At the weekend a post on my local knitting group's Ravelry forum reminded me about the Southampton University Vintage Knitting Pattern library. I then spent several happy hours reading the patterns, including entire books of knitting talk, all on free access. Then I had a little light bulb moment - that to truly appreciate the patterns I should knit one up.
I have made a mitten (just one for now but the second is on its way)
I have a large collection of 3 and 4ply pure wool yarn in loads of colours, I chose shades which are closest to the ones suggested in the pattern, which states black, white and magenta (I have black, beige and scarlet)
My yarn is about 50 years old and although the pattern book was published in 1876 it is broadly similar to the yarn a lady would have bought at her local shop to make herself a pair of warm mittens. Note these were made for wearing indoors, houses were very chilly in those days!
The patterns of this era are written without the standard terminology we are used today. The style is more narrative, in this pattern increases are called 'raises' and purl 'seam'. But by reading the pattern straight through and, where instructed, referring back to details in other patterns it is easy to follow and my first mitten, cast on on Sunday afternoon was cast off this morning
|stripes in K2P2 rib|
|a neat thumb gusset worked exactly according to the pattern|
Now, all this - lovely pattern resource, a yarn stash of 1950s 3 ply and breaking vintage knitting code led to an idea.... A knit-a-long! (with a difference)
Here is what I suggest
1. Choose any of the patterns on the Southampton website (including the mittens here)
2. Knit in your own yarn (anything suitable) post as a project on ravelry with the tag chopkinsvintageKAL or upload to my flickr group
And that's all there is to it! Except... with the permission of those who join in and post photographs I would like to let the department at the university know about the project. I may also have the opportunity to display some of the knitted articles (or photographs) at a local knitting event later in the year. I can't say any more about this at the moment so you will just have to keep an eye on the blog for more information on that. But if you join in and live in the UK perhaps you might consider whether you might lend me your FOs to put on show.
Although I have only made one mitten so far, I fully intend to knit the other and other items from the pattern library, some stockings perhaps, or a hat. I have plenty of fine yarn in other colours - see here!
PS (following Sally's comment) There is no time limit if you just want to join in the fun, knit up one of the patterns and tag it on Ravelry or upload to flickr. But if you would like to lend your knitting to me (or have some photographs of your work included in) the display I am hoping to set up as part of the Big Knit project in our town's Summer festival I will need to know by mid May. More details about the display once I have liaised with both the Art school and our festival committee.