My first go at vintage knitting

Ok, it’s time to jump in at the deep end: I want to knit a sweater from a vintage pattern. A few weeks ago I discovered the wonderful blog by gum, by golly!” by Tasha  who has called for a vintage knitalong. She’s written very detailed instructions on how to convert the vintage pattern to your size and yarn and this inspired me to give it a try.

I am not really a knitting beginner – I think every woman who went to school in the eighties carried around some knitting project in a jute bag, (with the slogan “jute instead of plastic” printed on) at least in Germany.Mostly, these were formless objects made from bulky wool died in natural and drab hues of brown and grey. The resulting sweaters sometimes smelled a beet “sheepy” when they got wet, but it was all so very natural and organic and alternative 😉 .

But vintage knitting is totally different, isn’t it?

1. In the eighties fit didn’t matter, hey, it even was undesirable. The bigger and the baggier the better and we always cast on some extra 10 or 15 stitches to be on the safe side. Vintage sweaters are designed to be closely fitting so they will require a lot more planning and calculating.

2. In the eighties, we only ever knitted with really bulky wool and large needles, preferably homespun wool from sheep you knew personally. Dear god, I can’t believe I really wore something like that. Vintage sweaters are mostly knit with small needle sizes and it will probably take longer to make them. On the other hand, they are a lot shorter and tighter than everything I made in the 80ies, so it may even out in the end.

3. I am not a patient person. I mean, really not at all. And this is not helpful for knitting sweaters. I DID knit socks and scarves in the last years but to make a whole sweater sort of feels like crossing a dessert by foot. But it is feasible in the same way: One step after the other and if other people can do it, why shouldn’t I?

So why do I want to do this?

1. Sadly, in addition to my Mount Fabric I also own a … ahem … little wool stash. It’s not close to being as large as my fabric stash, mind you, but it is there and the poor yarns have been waiting to be made into something useful for a while now, so it’s about time.

2. It’s hard to find vintage knit pieces. In Germany anyway. And in my size. And for a reasonable price.

3. I have the coolest and most beautiful vintage knitting patterns, it would be a shame to let them go to waste.

4. It is a good thing to keep my hands occupied while watching TV. Keeps them from grabbing for a bag of crisps. Or a bar of chocolate 😉 .

so, to cut a long story short: I’ll tackle the challenge and join Tashas knitalong – I’ll be behind everybody else, since the official start was in January, but hey, better late than never. And this is the knitalong sweater:

Ok, not too fancy, just your basic stockinette sweater. But I think it is a good choice for a first project as I can concentrate on getting the fit right. The pocket, sleeve caps and buttoned neckline are nice details, so the sweater will not be too drab and if I am really daring, I could even risk something other than stockinette on the front piece or sleeves, we’ll see.

In line with my new project I will post a few of my vntage German knitting magazines on Fashion Fridays in the next weeks, complete with instructions. If I inspired somebody to unexpected knitting hankerings with this post, you will also find nice vintage patterns in English here at Free Knitting Patterns and at A Rarer Borealis (where also the above pattern is posted).


2 Responses to “My first go at vintage knitting”

  1. Jane Says:

    Good luck with your sweater, I look forward to seeing your progress, and also the German vintage knitting magazines. I have recently discovered by gum by golly, too, and have been exploring vintage knitting sites – there are some very good links here at
    I’m not starting a vintage sweater just yet, though, as I am currently knitting – ahem – a natural drab brown sheepy-smelling cardigan! Not too big and baggy, though, I hope

  2. rarerborealis Says:

    Hey there! Glad to see you’re knitting vintage; it can be difficult but very rewarding! If you’d feel more comfortable knitting chunkier stuff, please do check out the rest of the patterns here, as there are sweaters in every gauge (and all FREE!)

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