Archive for the ‘Vintage’ Category

Rhymes with

There were no fireworks to mark it, but the year of the vintage pattern has commenced. The last of my modern projects was finished nearly a month ago (photos of three unblogged but finished modern projects will be forthcoming once the weather and I are back on speaking terms) so all I’m working on at the moment are projects from vintage patterns.


One of the projects I’m working on is the highly descriptive ‘Variation of Cable Stitch’ from Hughes Book 208. It took me a while to notice this pattern because I was distracted by the model’s facial expression. Why does she look so startled? Did she knock her head on the branch? Was she just really excited to be there? Was she trying to distract everyone from her talon-like fingernails? The most likely possibility is that she was just surprised at the colour of the yarn I’m using to make this jumper:

Pile of orange knitting.jpg

Orange! It’s only a little outside of my usual blue/grey/brown choices but the more I knit with it, the more I like it. I think it’s a good complement and counterpoint to the normal colours in my wardrobe.

The only problem I’ve had with the yarn (Morris and Sons Estate 8ply, if you’re interested) so far is not the colour, but the amount of yarn. I picked up 400 grams of the yarn at a market in February and by the time I got to the sleeves at the end of May, it was evident that there wasn’t enough to finish it with what I had left. Compounding the problem was the fact I couldn’t get any more of the same dye lot and Morris and Sons had it on back order. So I waited, and waited and waited until more yarn came in.

When I picked up the yarn last week, it looked like I was running headlong into a dye lot nightmare. Luckily my colour memory is pretty bad, because when they’re together they look pretty much the same to me. If anything, the new dye lot (on the left) is possibly slightly lighter than the original dye lot.

Matchy matchy dye lots.JPG

Even though they look like a pretty good match, there’s still that tiny little concern that there might be a noticeable difference between the two once they’re knitted up. So, I’m taking the tedious route of striping the two dye lots just in case. Such is the cost of being a risk averse soul.

The problem with swatching

This week I had a rare encounter with a knitter on the train to work. Every now and again I see knitters and crocheters on the train and sometimes there’s a smile of acknowledgement, but usually there’s not even a glimmer of recognition that there’s a shared interest. That doesn’t bother me too much because I generally like to keep to myself and I don’t see knitting or crocheting on public transport as any different to commuters who play games on their phones or read; it’s a way to pass time while getting to your destination.

This week, however, a fellow commuting knitter started up a conversation about knitting. Even though I tend to keep to myself, I also don’t mind engaging in a little bit of knitterly banter. So with one paragraph I somewhat shun the community attributes of knitting, and in the next I’m somewhat embracing them. What can I say, I’m a complex individual.

It was a pleasant conversation, but when the conversation inevitably lead to ‘what are you knitting?’, their response to my answer got me thinking. That day I was working on a swatch for a future project, and the response was sympathetic but negative, like swatching was a necessary burden. But is it really?

When I first started knitting, I avoided swatching. I just wanted to proceed to the main event and didn’t want to deal with trifling matters of gauge and fit. If the required yarn was 8ply and I was working with 8ply, then that was more than sufficient preparation. After the inevitable happened and projects ended up ill fitting and looking downright hideous in some cases, swatching became part of the normal knitting routine. Now I don’t even think about it; if I’m working on a project where gauge is important, then I need to knit a swatch. Ultimately I’d rather spend a couple of train trips making sure the yarn/needle combo is right for the pattern than spend many hours on a project that doesn’t work because the gauge is off. I guess it all comes down to preference so neither way is going to be objectively right or wrong, but I am interested to know what the popular opinion is about swatching; is it really all that tedious?

As for the swatch, it was made in preparation for some travel knitting I plan to take on a holiday Matt and I will be going on next week. Last year, a knitting book I bought at the Brunswick Wool Expo contained a pattern, a jumper with a high v-neck, that prompted thoughts of spending this year knitting only from vintage patterns. That plan hasn’t really worked out as there are a few ‘modern’ projects that have stuck around from last year. Little by little though, I’ve been finishing the modern projects (and then taking my sweet time photographing and writing blog posts about them) and casting on projects from vintage patterns.

