Wednesday 18 November 2015

Read It - Knit Vintage

As we are creeping ever closer to Christmas I thought it might be a good idea to publish a few of the book reviews I have been working on, to perhaps give you a better idea of things to ask Santa for, or perhaps not to ask Santa for! So today I am going to to have a good old look at Knit Vintage, a book which I accidentally have two copies of, one I got one for my birthday last year from my parents, and the other was bought as a treat to myself a few weeks earlier, whoops!

Knit Vintage ~
Also printed as 'Sweater Girls' in the US
By Madeline Weston and Rita Taylor
Published by Jacqui Small Publishing 2012
RRP £20.00

'Knit Vintage offers a fantastic selection of more than 20 timeless designs based on original women’s knitwear patterns from the 1930s to the 1950s.  Drawing from their own extensive collections of vintage knitting patterns, authors Madeline Weston and Rita Taylor have chosen garments for their classic style and updated them to appeal to 21st century tastes. The patterns, which incorporate traditional stitch formations such as cables, lace, Fair Isle and other motifs, have been adapted to suit an array of gorgeous modern yarns in fashion-forward colours and sumptuous textures, including merino, angora, cotton, bamboo, cashmere, alpaca and silk. All feature classic touches that will appeal to anyone who loves the exquisite attention to detail found in vintage knitwear. Beautifully styled and photographed, this bespoke collection of 20 projects will delight every knitter and fashionista who appreciates the classic elegance of the original sweater girls and the retro silhouettes of the silver-screen starlets.' (Quote: Jacqui Small LLP)

After a short and interesting introduction, discussing the history of knitting patterns and an explanation of some 'Vintage Details' which gives the knitter an idea of how to get just the right vintage look from the patterns, the book is then divided into 5 chapters containing all the patterns, they are, Pretty Tops, Cute Cardigans, Starlet Sweaters, Twinsets & Two Pieces and Finishing Touches.

~ Pretty Tops ~
'This selection of pretty tops is typical of patterns that were published in their thousands towards the end of the 1940s and into the 1950s.'
Jayne Button-Front Top (35-37-39" Bust)

Bette Top with Keyhole Neckline (32-34-36" Bust)

Dorris Shell Top (33-37-44" Bust)

Shirley Lace Top (32-38-41" Bust)

Louise Latticework Jersey (34-36-38" Bust)

Marilyn Magar Top (37-39-41" Bust)

Kate Lace-Panel Blouses (32-36-40" Bust) Looks rather a lot like this

~ Cute Cardigans ~
'The cardigans here are typical of the 1930s, 1940s, and 1950s'
Heady Tyrolean-Pattern Cardigan (32-35-37" Bust)

Ava Angora Bolero (34-36-38" Bust)

Lauren Lace-stitch Cardigan (32-34-35.5" Bust)

Wallis Pleated Cardigan (32-38" Bust)

~ Starlet Sweaters ~
'These are the type of stylish sweaters that were made and worn by women who admired and copied the fashions of the Hollywood during the 1940s and 1950s'
Clara Bow-Panel Sweater (35-38-42" Bust)

Vivien Fair Isle Style Sweater (33-37-41" Bust)

Grace Lacy Puff Sleeve Sweater (35-38-41" Bust)

Marlene Lacy Sweater with Collar (32-34-37" Bust)

Audrey Leaf-Pattern Sweater (34-36-38" Bust)

Natalie Feather-Stitch Sweater (32-35-38" Bust)

~ Twinsets & Two-Pieces ~
'The twinset must be one of the only fashion statements that has lasted more than fifty years.'
Barbara Fine Cable Twinset (32-36-40" Bust)

Celia Lacy Fine-Knit Twinset (32-36-40" Bust)

Veronica Lacy Cotton Skirt and Top (33-37-41" Bust)

~ Finishing Touches ~
'Knitted accessories were extremely popular from the 1930s onward.'
Loretta Warm Lacy Stole

Kim Fair Isle Beret

Betty Lace Stockings

Great Lacy Wristwarmers

Knit Vintage finishes with a few pages discussing the techniques and abbreviations used in the book and a very handy 'Directory of Garments' which shows all the pattern in the book together for easy navigation throughout the book and lastly there is a little information on the stockists for the yarns used.

