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

7 of my Favorite Knitting Patterns for Babies

The Yarn Bucket is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to www.amazon.com.  This post contains affiliate links. If you purchase from Amazon using one of these links I may make a small commission at no additional charge to you!

Every now and then you have to drop what you are doing to knit a baby gift. That’s what happened to me last week. I lost track of time and need a gift for a baby shower at the end of the month. Knitting for babies is a lot of fun. Babies are tiny and adorable, so knitting for them is a great joy. Most baby gifts are quick and easy. I find that I tend to go for the same patterns over and over. I want to share with you 7 of my favorite knitting patterns for babies.

Umbilical Cord Hat by Jennifer L. Jones 

This is my favorite baby hat pattern, and my go to baby gift. I usually give this hat with a matching pair of baby booties.  The hat is knit in the round and the pattern can be found in Deb Stoller’s Stitch N’ Bitch: The Knitter’s Handbook.  You can buy the book from Amazon here. The book is a lot of fun, and I have lost count of how many times I have made this hat.

Beth’s Easy Baby Booties by Beth Koskie

I love this free pattern. I usually knit it up in a single color and use a ribbon for the drawstring. It is my go to baby bootie pattern because the booties stay on the babies feet.

Baby Boy 5 Hour Sweater by Gail Bable

I enjoy knitting this free pattern for both boys and girls. I love it for its speed and simplicity. Baby sweaters make great first time sweater projects because the construction is the same as an adult sweater, but done on a smaller scale.  It is much less intimidating than knitting an adult sweater.

Mary Jane Booties by Lucie Sinkler 

These are super cute!  They have the look of Mary Jane’s, but more comfortable for the baby.  You can add cute buttons to hold the strap.  These can be matched with any cute outfit!

The Once Upon a Time Baby Blanket by Caitlyn Ffrench 

Fans of the ABC series “Once Upon a Time” may recognize this blanket as baby Emma’s blanket in the series pilot episode.  This gorgeous blanket makes appearances through out the first season.  The blanket was designed by the amazing Caitlyn Ffrench, who is kind enough to offer the pattern for free!

Yoda Baby Hat by Shinah Chang

I am a huge Star Wars fan.  This free Yoda hat is a great gift for future fans.  I knit this hat up as a gift for an awesome new mom about a year ago, in a town far far away… Just kidding!  It was knit in my hometown.

Baby Surprise Hat by Elizabeth Zimmerman

This is probably one of the most knit baby sweaters of all time.  The amazing garter stitch construction looks stunning in yarns that change color.  It has been published in numerous books and magazines.

Related:  10 Websites for Free Knitting and Crochet Patterns

 

Works in Progress

I have so many works in progress-WIPs for short. Usually, I have at least 5, currently I have 8. This is not counting the projects that have been long forgotten.  I am talking about the ones that have been stashed in a yarn bag or a box for at least a year. Ravelry uses the term “hibernating” for such projects.  These are projects that I consider active projects.  I will probably write a WIP post once a month.

Knitting

I always have multiple knitting projects going on. Knitting is portable, and it’s easy to keep everything you need for a project in a “go” bag.  I don’t like to leave the house without a knitting project, because you never know when you can work a few rows into your day.

Architexture Scarf Knitting Kit by Jennifer Weissman
  1. Long Term Project – I always have one project that takes forever, like a sweater or a shawl. Currently I am knitting Architexture by Jennifer Weissman: from Craftsy for a wonderful kindred spirit. I love this pattern. It’s done in Cloudborn Highland Fingering yarn.  This yarn is absolutely gorgeous, and super tiny (so it’s gonna take a while).  Unfortunately, the kit is no longer available*(UPDATE: The kit is available again!), but you can get the pattern from Ravelry and the yarn from Craftsy. I actually have to pay attention to follow this pattern, and I take breaks by working on some instant gratification projects.

    Cloche Hat
    Lucy Hat by Carina Spencer
  2. Instant Gratification Project – Sometimes you just want to finish a project. I like a quick knit because it makes me feel like I have accomplished something. Currently I am working on Carina Spencer’s Lucy hat. This pattern is adorable, and it knits up quickly. I love the woven band, and the retro cloche flap. I am using Lion Brand Wool Ease in Cranberry and Oxford Grey.

