We love: Retro knitting

TheBigForest Vintage Knitting Pattern 01We have been rummaging through our collection of vintage knitting patterns. They show a world of aspiration – a world that is better than one’s own but so easily obtainable by knitting a dress, a sweater, a hat or a bag. This is a world not of 60’s jet setters and sports cars but the Locarno dancehall and Timothy Whites the Chemist, of motorbikes and side cars, boyfriends called Terry and semi-detached suburban living.TheBigForest Vintage Knitting Pattern 02

In this 1962 book of patterns the themes repeat – knitting for boyfriends, knitting for husbands, knitting for sons. Daughter and Mother dressed alike – posed with transistor radios and shopping from Express Dairy. Garments for parties and sweaters for ‘the outdoor girl’. And rug making, a craft that men can join in because…’rug making is for husbands too’!TheBigForest Vintage Knitting Pattern 03

TheBigForest Vintage Knitting Pattern 07Our personal favourite is the girl in a social whirl, let us call her June or Sandra, a Terry’s All Gold cemented to her fingers and a red phone clasped to her ear. What potent signifiers of unimaginable sophistication in early 1960’s England.TheBigForest Vintage Knitting Pattern 05

We also love this cowboy sweater that would send any self-respecting lad in to blushing embarrassment today but we are wondering if, adult sized, this could be the urban woodsman sweater we have been searching for? Heavy with irony but snuggly warm …TheBigForest Vintage Knitting Pattern 04

And what about Ethel and Constance ready for some bondage flower arranging……TheBigForest Vintage Knitting Pattern 06

I’ve been sewing up a retro inspired heavy knit jacket very much like the one on the cover of the  knitting pattern book. It was completed in the spring but  it’s a task I’ve been putting off because poor sewing up really shows when the garment is finished. I’m proceeding slowly and getting it right. Today I only have one sleeve and the zip to go; soon I will be the smartest retro craftsman/designer on the block!

About TheBigForest

TheBigForest. A silly artist maker creating in felt and paper construction. Like us on Facebook: TheBigForest. Find us at Twitter : twitter/TheBigForestuk


  1. Lovely, that’s a bit how I felt in 1970s Junior School – that a bit of knitting and sewing was going to make the world so much better!

  2. Everything can be made better with knitting (at least I go about my life as such). Not sure the same can be said about bondage flower arrangements, though 😀

    Will you show us your heavy knit jacket once it’s finished?

  3. Just awesome, and so much fun to read! Of course, today’s magazines and pattern books illustrate an aspirational world, too–just a very different world!

    • Very true. What we loved with early 60s patterns were the boundaries of that aspiration. Later in the decade it all becomes more fanciful, overseas travel and post war affluence shifting sights from shopping with Mum to what to wear on a beach on the Costa del Sol! As we shall see in later posts if I put the time aside to scan the patterns.

  4. deemallon

    Hilarious! Thanks for collecting. I love the hubby invite for rug making.

  5. Sigh, how lovely! They sure know how to tell stories by showing the patterns…though I think your comments are contibuting big time;0) I have a feeling though that even the girl in the yellow hat doubts the design of it…

  6. thesailorswoman

    A knitting pattern book that shows how people aspired to live fifty years ago–I love it! That dusty pink dress on the girl in the social whirl would probably look amazing on Emma Peel–in cool black, of course!

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