Sunday, June 04, 2006

Gentle reader, I'm pleased to share with you a mess of vintage patterns I've recently acquired. Here's the first of what hopefully will be many posted patterns - a lovely 1940s cardigan. Enjoy!

All-Purpose Cardigan from Sweater Classics for Knitters Vol. 16 (1943)
"Just what the name implies! Wear it with anything… anywhere… anytime… it is distinctive… right… decidedly smart!"

Gauge after blocking: 19 sts = 4 inches

Materials: Sizes 6 and 8 needles (OR CORRECT SIZE TO OBTAIN GAUGE - very important!

Yarn: he pattern calls for 5 skeins of Bear Brand or Fleisher's "Special Knitting Worsted", which translates to about 270 yards per 100 g skein. This weight is slightly lighter than most, but not all, modern worsted, and slightly heavier than most, but not all, modern DK. Yarns that approach 270 yards/100g include: - Filatura di Crosa 501 - Jaeger Extra Fine Merino DK - Knit Picks Merino Style - RYC Cashsoft DK Measurements - Bust - 34" (36", 38") Keep in mind that (a) sweaters were designed to hug the body and (b) people wore girdles and all sorts of other support garments, so these account for a smaller waist than might otherwise be the case in modern-day sizing. Back: With size 6 needles, cast on 73 (77, 81) sts. Work in K1, P1 ribbing for 8" (8 1/4", 8 1/2"). Change to size 8 needles and begin pattern stitch: Row 1: P1, *k1, p1; repeat from * to end. Row 2: K1, *p1, k1; repeat from * to end. Repeat these two rows of ribbing for 4 inches, ending with row 2.

Bind off 4 sts at beginning of each of next 2 rows for underarm. Dec 1 st ea side every 2nd row 4 times, taking care to keep pattern st = 57 (61, 65) sts. Work even until piece measures 12" (13 3/4", 15 3/4".)

Bind off 2 (4, 6) sts at beginning of each of next 2 rows. Bind off 4 sts at beginning of next 8 rows. Bind off remaining 21 sts.

Right Front: With size 6 needles, cast on 41 (45, 49) sts. Work same as back up to armhole for 8" (8 1/4", 8 1/2"), ending with 2nd pattern row at underarm edge. Bind off 6 sts at beginning of next row for underarm. Dec 1 st at armhole edge every 2nd row 6 times - 29 (33, 37) sts. Work even until piece measures 13 1/4" (13 3/4", 14 1/4".) Bind off 4 (6, 8) sts at beginning of next row for neck. Dec 1 st at neck edge every 2nd row 7 times, shaping shoulder as on back when armhole is same length as back armhole.

Left Front: Work as right front up to underarm, ending with first pattern row on underarm edge. Finish to correspond to right front, shaping armhole, neck and shoulder at opposite sides.

Sleeves: With size 6 needles, cast on 37 sts for cuff. Work ribbing for 2 inches, ending with 2nd row. Change to size 8 needles. Working pattern, inc 1 st each side every 1 1/4" (1", 1") 10 (12, 14) times = 57 (61, 65) sts. Work even until cuff measures 14 3/4" (15", 15".) Bind off 5 sts at beginning of each of next 2 rows for underarm. Dec 1 st at each side every 2nd row 7 times - 33 (37, 41) sts. Work even until total sleeve measures 18 1/4" (18 3/4", 19".) Dec 1 st at each side of next row, then dec 1 st at each side every 2nd row twice. Bind off 2 sts at beginning of next 4 rows; then 3 sts at beginning of next 2 rows = 13 (17, 21) sts. Bind remaining sts off.

Finishing: Sew seams. Sew in sleeves with sleeve seam at center underarm and extra fullness held in across top of armhole.

Buttonhole band: Join yarn at lower corner of right front edge. Work 69 (70, 71) sc on front edge, 1 sc at corner, continue sc around neck edge, holding in to desired size, working around and down left front edge to correspond. Second row - working back, ch1, turn, working in front loop only' 1 sc in each of 70 (71, 72) sts on left front edge. Repeat 2nd row twice. Fasten off. Join yarn at right corner of neck. Work 2nd row on right front as on left side. 3rd row - ch 1, turn, working in front loop only; 1 sc in each of first 2 (3, 4) sts. *Ch 2 for buttonhole, skip next 2 sts, 1 sc in each of next 11 sts; repeat from * 5 times, end last repeat 1 sc in last st. 4th row - same as 2nd row. 5th row - Ch 1, turn, working in front loop only; 1 sc in each st on right front, neck edge, and left front, working 2 sc at cornersl 4 sc on lower edge of left front band. Fasten off. Work 4 sc on lower edge of right front band to correspond.

Steam lightly & sew on 6 buttons. For most authentic 40s look, use light shoulder pads.


Blogger alimum said...

This looks excellent!

My only concern would be copywright violation issues. Probably not too big a concern as these were published over 50 years ago.

Once you have a few of these up, you may want to set up a sidebar link for these patterns, so that people can find them easily.

Ok, I lied, I just thought of another concern: Have you actually knit any of these patterns? I have a whole stack of vintage patterns and magazines and something I have found with the items I have knit is that, well, our yarn is different from the yarns of old. I know this sounds loopy, but even when I had the correct gauge and everything, the finished object looked a bit too modern for my liking. And I have a whole pile of vintage cotton with which I made a shirt for Fred which ended up looking pretty vintage (of course, I ended up frogging the dang thing 'cuz he never wore it.) I have no explanation for this, just thought I would share my experience.

6/04/2006 1:50 PM  
Blogger purrl said...

Thanks! They really are fun.

To your concerns - the copyrights have indeed long ago expired in all likelihood, although if anyone discovers that they are protected I'd be glad to do whatever was necessary to honor that. There are so many sites legally on the web who've had no problem with vintage patterns of this era that I'm going to keep them up until I'm alerted in the unlikely event of a problem.

About the second concern, I haven't yet - obviously, I just got them this weekend - but to put you at ease, I refer you to this excellent website:, which includes a great database of fiber content, weight and yardage of vintage discontinued yarns. It's essential to figuring out the exact weight and gauge of a modern yarn. I've tried to use my vintage savvy along with my yarn store chops to recommend yarns that would most likely meet the character of the original yarn as well as its yardage and gauge.

Thanks again - and please, if anyone knits one of these up, let me know so I can feature a pic here!

6/04/2006 7:44 PM  
Blogger alimum said...

As I said, even when the gauge was dead on, the item looked too modern. What I meant was that the vintage yarns I have encountered tend to have slightly different sheens than our modern day yarns and the colors are a little different as well (perhaps it has something to do with the dyes used.) It is really hard to put a finger on what precisely is different--kindof the way the modern day sweaters may be identical to a vintage sweater in style, but you still know it was made in the last decade as opposed to 50 years ago. It may not be the yarns at all. It may be my lack of skill (not living in an era when I have to knit in order to clothe my family, I ma just not have the knack for whipping out the vintage knitwear.)

I think the only way to solve this is to start whipping out these sweaters.

6/04/2006 8:25 PM  

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