Saturday, 2 December 2017

From 1978 to 2018

Some 1970's crochet goodness to start off with there. I'm pleased they have given us two different styling options just in case you weren't sure how best to wear it.

A trio of wonder. I'm sure that we can all find two friends who would willingly wear these so that we can recreate that photo.

Assuming that you didn't get enough tabard wearing time in science lessons you could knit yourself one (or both) of these stunners. The one on the right does have a wave pattern on it after all.

Words fail me.

This is not just a post about slightly suspect 1970's knitting and crochet. Although it could be, I have plenty of patterns in my collection. The real reason is this:

This is the most recent edition of Slipknot, the journal of the Knitting and Crochet Guild. The Guild is a charity dedicated to UK domestic knitting and crochet. The Guild has a network of local groups which meet regularly where people learn new skills and share knowledge. I have shared one of my local group meetings here.The Guild also has an archive collection of garments, patterns and equipment to enable it to preserve our textile heritage. I have written about the Guild before here, here, herehere and here.

I have an article in this latest edition and wanted to share it here:

If you think about the fashions of the 1970’s, what are the knitwear themes that stand out for you? Tank tops made from granny squares? Knee length tasselled ponchos? Crochet trouser suits? Lurex spangled sun suits? String vest loose knits on punks? Sequined crochet skull caps? Flick through any book on 1970’s fashion and you will indeed find these items. Dig a little deeper and you will find a whole lot more, much of which chimes with current fashion trends.

Good old granny squares.
Sun tops and skirt.
His and hers tank tops
The 1970’s started with a craft revival; people were drawn back to traditional crafts such as knitting, crochet, weaving, macramé and patchwork. This allowed people to express their individuality through what they wore and also acted as a rejection of mass consumption. Not too dissimilar from now in fact.

Knitting (both hand and machine) and crochet became very popular and this was reflected in the wardrobes and homes of ordinary people and in the top flights of fashion. Crochet skirts, dresses, suits and shawls were hugely popular alongside crochet home ware including throws, blankets, cushions, pot holders and items made from the good old granny square. Knitwear ranged from long line cardigans, aran jumpers, argyle patterns and skinny rib tops to picture knits, knits featuring many different types of stitches (bobbles, cables, diamonds, blackberry stitch), Fair Isle (taking 1930’s and 1940’s garments as inspiration) and striped garments.

Traditional Aran knit.
A long line knit
Fashion designers Missoni and Sonia Rykiel were producing fantastic knitwear. Most of us can recognise the iconic Missoni knitwear featuring multi coloured stripes, flames and zigzags. Sonia Rykiel was designing intarsia jumpers with cartoon and Pop Art motifs. As is usual, these fashion trends trickled down and you did not have to be able to afford designer fashion if you could knit or crochet yourself something similar.

Knitwear designers such as Kaffe Fassett, Sasha Kagan, Patricia Roberts, Sarah Dallas and Elizabeth Zimmermann were producing some wonderful designs and patterns using colour, innovative techniques, intarsia, Fair Isle and graphic patterns.

In 2018 the Guild is 40 years old and we will be marking this milestone with a series of events and celebrations along the theme of ‘from preservation to innovation’, reflecting on our past and looking towards our future. We thought that members might like to work within that theme and make an item using a pattern from 1978 with an innovative twist to make it into something that would be at home in your current wardrobe. A 1978 pattern would be ideal but we recognise that poses some problems as patterns are not usually dated and we can not release any from the Collection as they are covered by copyright. So 1970’s patterns in general, which cover the fashion trends above, are good enough. You may be lucky enough to have a 1970’s book of patterns. If not, 1970’s patterns are easy to find in charity shops and online, sometimes for free. Have a look and see what you can find.

I would happily wear this one. And the sunglasses.
I like brown so I would happily wear this but a change
of colour way would also produce a stunning cardigan.
If you ignore the polo necks and hair cuts these are good,
classic jumper shapes and the geometric one is nice and fancy.
Innovation does not mean that you need to redesign a whole garment, though do go for it if that is where your skills lie. You might want to look at the work of the designers mentioned above and use one of their patterns. On the most basic level you could use a 1978 pattern but change the colour way to update it. You could use the shape of a 1970’s jumper but add your own graphic pattern. You could take the granny square as your starting point and see how you could incorporate it into a garment. You could take a popular garment of the seventies and update it for today’s taste. For example, you may not have a need for leg warmers but the pattern could be used to make welly toppers which you might wear. You might want a long line cardigan and you could knit it in Missoni stripes. You could just add some metallic thread to your knitwear.

Sadly the knitted leggings are not included in the pattern. The
polo neck insert is though. If you left that out and made it to
our preferred length this would work for modern day. 
I would wear the jumper without hesitation. If I had the
blouse I would wear that too.
I’m imagining next year’s Convention with everybody wearing their 1978 inspired knitwear. What a fascinating and interesting sight that would be. Better get planning!

Lovely tank top and great hat.
You can read more about the Guild here. A head's up for vintage knitters, as a member of the Guild you have access to their pattern archive. It is a treasure trove!

I've got a bit of time to decide what to knit for the anniversary but I have a lot of patterns so I need to get thinking!


  1. Oh my, the his and hers tank tops! Hilarious!!!! And he looks so happy wearing it!!

    1. Fantastic aren't they! I wonder if any couples did wear them?!

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  3. I read your article in Slipknot a couple of days ago and thoroughly enjoyed it! It got me thinking of the 1970s crochet patterns I own, including a fabulous gold lurex crocheted bikini with the bra part attached to the knicker part with a central triangular piece down the front. It's awesome, not sure I'll be making it though!

    I've only been a member for less than a year and actually joined to see if I could get access to the archive but it's not obvious how you can do that. Do you have to go to their HQ or can you do it any other way, seeing as I live blooming miles away? xx

    1. I want to see that bikini pattern! It sounds amazing! I think it needs to be made to see what it is like but maybe only worn in carefully selected places although I think you could pull it off!

      On the member's area of the Guild website you can access various patterns that have been scanned and uploaded. You can also contact the team at the archive and they will hunt out patterns for you. The archive is reasonably near me, I have helped out there a few times and want to do so more, when it doesn't clash with days I work. So my other suggestion is come and visit and I can arrange a trip over to the archive for you.

  4. I like the green jumper with the tie waist, but that looks a tad 1930s in influence to me, which might explain things. The 70s really isn't my favourite decade for yarn crafts...

    1. There were some horrors about in the 70's, that is for sure!

  5. Nice article! And that sounds so cool - I hope we will get to see some of the excellent 70s knitting here.

    That image you shared above the article though. Words fail me too. But I don't think I've ever laughed out loud at a knitting photo before.

    1. Glad you enjoyed it. That pattern is priceless! I will be sharing my 70s knitting and anyone else's I can get hold of!