A-Z of Pattern Adaptation

Tap into the spirit of 1930s-1960s experimentation by adapting your own vintage knitting patterns - this ongoing series will help you to de-mystify and bring back to life these gorgeous designs ...

Jul 30

Last Friday I braved the distinctly un-British Mediterranean heat and headed up to the Smoke to spend a day in the company of V&A treasures. Get comfortable, it was a long day so this is a long post!

The morning passed treading well-worn (but somehow always fresh) paths through the galleries and halls of the main building. Via 13th century arches, Florentine gothic balconies and Japan kimonos, somehow I always end up in the theatre section which in the past has been something of a retreat for me. I switch off in there as you would in the real theatre, marvelling at the concepts and the mechanisms put into place to create the fantasy. This time around I spent some time gawping at the iconic original costumes worn by Adam Ant, Mick Jagger and Jimmy Page (Page: skinny, Goddard:  muscly thighs), and just around the corner like a curator’s version of Stella Street, was Kylie’s touring dressing room, all shiny and sheepskinny and lipstick scrawled mirror messages.


Jimmy Page stage costume


Adam Ant stage costume

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May 7

Like a proud parent, I thought I’d treat you to a sneaky peak of the book I completed last year which has now gone to print. Vintage Knit is a project book, the brainchild of graphic designer Marine Malak who won the ‘Best Student Book’ category of the British Book Design and Production Awards 2011 with her re-imagining of the 1940s Margaret Murray/Jane Koster classic ‘Knitting Illustrated’. Marine and I got together in the Laurence King offices in late 2012 and spent many happy hours going through patterns, discussing colours, yarns and styles … 25 projects and a year and a half later, the book is now due for release in August!

We’ve put together a great selection of projects, including 8 patterns for accessories (hats, socks, scarves etc), 14 sweater and cardigan patterns, and 3 larger projects (a beautiful dress, spectacular striped housecoat and a stylish ‘cuddle’ skirt). The patterns have been updated and graded for 34″, 36″, 38″ and 40″ bust sizes, using a wide range of accessible yarns. It was all beautifully shot in contemporary style in a North London studio and the garments were modelled by Marine’s ridiculously lovely friends. The styling might come as a surprise to some vintage fans – by no means is it slavish to the past; instead we’ve tried more to show how the designs and their classic details can still be relevant in 2014 without feeling that you have to buy into the whole vintage lifestyle. The colours are chosen from a modern palette (most obvious in the shocking pink and burnt orange of the twinset) and one of the book’s intentions is to hopefully capture a new audience of knitters, eager to put their own contemporary twist on the vintage look.

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Dec 4

Are you lusting after your own copy of ‘Knit Back In Time’? Or do you know any knitters who might be? Forgive me while I wheel out that old cliché but since Christmas is a time for giving I’ve got two copies of ‘Knit Back In Time’ to give away to two lucky knitters. All you have to do is complete the entry form below to enter and a copy of this indispensable guide to adapting vintage knitting patterns could be yours … the deadline is midnight on Friday 13th December 2013, so get your skates on! This is a UK-based offer only, apologies to overseas folks.

Knit Back In Time is a step by step ‘how-to’ book, and reveals two crucial secrets for knitting vintage-style projects: how to update a vintage pattern to modern sizes and yarns, and how to customise modern patterns to give them a vintage look. It also provides patterns for vintage-style elements such as sleeves, collars and cuffs, and offers invaluable advice on mixing and matching sleeves, necklines and collars to create your own designs.

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Pattern Sales

Unfortunately I haven't been able to spend so much time on pattern sales recently and the site has suffered as a result, so sadly I've decided not to continue with selling vintage knitting patterns. read more ...

About Me

I've been knitting and crocheting since the age of seven, taught by my mum and nans who instilled in me a love of the patterns they knitted from originally. Over the years I developed a style of my own, adapting these wonderful designs for a modern fit and yarn choice. read more ...

Vintage Tips

If you're new to the vintage knitting pattern game, have a look at these useful tips first - they'll help you decide which wool to use and if the pattern needs adapting ... more

My Book! (UK Version)

US Version

© Skiff Vintage Knitting Patterns 2013