Knitting to commemorate the First World War

Vintage Fashion Sense

8177 stitch diagram
I’m working on a wrap-around vest (waistcoat?) from a pattern that dates to 1919. It’s a lovely piece of work: A vest worked side to side (rather than from bottom to top) with knit-on ties that wrap around the body and cinch at the sides.

As a designer of knitting patterns in the modern world, I’m fascinated by the construction of this particular pattern. The front pieces are longer than in the back and the back panel is more narrow that the front. It’s more like a sewing pattern than a knitting pattern, especially in the way that the shoulders join.

In modern knitting, the back and front panels are usually equal in width. If a pullover has a finished bust circumference of 38 inches you would expect a modern pattern to have 19 inches for the back and 19 inches for the front. On a vintage pattern it would be split unevenly so that there would be perhaps 17 inches on the back and 21 inches on the front. This makes perfect sense when you consider how the female form is constructed. 🙂

Garter stitch is used quite a bit in the vintage knitting patterns I’ve seen. It’s not that lace or stockinette or other textured pattern stitches are abandoned; it’s that I’ve noticed quite a lot of garter stitch. I’m wondering whether it’s because of the compact nature of this stitch and how it tends to make the fabric feel doubly thick — important if your goal is warmth!

I’m enjoying how much I am learning by knitting just this one pattern.


One response

  1. I shall look forward to seeing it when you’re done … I’m a big fan of knitting side to side 🙂 A lot of knitted garments from this era really are just knitted versions of sewn items, and the move away from that hasn’t been all good as fewer seams can compromise structural qualities.

    November 4, 2013 at 8:45 pm

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