Vintage? Divine!

Vintage is a word that pops up a lot nowadays. It's all over the place in fabric, fashion, and home decor. I like bits and pieces of vintage design, especially when it's updated to reflect modern sensibilities.

1940s Fair Isle Sweater

Our new book, Vintage Design Workshop is perfect for knitters who like to use certain aspects of vintage knitting in their work. Author Geraldine Warner is a knitter who specializes in modernizing vintage patterns.

Here's a bit of Geraldine's philosophy on vintage knits:

Everyone has a story about how they learned to knit—mine is pretty straightforward and unexceptional, and possibly a lot like yours: my mom and both grandmas had the patience and foresight to teach me. No fuss, no talk about legacy, inheritance, or creativity—it was just a part of my upbringing. WWII was influential in their lives and tales of their experiences were inherently woven into the knitting lessons. My mom had also hung onto her collection of 1950s' Vogue Knitting books along with some of the dresses and blouses knitted from them, and somehow they seeped into my consciousness.

I love this link to the people in my family, this maternal woolly cord that still connects us although they're all long gone, and I enjoy the possibility that I might be knitting from a pattern they used themselves.

Nowadays, thanks to technological advances, clothes are mass produced cheaply in far-away countries with unknown provenance and thousands are wearing that great "individual" top you bought last week. Although this has given choices to many where there were none before, we also have the choice to explore a different route and there are things we can do to assert our individuality in the face of such homogenization.

This classic late 1940s/early 1950s pattern uses a bright band of Fair Isle colorwork
at the neck, above the sleeve welts, and above the deep ribbed waist.

Technology means that we have access to a vast range of materials, equipment, and creative ideas. We can make pretty much whatever we want and celebrate the days when detail, individuality, and quality were valued. What better way than to raid the best of the designs from the past and re-create them yourself?

Whenever I finish a garment knitted from a vintage pattern and try it on I get an enormous kick—it's very possible that that particular design hasn't seen the light of day for 60 or 70 years and here I stand, in my self-made garment, breathing life back into it—how often do you get the chance to directly interact with history in that way?

The patterns are fascinating items in themselves, the notes their previous owners have made in the margins, their names penciled at the top, the creases where they stored them, the stamps of long-gone yarn stores . . . each pattern has its own story to tell if you listen hard enough, and you can add your own part to that story by bringing it back to life.

—Geraldine Warner, Vintage Design Workshop

I love the idea of interacting with history through my knitting. Adding a cute tie at the collar of a short-sleeve top or a pleated shoulder detail to a knitted sweater is just the thing to bring a little vintage touch to my knits.

Order your copy of Vintage Design Workshop today to get some vintage into your knitting!


P.S. Do you enjoy knitting vintage patterns? Tell us about it in the comments!

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