Back when I was pondering what colour to make the jumper, light yellow, mustard and brown had made my short list. Then Bendigo Woollen Mills decided to discontinue their nice dark brown colourway from their Luxury line, leading to a little bit of panic buying. So, I can thank Bendigo Woollen Mills for making the decision for me.

lonely swatch.jpg

Even though it’s just a rectangle of stocking stitch at the moment, I’m really looking forward to properly casting on. I think I’ll get a lot of wear from it and it’ll go with a lot of my other clothes. I’m almost looking forward to the long flight we’ve got ahead of us, just so I can spend some quality time with it. Given that I’m no fan of flying, it goes to show that this swatch has some pretty magic qualities!


On a recent trip away, I acquired some more vintage patterns. This is not an altogether unusual occurrence but instead of just adding them to the pile of somewhat neglected patterns like I normally do, I’ve started scanning them. My collection of patterns is fairly modest, but it’s taking a little while to scan all the patterns, let alone start cataloguing them so they’ll be easy(-ish) to find.

when patterns met scanner.JPG

Since being the epic scanning journey, I’ve rediscovered some lovely patterns, some patterns that haven’t aged all that well and some unintentionally hilarious styling. Here’s an example of a nice pattern with unintentionally (?) hilarious styling:

Nice Sunnies.jpg

Every time I see that photo it makes me chuckle. I think it’s because those glasses have a real ‘Kim Jong-Il looking at things‘ vibe about them…

As a result of finding gems like the photo above, I’ve started a new blog with bits and pieces of my collection that I like or have found amusing. The usual new blog caveats apply — I’m still working on the design, and there are only three posts so far. This is not the end of this blog, it’s just a side project. More accurately, it’s another blog to add to the collection of blogs that I rarely update.

The year of the vintage pattern

Last Saturday the Brunswick Mini Wool Expo was held at the Brunswick Town Hall. It’s a pleasant way to spend time on a Saturday morning, running into and chatting with friends, looking at yarn and, in my case, sorting through old patterns. I didn’t buy any yarn this year, but did spend quite a bit of time going through piles and piles of old patterns. In the end, I picked up quite a nice collection of bits and bobs to add to the pattern stash.

patterns patterns everwhere

There are lots of patterns in this mini-haul that I would knit, but this one is my favourite:


There’s nothing particularly exciting about a stocking stitch jumper with seed stitch trim, but it does remind me of a jumper worn by a lady in a vintage shop I visited nearly ten years ago. Even though it was a long time ago, I still remember it pretty well; it had the same high cross over, but it didn’t have any buttons and the sleeves were a tad longer. It’s a jumper that I’ve wanted to make for myself, and I even went so far as to sketch it a couple of times. Like a lot of things, it never got past being a kernel of an idea, so I was really excited to come across this pattern. It’s unlikely that I’ll be making it this year, but I’ve started thinking about colours already. So far light yellow, mustard yellow and brown are the front runners.

It’s always fun to pick up ‘new’ vintage patterns, but this mini-haul also reminded me that my pattern stash is a bit of a mess at the moment. I really need to sit down and spend some quality time with both my yarn and pattern stashes to get them more organised and to also pare them down. The biggest problem I have with my vintage pattern stash is that I never seem to use it. The hunt for ‘new’ pattern books is always fun, but that seems to be where it ends. There’s very few patterns that I’ve collected that have turned into finished objects, and yet they’re some of the projects I’ve been most proud of.

Perhaps next year can be a year of vintage patterns? There are certainly more than enough patterns in my stash that I’m interested in making, and by then my yarn stash should be small enough to accommodate more yarn… I might be calling it too early, but I’m going to do it now. 2013 is going to be a year of knitting from vintage patterns.

