Friday 11 November 2016

1930s Knits

Most of the huge number of pattern leaflets in the Knitting & Crochet Guild collection have been sorted by now, and I have been working on a scheme to catalogue them.  I'm focussing on the oldest leaflets for now, and mainly those from the 1930s in the Patons archive.   There are about 1400 (more than 10,000 Patons leaflets altogether, I reckon)  - we are so lucky to have them.  Here are a few from a batch I have been looking recently, from 1939 or 39.

Some of the 1930s patterns are for garments with unfamiliar names - 'jumper-cardigans' are quite common, for instance.  That usually means a cardigan that buttons to the neck, or nearly, and isn't intended to be worn over anything else, or sometimes a jumper with buttons all the way down the front except for the welt.    
Patons 2486
And in the recent batch were two 'Occasional Coats'.

Patons 2475

Patons 2483

I had never heard of an Occasional Coat before (it's occasionally a coat, but usually something else?).  But 'occasion coat' is a current fashion term, apparently.  British Vogue had an online article in 2014 about an occasion coat being just the thing to wear at a summer wedding.   So perhaps that what the 1930s occasional coats are - but although they are both quite smart, they don't to me look suitable to wear at a wedding.  I'm still puzzled.

And some of the patterns are for garments that we probably wouldn't think of knitting now - underwear for one thing.  But there are also patterns for dressing gowns for the whole family.

Patons 2469

The little girl's dressing gown is knitted in blanket wool.  The tension given in the pattern is 4 stitches to the inch (approx. 16 stitches to 10cm.) on size 4 needles (6mm.), so somewhere around Aran weight (worsted) or chunky.  The design is called 'Wendy' - appropriate for a girl's dressing gown, although as far as I remember the Darling children flew off with Peter Pan in just their nightgowns.  (At least in the Disney version.  I've not actually read the book.)

And here's a pattern for a 'Travelling Set' of cape, pixie hood, and motor rug - in a fine wool, knitted at 9 stitches to the inch.  It's brushed after it's knitted - Patons & Baldwins at that time offered a brushing service for finished knits, or you could use a special brush yourself.  The rug measures 54 inches by 34 inches - knitting it in such fine wool would be a marathon project.  I guess that the set was designed for wearing in an unheated car - not sure when cars began to be installed with heaters?
Patons 2488

Of course, there are some very nice knits too, as well as the jumper-cardigan and occasional coats already shown.  I think that many of the 1930s jumpers and cardigans are very stylish.  Here's one with an unusual construction - all the pieces are knitted side-to-side or on the diagonal.

Patons 3474
And they are not all knitted in fine wools, either - here's one in Totem wool, which was about an Aran weight.

Patons 3462
A quick knit, and I like the square neck and big buttons - very typical of the 1930s.

I'll feature more 1930s knits when I look at other batches from the Patons archive.  Lots of bathing suits, a cruising outfit, modesty sets, et al.


  1. I do enjoy seeing the 1930s knits, Barbara, thank you for sharing.

  2. Is there a list of the missing Patons patterns in KCG records? Old patterns seem to turn up in all sorts of places, it would be a good way to help the collection.

    1. Good point. I should try to put a list together and put it on the Guild website. (In fact, it could be a more general list of publications that we'd like to add to the collection.) It's not easy to get a complete list of what's missing from the Patons archive, because I think that some of the missing numbers never existed as pattern leaflets. But I'll try to get at least a partial list that can be updated in future.

  3. These are all lovely. I think the knits of the 1930's were fabulous.

  4. Hello
    Do you have the Patons 3474 pattern? I can't seem to find it anywhere and I would love to knit it.
    Thank you

    1. Hi Esther, 3474 is indeed a nice-looking design, though a friend who knitted found it quite complicated. Copies of patterns in the Knitting & Crochet Guild collection are free to members of the Guild, so if you are a member please email me at and I can send it to you. If you aren't, you might consider joining - it's open to anyone, anywhere. The Guild website is at


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