The pleasures of vintage patterns

This weekend I was glued to the sofa. Stuffy nose, chills, fever, lots of fluids, lots of knitting, lots of reading. At one point on Saturday afternoon I remembered my mother’s pattern collection and how much I miss it. She has a ton of them from all the decades she’s been crafting: knitting, crochet, and other kinds of patterns from the 1940s and onward. Now that I live so far away from her library I really miss it. If I ever wanted to try something out and was tired of internet searches or relying on my own books I could sift through her big stash.

Enter an obsessive search on the internet for vintage patterns!

By far the best site I have come across is the Antique Pattern Library. It has a huge catalog of knitting, crochet and other craft books and patterns from the Victorian era through the 1920s. The copyrights on these patterns and books have expired so they are now available for free distribution as downloadable pdf files.

After reading Franklin Habit’s article from the latest issue of Knitty on a 19th-century knitted square called the Templeton Square, I happily discovered the author’s blog, The Panopticon, which frequently features his adventures in vintage knitting.

I had not read Habit’s column in Knitty¬†before mostly because I tend to scour this handy magazine for patterns. His column is in fact dedicated to antique and vintage patterns. He presents a vintage pattern like the one for the “Templeton Square” and then redesigns the pattern so it makes more sense for a 21st-century knitter. In the case of this particular square: the original pattern instructed the knitter to make it from separate knit triangles whereas Habit recreates the pattern so it can be made on dpns and then circulars, on two circulars, or magic loop.

The oddest aspect of the patterns published from the 19th century through the 1920s is that the majority of the clothing looks fashionable for the 21st century. I’ve already found a sweater I want to make!


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