Sunday 3 March 2019

Mary Quant knitting patterns

The lack of posts recently is due to The Move - the Knitting & Crochet Guild collection's move to new premises in Slaithwaite.  It happened the week before last, and all went well, though there is still a lot of sorting out to do - lots of boxes stacked on the floor, waiting to be put on shelves.  I'll say more about our new location another time. 

Meanwhile, over on Instagram, I have been working through my #50yearsofPatonspatterns series of posts, starting in 1979 and working backwards.  We are nearly through the 1960s, and I picked two Mary Quant patterns to represent 1965 and 1966.  In both years, she designed a collection of knitting and crochet patterns in Courtelle yarns, for several of the spinning companies, including Patons.  There were nine Patons patterns in all, six in 1965 and three in 1966.  I'll show them all here.

First the 1965 leaflets. The yarn for all six is Patons Flair, a wool-Courtelle blend, which was DK weight, to judge by the tension.

Patons 9526, below,  is a skinny-rib sleeveless polo-neck sweater - perhaps not as distinctive now as it was in 1965. 

Patons 9526
Patons leaflet 9527 is a ribbed sweater, with crocheted collar and cuff, and matching knee-socks, also with a crochet trim for the turnover.

Patons 9527

Next is a ribbed cardigan, with a small collar, knitted in reverse stocking stitch, folded in half and stitched down.  You were clearly not intended to wear it as an extra layer, so it's more a button-up sweater than a cardigan. 

Patons 9528
Patons 9529 is a dress, with ribbed bodice, little stand-up collar, and knitted belt.  More knee-socks, this time in a wide rib to match the dress bodice. 

Patons 9529
Then another dress, mostly ribbed, with cable panels in the skirt, a big roll collar, also ribbed, and a knitted tie belt.  There is a matching cabled hat, with pompom, and a pair of matching mitts. I like the dress, though I generally feel that knitted dresses won't keep their shape. 

Patons 9530

And finally, an ensemble of jumper and skirt, with a bonnet and stockings.  The body of the jumper is ribbed.  The skirt looks as though it is in the same rib, knitted sideways, but in fact it's knitted top down. The sleeves, stockings and bonnet are all crocheted.

Patons 9531

It's notable that wide ribbing is a feature of all these 1965 designs, so the jumpers and dresses fit closely. 

It's easy to distinguish the 1966 leaflets from the 1965 designs, across all the spinners that had these Mary Quant designs in Courtelle.  The leaflets in the 1966 collection all have the Mary Quant daisy as part of the background, and the models have the Vidal Sassoon geometric hairstyle that she had adopted herself and made famous.  The 1966 Patons designs are all in a pure Courtelle yarn, also a DK weight by the tension.

The first of the 1966 Patons designs is leaflet 9700 - a cardigan and stockings outfit. They are both worked in rib. The front of the cardigan has a smocked yoke, worked afterwards by using a contrast thread to bind adjacent ribs together.  (The instructions for the smocking are a bit skimpy, I have to say.)  There are also bands of smocking in the stockings, just below the knee - whihc looks a bit strange.

Patons 9700
Patons 9701 is a short-sleeved jumper and skirt outfit.  The jumper has narrow stripes of a contrast colour across the yoke, back and front, and there is a crochet trim in both colours around the neck and bottom of the sleeves.  The belt is also knitted, in the contrast colour.  Of all these Mary Quant designs for Patons, this one is my favourite.

Patons 9701
And the final pattern in this collection is Patons 9702, a ribbed jumper and matching stockings.  The contrast band on the sleeves is worked by using two balls of the main colour and one of the contrast.and then using just the contrast colour to knit a saddle shoulder.  Finally, the polo collar is added after the jumper is sewn up.  The stockings are also in two colours, as you can see from the illustration, which gives an odd knee-sock effect.  (And the model is wearing white sling-back shoes too, not to mention the shorts over stockings - altogether a bizarre outfit.)

Patons 9702
The dresses and skirts in these leaflets are shown finishing above the knee, but they aren't as extremely short as they became later - just as well, because in 1966 women were still wearing stockings rather than tights.  So Mary Quant designed knitted and crocheted stockings, not principally to avoid all the extra work in making tights, but because women didn't wear tights at that time - though that changed only a year or two later.

A Mary Quant exhibition is opening at the V&A  next month, which I hope to get to.  And there is an exhibition at the Fashion & Textile Museum on "Swinging London: A Lifestyle Revolution", until June, which features the work of Mary Quant and Terence Conran.  It seems that there is a resurgence of interest in the 1960s, and Mary Quant in particular - so I'll offer this post as a knitting and crochet contribution to that.   


  1. This brings back memories for me as 9701 was the first jumper I ever knitted. I was 15 and the only items I'd knitted before were a couple of scarves, some dolls' clothes and a matinée jacket for my cousin's baby. I couldn't crochet so my granny offered to do the edgings for me. This was fine except that to finish it for me, she pressed it well using a hot iron and a damp cloth, as that was what she always did to her own woollen knits. I'd used the specified Courtelle Double Crepe in pink with maroon contrast. Sadly the jumper 'relaxed' somewhat widthways and was very baggy. My mum managed to salvage it by taking it apart and resewing the side seams. We never said anything to granny and in fact it did look very nice once mum had taken it in.

    I've still got the pattern and quite fancy knitting it again, maybe in silk or a silk mix. I certainly wouldn't use an acrylic - I haven't done so for decades. I'm still not much of a crocheter but now I'd ask my daughter to do the edges for me.

    1. I remember knitting a jumper for myself in a synthetic yarn, and my mother pressed the life out of it.... I think the 9701 jumper would still look good. Maybe a cotton yarn would work too? I knitted another Mary Quant pattern from 1966 (not a Patons one) in cotton and it worked very well.

    2. Yes, cotton might well be nice. Actually I probably wouldn't do such a young style for myself, but I've 2 granddaughters aged 18 and 12 and it would certainly suit both of them. Regarding pressing, I think it was often quite disastrous,even when the pattern called for it. I remember a lovely cabled jumper that granny made, probably for one of my uncles. The cables looked beautiful before she pressed it and flat and pointless after she pressed it. No iron ever goes near my handknits.

    3. Oh yes, flattening cables, ribs and similar stitch patterns is another pitfall.

  2. I really enjoyed this. I have a couple of these patterns and would love to find them all one day. When I can knit again I will be moving some of these to the top of my list.

    1. As a member of the Knitting & Crochet Guild, you can have a copy of any of the Patons leaflets. But you might prefer to find your own originals of course.

  3. Really enjoyed this post.
    Makes me wiah I still had all mine and my late mother's old knitting patterns!
    I still use some of my late Great-Aunt's knitting needles,passed down to me via my mother.

    1. Good to hear that you enjoyed the post. I still have a few of my mother's knitting patterns from the 1960s, but none of her needles, though I do like knitting with vintage needles.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...