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Vintage Knitting Instructions

All care has been given to present these instructions in the original form. KnitHeaven is not responsible for errors.

A Lesson in Knitting

(These lessons are from, Handbook of Wool Knitting and Crochet, 1918, and are a good resource for the patterns posted here from the book.)
Figure 1. Casting on with Two Needles Figure 1. Casting on with Two Needles

The first thing to be done in knitting is to cast on or, as it is sometimes called, to "set up the foundation." (Figure 1). There are several methods for this, the following being that preferred and generally used by the writer: Leave a spare end of thread, sufficient for the number of stitches you wish to cast on, lying toward the left, the spool or ball from which the working-thread is drawn being at the right. Lay the thread between the little finger and the third of the left hand; bring the working-thread across the palm of the hand, around the thumb and back between the forefinger and second finger; bend the forefinger over this thread (which passes between it and the second finger), pass it under the thread which crosses the palm of the hand, and then draw the forefinger back, or straighten it, which will give you a loop with crossed threads. Put the needle under the lower part of this loop, which draws from the ball, bring the working-thread (or ball-thread) around the point of needle from right to left, as in plain knitting, draw it back through the loop, slip off the latter, and draw up the left thread. Then proceed to make the crossed loop and knit it off in the same way for the next and following stitches. The whole operation is very simple, although the instructions seem long because explicit. Take your needle and yarn or thread and follow them through carefully, and you will very soon master the "crossed casting on."

Another method, preferred by many and practically the same in effect, except that the edge is not quite so firm, is as follows: Loop the thread around the left forefinger, holding the spare end between thumb and second finger, pass the needle upward through the loop, pass the thread around the point, draw back through the loop, slip off the latter and pull up the spare thread. By passing the needle under the loop, or lower thread, instead of through it, bringing it back through, and then knitting off, you will really get the crossed loop, and many find this method easier than the first. The thread used in casting on may be doubled, particularly for beginning a stocking, mitten, or any article where much wear comes.

Casting on may also be done with two needles, and many like this method when there are many stitches. Twist a loop around the needle held in the left hand, bring the end of thread, or spare thread, to the front, crossing the working-thread to hold it in place—or, if preferred, simply tie a slip-knot and put the loop on the left needle; insert the right needle through this loop from left to right, put thread around point of right needle and draw through the loop, bringing the right needle again in front of left. Thus far, the process is quite like that of plain knitting. Keeping the right needle still in the new stitch or loop, transfer the stitch to the left needle by bringing the latter in front and putting the point through the loop from front to back, leaving the right needle in place for the next stitch; the loops are not slipped off, as in knitting plain, but transferred, so that all are kept on the needle. A little practise will enable one to cast on thus very rapidly and evenly.

Figure 2. Knitting Plain Figure 2. Knitting Plain

The plain knitting (Figure 2), is done as follows: Having cast on the requisite number of stitches, insert the right needle through the front of left needle from left to right, the right needle passing behind the left; carry the thread around point of right needle and bring it down between the two needles, then draw the point of right needle back and through the stitch, forming the new stitch on right needle and letting the other slip off the left, pushing down the point of left needle to facilitate this process; repeat until all the stitches are knitted off and the row is complete. Where there are edges to be joined, as in knitting back and fronts of a sweater, it is a good plan to slip the first stitch of each row.

Right here a suggestion about the method of holding the thread may be of value: By the first method the thread is carried over the little finger of right hand, under second and third fingers and over the tip of the forefinger, which should be held close to the work; it is this finger which passes the thread over point of right needle for the new stitch. By another method the thread is carried over the left forefinger, under second and third and over the little finger, exactly as it is held for crocheting: insert the right needle through 1st stitch on left needle in usual way, push it over the thread on left forefinger, and draw this back through the stitch with the point of right needle. Only the needle is held in the right hand, and many workers claim that the work is much more rapidly done.

Figure 3. Purling Figure 3. Purling

The purl- or seam-stitch (Figure 3) is the exact reverse of plain knitting, both as to method of work and appearance, being in reality the wrong side of plain knitting. In the latter the thread is kept at the back of the work; for purling, bring it to the front between the two needles. Put the point of right needle through the front of 1st stitch on left needle from right to left, the right needle being thus brought in front of the left; pass the thread around the front of right needle from right to left and back between needles, then push down the point and draw the loop backward through the stitch, instead of forward, as in plain knitting, the right needle being thus brought behind the left. Slip off the old stitch as usual, and take care to return the thread to its place at the back before beginning to knit plain again.

Figure 4. Garter-Stitch, or Ridge-Stitch Figure 4. Garter-Stitch, or Ridge-Stitch

Garter-stitch, so called (Figure 4) is simply plain knitting back and forth, which gives the effect of ridges, one row knit, the next purled. This is a stitch much used for sweaters, and other knitted garments. If one wishes to have the right side appear as in plain knitting, the 1st row must be knitted plain, the next purled. Since one is the reverse of the other, the right side will be plain knitting, the wrong side purled.

Figure 5. The Double Rib Figure 5. The Double Rib

The rib-stitch is alternately plain and purled. To knit the single rib, * knit 1, purl 1; repeat. For double rib, (Figure 5,) * knit 2, purl 2; repeat; and for triple-rib, * knit 3, purl 3; repeat. Any width of rib may be made that is liked, always taking care—unless knitting in rounds, as a wristlet, mitten or stocking—to knit the stitches purled on the preceding row, and purl the knitted ones. There are a large variety of fancy patterns made by combining plain knitting and purling, such as the basket-stitch and others, of even or broken "check."

There are many variations of the simplest stitches; for example, the common garter-stitch gives a particularly good effect if knitted from the back. Put the needle in from right to left, through the back part of the stitch to be knitted; leave the thread behind the needle, then pass it from right to left over the needle and draw it through the stitch, allowing the latter to slip off as in plain knitting. In this stitch the two threads of the loop are crossed, instead of lying side by side as in plain knitting.

Figure 6. Making "Overs" Figure 6. Making "Overs"

"Overs" (Figure 6) are used in all lace patterns, and many times in fancy designs for wool knitting. To make an "over" bring the thread before the needle as if to purl, then knit the next stitch plain as usual. This brings a loop over the needle, which in the next row is to be knitted as any stitch, thus increasing the number of stitches in the row. In case it is not desired to increase the stitches, one must narrow, by knitting two stitches together, once for every "over." If a larger hole is wanted, the thread is put twice over the needle, and in the following one of these loops is knitted, the other purled.

To "purl-narrow," or purl two together, bring the thread to the front as for purling, then to form the extra stitch, carry the thread back over the needle and to the front again; then insert the right needle through two stitches instead of one, and knit them as one stitch. "Fagot" is an abbreviation frequently used for this.

Figure 7. Binding Off Figure 7. Binding Off

To slip and bind, slip 1st stitch from left needle to the right needle, without knitting it; knit next stitch, then draw the stitch on right needle over the knitted one, letting it fall between needles. To slip, narrow and bind, slip first stitch, knit next two together, and draw the slipped stitch over. To cast off or bind off, (Figure 7,) slip 1st stitch, knit next, draw slipped stitch over, knit next stitch, draw the previous knitted stitch over, and continue, taking care that the chain of stitches thus cast off be neither too tight nor too loose, but just as elastic as the remainder of the work.

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