Wednesday, February 24, 2010

vintage patterns

"The Call of the Sea"

I first learned to knit when I was in kindergarten; I was 5 years old.
My grandma Nancy taught me at her house in Central California. I probably begged her to teach me because I was always wanting to sew and knit and craft things.
Here's a memory from about that same age: I remember staying home with my dad while my mom went to a church Relief Society sewing night. I was determined to learn to sew even if I wasn't old enough for Relief Society. In reality, I probably cared more about sewing than any of the ladies that met that night! Even though I didn't know what I was doing, I was going to take matters into my own sweaty little hands that night; I needed to learn to sew. I went to my mom's hand painted sewing box to see what I could find. After threading a needle (perhaps for the first time, I'm not sure) with black thread, I looked for something to sew. I couldn't find any fabric so I settled for paper; computer paper-the old kind with the perforated edges you tear off (edges which, conveniently, could be used later for even more crafting). I hand sewed lines down the paper with varying stitch lengths and was pleased I could sew like the best of them. I triumphantly showed off my work to Dad and then to Mom when she came home. I have no idea what SHE sewed that night, but I made some crucial first steps in what I knew would be my favorite past-time.
Back to knitting-
My first project was a "doll blanket;" a rectangle in garter stitch. I went to a big store with Grandma Nancy and bought cheap, acrylic yarn in variegated pastel colors and straight, single point metal knitting needles; they were silver and were size 6, I remember because I still have them.
Grandma Nancy taught a knitting lesson at her round table at the window in her kitchen. I can see her now telling me over and over how to work the stitches, carefully watching me try, and congratulating me as necessary. Despite knitting being only variations and combinations of two stitches, I know now that it can be difficult to teach to beginners. They main problem is learning to hold the needles and handle the yarn with correct tension, not completing the stitches themselves.
With guidance, I knit several inches of this doll blanket before our vacation to Grandma's house ended. Back at home, I continued as best I could but soon the blankie was a mess of skipped stitches, dropped stitches, too few stitches, and too many stitches all together for a little girl to figure out.
Several trips to Grandma Nancy's house later...I was in 6th grade when, while rummaging through her sewing room, I found old - vintage - knitting and crochet pamphlets. I loved thrifted and vintage clothes, dreamed of living in the 60's and wearing wool suits, poufy hair do's, and slingback kitten heel shoes, and I still hadn't technically learned to knit or crochet. At least I hadn't retained that first lesson, so I gave myself another by following the pictures in these magazines.
I save everything so of course I still have them, here they are:

I thought (and still do) that these handcraft magazines were so cool. I could not believe they were from as early as 1936 and only cost 10 cents, etc. I loved looking at the patterns, and found what "they" thought fashionable sometimes cool and sometimes hilarious.
Here are a few examples:

This one says: "Isn't this a lovely way to look at night?"

This one's called "double date" ecause it's a matching hat and bag:

So, that's how I learned to knit, crochet, embroider, and this will be how I learn to tat (tatt?) as well :)

So...all this was preparation for what I really wanted to show you, though I enjoyed reminiscing and locating those ancient pattern pamphlets.
I found that two ladies (Jane Waller and Susan Crawford) have produced a new kitting book of vintage patterns! It can be bought at knit on the net, but you really have to go here to see the photos! Please, please go see them!
"Have You Made a Jumper Yet?"

So, they picked through old women's magazines and craft pamphlets to knit up the best designs, modified the patterns where necessary to fit modern women's bodies, AND THEN...had an awesome photoshoot with the clothes.
"Such Flattering Puff Sleves"

Why didn't I think of that?!?!
"Fair Isle Yoke"

And the best part is they named the patterns after a funny line in the descriptions.
"This one for Parties"

oh! It's too much! It goes on an on...

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