Vintage in Every Way

Updating Vintage Patterns

When I hear the word “vintage,” honestly, my first thoughts go to wine. Shiny clusters of grapes dangling in ripe plumpness from the vine and the little tractors and wagons plying the rows between, harvesting the fruits that magically transform to a hundred kinds of wine. 

Patterns for Collars and Necklines

And a true vintage wine, one made by a harvest of grapes limited to a specific year—all the better.  And while all of us in the PieceWork office know how to appreciate a good vintage wine, that’s not usually what we’re referring to when we talk vintage—and we talk vintage a lot! Usually the vintage discussions happen when we’re looking through a 1920s Needlecraft magazine or a 1930s Modern Priscilla, imagining how some of these knitting and crochet patterns would look in today’s yarn. And what yarn would we use? What thread? What size needles? It takes a bit of work to translate all the details of a vintage design into contemporary form.

Modernized 1949 Jumper

Enter the Vintage Design Workshop by Geraldine Warner. It’s a fabulous little book that will help you do just that:  translate vintage knitting patterns into modern style. While the book doesn’t provide row-by-row instructions for vintage patterns (you’ll have to read PieceWork and Knitting Traditions for that!), it does have extraordinarily useful tips on reading and re-creating patterns from the 1900s to the 1950s, including adjusting sizes, substituting yarns, and several patterns for creating vintage elements such as sleeves, collars, pleats, stitch patterns, hemlines, and embroidery. In addition to a great reference section that includes a glossary and a needle conversion chart, Vintage Design Workshop offers a fun guide to knitting in the twentieth century that includes everything from 1920s fashion to politics and underwear in the 50s!

The shared characteristic of a vintage wine and a vintage fashion design seems to be that they come from an outstandingly good year—or period of years—making them a classic. Order your copy of Vintage Design Workshop and create your own classics. And remember, wine pairs perfectly with knitting.