Many of my knitting friends know that I love, love, LOVE old knitting books. Old VKs are a fave, but I’ll thumb through just about anything. (And I have the overflowing bookshelf in my studio to prove it.) Often you can find a stitch pattern, a silhouette, or a detail that will spark an idea. Looking at vintage styles is a great way to train your eye to distinguish between short-lived trends and enduring classics. Most knitters I know don’t want to knit a sweater that will be out of style next year. After all that work, they want something that will be wearable for a while. If you can open a 40-year-old book and spot something that still looks good, you have a pretty good idea that it will look good for another 40 years! Vogue Knitting used to have a feature in every issue called “Then and Now", which was by far the best thing in the magazine. They would take an old style from a vintage issue and make up a modern version, using current yarns and colors. Occasionally they modified the fit a bit, but mostly the copy was true to the original. Unfortunately, and unfathomably, they stopped doing it. It became hit-or-miss in the mid-to-late nineties, and by now has apparently been given up completely. I have no idea why on earth they discontinued this feature! Now I can only count myself lucky that I learned this concept early in my knitting career. Here’s my latest vintage knit – a skimpy black vest, made in my fave fiber (mohair) – along with the modern ad that had me looking around for skimpy vests.
Compare my version to the original vintage pattern pic. And just in case anyone else wants to find it, here is the cover of the vintage Spinnerin book it is in.
Interesting note: the vintage directions do not result in the somewhat odd sleeves shown in the vintage picture. (I guess typos in knitting patterns have been around as long as there have been patterns.) You would have to cast on some extra sts at the armholes to get the silhouette shown, and the instructions don’t call for that at all. I knitted the armholes according to the directions, although I modified the original instructions to knit it all in one piece, eliminating the side seams. Great stuff!
Read more on Then and…Where?…