Knit one, purl one and all that …

I haven’t done one of my ephemera posts on old papers and clippings found in my late Mum’s hoard for ages, but came across these two knitting patterns recently which piqued my interest…

A knitted swimsuit – hard to conceive of in these days of stretchy fabrics that hold everything in.  However, what amused me was the caveat at the top of the instructions overleaf …

As woollen fabric expands a little when wet, a Swimming Suit must fit the figure firmly before it is worn in the water, otherwise it will be liable to sag. The sizes given in the recipe are, therefore, not those of the finished garment, but such as will stretch in wear to the required dimensions.

Glad that’s clear then!  I also like the way the instructions are referred to as recipes. There’s no date on this pattern, but I’m guessing early 1950s?

The second one is a pattern sent off for from the Daily Mail. The reverse of the clipping gives the date – Feb 1941. The clipping invites you to write in enclosing an large SAE plus 2d in penny stamps to the Editor of the Women’s Page.

The instructions are on three and a half sides of typed foolscap – not an error to be spotted.  Meanwhile, the clipping gives suggestions for colours – “Make it up in cowslip yellow wool for a grey or navy suit, or turf green with ******, or, very Parisian, clerical grey with black.”  The asterisks indicate a shade that I can’t possibly repeat these days, don’t ask. Look at those shoulder pads though.

There’s something fascinating about old knitting patterns isn’t there?


7 thoughts on “Knit one, purl one and all that …

  1. I love these, Annabel! I suspect the swimsuit is earlier than the ’50s – perhaps early ’40s as well. If it had been mine, I think I wouldn’t have intended to get it wet. Not so different from ,many suits today.

    Writing away for ‘recipes’ was common here in Canada until at least the 1970s. I have several quitl patterns from that era (that I actually sent for then) that are black & white photograps on a typed 8.5″ x 11″ foolscap sheet (photocopied). I remember being quite pleased with the patterns when I received them.

    Thanks for sharing this ephemera – I hope to see more in the future!

    • I did Google the pattern briefly but couldn’t find a record, so the date was pure guesswork.

      I did feature some other knitting patterns last year … if you click here or here you’ll find more knitting ones, or search for ‘ephemera’ for a wider selection of paper stuff, I posted a whole series in 2010.

  2. Ah, memories! My mother knitting me a bathing costume when i was a small child, but fortunately no pictures were taken.

    • I’m sure the photo evidence wouldn’t have been so bad! 😉 I don’t remember ever having had a knitted costume (thankfully).

  3. there is I worked in day care about twenty years ago and can remember the box of patterns with some amazing photos wish I d taken some pics at time but in pre smartphone days ,all the best stu

    • Stu – they are works of art in a way aren’t they. I think I have some Arran jumper patterns for men somewhere, and those are classic models/poses too.

  4. Oh ho! My mother knitted herself a swimsuit in the late 1930s. The very first swim it gathered water and stretched and stretched….she had to swim about 1 mile to get to a deserted part of the shore and climb out and wring it out and walking…

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