Friday, 9 July 2010

Modern Home Knitting

I mentioned before that I bought several books from the surplus library stock at the Knitting and Crochet Guild's Open Day a few weeks ago.  One criterion in choosing books was that they should include at least one  pattern for something that might still be interesting to knit (with more or less adaptation, of course).  The oldest book I bought is from the late 1930s, I think - The Pictorial Guide to Modern Home Knitting, by Catherine Franks.  It is undated, but there is no mention of war-time shortages or austerity, so I think it must be pre-war. On the other hand, the designs show some features I associate with the 1940s (some jumpers have very square shoulders) as well as some 1930s features (dresses have skirts nearly to the ankle). So late 30s, I guess.

The Pictorial Guide to Modern Home Knitting

It is very comprehensive, with tutorial material on how to knit, lots of stitch patterns, and instructions for knitting just about every kind of garment you could imagine knitting.  Except that there are hardly any patterns for coats or indeed anything that would need thick yarn.  Although the section on yarn does list double knitting wool as "a very thick thread for skirts and outerwear", the author does not mention it again - the patterns are for fingering weight or finer yarn. (The one exception is a jacket in "astrakhan" yarn.) It's odd - these days, for many knitters, double knitting is the thinnest yarn they use for knitting jumpers and cardigans, and yet houses are much better heated now than in the 30s.    But then, to judge from this book, they wore lots of hand-knitted woolly underwear. 

Here's a pattern that I think is pretty (if you get into a 1930s mindset) though I am not planning to knit it.  But I do like the idea of using a lace stitch pattern to create a kind of yoke - that might be worth adapting for a thicker weight of yarn.  (How did they maintain complicated hair-dos like that without all the modern hair products that we have now?  Why did they bother?) 

A Yoke Effect Jumper

Here's a recycling  tip from the book.  "Don't throw away a broken needle.  If one piece left is of workable length, sharpen the broken end with a fine file, polishing it afterwards with fine sand-paper. [It] will be very useful as a cable-stitch needle."  That puts our efforts in recycling newspapers and glass into the shade, don't you think?


  1. I love the older pattern books. Some of the cardigans are really lovely.

    I am not sure how they did the hair. Forward planning I think. I remember my nan saying that she went to bed with either rags or rollers in her hair. Can you imagine trying to sleep?

  2. Its good to see that articles have the word modern in them, Knitting is what you make of it at the end of the day!


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