My Grandmother’s Knitting Book


Some time ago my grandmother gave me an old knitting book that she remembers having bought in the same year my father was born which was in 1947. It definitely couldn’t have been much later as a reform of the Danish orthography took place in 1948 and the book uses the old one.

It is fairly typical for its time with very neat designs for both women, children and men. Besides that it gives the basic instructions on how to knit, finishing and not least important for a country still suffering from the effects of the war, how to repair knitted items and reuse yarn. One of the models really caught my attention and after having coveted it for quite a while I have decided it is time to try it out.


The picture isn’t too good but I especially like the border on the sleeves which consists of a floral motive and two geometric. The construction is interesting but I’ll return to that when I actually start knitting it. For now I’m just making swatches. The most obvious reason is that the book is more than 50 years old and if it had recommended a certain yarn it would be completely unavailable. As it is the pattern doesn’t specify any particular type of yarn, it just tells you to buy 400 g of blue and 100 g of white 4-ply. Combined with the 3.5 mm needles recommended I figured that the Baby Ull would probably would be a good choice so Monday I went to one of the nicer yarn shops here in Copenhagen, Uldstedet, and got 3 balls.


I don’t like wearing dark blue very much and have a strong liking of very bright colours. The green is a bit darker in real life but still quite frisky. The yellow is intended for the border on sleeves and the collar. The pattern only uses two colours but I think the yellow will be a nice contrast to the green. Of the two yellows possible I chose the lighter one. Kaffe Fassett says in his book Glorious Needlepoint that the stitches will shadow each other and seem darker in the finished work and I suspect the same thing happens in knitting.

The book recommends doing a swatch first but it looks nothing like the kind you find in modern books. It tells you to cast on 20 stitches and knit 8 rows. I did it just to get a sense of the method and, as I suspected, it is not an adequate way to know your tension. Garter stitch will stretch so it is impossible to get an accurate measurement.


Another reason for swatching thoroughly with this pattern is that it is only one size, 44, which would be a very large size following the modern standard. Besides that there are no indications at all of any of the finished measurements. Looking at the length of the body and the sleeves makes me think the 44 is like size 44 in Italy which is size 40 in Denmark and 12 in the UK. Luckily that’s exactly my size but in the end it all depends on the yarns tension so I’m expecting to rewrite the pattern completely and maybe change a few minor details. So far, I’ve done this much on the first swatch.


The book also has a similar type of pattern for girl’s cardigan. As a Rowanette it made me look twice…



It does look familiar, doesn’t it?


It doesn’t surprise me that Rowan and Martin Storey are basing these designs on older ones, the book’s title says as much (Vintage Style), but I sure would like to know how this particular pattern has moved about in the world…


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