Sunday, November 25, 2012

Yarn Card and Tension Suggestion for Penelope Yarns - c. 1930s

A lovely knitting book just arrived in the mail "Be Knitwise - Penelope helps you to produce the perfect Woolie', I believe from the early 1930s.

Unfortunately, it only contained two patterns (the seller on Ebay said '70 designs with instructions' but what they should have said was 70 stitch patterns!).

On the plus side the booklet is beautiful, and looks to be aimed at the intermediate knitter who wants to make or alter her own knitwear - that's me! I'm going to scan the whole thing and put it up for free eventually.

The tension table above shows the suggested tensions for different yarns, as well as an example of how to upsize knits just by using a size bigger needle.

My personal favourite - the detailed descriptions of the yarns with composition and suggested uses.

Close up of the yarn samples

I hope you like it!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Christmas Week - Willow Pattern Cosies, c. 1950s

Its the final pattern for Christmas Week, and luckily this pattern actually comes from 'Gift Knitting' by Revielle.

I love classic willow patterns, and I love tea-cosies and hot water bottle covers too!
I hope you've enjoyed the gift-crafting posts, and I hope your Xmas is stress-free.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Christmas Week - Pixie Hood and Mitts for a Toddler, c. 1943

I know that I rarely post children's patterns, but I really have no idea what children (or parents) would like!

If I ever did have a child (immaculate conception) this little pixie hood and mitts would definitely be on my needles for Xmas. This pattern comes from Stitchcraft September 1943, and is knitted on fingering-weight yarn on 3.75mm needles.

PS I'm sorry that my watermarks are now in colour, I found another person selling my patterns on Ebay again and they were just photoshopping the white watermarks off.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Christmas Week - Mittens for the Forces, c.1942

Do you have someone in your life who likes simplicity and practicality? 
Maybe this pattern for simple mittens from Stitchcraft September 1942 could tick that box. The added history of this pattern being knitted for Servicemen during World War Two and it makes them doubly special.

Easily knit in stretchy rib with a thumb gusset, the pattern calls for fingering-weight yarn, plus 3mm and 2.75mm needles.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Christmas Week - Perfect in Every Detail Bedjacket, c. 1937

I'm a sucker for vintage bedjackets, peignoirs and dressing gowns - especially that peachy-pink colour they all seem to come in. What ever happened to glamourous bed-wear? Sigh...

Well, maybe you're lucky enough to have a real glamourpuss to in your life to knit for (and maybe you are the glamourpuss!) and this early thirties bedjacket fits the bill.

This vampy design comes from Woolworths Economy Knits, although I'm not sure how economy 'Silkenthread' is. I would think its probably a fingering weight rayon knitted on 3.75mm needles - and don't forget the 5 yards of raunchy marabou.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Christmas Week - Simple All-Season Crochet Gloves, c. 1940s

"Even a beginner could make these perfectly fitting crochet gloves which are worked in a simple, effective stitch throughout."

I love knitted and crocheted gloves from Bestway No.787 - and wouldnt these make a lovely pair to gift someone? Its Summer down here in Australia/NZ (and the entire Southern Hemisphere), and Winter up north - lucky these gloves are light enough for warm weather and warm enough for cold.

Crocheted on Lavenda 2-ply (light fingering) using a size 11 crochet hook.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Christmas Week - A Useful Tweed Scarf, c. 1950s

Do you have a stylish, chic and hard to buy for person in your life? Maybe a hand-knit scarf like this could be the answer.

There's something really classic and enduring about this scarf - I especially love the colour way of green, almond and white.

From 'Accessories by Stitchcraft', I believe it comes from the early-mid 1950s.
Knitted in Patons Fingering 2-ply on 2.25mm needles, I would suggest a light-fingering based on the gauge.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Christmas Week at Subversive Femme

Did you know its only 39 sleeps until Xmas?
If you're lucky enough to have people in your life who love hand-crafted gifts, then its a very busy time of the year!

And i'll be honest - financially its a bit tight this year (a mortgage all by myself, in Sydney the 2nd most expensive place in the world to buy a house) so spending time instead of money on my loved ones is doubly important.

