Retro Knitting and Crochet Patterns

Vintage Patterns and Where to Find Them

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There is something magical about vintage patterns. Knitting or crocheting a vintage pattern is like looking through a window into the past. Imagine what life was like for the people who knitted or crocheted the patterns when they first came out. Some vintage treasures include socks for servicemen, vintage sweaters, crocheted tablecloths, keyhole scarves, and so much more! Most vintage patterns used a different knitting needle sizing system than we use today.  You can find a conversion chart from The Fiber Gypsy here.  I strongly recommend a gauge swatch for vintage patterns.  You can read my post on doing a gauge swatch here. Vintage sizes for clothing were also different than today’s sizes. I recommend reading Vintage Design Workshop: Knitting Techniques for Modern Style. This book is a must have for the vintage knitter.  It teaches you how to resize patterns so they fit you! There are a lot of places to find vintage patterns, and some of them are free!

The Internet: Digital Format

I love the internet!  Finding information is so much easier now than it used to be.  There are a lot of great resources for free knitting and crochet patterns online.  It’s great that they have been converted in to digital format so they can be preserved.

  1. Victoria and Albert Museum:  There are some great knitting patterns from the 1940s on this site! There is a sweater, a fatigue hat, a balaclava, gloves, a waist coat, and knitted turbans.
  2. The Vintage Pattern Files:  I am a huge fan of this site! It is a treasure trove of free vintage knitting and crochet patterns.
  3. Va-Voom Vintage with Brittany: This is one of my favorite blogs, and the first blog I started reading on a regular basis. Brittany offers some great free patterns.  Brittany has recreated some amazing vintage looks.
  4. Free Vintage Knitting: This site has a collection of free vintage patterns.  I am currently knitting the Little Scarf Pattern by Hilde Fuchs from 1953.  It was originally published in Stoles and Accessories by Hilde Volume 76.  It is a keyhole scarf and a delightful knit with crocheted beaded edging.  I haven’t decided if I am going to add the beads yet.
  5. All Free Knitting:   All Free Knitting has 18 Vintage Knitting Patterns from the 1950s!
  6. Vintage Purls: Vintage Purls has a lot of free patterns that are no longer covered by New Zealand’s copyright laws.
  7. Subversive Femme:  Has a lot of vintage knitting patterns.

Books and Magazines – Original Format

These are the real deal.  Magazines and books published decades ago are a treat!  I love looking at the beautiful patterns, and the retro hair styles.  Treat these carefully when you find them.  Some can be very fragile.  It’s a good idea to copy the pattern to carry in your yarn bag so that you don’t ruin the original.

  1. Yard Sales, Estate Sales, and Garage Sales:  These are great places to search for vintage treasures.  Sometimes you can find vintage knitting needles too.  I found a lot of vintage needles when I first started knitting at a church yard sale.  Jackpot!
  2. Second Hand Book Stores:  I always enjoy a trip to our local second hand book store.  Most books stores will separate their books into categories.
  3. Antique Stores:  In most antique stores there is usually at least one booth with knitting or crochet patterns.  It is a bit like a treasure hunt looking for the patterns.
  4. Relatives and Friends:  Get the word out that you are a knitter or crocheter looking for vintage patterns, they will find you!  I just had a cousin give me a giant box of vintage patterns yesterday.  I am looking forward to going though this box!
  5. The Internet:  You can order the “real” vintage publications online through sites like Ebay, Etsy, and Amazon.

Books:  Re-releases, Vintage Inspired, and Resources

There are some amazing current publications that have re-released vintage patterns.  Some of these are vintage inspired and have been written (or rewritten) to give you today’s sizes, and today’s needle sizes.

    1. Vintage Design Workshop: Knitting Techniques for Modern Style by Geraldine Warner: This book is a wonderful resource.  It teaches you how to resize patterns to fit.  It also teaches you how to knit different kinds of sleeves.  There is a section on how to make a modern pattern look vintage.
    2. A Stitch in Time v.1 by Jane Waller and Susan Crawford: There are 59 knitting and crochet patterns from 1920 to 1949 in this amazing book!
    3. A Stitch in Time v.2 by Susan Crawford:  This book has 80 patterns from 1930 to 1959!
    4. Knitting it Old School: 43 Vintage Inspired Patterns by Stitchy McYarnpants and Caro Sheridan:  A wonderful collection of vintage inspired patterns.
    5. Vogue Knitting Vintage Collection: Classic Knits from the 1930s-1960s by Trisha Malcolm:  Vogue needs no introduction in the world of fashion. This collection of classic vogue patterns showcases three decades of style.
    6. Lion Brand Yarn Vintage Styles for Today: More than 50 Patterns to Knit and Crochet by Nancy J. Thomas and Charlotte Quiggle:  I love when the yarn companies re-release patterns.  Lion Brand re-released some of their classic patterns and rewrote them for their newer yarns.  It is a fun book to flip through.  I knitted the Hug-Me-Tight Shrug in black.  A joy to knit.

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Retro Patterns
Vintage Knitting and Crochet Patterns

6 thoughts on “Vintage Patterns and Where to Find Them”

  1. Super helpful! I’ve been trying to find all my patterns online, forgetting one of the greatest resources… the library! Also, what a great idea to check out yard sales! I didn’t even think of that! <3

    1. I love the library! Our local library has a wonderful selection of knitting and crochet patterns. Most of them are more modern, they didn’t have a lot of vintage ones.

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