Knitting,  Vintage

I Made a … 1930s Knitted Cardigan

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This 1930s knitted cardigan pattern was a the top of my Knitting Wishlist and came from Subversive Femme on Etsy*. Bex has a wonderful selection of vintage knitting patterns from the 1920s to 50s. She also has an amazing blog with lots of free knitting patterns. It’s well worth checking out!

The 1930s Cardigan Pattern

1930s Diagonal Stitched Cardigan with Bow Vintage Knitting image 0

I loved the 1930s sportswear feel to this cardigan and that simple diagonal pattern is just the kind of stitch I love to knit. As I have gotten better as a knitter, I now prefer stitches that are a bit more challenging. This one was enough to keep me engaged but not so difficult I started to tear my hair out!

I was a bit worried about the size of this cardigan as the instructions are for a 32″ bust and I am a 37″ bust! But by some miracle it turn out to be a great fit. I think this is possibly to do with the fact that modern fingering weight yarns can be heavier than vintage ones.

The Yarn

The yarn I used was King Cole Merino Blend 4 ply in Damson. I chose it because it was on sale at Minerva Crafts for £1.50 a ball!* I am trying to only use 100% wool in my knitting projects as this is both a) historically accurate and b) better for the environment. However, wool is that bit more expensive and so if I find it on sale I do tend to stock up. I have also bought some more in the colour Cranberry for another upcoming knitting project.

The pattern instructions called for 8 balls of ‘Monarch Andalusian Seacrest’ which the Vintage Yarn Wiki informed me came in 1oz balls. So I originally ordered 250 grams of the King Cole Merino. However, I ran out of yarn before I even got to shaping my sleeve heads!

Thankfully, I was able to order some more from Minerva Crafts and I bought another 2 50 gram balls to be on the safe side. I am so glad I did as I ended up needing them both. Although, I do have most of the final ball left.

Vintage Pattern Quirks

As with a lot of vintage patterns, this 1930s knitted cardigan needed a little bit of detective work to figure out the construction. First of all the instructions for the diagonal pattern have a mistake in.

The instructions are given as 1st row: K3, P1 to end. 2nd row: P3, K1 to end. However, this results in this first stripe being completely off with the rest of the repeating pattern. It SHOULD read: 1st row K3, P1 to end. 2nd row: K1, P3 to end. Essentially you are just working the same repeat of stitches just from the WS for the 2nd row.

There is also an instruction which really confused me before the shaping of the shoulder.

The pattern reads:

“Work without decreasing until work measured 5 inches from armhole. Next 12 rows of K3, P1 ribbing. To shape shoulders – cast off 7 sts at beginning of each row 8 times …..”

Why the random 12 rows of ribbing? I couldn’t see them in the photograph of the cardigan. Is the shoulder decrease also worked in ribbing? I decided to take a try it and see approach.

In the end I came to the conclusion that these 12 rows of ribbing are essentially creating a yoke at the top of the cardigan. I consulted some other 1930s sporty knit patterns and it seems to have been a common design feature at this time. I continued the ribbing pattern whilst shaping my shoulders and the effect is really pleasing so I’m pretty certain I interpreted the instructions correctly.

Detail of back neck ribbed yoke

When I came to make up the cardigan I found that my sleeve heads where much too big to fit into my armhole. As there were no making up instructions I wasn’t sure if this was deliberate and the sleeve head should be pleated. In the end I just put a pleat in. It didn’t create a huge puff and is hardly noticeable. Besides, puff sleeves were a thing in the 1930s.

I finished the cardigan with some vintage buttons that I bought from Calamari Jane on Etsy*.

The Finished 1930s Knitted Cardigan:

You know I think this is possibly my best hand knit to date. I am really thrilled with the result. It fits so much better than I expected and best of all the things I have ever knitted. Using real wool gives it a really authentic feel and the collar! The construction of the collar was so clever and it sits beautifully. Those little details really warm my heart.

I hope you like my new cardigan. If you knit this pattern I’d love to see pictures!

Claude x