I bought my first batch of vintage knitting patterns out of sheer curiosity. I have written before about how my mother and mother-in-law had been great knitters throughout their lives. They were both young women in the second world war, when to be well dressed women had to be resourceful and crafty. So I assume if they wanted a new jumper or cardigan they set to and got knitting. Yet despite both women having carefully conserved and very well stocked work baskets, that I inherited; no patterns survived from their war years.
Then I spotted that someone was selling a large bundle of mixed patterns on EBay. It was a great 'win'. The bundle contained patterns for men, women and children. It was no good just looking, I needed to see what it would be like to knit one of the patterns up.
While not wanting to depart too far from the spirit of 'make do and mend' I also wanted the finished article to be a thing of loveliness. In my stash I had some Debbie Bliss pure silk.
I chose a little button up to the neck number with a small collar. For the cardigan to be wearable, I am not at all sure about the pockets with buttoned flaps high up on the front. I intend to knit mock flaps attached in such a way that I can remove them if they don't look right. I am also making it a little longer. I understand that CC41 regulations restricted the length of all sorts of clothing (including banning turn ups on men's trousers) to save fabric and yarn but I am not going to be too purist
With not enough in either colour to make a whole garment I decided to have both. Using both colours with the darker shade for the ribbing and lighter for the rest also seemed a gesture towards doing the best with what you have got.
Usually I am very impatient to begin knitting, far too impatient to knit a tension swatch and I was certainly raring to go here but good sense prevailed. The pattern called for Paton's Beehive Scotch Fingering 2 ply (presumably in one of the utility colours black, grey, brown, navy, bottle green or Maroon) and needles size 9 and 11 (3 and 3 3/4 mm). The Debbie Bliss silk knits up nearer to four ply but I found, even using the same size needles, which are slightly smaller than those DB recommends, it knitted up reasonably close to the stated tension when I knitted the square.
The honey comb pattern is achieved by reversing the direction of a simple four stitch cable so that the twists face each other, then face away, alternately. The soft, silky and drapey yarn is a joy to knit with, as you might expect.
But gosh the pattern is in a tiny size 32-34 inch bust. They say that that the rations in WW2 ensured a very healthy diet and that this, together with almost every able bodied adult working their socks off for the war effort, ensured a slim svelte population...sigh! I needed to add some more stitches to make up a bigger size
I have recently discovered that I knit rather in the same way I read books. Just as I have one book for my handbag (train journeys) one in the sitting room and one beside my bed so I have three or four knitting projects on the go (one for knitting group, one for television watching...) This one's not quite finished, when it is I will post more pictures.