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Knitting Fashions of the 1940s: Styles, Patterns and History. Hardcover – 4 Dec 2006

2.8 out of 5 stars 13 customer reviews

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  • Knitting Fashions of the 1940s: Styles, Patterns and History.
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  • Knit Vintage: More than 20 patterns for starlet sweaters & other knitwear from the 1930s, 1940s & 1950s
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  • Vintage Knitting: 18 Patterns from the 1940s (Old House)
Total price: £46.53
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Product details

  • Hardcover: 160 pages
  • Publisher: The Crowood Press Ltd (4 Dec. 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1861268629
  • ISBN-13: 978-1861268624
  • Product Dimensions: 21.6 x 1.4 x 27.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 2.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 766,224 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

Product Description

From the Inside Flap

In the first half of the 1940s, the wartime scarcity of wools
and dyes produced innovative, figure-hugging lacy designs and creative
stitch techniques of bobbles, cables and ribs. In the post-war period there
was an even more acute shortage of materials, which meant that imaginative
Fair Isle designs and embroidery techniques became the only solution. As
the 1950s approached, however, a greater availability of materials led to
the voluptuous batwing look and looser garments.

This lavish book celebrates the patterns and designs of 1940s knitwear.
Drawings and photographs from the original patterns magazines accompany
modern colour photographs of the garments knitted up for today's wear. In
addition, it provides a history of wartime Britain and America, often using
the actual words of the knitters and designers used by the fashion
magazines.

Patterns appear chronologically, reflecting what was happening at the time,
and progress from the very simple (snood, balaclava or WAAF doll) to the
more intricate blackberry stitch and lacy designs as the knitter becomes
more fluent with the needles. Many of the designs are unusual, and there
are sequins, beads knitted into the fabric, and knitted buttons. American,
British and continental needles sizes are included, as is American
terminology; and measurements are given in both imperial and metric. The
material comes from a collection of over 2,000 historic knitting patterns.

From the Back Cover

Jane Waller was born in Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire, and raised
in Oxfordshire before moving to London. She has recently returned to the
Chilterns where she now lives with her husband Michael Vaughan-Rees.

Jane has written three books on the social history of the Second World War
and five books on knitwear design, all of which have been inspirational for
fashion designers and for film and television wardrobe research. Knitwear
from her earlier books can be seen in numerous period films and TV series.

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Customer Reviews

2.8 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Starting with the positives, this book has accurate patterning instructions, lots of pictures and puts each piece into its historical context.
What really lets it down for me is that the garments modelled in the book clearly do not fit in the way a 1940s garment would. Saggy and baggy is an unflattering yet far more modern knitting pattern trend, but seems to have crept into nearly every pattern in this book.
But on balance, it depends what you are looking for. If you want authentic 1940s stitch patterns and techniques and are not too concerned about fit then this is the book for you. If, like me, you want authentic 1940s styling and fit as well, then you're either going to have to resize the patterns or find an original. (To the authors credit there are some excellent references in the book).
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Format: Hardcover
This is a beautifully produced book. Well-researched, intelligently structured and engagingly written. The patterns are laid out well, the photography and use of archive materials is well-balanced and I am glad to own it. The one, very significant, problem for me is that nearly all the patterns have been re-sized to a chest size of 36-40" and are pictured with a great deal more ease than the original vintage patterns. If you're any smaller than a 12-14 then none of the patterns will fit. I'll be keeping this book as a fascinating historical record but am bitterly disappointed not to be able to wear any of the designs myself.
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Format: Hardcover
I would echo the other writer,s comments that the sizing has spoilt this book for me.As an avid collector of both knitting books and WW2 memorabilia,I enjoyed reading but thought that the modern versions were frankly unattractive and "lumpy" looking.I know women were a lot slimmer then but I would prefer to have had the patterns faithfully re/produced rather than adapted.
It is fairly easy to buy vintage knitting patterns and if a tension square is done,it is possible to use the original instructions.
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Format: Hardcover
This is the oddest knitting book I've ever seen. The vast majority of items are designed for a 38" chest - that's for men and women ! I know I hate it when there aren't large sizes but to have just the one size ? The items are rarely modelled by more than one person, so it doesn't allow you to see how the so-called 'one size fits all' will actually look on different sized people.
I really didn't like the patterns, but the book's concept, a whole history of knitting in the 1940s, is very well-done. It's a real pity the patterns were 'updated' for nowadays because the job hasn't been done very well (the updated garments look quite baggy, on the whole), whereas the older photographs look great.
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Format: Hardcover
This book has some interesting patterns, but as other reviewers have stated the sizing is very odd. Every pattern was for a size which would be far too big for me. The photos of the new garments made them look bulky and shapeless - more 1980s than 1940s. It is also not very specific about the types of yarn to be used. I did not attempt any of the patterns. Thankfully I borrowed this from a library so did not waste any money!
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Format: Hardcover
I love this book.
Each section tells atale and the original photos used are very inspiring.

I loved the history in this book and it is one of those knitting books that as well as great knitting and history book could be classed as a coffee table book. The author does tell us how although the patterns are only one size the ease and yarns used means they can fit most people.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I bought this book because I knit and sew costumes for re-enactment groups but I also knit for my own wardrobe and this book is a waste of space for both purposes. I wish I'd read the reviews first!

The original ladies' garments were SHAPED to be figure flattering but in the main the modern translations are shapeless, baggy and just plain ugly. In at least one case the original 3ply (and therefore very fine) jumper has been re-hashed in double knitting yarn which totally spoils the delicate effect of the original.

I have much better books of patterns covering this era from other sources.

Jane Waller professes to be an "expert" in matters to do with the 1940s but I'm afraid this book does nothing to help her credibility. In the preamble to each part of the book, where she discusses social and historical issues of the time, she is frequently either confused by the state of play in the USA and Great Britain or feels that it isn't necessary to make it clear which she is writing about.

As a result of this book I will be very reluctant to take any of her other books seriously.
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