Category Archives: Vintage Knitting

A Little Knit Music

Hey, I'm back from a week's vacation — didja miss me?

Part of the trip was spent in Washington, DC, where I found this on the building of the Department of Agriculture:  closest thing to a sheep I saw the whole time we were there!

ram on dept of agriculture bldg

I did get one UFO finished during the trip, but I will save that for another post, because it's got quite a story behind it.  Stay tuned.

Another person who recently went traveling was my pal Rock Star, who brought me back something from California:  an amazing piece of knitting sheet music!

and then she'd knit knit knit sheet music

(I did my best to scan it in sections and "stitch" it together, but unfortunately my $5 garage sale scanner still puts those yellow lines on things sometimes.  Oh, well.)

It says it was written in part by Harry Von Tilzer, who according to Wikipedia was a very popular US songwriter.

Harry Von Tilzer's hits included "Only a Bird in a Gilded Cage", "Cubanola Glide", "Wait 'Til The Sun Shines Nellie", "Old King Tut", "All Alone", "Mariutch", "I Love My Wife, But Oh You Kid!", "They Always Pick On Me", "I Want A Girl Just Like The Girl Who Married Dear Old Dad", "And The Green Grass Grew All Around" and many others.

The copyright date is MCMXVII, or 1917:  I can just about hear it coming over an old-timey radio with crackly reception, and sung by something like a barbershop quartet.

At first I assumed this song was written as part of the war effort — although I found out it's not exactly about encouraging knitters to produce FO's for soldiers!  And it turns out that Mr. Von Tilzer also wrote one called "Under the Anheuser Bush", har har — so perhaps that explains a little bit about his outlook on life.

(It's a little light on punctuation, but I present it here as it is written in the original.)


Verse 1

Pretty little Kitty's got the patriotic craze

Knitting scarfs for soldiers day and night

Silly little Billy now is spending all his days

Watching Kitty knit with all her might

She even knits when out in his canoe.

She knits while Billy tries to bill and coo.

Chorus 1

He'd take a hug

Then he'd hug her some more

While she'd knit knit knit knit knit

He'd steal a kiss

Then he'd take an encore

And she'd knit knit knit knit knit

Under a tree

He would rest with a smile

She'd lay her knitting down for a while

A bird in a nest

Said oh give us a rest

Go on and knit knit knit.

 

Verse 2

Pretty little Kitty said, now Willie do your bit

Here's some yarn and needles you can start

Come and sit beside me and I'll teach you how to knit

That's the way that you can win my heart

He'd knit a while and then he'd want to woo.

He'd look at her and drop a stitch or two.

Chorus 2

He'd take a hug

Then he'd hug her some more

She'd say knit knit knit knit knit

He'd steal a kiss

Then he'd take an encore

She'd say knit knit knit knit knit

One day a tug

Passed them by in a squall

Looking through glasses was captain and all

They both heard a yelp

Do you need any help?

And she said knit knit knit.

For Breakfast In Bed

It’s kind of a long story, but what the heck — you’ve got some time to kill, right?  I’ll valiantly try to keep it short.Joan Crawford Knitting

A decade ago, plus or minus, my brother and I were back in Iowa, helping my mom as she attempted to continue living in her apartment.  As part of the job, we went out to get her some new housewares.  And on the way back to the apartment, we stopped at an estate sale.

We didn’t have a lot of time to browse, but we left offers on a few things — and I think I ended up with everything I bid on.  The ones I remember were (1) a set of those "ladies’ luncheon" glass plate-and-cup sets from, say, the 50’s — you know, the kind that have a convenient little notch in which to place your cigarette — and (2) a big wooden box that was full of old newspapers and magazines.

The box itself was what I was after — it was ancient and beat-up ("distressed") and just generally cool-looking.  I think I paid $5 for it.

The interesting-looking wooden box now holds yarn in the studio, but the original box o’ newspapers sat around our house just as it was for a long time, with DH asking, "What are you going to do with that?" once in a while.  One day, I finally sifted through the pile.  And I found a treasure trove.rinso ad

Collier’s Weekly & the Saturday Evening Post from the early 1900’s (beginning "A Little Union Scout" by Joel Chandler Harris, 2/6/1904); Music News (around the 1920’s); a great little short-story magazine called "The Black Cat" from April 1901; and The Illustrated London News’ programme of the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II, in 1953, with 16 colour plates!

There’s also something called "The Aldine", from the 1870’s.  And a collection of my hometown newspapers from 1945, with important WWII headlines:  MEN LOCKED IN GREAT BATTLE ON OKINAWA ISLAND; REICH SURRENDERS; WAR IN ITALY VIRTUALLY OVER; SIMPLE RITES FOR ROOSEVELT.  There’s even one with a picture of Mussolini hanging by his heels.  You just don’t get that kind of thing on the front page nowadays.Pinocchio Still

 The engravings in the Aldine, the advertisements for corsets in Collier’s, the articles about bread ("National Strength depends on proper diet; bread viewed as best source of human fuel") — it’s all fascinating.

I even found a review of "Pinocchio" from when it was a new movie.  There were several color stills in the article, but I liked this one with his finger on fire the best.

Simply amazing stuff.  And I have barely scratched the surface.  You wouldn’t believe what I found today — it’s just completely the coolest.

Canadian Home Journals from the 1940’s — with knitting patterns.

I gotta try this one out — although I admit I can’t quite picture how this piece is supposed to work.  Surely there’s going to have to be an opening for your head somewhere?

Maybe I can get it done in time for Valentine’s Day, when I’m certain to get breakfast in bed… and I’m pretty sure it will be fabulous in MOHAIR…

For Breakfast in Bed

Another Show Stopper!

This gem appeared in the same book, on the very same page, as the Cossack costume.sm_sculpture.jpg

sm_caftanandsculpture.jpg

And yet, some people still shake their heads over my affection for vintage knitting books. I say you just can't find this kind of entertainment in today's material.

And because I'm from the Midwest, where "If you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all" is sort of a religion – to be honest, I'm not sure just what else there is to say about this. Except, maybe…  3 feet high!

Show Stoppers, Indeed

OK, OK, I simply could not resist posting this vintage gem – even though this is CROCHET, not knitting (and I think knitters all over the globe can all be thankful for that). I truly believe this picture deserves a better fate than being stuck in an old book, forever hidden from prying eyes. smcaftan1crop.jpgThe item originally appeared with this text:

Show Stoppers

Cossack costume? (Etruscan, Tartar, Mongolian?) No, it’s simply a crocheted wool caftan – a guaranteed party stopper.

I can’t help admiring the person who was faced with the job of writing that caption, and came up with that delightful piece of prose.

  • First, because she actually used the word “simple” in connection with this piece of work. (!)
  • Second, because she tried to pin down the “correct” ethnic heritage of the garment in question.
  • And finally, because (despite the original title of "Show Stopper") she far more correctly referred to it as a “party stopper".

Try putting this on after a few drinks at your next shindig. There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that everyone will leave your house within 5 minutes. I love the fact that it got past the proofreader, too. Or maybe they were in cahoots.

Then and…Where?

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. sm_mo_vest.jpgsm_vestad1.jpg 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.

sm_vintvestorig.jpgsm_vintvestcover.jpg 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!