Saturday 10 April 2010

Updating a Classic

I have had a copy of Marion Foale's Classic Knitwear for years (though I think that strictly speaking it is my sister's and I have it on long loan).  It was published in 1985, when I was not knitting, so I have never made any of the jumpers in the book (although I did persuade my mother to knit one for me).   Since I started knitting again, I have had it in mind to knit one of them some time. 

The jumpers and cardigans in the book are quite simple designs, and the stitches are not complicated.  They are all knitted in one colour, too. But they are all, I thought, very wearable - classics, in fact.

However, when I came to look at the patterns in detail, with a serious intention to knit one, I saw that they won't do.  The shapes are wrong for today - they are mostly very loose-fitting, in the body and the sleeves, and they all have dropped shoulders, which makes for bagginess around the armholes. Many of the jumpers have a close fitting rib, followed by an increase in the number of stitches, as well as a change to a larger needle.  That means that the waist is much wider than the hips - nowadays we make jumpers much more close-fitting.     

The jumper I wanted to knit, Badminton, is actually described as "a long slender shape", though to a modern eye it looks very roomy, especially around the waist and armholes. The waist is 6 inches bigger than the waist size it is intended for, and the tops of the sleeves are very wide too. 

But it still is basically a very appealing jumper, I think.  I love the  vertical lines (each is a single stitch in moss stitch (aka seed stitch)), and the square neckline, also in moss stitch.  So I am attempting to knit a slimmer version with set-in sleeves. I am using a straightforward modern pattern for DK yarn, and morphing that into Badminton

 The yarn I am using is Wendy Supreme mercerised cotton (DK weight)  - thicker than the yarn originally  intended.   The colour is a sort of blue-green (teal?). I'll report progress later.


  1. I love the patterns in the book. At least they are not the big padded shoulders versions. Not sure if those will EVER come back. Even so, the older patterns always have some detail worth looking at (or laughing at).

  2. Yes, the patterns with the huge shoulders would probably be more difficult to modify. I've seen big wide shoulders in the fashion pages recently, but they don't seem to be catching on, fortunately.


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