitch increases right after the sleeve pattern was finished. I found that quite odd but I pressed on anyway. Sometimes you get knitting instructions that make no sense at the time! It worked out though, so I guess I have learnt a new way of increasing the width of short sleeves?

I seem to have posted quite a bit about this one jumper! My Ravelry project page has all sorts of detailed photos on it if you would like to see more.

All that remains now is to relax for the rest of 2011 and maybe finish off the Christmas pudding. Cheers!


Filed under Finished Objects, Projects

Knit, knit, knitting away at Jocosa

It’s been a while since I mentioned the Jocosa jumper, but I’ve finally reached the point where I feel it’s picture-worthy. That’s right: the yoke is done!

Jocosa jumper yoke

Jocosa jumper fair isle knittingYou may notice I haven’t stuck to the original 7-shade colour scheme. Instead I chose to mix things up in the honourable name of stashbusting.

Man, this has been slow going. I muffed up the re-calculated increases. Then I muffed up the fair isle pattern itself. Despite all that and the fact that I knit at half-speed with two colours I have pressed on with nary a curse word nor loss of momentum. Is there some kind of official scale of knitting zen? Well there should be! On THE UNOFFICIAL KNITTING ZEN SCALE OF ONE TO TEN,
where 1 is:

and 10 is:

I think I’m about a 7.

Anyway, a milestone has been reached! After the armhole shaping it’s just nice ‘n’ easy stockinette all the way down. Let me sign off with a nice picture of those hard-won floats…

Jocosa jumper floats

Leave a comment

Filed under Projects, WIPs

Book Review: A Stitch In Time Vol. 2

It’s arrived! The mightiest tome of vintage knitting patterns to date! Like just about every other knitter with a taste for vintage clothing, I’ve been looking forward with great anticipation to A Stitch In Time Vol. 2 by Susan Crawford and Jane Waller. It’s been a long time in the making but that time was well spent. This book is huge! It’s like a door!

A Stitch in Time Vol. 2

Why yes, I did rip it open immediately!

The binding and print quality of is fantastic – filled with thick matte pages. Oh and just look at the cloth cover hiding under the dust jacket!

A Stitch in Time Vol.2 cover


That spine looks good and strong too; a very important quality in a book that’s going to be propped open relentlessly by readers everywhere…

A Stitch in Time Vol.2 side

Count those pages!

Because I pre-ordered my copy I also got this lovely little pack of goodies:

ASIT 2 preorder pack

From right to left: Excelana 4-ply, Knitshop Cotton 4-ply, discount vouchers for both of those yarns and one handy project bag (just what I needed!).

I might just test out those sample skeins at some point, but those are posts for another day.

Vol. 2 contains a grand total of 80 patterns and every single one has been re-made and given the lush photography treatment that made the last book so unique! The patterns are all knitted (though some have a little crochet finishing). Apparently there are plans for a dedicated crochet volume some time in the future, so there’s that to look forward to if you’re into that kind of thing. You can see the patterns here and also on Ravelry for yourself (although they won’t all be up straight away).

Ranging from 1930-59, the patterns are divided by decade, with a little detail on the decade’s fashions before each one. The patterns include all sorts, from classic cardigans and blouses to fezzes and shawls. I’m also pleased to see a couple of items that make up in historical value what they lack in practicality!

Each pattern includes both the original and a modern, multi-size reproduction for you to take your pick from. I always enjoy reading old pattern descriptions because you just don’t see phrases like “the most fascinating collar!” and “just so appropriate for summer!” anymore.

On the technical side of things, the modern patterns get an A+. All lace, cabling and colourwork has been fully charted. Even the schematics are a cut above the usual standard. How many modern patterns give you the underarm-to-waist measurement? That stuff matters when you’re trying to get that perfect vintage fit that hits you right on the narrowest part of your waist.

On top of that, an incredible amount of re-sizing has been done. There’s a good range of sizes on offer, typically 32″ – 46″ bust size, although not all patterns have the same range. This is because some items are clearly grading nightmares, but wow, they got recalculated and put in anyway. I can’t begin to imagine the determination you’d need to edit some of the (decidedly gorgeous) lace patterns in there! Susan’s blog has some more detail on the pattern resizing process (and limits) which is an interesting background read.

