Vintage knitting and crochet patterns are certainly interesting to look at. The old styles and slightly different terminology make for a fun read that lets you get a glimpse of the way people created garments in the past.
Since Lion Brand has been around for such a long time, we of course have a history that would include some of these patterns. One such publication is the Lion Yarn Book — A Manual of Worsted Work pictured above. It was published in 1916, but you can buy a reprint. It features both knit and crochet patterns as well as tips.
We decided to give you a sneak peek at some of the patterns. While you may look at some of them as old-fashioned, there are several styles that are classic enough to work today.
We could easily picture this Man’s Rough Neck Sweater on a guy today. Left open, over jeans and a t-shirt, it would work as a casual piece. Women may also want to wear it as an oversized piece over leggings.
This Reversible Shawl Scarf is almost like a vintage crochet version of The Big Beginner Shawl Scarf knitting pattern that is so popular right now. It’s crocheted in shell stitch, and, though it doesn’t show in the old photo, is actually striped.
We even found vintage entrelac! The book doesn’t use that name for it, instead calling it a “fancy braided” piece. If you look at the text, as well as the continuation on the next page, you can see it is definitely worked the same way as what we know of today as entrelac.
Another fascinating element to this bit of crafting history is the supplies the book calls for. The patterns often specify the materials of the hook or needles used, and they’re not quite what we’re used to today. Bone, ivory, wood, amber, and steel are all mentioned at different points.
We also have very different yarns today. There’s no Wool-Ease® or Vanna’s Choice® in this book! The title says it’s a book of worsted work, but it’s difficult to tell from the vintage photos if each garment is actually made with what we today would call a worsted weight yarn. Definitions change with time.
This page has some information on translating vintage patterns into today’s terminology. Making some of these older pieces would likely be a challenge, but it won’t be impossible. Reading the pattern thoroughly and looking at the stitch counts, for example, might give some insight into what weight of yarn would work best.
Trial and error is another method — start with worsted weight, since that’s what’s in the title, and make changes if needed. Unfortunately it looks like older patterns didn’t give gauge, so swatching won’t help. So play around! Have fun with it, and see what you get.
If you’d rather not fiddle around too much to figure out these patterns, we do have a book of vintage pieces translated into today’s terminology. It’s not all of the ones from the book above, but it’s a place to start.
Above all, have fun with it! You could end up with a truly unique garment when you’re done.