First of all, it is time to announce the winners of my little blog giveaway. Thank you so much to everybody who left me a comment. I really enjoyed looking at everyone's favourites - some very familiar and some very unfamiliar projects among all your suggestions! The skein of Old Maiden Aunt DK yarn has been won by .. Birgitte.
The Ishbel shawl in Kid Silk Haze has been won by .. Meg.
The vintage button earrings will adorn Anne.
And the vintage button selection has been won by Anna.
Congratulations to all the winners - I will be in contact with you by either Rav message (if I know you on Ravelry) or by email
Secondly, the illustration and the photo come from one of my secret vices: vintage knitting patterns. Most of my local second-hand shops stock patterns from the late 1970s until the late 1990s, which can be vaguely interesting on occasion, but I much prefer patterns circa 1930 to 1950. The patterns flatter the female figure, are elegant in a timeless manner, and have clever little details you don't get with much later patterns.
Last I visited Denmark I found a pattern book from around 1941 filled with knitting patterns. As it is a wartime publication, you only get a handful of photos but a healthy helping of beautiful illustrations.
Interestingly, the patterns draw inspiration from Scandinavian folklore - reindeer, stars (familiar to many from Selbuvotter), merry dancers and Faroese geometric patterns - and many of the patterns are knitted in very patriotic colours. A little girl is even styled to resemble the little princess Margrethe ( born just five days after Denmark was invaded in 1940). Wartime patriotism, ah.
Most of all I am intrigued by the way instructions are given. A pair of very intricate gloves with embroidery are described thusly: "Start knitting the cuff in the usual manner; 7 centimeters long; divide for hand and start thumb gusset; knit hand until it measures 7 centimeters; divide for fingers; finish each finger; reverse for other hand." The embroidery is described in less succinct terms, thankfully, but there is little doubt that Danish ladies of the early 1940s knew a thing or two about knitting. A little chapter is devoted how to darn socks too. I still remember my great-grandmother darning socks.
I picked up another vintage knitting pattern the other day, an old Patons pattern, which includes instructions on how to knit helmet liners for brave RAF pilots fighting in World War II. The cover features a Hawker Typhoon and one of those brave pilots looking very dashing.
Knitting is social history and I love it.