But what really jumped out and impressed me was the opening sections of the book: An in-depth guide to the intricacies of knitting vintage patterns. There are photoguides to proper finishing, tips on adjusting patterns to fit your own body better, even how to pick authentic looking buttons! No basic ‘learn-to-knit’ instructions here, there’s advanced tips on swatching and grading too. Yet it’s laid out clearly enough that the book could make vintage knitters of us all.

A Stitch In Time 2 tips

Just a hint of what you get here!

Now for the really important issue: What am I going to knit from this book?

Well for starters I’ve had my eye on this fine gauge ‘Blouse with Gathered Neckline’ ever since I saw previews of it. All it takes is 100g of cobweb lace yarn! I have some lovely stuff from Old Maiden Aunt set aside especially.

A Stitch In Time Vol.2

I wasn’t struck by the ‘Golden Eagle Ladies Jumper’ much at first but the more I look at it I think “Hmmm…maybe if it was monochrome…and the bows were moved around…oh hey, I could totally wear that!”

A Stitch in Time Golden Eagle

And I’ll keep the modern version of this ‘Star Time Dressy Top’ a secret for now…but suffice to say this is exactly everything I love about 1950s eveningwear concentrated into one top. So pretty!

ASIT2 Star Time Dressy Top

Others I’ve already put on the maybe list: ‘One never tires of ribbing’, ‘Warm Jacket with unusual bobble-stitch yoke’, ‘Trimmed with Roses jumper’, ‘Victory Cardigan’, ‘Middy Jacket’,’So Neat and Sweet’…oh let’s just say 50% of the patterns and at leave it at that shall we?

If it isn’t obvious, I’m kind of in love with the book! So many thoughtful details have come together here, both asthetically and technically, that the end product is an absolute treasure. This really was worth the wait! You’ve never seen a knitting book quite like this before, I guarantee you.  I kinda hope this volume does well enough to justify giving Vol.1 the same binding treatment. Can you imagine how gorgeous two cloth hardbacks would look side-by-side on your bookshelf?

A Stitch In Time, Volumes 1 and 2 are available to buy here.


Filed under Reviews

Resizing a vintage pattern – Part 2

Welcome back! This is the follow up to last week’s post about taking a vintage sweater and updating it for modern times. I sorted out the original schematic, I picked out some replacement yarn, and now it’s time to do the rest!

La Laine Bairnswear 2214

If you’re interested in where I got the pattern, you can buy it here.

Step 3: Modern Modifications

This pattern is meant to be knitted flat, from the bottom up. Now look, plastic technology has come a long way in the last 70 years and there’s no reason to faff about with such inefficient construction. Circular needles are cheap and plentiful! I’m going top-down and in the round like the 21st century knitter I am.

The yoke also includes an opening at one of the shoulder so you can get the thing over your head. It’s supposed to do up with a zip but I don’t care for that. I’d much rather use some cute buttons. But buttons would break up the fair isle so… how about I just make the neck bigger? My stitch gauge is bigger that the original anyway, so if I knit the yoke as written I get a neck of 20″. Problem solved. It looks like a large stitch gauge might not be so bad.

Now those mods were for ease of construction. I also need to adjust the fit. The difference between my bust and waist isn’t quite as pronounced as it is on the pattern. This just means I’ll do less shaping rows on the body, but spaced out over the same amount of rows as the original.

This isn't exactly what I'm doing but it illustrates the concept

Lastly, I’ll make it longer so I can wear it modern trousers. The plain stockinette of the body ends at the waist and adding 2.5″ extra will make it a good length. The extra stockinette will also include a bunch of increasing rows for my hips. If that’s not included the ribbing will keep riding up to the waist and look ridiculous.

This may all sound like resizing, and the two sort of go hand in hand, but the above is all about changing the design and shaping of the jumper, not about changing the actual dress size. So after all this we come to…

Step 4: Time to make it fit.

The final step of resizing:the actual resizing itself!

With all the modifications and gauge and original schematic taken into account, it’s just a matter of carefully adding or taking away stitches until the pattern measurements match yours instead. Here’s the new schematic I’m working to:

As I’m only two dress sizes above the original,  I can rely on the increased stitch gauge to do most of the work for me. If I was significantly different to the pattern however, I’d probably go down a needle size so as to better match the original gauge, then add/subtract a couple of pattern repeats to the yoke for a more controlled grading.

The main thing to worry about when resizing is whether the armholes and sleevecap match up. The original sleeve would’ve fit me just fine so I have to lose quite a few sleeve increases to make the new gauge work.

