I thought I’d share a couple of great vintage patterns I got recently, one of which I will probably never knit and another that I’ve been swatching for.
I came upon these patterns whilst I was visiting my parents in Dorset before Easter. One of the local charity shops had opened up a vintage room upstairs so I just had to check it out.
I think both patterns date from the 1930s and both appear to have seen active service, or at least have required some taping together.
The first is a Copley’s pattern for June Clyde’s Tyrolean Coat.
Tyrolean styles were popular in the 1930s and June Clyde was a movie star and appeared in many films at this time. She was a pretty regular feature in ‘Picturegoer’ a popular fortnightly magazine available in movie theatres from the mid 1920s in the UK. I imagine the magazine was aimed mainly at women containing very glamourous pictures of movie stars and also knitting patterns. This is referenced on the front of the pattern that had previously appeared in Picturegoer thus:
Instructions for knitting June Clyde’s pet woollie appeared recently in the “Picturegoer” and are reproduced in this leaflet by permission of that paper and Miss Clyde. Here is what she says:
This year’s loveliest handknits seem to have been inspired by the Tyrol – and isn’t mine the prettiest of all? Look at those cute “buttons”, which are just tufts of gay wool. And the cable effect – simply ribbing drawn together at intervals by two or three colourful stitches! I felt it would be a shame to keep such a gem all to myself so I gladly agreed to let the instructions be published.
You’ll find it easy and quick to make and I hope you’ll love it as much as I do.
The second pattern is a Paton’s & Baldwin’s ‘Helps to Knitters’ pattern for a Baby’s Knitted Set called ‘Maisie’.
Whilst I think this is also a 30s pattern I think the design is remarkably contemporary with a nice combination of garter and stocking stitch with a simple geometric eyelet pattern. This is the pattern I’m excited to knit.
I also love that the pattern refers to ‘plain’ knitting. This is what I started knitting long before I’d ever heard of garter stitch. I’m not sure when people started calling ‘plain’ knitting garter stitch, but at home with my mum it is, and always has been, plain knitting.
The stocking stitch in this pattern appears to be referred to as ‘plain, smooth fabric’ to distinguish it from the ‘knit plain’ instructions.
Despite clear instructions to use the right wool to ‘be safe’ across the top of the page, this isn’t an option, instead I’ll have to stick to the other instructive heading ‘The right tensions is very important!’.
The pattern calls for No.7 needles, but converting an imperial No. 7 to a metric 4.5 seems a little on the big size if I’m aiming for 6 ½ stitches to the inch; the tension given. I’m assuming there was a whole other needle sizing scale at work at this point. I thought I’d try a 3.25mm and see how I got on.
I’m opting for 4 ply rather than the non-shrink baby 3 ply as I have 4 ply in my stash. I started swatching with some wool I’d dyed myself in pale green, turquoise and mauve. I started swatching in in stocking stitch or ‘plain, smooth fabric’ as instructed, and the pattern even provides a photograph to scale of the swatch. I then started to work a stepped transition from the plain, smooth fabric to plain knitting to see how the 2 textures would look in my slightly variegated wool.
I decided the contrast was a little lost in the yarn and tried another swatch, this time in some deep red semi-solid red yarn that I’d also dyed myself. I really like how this yarn is knitting up – the results of my dyeing look so much better in the knitted fabric than in the ball, but I fear this may be a bit dark for a 6 month old.
The pattern is written for a single size – 6 months old only. The measurements given are for around the body at the under arms – 21 inches and length 11 inches. That seems a generous chest measurement but it’s not entirely clear how much ease is built in and how much flare there is. I think the shoulder measurements will dictate fit more but these aren’t given. I could work this out a bit more by deconstructing the pattern but actually with a fair few babies due this summer, including one twin known to be a girl (the other having hidden during the scan) I think I’ll have potential recipients across enough of a size range to not have to worry too much.
However, having dismissed my first two yarn choices I realised I don’t have too many young baby friendly coloured 4 plys in my stash. I don’t generally worry too much about this and have generally knitted 1 year old sizes in DK as baby gifts in the past using stronger, brighter colours. But my 4 ply solids are all distinctly dark and rather grown up.
The pattern calls for 2 ounces of 3 ply (yardage unknown) and I have 50g of Jaeger Matchmaker a nice pale caramel/camel colour which might stretch, but could also be rather tight if 3 plys give substantially more yardage than 4 plys, as would make sense. I also have 66g of the same yarn in pink. I’m afraid I can’t bring myself to knit the whole thing in pink but I think I’ll do the bottom hems and garter bands in the pink hoping that this will leave me with enough of the caramel to do the rest? I think they look good together.
The only other modification I’m going to make is to put in 3 buttonholes at the bodice/neckband rather than thread the ribbon through eyelets at the neck. I just think that’s a little more practical and I’m never sure about ribbon threaded through eyelets at the neck of a child’s garment. I’m not sure a 6 month old would have the manual dexterity to get itself into trouble but I’m not sure I want to put it to the test.
If all goes well and I enjoy knitting this (and sewing it up) there is a yarn that I think could work very well for this pattern.
Fenella by Susan Crawford is a 2 ply yarn that knits as 3 ply and I’ve had the opportunity to swatch with it. It’s gorgeous and knits up a great fabric at both a tighter and looser gauge. It’s also a dream in the hand and comes in a fabulous range of 16 colours.Photograph © Susan Crawford