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Candy apples and razor blades; I remember Halloween. Unfortunately, as evinced by last year’s sorry excuse for a scare, my pattern collection does not and so I’m forced to get a little more esoteric in the search for something in the macabre spirit.

This week’s pattern comes from the very specifically themed 5th Avenue Fashions, shot on and around the Empire State Building. Tourist magnet, glowing beacon, the very symbol of the city, what frights could possibly await at the top of New York’s famous icon, barring a giant gorilla on the loose?


Wooooooh! Wooo! woo. Eh. It’s no Q The Winged Serpent, but tell me that underlighting and sly grin don’t imply she’ll push you off the balcony the second you turn your back? What inspired the book’s photographer to light her like that? Especially given that, in the 1930s, underlighting was shorthand for ‘terrifying monster’?


Eh?


Eehh?


Eeeehhhh?!

At a time when Hollywood had gauze shortages from soft focus ‘glamour lighting’ their leading ladies, harsh underlighting screamed menace and terror. Also it doesn’t help her direct gaze resembles a more modern movie psychopath:


All work and no crochet make Jack a dull boy.

This night, anything goes…

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For anyone not growing up in the Tri-State area, ‘two states at once!’ is what’s shouted crossing through the Holland Tunnel as you reached the tiled Underwater State Boundary Delineator:


(if the tiling looks different it may be because a truck blew up in the tunnel in 1949. Or maybe just redecoration).

Which brings me somewhat vaguely to a point: While familiar enough with New Jersey, I remain woefully ignorant of most of these United States. Case in point, this week’s pattern-states Louisiana and Oklahoma (two this week as nothing was posted last week). Since I have little to no firsthand knowledge of either state, I shall follow the rules of a game a friend introduced me to some time ago, whereby a room full of inebriated nerds is challenged to speak with authority on any given topic for 5 minutes. The topic is of random choosing by an audience member, no padding by means of digression or excess floridity is allowed, and the speech must be convincingly informative (actually informative is not even the point). For this exercise I won’t even allow myself to search the sweet nest of information that is the internet. So!

Let’s see, Louisiana. The Magnolia State! Home of the Crescent City, New Orleans, which while not completely rebounded is doing better and remains a lovely place to visit. “A Confederacy of Dunces” took place there. Indeed, right outside a hotel in the French Quarter a large bronze statue of its main character, Cornelius stands with scarf and parrot. Gambit hails from this state, as can be heard from his distinct Creole accent. Alligators appear to be a common threat and entree. Uh, that’s about all I got.

Oklahoma. Damn. There is a song about it that is part of a play of the same name, I believe. The people of this state are given the derisive, though occasionally intended endearing, nickname of ‘Okies’. On ‘Full House’ Uncle Jesse’s newscaster girlfriend was from Oklahoma. They probably have a great deal of some sort of grain, like wheat, growing in vast, rolling fields. Native Americans, I’m not sure which, occupied the land at some point in their past. Perhaps they are in the tornado belt (Geography: also not a strong suit). Uhh….I got nothing else. Enjoy!

Feel free to correct me in the comments, folks!

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Auugh. So hot. So….so damn hot. Going outside’s pretty much like this:

Holing up in the one air-conditioned room drinking iced beverages in the dark helps (and is what I’d be doing anyway regardless of temperature), but today is a day to reflect on cold thoughts. The iciest one I have is visiting The House On The Rock in Wisconsin in the dead of winter; we were the only people there (well, that we could see; even taking the off-season abbreviated tour in the parts of the house open took us 5 hours, so it’s likely we could have missed someone between the larger-than-life-sized Squid and Whale battle room and the underground Christmas Village).

The weather was a type of cold not known on the East Coast, a bitter cold that bit into your bones and numbed you in minutes, apparently an average winter’s day in the cheese state. We hustled through it to see room after room after room after room of the most random collections (carousels, automaton bands, model ships, hearses), our breath showing even inside. Aaah, I can almost feel the drafty breezes now.

