Subversive Femme

Knitting Vintage for the Uninitiated – Part 3 (Final Post)

Welcome to my final post – and this time we’ll be looking at the instructions.

You have the same skill-set as knitters 50-100 years ago – so rest assured you can knit old patterns and they will make sense if you read them carefully (heck, they can’t be any worse that Vogue’s!).

Vintage patterns tend to spell out everything row by row, instead of charts or ‘knit for x inches’. Take the time to chart a stitch pattern/design out in Excel or Knitter’s Graph Paper to make your life easier.
Chart for the Bell-Stitch Jumper I’m currently
working on (link to Ravelry).
While instructions might be unfamiliar, all the stitch terms used in the pattern will be ones you know. Google if you’re unsure – someone else is bound to have the same issue. Some examples of the common ones are:
  • W.FD – wool forward. A yarn over (YO).
  • W.R.N – wool round the needle. Literally a YO purl wise – under the right hand needle, over, and back under ready for a purl stitch.
And don’t forget Ravelry! Its the best resource online, a bit like Facebook for knitters.
There’s so many groups devoted to knitting vintage (All Things Vintage, Techniques, Vintage Knitters are some good placecs to start) – don’t be afraid to ask for help and support.

My final tips are to slow down, and understand what the pattern says before you dive in. It’ll be worth it, i’m sure!

Some final words from the Lux Knitting Book 1941


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  • Reply
    November 14, 2012 at 6:28 am

    I've just started to learn to read knitting charts. I'm starting with a pattern for fingerless gloves. So far so good.

  • Reply
    November 14, 2012 at 3:06 pm

    Thanks for these great posts. There are a few vintage cardigans I've got my eye on, and these are a great resource for if I get stuck!

  • Reply
    November 20, 2012 at 9:16 pm

    I think one of my favorite things about knitting vintage is how really it's not that different than modern knitting techniques today!

    Of course, I already broke rule O all the time when knitting modern patterns, so it never worried me when approaching vintage patterns what to do since I didn't have the same yarn (or even a clue about it). lol But I love the ABCs of knitting, thanks for sharing it!

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