Knitting Fashions of the 1940s: Styles, Patterns and History. Hardcover – 4 Dec 2006
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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
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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Top Customer Reviews
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).
It is fairly easy to buy vintage knitting patterns and if a tension square is done,it is possible to use the original instructions.
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.
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.
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.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Knitting Fashions of the 1940s: I bought this book, because I am hopelessly old fashioned and love the feminine styles they had in those times. Read morePublished 24 months ago by R. MacDonald
The front cover should have told me that this was a no-go...and I should have read the reviews. This book is NOT for anyone interested in authentic patterns, the sizing is very... Read morePublished on 12 Jan. 2012 by Bryony Walker
What a disappointment!
1. Some of the vintage patterns have been given a modern makeover, making them look boxy and awful.
2. Read more
This book is fantastic, I have already knit 3 of the patterns and they have turned out really lovely, I have just finished knitting the top on the front of the book and I love it. Read morePublished on 8 Feb. 2008 by Fran
I have already made three of the garments in this book and intend to do more!Published on 21 Dec. 2007 by G. Hanhart