The Jan Sweater

Marsha Marsha Marsha

The Jan Sweater from A Stitch in Time, Volume 2
Yarn: Bendigo Woollen Mills Luxury 4ply, Brick
Needles: 2.75mm and 3.25mm
Modifications: Made the body longer, sewed up the neck to make the neck opening smaller
Started: February 2012
Finished: April 2012
Ravelryed: here

If you are contemplating knitting this jumper, stop what you’re doing and cast on. It’s an easy, but fun, pattern and it makes a lovely top. I really enjoyed making it, and since finishing it a week ago, I’ve worn it a couple of times. It’s the first pattern I’ve made from the Stitch in Time series (despite buying the first volume nearly three years ago) and I’m simultaneously impressed and kicking myself for not starting on patterns from the books earlier.

substantial shoulder seam

The usual modification of lengthening the body applied to this pattern. The other modification was to make the neck opening substantially smaller (by about 10cm on each side). I think this makes the top more casual than if the neck was left completely open, but I feel more comfortable with my shoulders covered up.

While seaming it up, I started to become concerned about the blousing above the ribbing. During a mid-seaming try-on session, the blousiness was creating doubt about whether this top was going to work for my body shape. However, as soon as the sleeves were set, it all balanced out and order was restored to the world.

As a side note, I should point out that for the size I made, the 34-36 inch, the sleeve cap only just stretches enough to fit in the armhole. I found there was little room for seaming error, but it looks fine when the sleeve’s set, and doesn’t feel tight or uncomfortable when worn.

This project was not my first experience with Bendigo Woollen Mills’ Luxury, but it was the first time I’d used the 4ply version. It doesn’t seem logical that the difference between the two weights would be substantial, but I much preferred working with 4ply Luxury than 8ply Luxury. It’s soft, but feels fairly hard-wearing. I definitely want to use it again, and it makes me feel even sadder that I missed out on buying some Oceanic before it was discontinued.

It would probably make sense to use this momentum to cast on another vintage project or another project using Luxury 4ply. However, I’m going to do something a bit different; I’m going to be sensible and continue to finish off WIPs that really should have been finished a long time ago. Little by little, I’m becoming a somewhat responsible grown up.

Wavy Line

Wavy Line, finished

Wavy Line Sweater by Sarah Dallas
Around 225g Grignasco Bambi in total, using light blue, chocolate brown and cream
3.75mm and 4.5mm needles

Start: April 2011
Finish: March 2012
Modifications: added about half a repeat (20 rows) to the body, adjusted stripes on sleeves to match
Ravelled: here

Huzzah, Wavy Line is finished and I’m pleasantly surprised by how much I like it! It doesn’t feel like it’s been a WIP for nearly a year, but Ravelry says I started it in April 2011, so it must be so. It was one of those projects that I worked on in dribs and drabs; projects that use four colours aren’t particularly conducive to commute knitting so it had to stay at home for the most part.

Over the last few years, I’ve managed to collect quite a few different colours of Grignasco Bambi. This pattern was a good way to put a dent in the collection. It took a bit of mixing and matching to come up with a combination of four colours that weren’t too loud, but I think I succeeded.

One of the drawbacks of using four colours in a pattern is all the ends it generates. I know I made work for myself by only carrying the two main colours, light blue and chocolate brown, up the side, but I felt that carrying all four colours could affect the tension on one side and make it a bit bulky. These are only some of the ends that needed to be woven in:


I didn’t keep a count of how many ends there were in total and I’m glad I didn’t. If I’d known how many ends needed to be woven in before I started, it’d probably still be unfinished. Sometimes it’s best just not to know.

wavy with skirt

The fit is a bit different to what I expected but I’m still happy with it. As I was knitting it up, I imagined wearing it with pencil skirts, but now that it’s finished and gone through the process of being tried on with other things from my wardrobe, I think it looks better with A-line and fuller skirts. The fit around the armpits is a little funny because of the unusual construction of the sleeves and armscyes. There is only a little bit of shaping at the very top of the sleeve and all armhole stitches are cast off in one lot, rather than gradually. This construction made setting the sleeves really easy, but the fit was probably not as good as a more traditional set in sleeve.

sleeve construction

If you are considering knitting this pattern, I highly recommend checking out this great post comparing the two patterns. It gives a really good rundown of the pros and cons of each pattern. For what it’s worth, I found the Sarah Dallas Vintage Knits version of this pattern pretty clear and easy to follow. It had a pretty big drawback in that the pattern only came in one size, but luckily it was the right size for me. It wasn’t the most enjoyable project I’ve worked on, but I’m pretty happy with the result and I can move onto another WIP that’s been kicking around for far too long…