easy potholders

by kath_red on 30/01/2010

in Home+Decor

I love the vintagy appeal of these easy potholders (could be placemat too) – get the tutorial here.


Cathe scanned in a vintage quilt piece she had to create an awesome array of crafty goodness. One of the projects she shares is a card holder made using an inkjet tshirt transfer of the scanned image. Link to tutorial.

via Craft:


Heleen sent in this link to this tutorial of a recycled vintage bib on her blog.vintage bib tutorial


I am very excited to welcome Kristen Rengren, author of Vintage Baby Knits: More Than 40 Heirloom Patterns from the 1920s to the 1950s, published with STC Craft/A Melanie Falick Book (June 1, 2009). Kristen is today discussing a little knitting history from the 1920s to the 1950s – so grab a cuppa and enjoy.

Knitting went through quite a few ups and downs from the 1920s to the 1950s. Please start with the 1920s – what do you see as the major influences during this time?

In the 1920s, when the flapper movement took hold in the United States and Europe, young women saw knitting as “women’s work” and sought to distance themselves from the domestic trappings of their mother’s lives. Fashion took a precipitous turn away from the complex shawls and corseted ladies’ jackets of the previous generation. Sweaters simplified, with long lines and boxy shapes. Overall, fewer people knit – so the variety of patterns in the 20s was not as great as it had been a generation before or as it would be a generation after.

What happened in the 30s – how did the depression affect knitting styles?

After the stock market crash of the 1930s, millions of women turned to knitting. Just like today, a few ounces of wool could keep someone busy and entertained for weeks during a time when few people could afford much entertainment. Knitting was also a relatively inexpensive way to clothe one’s family, and widespread work shortages meant that many women had time on their hands during which they could knit. The high fashion world turned to hand knits in the 1930s as well. Haute couture designs by designers like Schiaparelli and Vionnet provided inspiration for knitters around the globe. The number of available knitting patterns skyrocketed – and so did the variety of techniques, stitches, and skill levels presented. Pattern companies published thousands more patterns, with astonishing diversity in designs, than they had just a decade before.

What about the 40s, how did the war affect knitting?

The 1940s saw knitting become even more popular. When war broke out in Europe, millions of Americans and Europeans alike started knitting for soldiers and for refugees. They also knit tons of garments for themselves and their children. At that time, wool rationing and shortages of chemical dyes resulted in clever innovations. Unusual color combinations, fair isle color work, and stripes all became more popular during wartime because they could be made using leftover yarn from old projects or even yarn unpicked from old sweaters. At the same time in women’s fashion, we see a lot of styles that are cut closer to the body in order to save wool and fabric. For babies, the wool soaker became popular due to a shortage of rubber for diaper covers, and warm woolen undergarments became a staple in the whole family’s wardrobe as fuel rationing made homes and schools chilly.


Tell me the 50s and the ‘heyday’ of knitting

By the end of World War Two, millions of women had learned to knit – and after the war they turned their efforts to knitting garments for themselves and their families. From the late 1940s to the late 1950s, knitting had a kind of heyday. Resources that had previously been allocated to the war effort were now available in the form of a dizzying array of new products and new colors for hand knitters. Fashion reflected postwar affluence with designs that used copious amounts of fabric, and knitting patterns obliged the craze with long-lined suits and full skirts. At the same time, women were having almost twice as many children as the generation before, and baby knitting was all the rage. Patterns for baby knits featured almost every style or technique that the knitter could hope for.


Why did knitting wane towards the end of the 50s?

Yes its true, the end of the 50s saw a decline in popular interest in knitting. At the dawn of the television era, yarn companies published dozens of simplistic patterns marketed as being “designed for TV knitting,” and put out thicker yarns, all in the hopes of drawing in new knitters – but the extraordinary selection enjoyed by hand-knitters in previous years began to vanish, and what may have been a golden age for knitting came to a close.


What attracts you the most with vintage knit styles?

I’m really attracted to the classic style you can find in vintage knits. While there are always some designs that show aspects of fashion that just don’t endure (like the super-puffed sleeve of the 1930s, or the heavy shoulder pads of the 1940s), there are so many designs that are just as wearable today as they were 60 or 70 or 80 years ago. With baby garments, this is doubly true – I think in part because babies look cute in things that adults can’t get away with wearing, and in part because the vagaries of fashion are less evident in baby knits than they are in knits for adults. Baby designs tend to be more timeless and classic, relying less on the particular fashion quirks of the day.


What are some of the quirks of vintage knit patterns?

Starting in the 1930s and really continuing through the 1950s, patterns tended to be knit at very fine gauges. Garments knit at 7 to 9 stitches to the inch had the superior drape required by the flowing fashions of the time. They were also harder wearing than garments knitted of thicker wool, and since they took less wool to make, they were more economical – which was especially important during the Depression and then again during the war, when wool was rationed. It was only natural that baby garments followed suit, and for the next 30 years and beyond, fine-gauge knitting became the standard for baby knits. Manufacturers touted anything made on a size 4 needle or above a “Jiffy Knit,” meant only for the beginners or for the knitter in a tremendous rush. …To me, knitting fine-gauge garments makes sense – they look good, feel good, and are more useable since they can be worn through more seasons. I know the trend is moving toward super-bulky yarns right now, and knitting on small needles certainly takes some patience, but I think the results are worth it.

What do you think should never be brought back?

There’s very little that I wouldn’t bring back – most of it is pretty fabulous. But I draw the line at wooly knitted swimsuits. What were they thinking? Of course at the time, wool might have been the best option – cotton suits would have held a lot more water, and sagged a great deal more – but still, if I were in a wool suit at the beach, you can bet I wouldn’t be getting wet past my ankles.

Women’s fashion was entirely too dependent on absurdly restrictive foundation garments, too. I’m working on a lot of original vintage-inspired patterns for women right now, and I’m also rewriting a few vintage women’s patterns as well, so I spend a lot of time thinking about what it takes to get the true vintage look without cinching in any vital organs. Stitch patterns and very subtle shaping are key to creating the illusion of a nipped waist, but let’s face it – the Audrey Hepburn waistline is a thing of the past.

Tell me about vintage baby knits – where do you draw the line?

As far as baby items go, there was a predilection in the 1950s for making terrifying knit clowns. We’re talking the candy-colored stuff of nightmares, here. There are so many interesting patterns out there, though, that I hate to even single out a few as bad ideas! I could have written ten books on the subject of vintage knits – there’s just so much to draw upon.


If you’d like to enter to win a free copy of Vintage Baby Knits, click here to learn more about the contest being run by STC Craft. And to download a free pattern. and the rest of the blog tour info here.

Next on the blog tour is:
July 14 – Show and tell: projects from the book! at Grumperina
July 16 – Book review at Knit Smiths
July 17 – Book review at Hand made news
July 20 – Something interesting at Heather Ross’s blog
July 22- House at Hill Road will be hosting
July 24 – To finish off a Knitting Q and A at Hand made news


love these drawer style hooks with their mismatched vintage knobs.