I feel a bit sad that most of modern society values bought presents over hand-made, I know I would be delighted if all my friends made me something instead of contributing to the capitalist machine!

Whose hair looks this good Xmas morning?

Over the next week i'll be sharing some posts from the late 1930s to mid 1950s, featuring pretty, zany and practical items to make for loved ones - or just yourself. I hope you enjoy them!

Starting with.... Just Like Two Silk Flowers!

This unusual cravat is made from a tube of black taffetta, with a contrast lining folded back to resemble flowers.
From Good Needlework Magazine, October 1939.

Very easy to make - and very striking!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Knitting Vintage for the Uninitiated - Part 3 (Final Post)

Welcome to my final post - and this time we'll be looking at the instructions.

You have the same skill-set as knitters 50-100 years ago - so rest assured you can knit old patterns and they will make sense if you read them carefully (heck, they can't be any worse that Vogue's!).

Vintage patterns tend to spell out everything row by row, instead of charts or 'knit for x inches'. Take the time to chart a stitch pattern/design out in Excel or Knitter's Graph Paper to make your life easier.

Chart for the Bell-Stitch Jumper I'm currently
working on (link to Ravelry).

While instructions might be unfamiliar, all the stitch terms used in the pattern will be ones you know. Google if you're unsure - someone else is bound to have the same issue. Some examples of the common ones are:
  • W.FD - wool forward. A yarn over (YO).
  • W.R.N - wool round the needle. Literally a YO purl wise - under the right hand needle, over, and back under ready for a purl stitch.
And don't forget Ravelry! Its the best resource online, a bit like Facebook for knitters.
There's so many groups devoted to knitting vintage (All Things Vintage, Techniques, Vintage Knitters are some good placecs to start) - don't be afraid to ask for help and support.

My final tips are to slow down, and understand what the pattern says before you dive in. It'll be worth it, i'm sure!

Some final words from the Lux Knitting Book 1941

Thursday, November 08, 2012

Biscay, Men's Patterned Jumper in Two Sizes, c. 1940s

Its time for another free vintage knitting pattern - and this time its for a lovely men's jumper from the 1940s (Patons Requested Reprints R.14).

I really like the elegant stitch - and the pattern even makes mention to knitting a 'tie-keeper' on the inside neck edge. Cute!

In chest sizes 37-38 inches, and 41-42 inches.

Monday, November 05, 2012

FO: Gertie's High Waisted Skirt and Back Buttoned Blouse

I've been itching to sew a couple of patterns from Gertie's new book - 'Gertie's New Book for Better Sewing' - and here's the finished photos!

I really needed another highwaisted skirt, and her version is definitely vintage-inspired enough that it will work with a lot of the blouses in my wardrobe.
I used black gaberdine, and boned the waistband as she suggested, but used a bar-tack instead of a button on the back.
Its the A-Line version, as Jakk thinks it looks more flattering on me than a wiggle skirt. The sizing was almost spot on, however I did have to take the skirt in a fraction at the waist.

Looking a bit crumpled from work!

I have a secret love for lime green, and bought a couple of metres on a whim from Spotlight last season - perfect for the Button Back Top. The fabric is almost eye-searing! Don't ask me about the Peter-Pan collar, a comedy of errors and I left it off.

MODS - the Top only as the Skirt was fine:
  • I HATE bound button holes, they never, ever look right. I omitted them and did normal buttonholes instead.
  • I chanced not doing a FBA, and the top fits perfectly in the bust
  • What is going on with the neckline in the pattern? Its super high and tight. I cut the neckline down a good half an inch, and it could still use a litter more
  • Planned Mod - i'm going to unpick the bias binding on the neck and cut a proper facing. Bias never looks good on a neck finish, and I should have followed my instincts instead of being swayed by the pretty pictures.
I have to share my latest amazing purchase from Melbourne (Savers, if you can believe) - a genuine 1940s navy faux-fur swing coat! (We were down there for the Camperdown Cruise festival)

My attempt at high fashion modelling.

Swishing through the coat racks is always interesting (second-hand is cheaper and more varied in Melbourne for some reason) and my hand came to rest on this coat. It felt different, heavy and thick, compared to the other coats.