Which all has little to do with this week’s pattern, another state flower embroidery from the State Quilt project. The Wisconsin state flower is wood violets, a flower so special Rhode Island, New Jersey and Illinois decided to choose it too. Really guys? Jersey has some fantastic swamplands, you couldn’t go with the more endangered Swamp Pink? Illinois, you have fields, what, are you too good for the Smooth Blue Aster, Rose Vervain, or Quaker Ladies? Rhode Island, you are tiny and birthed H.P. Lovecraft so you get a pass.

I’d be in Wisconson, if only I knew the way.

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Lately, with days being oven-blastingly hot, I’ve felt like this guy:

Yes, melting in a pool of sweat and apathy, combined with startlingly bad heat-induced decisions (‘don’t want to move…what do we have in the fridge….pickles and peanut butter. Creamy goes with crunchy!’). These are the days when having a lap full of yarn seems more torturous than thrilling, and so I present a pleasantly cool alternative (with bonus botanical fun facts!).

Stopping at a well-stocked (and to my New York City eyes, HUUUUUUUUUUGE) vintage shop on a trip out to The Land of Corn, I came across a worn envelope tossed beneath a pile of silk scarves. It looked as if it might contain a mail-order pattern. It did not. It contained MANY patterns, not just a delightful iron-on for EVERY contiguous states’ flower, but a full-sized quilting pattern to sew them all together! SO CHARMING! SO. ADORABLY. CHARMING! No date is listed, but considering Hawaii and Alaska aren’t included, it’s definitely pre-50s.

One of the reasons I post vintage patterns is the hope someone out there will actually work them up, and we’ll all get to see a bit of history come to life. As knitting something usually requires devoting a month or so of time to each project, this doesn’t happen very frequently. So imagine my excitement when, through the magic of googling, I found not one but three real-life examples of the finished quilt!

from Threadtales
A square grid instead of diamonds gives this quilt a more severe look.

From gobama's Flickr photostream
Sunflowers stitched into the plain squares!

from Instant Appraisal
The scalloped border is part of the original pattern; several poorly-photographed variants were on ebay using small-dotted patterns instead of solid cloth to delightful, more 1930s results.
Not to get persnickety but would it kill someone to put the states in order of annexation instead of alphabetized?

‘So what?’ “Sew BUTTONS.’

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This week’s pattern took a little extra time to set up because it had to be dug out of an enormous pile of miscellaneous vintage paper goods. Somewhere in that massive stack sat an absolutely patriotic salute to this great land, and consarn it, it would be found if it took all night. And it did! And here it is, the Americana, in all its star-spangled glory. The directions don’t come right out and say it but you can only knit it while listening to John Phillips Sousa marches.

Speaking of directions, apparently I have to come right out and state the blindingly obvious: THESE PATTERNS ARE FOR PERSONAL USE ONLY. DO NOT TAKE THE IMAGES AND SELL THEM, DO NOT PASS THEM OFF AS YOUR OWN. Linking to them is totally fine; printing a copy out for your own use is fine, but anything that involves you taking them and making money off of them, STOP. DO NOT PASS GO. Fellow free-pattern sharer Bex recently alerted me that an Ebay seller stole images from our websites and sold (is selling) them in her store. On the downside, this is extremely rude, lazy and annoying. We post these patterns FOR FREE, buying or digging through archives for the originals, spending time scanning and cleaning them up, not to mention maintaining a website where people can find them, all for the sheer love of vintage knitting goodness. So when someone comes along and snags the images to make a quick buck, it hurts.

On the upside, this is the first time it’s happened in my several years of sharing, and in a rare burst of good mood I shall take that as a general sign humanity, or the chunk of it that enjoys looking at vintage patterns, generally understands what theft is and avoids it. Now, onward to patriotic knitwear!

Let the Eagle soar!

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