    Susie Rogers
    Susie Rogers’ Reading Mitts
  3. Fingerless Mitts – I blame the blog for this one!  I needed a photo for my post 10 Websites for Knitting and Crochet Patterns.   This is one of my favorite free patterns-Susie Rogers’ Reading Mitts.  It is a delightful knit!  I love the edging!  I wanted it to match the Lucy hat so I am knitting the mitts in the Cranberry Lion Brand Wool Ease.
  4. Socks – There are numerous socks scattered about the house in various stages of completion.  I’m  always sneaking in a few rows while I am doing housework. I hardly ever finish a pair and have diagnosed myself with SSS – Single Sock Syndrome. I’m always starting new socks, because I like to see how the pattern knits up.
  5. Baby Gifts – Occasionally, I have to stop what I am doing and knit a baby gift.  Like just now while working on this post I realized that I need to knit a baby gift before November.  I have included it in this in this list even though I haven’t started it yet.  Digging out the yarn is going to count as “in progress” for this one.

Weaving

Weaving
Pink Shawl-Lionbrand Shawl in a Ball on a Kromski Harp

6. Pink Shawl – I always like to have a weaving project going on. Currently I have a pink shawl on my Kromski Harp. The yarn is Lion Brand’s Shawl in a Ball.

Spinning

I currently have two spinning projects.  I usually like to have one traditional type of yarn and one art yarn.

Spinning Yarn
Purple Romney Wool

7. Purple Romney Wool – This Romney wool in a beautiful purple is from Catoctin Creek Farm. I am spinning it, and then plying it.  I am spinning it on a Baynes Colonial spinning wheel, and plying it on a Spinolution Pollywog.

BFL Wool
Blue Faced Leicester Thick and Thin Spun Thread Plied

8. Thick and Thin Thread Plied Yarn – I am planning on dyeing this.  I haven’t decided on which method I will be using yet. I am spinning this on a Spinolution Pollywog.  This Blue Faced Leicester wool came from Little Barn.  They have fabulous prices for unspun wool.

Projects-Knitting Weaving Spinning

 

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.

 

Preview with a Swatch – Knitting and the Perfect Gauge

Checking for Gauge
Gauge Swatches

It always surprises me when people tell me they don’t like to swatch, because I love to swatch! Knitting a gauge swatch is like watching a movie trailer for a movie you just can’t wait to see. It is an opportunity for you to make sure your chosen yarn will work for your project. It’s like holding auditions for yarn and needle size.

One of the main issues that creating a swatch tackles is gauge. Finding the right gauge is so important. There is nothing worse than investing hours into large project like a sweater to then discover that it will not fit. A swatch at the beginning could save you hours of work. It is a lot like the story of “Goldilocks and the Three Bears”. If the gauge is too loose your project will be too big, and if it is too tight it will be too small. Taking the time to do a gauge swatch at the beginning could save a lot of heartache later on. I was heading to North Carolina on vacation. I was working on what was going to be my first sweater… it was not. I was on the way back home when I realized that it was huge, and it was not going to fit me. I unraveled the whole thing before we got home.

Your pattern will give you a needle size-size 13. This is like the pirate’s code in “Pirates of the Caribbean”, it’s more of a guide line. That needle might not give you the gauge you want. For me the suggested needle never gets me the size I want. I am a loose knitter, so I usually end up using the next size down. Your pattern will say something like:

10 stitches equals 4 inches

Cast on 10 stitches and knit a few rows. If you have a 4 inch wide swatch, congratulations you are done! If not then swatch again! If the swatch is too big, use a smaller needle. If the swatch is too small use a bigger needle. You can leave the swatch on the needles, and unravel it after measuring to save yarn.

Gauge Swatch - Too Big
Gauge Swatch – Too Big

Size 13

This one is too big!  Use smaller needles!

Gauge Swatch
Gauge Swatch – Too Small

 Size 10 1/2

This one is too small!  Use larger needles!

Checking for Gauge
Gauge Swatch – Just Right!

Size 11

This one is just right!  

A swatch will also tell you how the fabric will feel and drape. This gives you the opportunity to make sure that you have the right yarn for your project. Even if you have the gauge the fabric could be so tight that it is difficult to knit, and has no drape. It would probably not be something you would want to knit a shawl in. Then you have the other end of the spectrum, where you have the gauge, but the stitches are too loose and open. This would probably not be something you would want to knit mittens in.

Taking the time to knit a swatch (or a few swatches) can make your knitting project more enjoyable.  It will help you find the perfect combination of yarn, and needles for your next project.

Happy Swatching!