Vintage Design Workshop: Knitting Techniques for Modern Style Paperback – 5 Mar 2013
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"Geraldine Warner offers a thoughtful and detailed process for making vintage patterns your own or adding vintage style to modern patterns in her book "Vintage Design Workshop: Knitting Techniques for Modern Style."" --About.com: Knitting
About the Author
Geraldine Warner is a knitting novelist who has been knitting and crocheting since the age of 7. She has contributed articles to "Let's Knit," "Knit Today," and "Knitting" magazines, and writes about her adventures in vintage knitting on her website: skiffvintageknittingpatterns.co.uk.
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It also has a brilliant section on how to add vintage touches to your modern patterns - if you have a sweater pattern that fits you perfectly, but prefer vintage styling, then the techniques Geraldine Warner gives you allow vintage Peter Pan type collars to be added, or ruffled sleeves.
It doesn't give you any patterns, but it is does give you the ability to recreate vintage patterns in a wide variety of sizes, and it gives you the knowledge and confidence to create your own unique knitwear.
And since the internet is full of FREE vintage patterns, this book is a fantastic buy full of useful techniques and advice.
But what a lot of work goes into replicating even one vintage pattern design! Figuring out the thickness and gauge of an unknown, long-discontinued yarn is only a first step. You must also find a modern yarn that will give a similar drape and stitch definition. And you must adjust torso widths and lengths, which will in turn require armhole and sleeve adjustments; and you must usually do this working from row-by-row instructions without schematic drawings. Alternatively, you can start with a modern pattern for the basic shape and measurements, and add back the vintage design elements (e.g., puff sleeves, a Peter Pan collar, darts).
VINTAGE DESIGN WORKSHOP leaves me in awe of Geraldine Warner's knitwear designing skills. She chooses a couple of vintage patterns, then takes the knitter step-by-step through all the phases of replicating each pattern. The finished examples look every bit as good--or better than--the original designs. Warner has also included charts for needle size conversions; instructions for creating and shaping elements like square necklines, leg of mutton sleeves, shaped color blocks, and vertical darts; tips on substituting yarns; and additional "pro tips" in colored boxes all along the way. Everything is beautifully illustrated with b&w and color photos, line drawings, and charts.
As a book for serious knitting designers, this is a 5-star book. As a book for a knitter like myself, who would like to try some of Bernat's vintage classics (e.g., the famous "shell" pullover) but would not want to spend hours working out the pattern changes, it's more of a 4-star book. Nevertheless, the introductory historical "Guide to 20th-Century Knitting Fashions", the many photos of vintage patterns (mostly Sirdar), and all the resizing and reshaping reference material makes this a worthwhile book for any serious knitter's reference shelf.
So this is for someone who wants to adapt vintage patterns and get the fit for modern, larger figures or who wants to design with a vintage feel. I myself actually learned to knit from one of these types of books (a WWII-era knitting book with English jumpers, and even skirts, suits and underwear--yes, bras. All knitted in fine fingering weight wool, and the author had the same problem I did--I was stuck knitting with baby wool in all the limited pastels.) The author starts with a description of how styles changed over the decades, then a discussion of colors typical to an era, and then on to construction-deconstruction.
A lot of the knitting is flat and dressmaker-style; you knit set-in sleeves, yokes, collars, all fitted with gathering, easing and darts. If you are a knitter who learned to knit in the round, doing Elizabeth Zimmerman style sweaters, or Icelandic yokes, Nordic sweaters knit in a tube and cut, then this will be foreign territory. Looking at the examples of jumpers (sweaters) I am amazed at how the designers copied cloth blouses to make knitted tops. Likewise, the fit is close to the body and unforgiving of figure lumps and bumps. Since I carry my weight above my waist, I stopped using vintage designs long ago and favor the loose fits of today. But for the young or the svelte, these designs fit well with the retro skirts and dresses that are very popular at the moment.
If you want to delve into vintage knitting design, this is a very good start for drafting or adapting vintage patterns. So it's a specialized book and aimed at a particular set of knitters. If you aren't in that set, this isn't for you. But for costumers, designers and lovers of vintage looks, this is a very good technical book on vintage knitting.
If you're looking for vintage patterns, there are plenty for free on the internet and in thrift shops. If you're looking for vintage patterns with more updated proportions, I'd recommend Patons Forever Favorites. However, if you enjoy vintage styles and want to know how to adjust older patterns or create your own designs, then this book is a great resource and a good read.