Again, ain’t nothing special here but basic maths and my (now!) in-depth understanding of the pattern. There are probably several ways to resize the various parts, but my general strategy is to remove/add stitches at the points of shaping already in the pattern. As this pattern is not free I’m a little wary about going into too much detail for this post, but I hope this is enough to give hints to anyone trying to convert a similar vintage pattern.

Now that I have a printout thoroughly covered in highlighter and pen, I guess there’s nothing left to do but…cast on!

Previous post: Schematics and Yarn substitution

1 Comment

Filed under Guides/How-to's

Resizing a vintage pattern – Part 1

Vintage style is unavoidable. The 70s are all à la mode, the 40s/50s swing/rockbilly subculture is growing by the day, Mad Men singlehandedly raised demand for shift dresses and whisky and just about everything old is new again.  Fashion eats itself every two generations like clockwork. Why? I suspect it has to do with the “Everything was better when I was 12” fallacy. Selectively picking the best of your youth? Even designers are prone to it! That’s why when the 80s were briefly back in everyone conveniently forgot about velvet bodices.

I don’t mind this at all though. That whole 40s/50s thing? Suits me down to the ground. Long live the visible waist! So now that I’ve done one 40s jumper I’ve still got enough wool (and patience) for another. Enter this piece of pure granny chic:

La Laine Bairnswear 2214

Also called the ‘Jocosa’ jumper, it’s kinda similar to the last one: Fair isle yoke, lightweight, supertight crewneck. However I have no swishy reproduced pattern to help me this time and this pattern is written for a 34/35″ bust. That’s nowhere near the heft of my bosom. It’s a resizing challenge! Here is how I personally like to set about such a challenge. Hopefully it will be illuminating:

Step 1: Schematics, shmatics

Let’s start by getting to grips with the pattern and figure out how this pattern is meant to fit the lady of yesteryear.

The original schematic is, um, a little sparse.

Vintage schematic

Oh and to make things even more fun, there’s no row gauge. That seems to be a thing with the vintage patterns I’ve looked at. They all tend to be written as “repeat X  three times, then do Y for 3 inches” which I guess gets you out of having to work out a row gauge at all. Every freakin section of this jumper pulls this trick. So unfortunately there is no option but to pore over the pattern with only those three measurements and a stitch gauge as clues. Who doesn’t love basic arithmetic though? After a good session of mashing row counts and stitch gauges into a calculator with my forehead, I came up with a new improved schematic…

Vintage jumper schematic


And a row gauge of 9rws/inch! Honestly, that was half maths and half guessing based on other vintage patterns. The main thing is that the sleeve head matches up with the armscye at that row gauge.

Note how this thing has zero ease all over. Any changes should still result in something pin-up tight. Aw dang, now I’ll need to buy a girdle or something.

Step 2: New yarn for old.

Times and yarns change and so we must do some substitution.  Let’s check the materials requirements. Hey, remember that Everything-was-better-when-I-was-12 fallacy?


 The 21st century has it’s problems, but at least we no longer use degrading racial epithets to specify a shade of wool.

Anyway, those knitting needles sizes are old UK sizes. Luckily there are plenty of good conversion charts about. I actually have some needles in these old school sizes laying about. When my grandma heard I’d taken up knitting she promptly offered me a whole case of old needles and crochet hooks, each one tinier than the last. The case even had an odd needle in UK size seventeen. That’s 1.4mm! I didn’t even know that was a thing that was made.

Yarn substitution is a snap for me, because I have a jumper I made earlier to hand. It’s a close enough gauge, and I certainly have enough yardage. Gauge doesn’t need to be exact because a) it’s hard to match older yarns and b) there’s already a schematic to fit the gauge to. Try to match at least one of the original gauges though, stitch count or row count, whatever. It means less recalculating later.

New yarn: Jamieson’s 2-ply jumper yarn, at 6 sts/9 rws per inch, on 3.75mm needles.

If you have no convenient pre-made jumper, start swatching! A handy rule of thumb is that vintage 3-ply is roughly equivalent to 4-ply. You certainly wouldn’t want anything thicker than 4-ply to do fair isle patterns like the one on this jumper.

Swatching is particularly important for rationing-era patterns. During those times, many patterns were republished with thinner yarns hastily subbed in. The idea was to save wool for the soldiers and you may find that the resulting fabric is too scanty for your liking.

That’s enough for one post!

Next up: Resizing and modifying

1 Comment

Filed under Guides/How-to's