Book: Knitting it old school

by KateG on 25/02/2011

in Books, Features, knitting+crochet+yarn

Knitting it Old School: 43 Vintage-Inspired Patterns Stitchy McYarnpants and Caro Sheridan. 2010, Wiley Publishing Inc.

Are you old enough to remember when pants were crocheted? And those pants were hot pants. And hot pants were cool. If so, then it might be the time to bust out the hooks for a granny square dress and a pineapple beach tote, or dust off the plastic turtleshell needles to knit a stylish men’s zippered cardigan or a sweet tennis dress with a peter pan collar. What? You weren’t there first time around? Well, youngin, it’s time that you learned about the ancestry of your new fangled patterns, and what better way to learn than to do? Hmmm?

Stitchy McYarnpants and Caro Sheridan have been long time admirers and exposers of the best and worst of wearable yarn creations of the ‘40s, ‘50s, ‘60s and ‘70s, and have shared these with the world in both blog and book form. This book, Knitting It Old School, goes a step further and brings the knitting world a fantastic collection of patterns that are inspired by the fashions of the ‘40s to the ‘70s, but you won’t see much acrylic yarn in this volume. There is very little mission brown or lime green, so don’t worry that you will open the covers and have flashbacks. You are perfectly safe with these knits and crochets, there are many crochets in here, and even a couple of sewing projects for good measure. These projects are all designed with old school features, such as working with smaller diameter yarns, needles and hooks to create magical drape and fit, but designed for modern yarns and a range of fibres including wool, silk, mohair, cotton, bamboo and cashmere. There are collections of garments and accessories for the beach babes, for the snow bunnies, for motoring in your automobile, for shaking your groove thing on the dance floor, and for geeking it up with some retro sci-fi.

These patterns have incredible attention to detail, each including an introduction, a schematic diagram (which makes me a very happy lady indeed), a range of sizes, special techniques required for each project, and very detailed instructions that are well set out on the page for ease of reading. Each pattern is well photographed, which is handy not only to see exactly what the finished item looks like in detail before you invest time and effort and yarn to make one for yourself, but it makes for a really attractive book that would be equally at home on your coffee table for flicking through, as it would by your side as you knit or crochet yourself some history.

I can’t wait to make the Clara tank top, which looks like a 1920s swimsuit, an Après Ski Skirt (not that I am planning on skiing in a skirt!), and especially Swing Time, a shapely 1940s inspired pullover. I will pass on the Go-Go Granny, a granny square go-go dress, but you know, one of these days, I might even make me a pair of those hot pants.

About the reviewer: Kate is a busy mother of four with many craft projects on the go, including, but not limited to, crochet, knitting, sewing, dyeing, paper making, spinning, felting and bookbinding. Kate has challenges in the areas of finishing things, saying no and craft supplies storage. She also has a very very patient and tolerant husband. She did wear a green crocheted bikini in the ‘70s, but let it be noted that she was only 3 years old at the time.

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{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Seanna Lea February 25, 2011 at 6:45 am

I’ve never had a body that I would consider a candidate for hot pants, but the tank top looks excellent!


2 Maya February 25, 2011 at 9:15 am

It’s absolutely delicious! Bursting with colors and ideas that sparkle into life, this book would certainly be worth of having!


3 Peggy February 25, 2011 at 10:21 am

I AM old enough to remember all that and that is why I say emphatically NO. No no no NO. It looks like a cute book but only for those who are not old enough to recall those hideous fashions and who might be able to see them as funky and retro.


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