The lining is purple silk crepe, and the darting in the sleeve and shoulder pretty much gave it away.  I showed it to a vintage dealer I know, and date confirmed!


Even though its 30 C here in Sydney at the moment I bet you can tell I would love to wear it everyday!

Thursday, November 01, 2012

Knitting Vintage for the Uninitiated - Part 2

Tip 2 - Learn to Up-Size, or fake it til you make it.

I thoroughly recommend the A Stitch in Time books (especially Volume 2), Knit Vintage and all the other resources out there for multi-sized vintage patterns. It’s a great place to start with your first full vintage knit if you don't want to wrestle with re-sizing.

But what if you want to knit that paper pattern you just bought from a flea market?
If the pattern you want to knit doesn’t come in your bust size, you have two options.

The first is to rework the pattern, and Tasha at By Gum By Golly has a fabulous series on it, so I won't recover it here. Please read her thorough posts for the full process.
Skiff Vintage also has a book specifically on re-sizing vintage patterns coming out in January 2013.

The less daunting option is to find something similar, and vintage-ify it. This really only works for simple vintage styles, but its a great way to dip your toes in the water.

Vintage-ifying would mean raising necklines, a closer fit, a higher waist, puffing the sleeves, knitting it in fingering weight - anything to bring it closer to your inspiration.

For example, lets say you've fallen in love with the style of this 1940s jumper (the belt! the hair!), and you must have something just like it.

Stylistically, its very similar to the Natalie jumper below (from Knit Vintage).

If you were just looking for something similar, this would be a good bet and already comes in 3 bust sizes. To make it more like the one above, raise the neckline and knit it in a fingering weight wool instead of alpaca.

What about this really cute 1940s design, with bows across the chest?

Bows, Bows and more Bows!

Phinney (from Berroco) would be a great place to start, simply adding yarn overs evenly across the yoke to allow ribbons to threaded through. Shorten the body and make the waist ribbing deeper and you have a really good match. Don't forget some shoulder pads.

I think Phinney is a great place to look to reproduce a lot those 1940's jumpers with motifs across the front - I know i'm thinking about it.

While the pattern calls for a worsted yarn, its not a tricky process to rework the gauge.
I.e. if the pattern gauge is 5 sts to an inch and they ask you to cast on 100 sts for your size - that = 20 inches.

If your gauge with the fingering weight yarn is 8 sts to an inch, 20 inches x 8 sts = you now need to cast on 160 sts. Work out the heights in inches, and just knit the extra rows to match.

Make sure your cast offs and decreases match size-wise. I.e. if the pattern says cast off 5 sts, you know they mean an inch's worth of stitches. So you'd cast off 8 sts based on your gauge - remember, a few stitches here and there arn't critical.

Another pattern example: 

Your Victory Jumper from Home Notes


Aloutte from Rowan (raise the waist, knit the next size down for fitted look)

Once you know what you want to knit or vintage-ify, its just a matter of finding something similar and applying easy design changes to it.

My main hints for vintage-ifying something are:
  • Waist ribbing - don't skimp! Yes, its boring to knit 3 to 4 inches of ribbing, but it really makes a difference, especially to 30s and 40s patterns.
  •  Embrace your waist - most vintage designs don't go past the hips, and just sit an inch or two below the waist. Invest in some high waisted skirts or pants to wear your vintage knits.
  • Puffed short sleeves are easy to add to a contempory knitting pattern. To do - work the sleeve as per the pattern instructions. Work the cast offs for the arm hole, and the decreasing the same . Add 1 or 1.5 inches in sleeve cap height, and cast off as the pattern directs. Gather the sleeve top when you seam it in. This should give you enough fabric to make a nice 'puff'.  The bonus is that if your finished shaping isnt 100% perfect you only have a couple of inches to rip back

And finally...
Don't be scared to give something a go. Knitting can be frogged and no harms been done - if you make a mistake, learn from it. Everyone's had to rip back numerous times, don't be scared to, it makes you a better knitter.

My next and final post is about the vintage patterns themselves - how to read vintage patterns, substitute yarn and look after your vintage finds.
Blogging tips