Choosing the right yarn to knit up your vintage pattern…
Do you remember when Elle Magazine used to include amazing, fashionable and stylish handknit patterns like this one, ‘Plum Line’ from Galliano? In case you didn’t get that, that’s JOHN GALLIANO, a high-end fashion designer at his peak providing an incredibly stylish handknit pattern in a fashion magazine.
I was lucky enough to hold a one-to-one lesson yesterday with the lovely Emma who dug out this pattern which she’d stashed away for years but had never forgotten (and who can blame her?). I’m helping her go through the pattern to choose yarn and identify any tricky techniques, but we were both struck by how fashionable and stylish the garment is, and how it doesn’t shy away from using involved techniques – no dumbing down here, this is a tailored-looking piece of knitwear with fitted sleeves and an unusual cable cross technique as a main design feature. A quick Ravelry search reveals it was from 1986 but it’s only in 3 queues – does anyone else remember or own it?
Impressed by this forgotten classic, I’ve now ordered the incredibly cheap ‘Elle Book of Knitting’ (1 & 2) from 1984 and 1986 to see if they throw up any more treasures. The tagline ’50 Exclusive Designs from France’ struck me as a familiar echo from the mid-20th century patterns, when Paris was still the desirable epi-center of the fashion universe and left the rest of the world trying to emulate it.
Elle magazine was a French publication which had been going since 1945 but was struggling by the early ’80s. It was bought in 1981 and subsequently launched globally, so the inclusion of handknit patterns may be a hangover from its earlier Gallic days. Fast forward to the post-digital revolution present and the future of printed publications is hard to predict, so although we’re enjoying another surge in knitting popularity I’m guessing it’s too much to hope that fashion magazines would risk their broad appeal by once again including such high-quality patterns … or is it?