Sunday, April 27, 2008

Retro Knits - review

While at the bookstore wiht my bf, to pick up as many episodes of Battlestar Galactica as I could find, I also picked up a whole bucket-full of Squee. Yes, gentle readers, I'm talking about a new knitting book called Retro Knits...


The full title is Retro Knits: Cool Vintage Patterns for Men, Women, and Children from the 1900s to 1970, edited by Jean Lampe. It starts, rightly, with Fleisher Manuals and travels appropriately through Minerva, Monarch, Beehive, and Spinnerin - to name just a few of the fine yarn manufacturers who put out consistently good pattern books.

Ms. Lampe addresses vintage sizing, yarn substtutions, and needle sizing in the introduction - all issues that keep knitters new to vintage patterns from taking the plunge. This is my way of saying that if you've always wanted to try a lovely old pattern but couldn't figure out of the size 12 as listed would fit a child or an automobile when you got done, this is a good book to start with!

The pattern choices are - for me - just quirky enough to be wearable and still look vintage. She includes vests, shrugs, boleros, slip-on and sports sweaters, and a lovely "negligee" which is a loose-fitting sweater with amazing diamond-shaped belled sleeves.

You can see a few of the pages and photos of the patterns at Barnes and Nobles' website - which, incidently, has the book at a good discount. (Use the slider at the bottom, rather than the linked list at the side to view the retro photos in the beginning few pages) Scrolling down this same page will give you the entire table of contents, as well as the entire introduction with the useful information I described above.

My only disappointments with this volume are that the 30's are done so little justice and the 40's chapter focuses so much on men's styles. Retro Knits includes only 4 patterns from the 1930's - one of those is a baby's helmet hat and another is the classic Brooks Brothers style cardigan. My own collection of vintage knitting booklets includes an entire shelf of originals from the 30's and I can attest that this was an imaginative and extravagant time for style. So many beautiful body-conscious sweaters and knitted blouses, as well as delicate and frilly knitted underthings and evening wear appeared in pattern books from this era, it is a shame to have this decade given such short shrift. There is more in the chapter on the 1940's but again, women's blouses in this time period were so lovely I would have likes to see more representative patterns. There are 2 or 3 good examples; I just wished for more - like those in the Jack Frost, Acorn Yarns, Sunlight Yarns and Fleisher's and Minerva booklets from the 30's and 40's.

These are small complaints, compared to the treasures I did find in this book though, with its more than 40 patterns. I want to cast on immediately for the Bunny Hugger Cardigan and the Woman's Mohair Sweater with Hood (minus the bobbles, thanks all the same), the Halter Top, and the Men's Waistcoat. It's a good thing my stash is healthy enough for spontaneous startitis!


I really hope that Ms Lampe is working on another book of vintage, this time called Retro Crochet. That would be another really good idea!


ziarah said...

Hi again,
thanks for commenting on my blog - I really am feeling better now, but I'm still very much behind on my reading, and I dread the exams that are just around the corner...

I'm looking so much forward to the package - and I got my Yarn Snob package today as well!! :D Hurray! Let me know when the one I sent arrives!

The book looks funky ^_^ Retro knitting is fun! Oh, and Battlestar Galactica is amazing :D I've only seen the mini series and the first two seasons, but I love it!

Briley said...

What a great book! I will have to look for it next time I am at the bookstore.

Nad said...

It looks like a fun book. Would you say I'd enjoy it? Are there smaller projects in it or mainly garments?

Unraveling Sophia said...

Nad - most of patterns are women's and men's sweaters. There a few accessories - gloves, socks, hats, a scarf or two - but these are generally classic patterns that you could find elsewhere. Men's vests, argyle socks, classic gloves, and men's cardigans and v-necks are the patterns for guys. There also some very cute baby patterns if you have little ones in your life that you knit for. There are no crochet patterns.

If you go to the Barnes and Noble's website that I linked and click on "look inside" you can use the slider underneath the picture of the book to view every page and see the patterns. The pictures are very small - many of the pages won't load as big pictures but you can still see the small images.

Chez Tine said...

je découvre avec plaisir le livre de tricots rétro que je ne connaissais pas
merci d'avoir posté l'information
à bientôt
Tine, de Paris