Vintage Knitting and Knitwear from the 1930s

Author Archive

Tea for Two Almost Done!

Well it’s been a long ride but as you can see I’m in the final stretch for Tea for Two:

As I metioned in my last post, I had intended to  use my knitting machine for the skirt, but the machine that I had wasn’t the right gauge.  So, I cast on my #2 circulars and trudged along.  Fortunately, I was able to locate a used knitting machine and ribber attachment in the right gauge and got them for a good price, along with some other goodies!  I will have it for the next skirt because I certainly don’t want to handknit another one of these babies, not anytime soon anyhow!

This outfit has definitely kept me occupied, but  there wasn’t any interesting progress to show.  I figured that posting pictures of my skirt in progress would be like posting pictures of a cake in various stages of baking.  Who cares, right?  In any case, my sincere apologies for my silence in the blogosphere.  Hopefully this update will make up for it.

The only bits I have left to do are the right sleeve, the casing for elastic in the skirt, the crocheted trim around the bottom of the skirt and neckline, and sewing on the buttons.  So my next post should come a lot sooner.

I should have this done in time for autumn.  I know that it’s a springtime look but since autumn in Arizona is just like spring, it should do nicely.

Tea for Two Coming Along

It’s been a few weeks since I last blogged but I have been working diligently on Tea for Two as you can see here.

This is both the front and the back knitted in the round up until seven inches into the stockinette section.  At that point I put the back on stitch holders and tacked the holders to the front so that the weight of the stitch holders wouldn’t pull on the garment.  I separated the front and back here because the stockinette sections for the front and back are meant to be different sizes (9 inches for the front and 8 inches for the back).  This is done to allow for the bust, to keep the ribbing in the front from riding up when worn. 

This project has been a lot of fun to work, and the yarn is working out great.  I steam pressed it which has given it a wonderful drape and accentuated the lace pattern.  Yes, I did press the steam iron directly on the knitting.  Normally that should not be done, but pressing this particular yarn brings out its best qualities.

I have decided to try to do the skirt on my knitting machine.  We’ll see how that works out.

I wish I was a better photographer.  We’ll just have to wait for Rob’s good pictures when this project is finished.

One interesting side note about Tea for Two:  Raveler Mary Beth pointed me to this blog post which features a vintage knitted ensemble that bears a striking resemblance to Tea for Two.  Don’t you think so?  It would appear that the knitter even chose the same color as the one used in the Minerva pattern photo.  I can’t help but wonder if she used this very pattern to make her garment, with the addition of some lovely modifications.  Hmmm…

Until next time, happy knitting  (and Happy Father’s Day too!)


Dunnellen Finished!

Yay!  Dunnellen is finally finished.  This was my first vintage project and although it took a very lonnngggg time to complete, I am happy with the finished product.  This was done on #1 needles and each vertical stripe had to be embroidered stitch by stitch.  I think I chose one of the most time-consuming projects for my first try at vintage.  Hopefully future projects will not take as long!

I am so very grateful to my talented friend Rob who took these pics.  Capturing the colors of this sweater has for me been tricky, but Rob had no trouble at all – the mark of a true professional!  Thanks, Rob!

Here is a shot of the full sweater:

Photo by Robert Bruce

 and a close up:

Photo by Robert Bruce

I already have my next vintage project on the needles.  I am working on Tea for Two by Minerva Yarns circa 1934.

If you’d like to knit along, you can download the pattern here.
Here is a shot of that work in progress:
The yarn I am using is Wool Crepe Deluxe by Silk City Fibers and it is being worked on #2 needles.  The pattern calls for Minerva Velveen yarn which, as you can imagine, has long since been discontinued.  I’ve heard that Silk City’s Wool Crepe is a very close match and so far so good!  This pattern has been a lot of fun to work so far.  It’s just straight knitting, which is a welcome change after Dunnellen!  I imagine that by the time I’m bored with that and looking for more of a challenge then I’ll reach the lace part. 
I would love to hear from you  as well so don’t be shy about leaving a comment!  Until next time…

Dunnellen Update

I have been juggling quite a few projects lately and haven’t had much time to knit or blog.  However I did take some new pics of Dunnellen to share here.   I finished seaming the shoulders and sides and crocheted a line of trim for the plackets.  I am still learning crochet and found this yarn very tricky to use.  It is 100% bamboo as I wanted something cool and lightweight for summer.  However, since the bamboo isn’t spun tightly it tends to split.  This didn’t give me too much trouble while knitting, but the crocheting has been difficult.  I don’t think I will use bamboo for future vintage projects.  I ended up picking up and knitting the stitches for the plackets.  Now I’m cooking with gas.  I hope to have this one done very soon as other vintage projects are calling my name!