So now we have looked at the layout and the lovely patterns it's time to look a bit deeper at the good and not so good points about Knit Vintage.

~ The Good Points ~
~ The book is beautifully and artistically shot, so even if you never knit a pattern from it, it is lovely just to flick through, especially as the bright yarns used in the patterns really helps the patterns to pop from the page!
~ The book contains lots of women's patterns! The vague title states over 20 patterns it's actually 24 patterns, but if you include the separate pieces in the twin set, it actually totals 27 items! Which is quite a generous amount!
~ You can purchase this book from various retailers and at wildly differing prices on Amazon it is selling for £16.95 and from The Works online bookshop it's £5.99 (no long available), or from Wordery for £13.54.
~ Each pattern has a generous amount of images with it and in most cases a photo of it also on a hanger, which is great as it gives you a better idea of how the garment is constructed, plus there is a small amount of text about each pattern which I really like as it gives you a better idea of what the pattern entails!

~ The Not So Good Points ~
~ It has a dust jacket. I know this is a minor niggle but I always find these a nuisance on craft books, yes, they do make a book look a more classy on the shelf or on the coffee table, but when it comes to the practicalities of using the book they tend to end up getting tatty, but then again perhaps it's just me!
~ The title is a little misleading, the version of this book available in the US is called 'Sweater Girls, which I think is a much more appropriate title as you can see from the above there are no patterns for men or children in this book.
~ The introduction states that 'Knit Vintage aims to bring you a selection of patterns from the 1930s, 1940s and 1950s, updated using modern yarns and sized for the modern woman'. Well, it's aim is a bit off, as there is little continuity throughout the book in terms of sizing, on many of the patterns the biggest size is a 38" bust (UK size 14) which is not quite hitting the mark. The more experienced knitter will be able to work around this but it might limit the books appeal as part of the enjoyment about knitting updated vintage patterns is that the complication of resizing is done for you!
~ There is no errata (pattern corrections) available online for the book, which for a book only released in 2012 and still being actively sold around the world is perplexing! As I haven't attempted any of the patterns myself (yet) I am only going on the Amazon and Ravelry comments that suggest there are quite a few mistakes in the book, which is a shame but not unexpected as it's a common thing with knitting pattern books, and ultimately so easy to fix with an online errata page!

~ My Verdict ~
Knit Vintage is jam packed with patterns which are all, in my opinion, lovely, I would happily knit and wear all of them! My real favourites have to be the Wallis Cardigan, which is a hefty nod to Wallis Simpson's wedding dress, the Audrey Leaf Pattern Sweater which has the most amazing lace panels, the dainty black and white Kate Lace-panel blouse, which must have been inspired by a blouse worn by the Duchess of Cambridge and the Tyrolean knit Heddy cardigan seeing Joe's version on Instagram has really made me want my own, so it will be the very next thing to be cast on my needles!

This book is very firmly not a beginners book, so if you are new to vintage knitting then you will most likely struggle and it's possible you might struggle even if you are not! Though I don't yet know how many patterns suffer from mistakes the lack of errata accessible for this book, which in my opinion, is quite unforgivable and so I am going to try and get a response from the publishers myself. However there is a saving grace and that is the wonderful Ravelry community who have already knitted many of the patterns and have their own errata to share with you!

So would I buy this book again? Well yes, yes I would. Despite the issues, it has some really beautiful patterns all of which are certainly worth battling through unclear instructions for, and the more experienced vintage knitters are rather used to the challenge of having to make a pattern work, so it wouldn't be enough to put me off. That said I certainly wouldn't want to pay the full RRP for it considering the issues, but if you can get a copy for a little over a tenner then I think it really is worth your pennies!

Have you Knitted anything from Knit Vintage? What did you think?

Wendy x

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