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

10 Websites for Free Knitting and Crochet Patterns

Free Patterns
Susie Rogers’ Reading Mitts Free on Ravlery

The internet if a magical and wonderful place.  You can find find free knitting and crochet patterns. I have compiled a list of some of my favorite sites to find free patterns.  I may have gotten a little distracted while researching this post, by all of the amazing patterns that I want to make.

  1. Ravelry There is so much to love about Ravelry! This is the only site on my list that you have to register for, but it’s worth it!  They have over 311,103 patterns and a lot of them are free!  They have a pattern search tool where you can choose your criteria. You can filter your searches, by yarn weight, technique, construction method, and more. Here’s the best part, there is a box you can click that says “free”. Ravelry offers fiber lovers much more than amazing patterns.  They have a queue for your projects, and you can create a list of favorites.   They have an online project journal where you can add photographs, yarn type, needle size, and notes about your projects.  There are numerous groups and forums for you to connect with other fiber lovers.  If you only check out one site on this list, then start with this one.  You can friend me on Ravelry.  My Ravelry name is The-Yarn-Bucket.
  2. All Free Knitting  This site has so many free patterns. Patterns are divided by category to make it easy to find what you are looking for.  They have a list of popular patterns, and a collection of patterns for beginners.  There is also a collection of knitting videos.
  3. All Free Crochet There is a fantastic collection of crochet patterns for all skill levels on this site.  Patterns are divided by category, and you can search patterns by hook size. There are some great tutorials, and they feature a pattern of the day.
  4. The Vintage Pattern Files I have a vintage pattern obsession.  Knitting a vintage pattern is like stepping back in time.  Patterns are divided by time period. They have patterns dating back to the 1800s.
  5. Interweave One of my favorite publisher!  Interweave has published multiple knitting and crochet books over the years.  They are responsible for wonderful magazines like Interweave Knits, Interweave Crochet, Handwoven, Spin Off and Jewelry Artist.  Their website has over 200 quality patterns for free. They also have some great resources for different stitches, and techniques.
  6. Knit Picks  They have a lot of free patterns! Knit Picks also has yarn, yarn accessories, tools, and free shipping if you spend over $50.  I am a huge fan of their wooden knitting needles.
  7. Yarnspirations This site has a well presented selection of free knitting and crochet patterns from tea cozies to sweaters. Patterns are presented by photograph, and are marked by skill level.
  8. Vogue Knitting  Vogue Knitting offers some fashionable free patterns. If you scroll down you can view the patterns by photograph making it easy to search for patterns that catch your eye.
  9. Love Knitting There are a lot of free patterns on this site.  They also sell patterns as well.  If you only want to see the free patterns, then you can sort them from lowest to hightest.
  10. Love Crochet This is another site where they also sell patterns.  You can sort from lowest to highest so you can focus on the freebies.