Plackets in Progress


A Mother’s Day Poem

For the knitting and crocheting moms:

Mother Knitting

By Edgar A. Guest

I like to watch those wondrous bits
Which nightly mother sits and knits
And wonder, sometimes, where they’ll go
When into usefulness they grow
Or guess what now I cannot see,
What this affair is meant to be.

Half-drowsy pondering my book,
At her across the room I look
And as her fingers deftly ply
I think; ‘tis love at work I spy.
‘Tis friendship struggling to express
Itself in bits of loveliness!

That tiny robe will soon be worn
By someone’s babe, as yet unborn!
Aha, she knows of someone old
Who would enjoy an afghan’s fold!
Now from her fingers, row by row,
Mittens for lovely maidens grow!

Night after night across my book
I’ve seen her needles bright or hook
Move in and out with tender care
Producing pretty things to wear.
Which merely proves anew to me
That always busy love must be.

Happy Mother’s Day!!

New (To Me) Pattern Book

Here is my latest ebay acquisition:

It’s always exciting to receive a new pattern book, but even more so when you find surprises tucked inside like this newspaper clipping:

There is no date on the clipping but judging from its yellowed appearance and the styles presented I would guess that it was tucked inside right around the time that this book was published in 1935.  These are ads for patterns that can be obtained by mail order.  One is for a crocheted hat and bag set.  The other is a sewing pattern for a dress.

I love receiving these little bonuses!  It provides a sense of history and makes you a part of the story.  Another book that I purchased a while back had a fashion show program tucked inside:

Here’s the cover:

To go with this book:

These make me want to purposefully tuck little things inside of the pattern books for future generations to find…perhaps pictures of my finished garments (as I would have loved to find pictures of garments dotingly knitted by the original owners) or maybe some scraps of the yarn that I used to create the garments.

I have enjoyed knitting since I first learned as a teenager.  My first job was in a craft store.  They put me in the yarn department so it was inevitable that I would develop an interest in learning to knit or crochet.  Collecting these old pattern books has opened up a whole new world of knitting possibilities for me, more than I would have imagined.  There are many wonderful modern knitting patterns and so often I pored over my collection of Vogue Knitting magazines and various pattern books. Still do. However when I acquired my first vintage knitting book I was amazed and sat breathless as page after page of elegant fashions presented themselves to me. I had never imagined knitting at this level.  The books presented three and four-piece outfits, not just a single sweater.

I also love these beauties because they are simultaneously fashionable and modest.  With these dresses there is no need to layer with camisoles or tank tops.  You can just put the dress on and you’re out the door.

I find knitting to be very relaxing and do not at all mind miles of fine-gauge stockinette.  Perhaps I was made for vintage knitting.  🙂

Wrong Side

Drive by post of shot of wrong side.  This photo shows the colors better.  I’m still trying to figure my camera out.


First up is Dunnellen. I actually started working on this sweater two years ago, long before I conceived of this blog project or even knew about Ravelry. “Two years!,” you may say. Yes, vintage patterns do take longer to complete because of small gauges. However, this project has taken me much longer than usual because I completed several other projects in between. You know how that goes. The good news is I am nearly done with this one. The knitting is complete. I am currently working on embroidering the vertical stripes on the various pieces. (The pattern instructions say to crochet the stripes, but I am not at all adept with a hook.)

This next photo shows my progress to date. I also have the back and one of the sleeves done.

I can’t show you the back at the moment because it is inside of this cabinet behind all of these boxes, along with several cones of mercerized cotton, baby alpaca and eyelash yarn. The eyelash yarn is left over from the early 2000s when “fur” yarn was all the rage. (The story behind the boxes is another post for another day.)

This next pic shows you what’s going on on the wrong side. Sorry about the blurriness. I will try to take a better close up tomorrow since everything is looking blurry to me right now since it’s past my bedtime.


Minerva Yarns Stitches and Styles Vol. 3

I have been knitting off and on for about 20 years. A couple of years ago I discovered the fabulous knitting patterns of the 1930s and began collecting these wonderful old pattern books. My favorites by far are the books that were put out by James Lees & Sons under the label Minerva. The styles are elegant and classic. These are garments that could be easily worn today.

My favorite book out of my collection (so far anyhow) is Stitches and Styles, Vol. 3. There are so many styles in that book that I would love to knit that I’ve decided (God willing) to undertake knitting my way through the women’s garments and to post the patterns here for all to enjoy.

I will be blogging about each garment as I go along. The patterns will be made available on separate pages dedicated to each pattern book. You can find those pages on the menu at the top of the page.

Please pull up a chair and knit along with me!