Friday, January 31, 2014


Off and on this week I have been plugging away at the Men's Argyle Stockings, and I have only needed to rip it out an inch or two every now and then. Not so much as to be going backwards; the progress is forward, overall. Especially now that I've gotten past the tricky bits of the calf shaping. (The instructions basically told me to wing it the first couple rows! The gall of some of these old patterns!) I'm now in a rather happy place with these stockings, somewhere around Row 80 of the color work portion.
Safety pin marking Row 70.
Since I have vintage things on the brain lately, I've been digging about in my collection a bit. A while back I happened to come into possession of Susan Bates Presents 101 Ways to Improve Your Knitting (1968). I've had this little book before, back when I was learning to knit. I can't recommend it highly enough for beginners, because while it wasn't actually the book that taught me to knit, it certainly reinforced me in times ahead. Generally I recommend Knitting Without Tears to beginners, but it doesn't have ton of hand-holding pictures to help the novice along in moments of insecurity, and you really have to read through it to find what you are looking for. 101 Ways augments it perfectly, because it has a lot of pictures and (most importantly) has a very clear table of contents. It won't give you clever ideas or a knitting philosophy, or address advanced topics, but it will get you out of a jamb and clear your head.

I'm thinking about 101 Ways at the moment because in the back it has a pattern for Plain Socks and a pattern for Argyle Socks. The stockings I'm knitting are Argyle-ish, and not true Argyles. This pattern in 101 Ways is true Argyle. There is even a chart for making the diamonds.

Now, I have never actually made a pair of Argyle socks. I've wanted to for years, but just never got around to it. I'd probably be happiest making a pair from a pattern around the 1940's, when it seems hand knitting them was en vogue among college girls and just about anyone else with a pair of knitting needles to rub together, but this might do. So perhaps there will be Argyles in my future soon.

Among other things I found during my rummaging was this pattern, which came to me wedged between some vintage sewing patterns from my grandmother's.
1960's? 1970's? I don't know.
It's a pattern for a knitted vest, on a large sheet of paper that folds out like a map.

I've seen this kind of thing before in mail-order patterns, etc., but I couldn't say what exact decade this pattern is from, except to say that it doesn't reflect vanity sizing. As you can see below, a 34 bust is a Size 12 in this pattern.

The illustration gives one a reasonably vivid idea of how this knit would look. It's pragmatic, and not overly flattering. Nevertheless, I'm tempted to make it. But perhaps if I'm going to make a pattern at random, out of sheer curiosity, it should be one of the hand written mystery patterns I have. You know the kind; they're in your grandmother's or great aunt's sewing room, stuffed between the pages of a book or in an envelope somewhere. Someone, at some point, wrote down a pattern that someone else told them about. It might have been passed around the neighborhood, or passed around the family. Sometimes it's origins are very clear because it's titled "Aunt Violet's Cardigan" or some such. Well, I have a quantity of them, just as I have a quantity of hand written recipes that I've found in thrift store cookbooks. And maybe I'll make one of them. Right after the Argyles.

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