Sunday, January 11, 2009

Really, I wasn't alive then

As I unloaded my stash last weekend and sorted it out. I also came across a pile of patterns from days long past--a sort of "Knitter's History" if you will. I discovered my mom's and grandmothers's favorite patterns, along with my collection that starts in the mid-80s, when I started buying my own patterns because "Ewww! Who wants to knit what their grandmother is knitting?!" As you'll see, times they have a-changed, and then again, not-so-much.

The oldest pattern I found was this one from 1953:

Notice the price? Twenty cents! Then again, welcome to my grandmothers's era of knitting. My maternal grandmother knit voraciously--even knitting dresses and suits out of fingering weight yarn. I know, because I have two of her dresses--which I used to wear when I worked in a law firm, because they are so classic, so eternal, that even though they were knit in the 50s. they still looked contemporary in the late 80s.

Isn't this just so cool? And the patterns aren't that much off from what you'd find on Ravelry today.

Sorted through a huge pile of dittos and photocopies of patterns, clippings from old magazines, old pattern books and newspaper articles, I realized my penchant for downloading patterns was an inheritance from my mother (and grandmothers) who clipped and made notations on the patterns they knit and, like all of us, planned to knit. I stopped on this page my mom clipped from Popular Needlework:

This is probably the late 60s, maybe early 70s, but I want that sweater. Just like it is called, I think this cardigan is still "Another All-Around Classic." Even 40 years later. But as we time travel forward, we hit the time when I shrugged off my Mother's Workbasket Magazine (seen here and looking very quaint and funky now):

And move into the real decade of fashion: the 80s. Coming to you live is a 1983 Patons knitting book. At least here the models all look like an Early Princess Di, but with bigger hair.

But I will say this for the 80s, we also had "Pat's Pointers" in the newspaper, a weekly column that featured questions from knitters. Can you imagine a daily newspaper publishing such a thing today? You see I learned to knit without patterns--I sat as countless girls did, beside my grandmothers and even my great grandmother when I was probably about 7 or 8 and followed what they did. And when I got to the point of knitting with patterns on my own, I had no clue how to read them. Here is one I saved with tips on SSK:

I have a couple of pattern books from the mid-80s that I will spare you the horrors. They feature models with Flock of Seagulls haircuts and are made up like Grace Slick. I shudder to look at them--especially the big shoulders and the modish intarsia. Ewww! Then again, maybe if I hang onto them in 40 years they'll look quaint and fashionable again.

God, I hope not.

1 comment:

Margaret G said...

Oh, Elizabeth! Those are priceless. I hope you didn't throw them away.

You are right about the stoles. Could be on Ravelry today. Had a big laugh over the big hair. But I do like the sweaters they are wearing.

When I was a young knitter, I used to subscribe to "Workbasket" magazine. I don't know if I ever made anything from it but I was a magazine junkie back in those days.