Tuesday, 12 February 2019

50 Years of Patons patterns

It's Tuesday and up to now (for the past few years) I have usually been at Lee Mills on a Tuesday, working on the Knitting & Crochet Guild collection.  But, as I've mentioned in an earlier post, the collection is moving.  The move is scheduled for next week, and everything is all packed up ready to go, so we are having this week off.  (Next week, on the other hand, is likely to be very busy.)

 I've decided to use my unexpected free time to showcase the Patons pattern archive, which was given to the Guild a few years ago.  I have picked out a pattern from each of 50 years covered by the archive, starting in 1979 (because it's 40 years ago, a nice round number), and working backwards to 1930.  I'll post them over on Instagram (where I am @barbaraknitsagain), starting today with the 1979 pattern, also shown here: 

Patons 1702
The pattern describes it as "Casual good looks for this shawl-collared jacket in a sporty yarn.  Garter stitch ridges for an interesting background to the broken cables, and the shawl collar and edgings are in simple garter stitch."  It's knitted in Patons Capstan, "a rugged sports yarn, originally designed for Aran knitting, but now available in bold striking colours as well."  Still a good-looking jacket, I think.

Assigning dates to the patterns is sometimes a bit tricky.  The later 1970s pattern leaflets have copyright dates, so that's easy. Because we have the archive, we have the master copies, and in the 1960s and 1970s, those often have the date of issue written on.  In the 1950s, the company had a club for its customers, with a quarterly newsletter, Knitters Circle News, that usually mentioned a few of the latest leaflets. Otherwise, I have relied on ads in magazines - the magazines are dated, and I assume that companies would only advertise their newest patterns.

There are two periods when it's been particularly difficult to find a representative leaflet for a year.  The first is during World War 2, when for several years Patons did not advertise their leaflets.  They may have produced catalogues for yarn shops, but if so, we don't have any in the collection.  So assigning a year of publication involves some guesswork. The other is in the early 1930s, when there are gaps in the archive.  The earliest leaflet in the archive is number 170, published in the late 1920s.  (The company was then called Patons & Baldwins - it had been formed by a merger of Patons of Alloa and Baldwins of Halifax in 1920.)

Patons & Baldwins Helps to Knitters No. 170
The leaflets numbered 211 to 290 are missing from the archive, and these may include the leaflets published in 1930.  So my choice to represent that year may have actually been published in 1929 - apologies in advance.

But I hope that Instagram users who like vintage knitting patterns will enjoy seeing the changing styles as we go back in time from 1979.  If it proves popular, I might repeat the exercise, maybe with patterns for men or children.

And as I've said before, members of the Knitting & Crochet Guild can have copies of vintage Patons patterns, for personal use, on request - just email collections@kcguild.org.uk. 


  1. Aha! I shall head over to your Instagram to look at the patterns; I bet they're fascinating.

    1. Thanks< Mim. Hope you enjoy them. I'm planning to post one every day.

  2. That beret looks like exactly what I need! I don't do much on IG but will go over and find your posts :)

  3. Found your wonderful blog when I was googling Helps for Knitters No. 290 as I have a copy here in Sydney, Australia. It has pattern for two ladies cardigans "Opal" and "Nina".


    1. Thanks for the comment. How lucky to have found No. 290, which as I said we don't have in the Patons archive. There are some lovely patterns from the 1930s - hope you enjoy knitting Opal or Nina.

    2. Hi Barbara,
      I'm happy to scan it for the Guild's archives if that is any help (I would offer to keep the scan and send the pattern back home to Yorkshire to add to the archives but I wouldn't trust the mail system at the moment being so slow with the lack of flights).
      KarenB :)

    3. Hi Karen. I've sent you an email message, but there's a mistake in the address you gave - not sure I've changed it to the correct one.
      If you haven't got it, you can email me at barbaraknitsgain@gmail.com

  4. Where can u buy this pattern or do u have to download it

    1. As I've said in the post, copies of patterns that I showed on Instagram in the series '50 years of Patons patterns' are available free to members of the Knitting & Crochet Guild (which anyone can join). Many of the patterns are still in copyright, and although we have permission to copy them, we do not have permission to sell copies.


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