We 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.
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’!
Our 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.
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 …
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!