Thursday, 1 December 2011

A Tale of Two Berets

Looking for a quick vintage knitting project? You can’t beat a beret. In November I made two.

First up is Sunday Pictorial Beret from A Stitch in Time volume 2, in Sublime Extra Fine Merino Wool 4ply, my favourite yarn. The pattern was originally printed in the 1930s. I’m in a swap group called ‘Odd Ducks’ on Ravelry where members sign up for themed swaps, and this is going to be part of my parcel for the Favourite Artists swap. My partner is really into vintage and Chagall, so a vintage-style beret in Chagall blue seemed very appropriate.

If you are learning to knit, I can’t recommend this pattern enough. Apart from casting on and off, it uses just three other stitches: knit, kfb (knit into the front and back of a stitch, making an extra stitch) and k2tog (knit two together, decreasing by a stitch). Most of the beret is knitted in straight garter stitch. Despite the simplicity of the stitches, it's constructed really cunningly, with extra fullness in the front and a flatter back for an attractive, non-mushroomy silhouette.

If you are a beginner, you might be put off buying the book just to get the one pattern. Well, there are other hats and scarves in the book too, and it will serve as inspiration to keep you knitting if you do buy it, but if you really can’t face it, find a friend who’s an experienced knitter and owns the book and ask to borrow their copy. I've photographed my knitting on top of the book so you can see just how well the pattern knits up: will be just like the picture once I've pressed the bows a bit flatter.

The other beret is for my mum, and is knitted from my ‘old faithful’ 1960s beret pattern. (See my own beret and two I knitted for charity from the same pattern.) This is the fifth one I’ve made from this leaflet. I didn’t have a clue what to buy mum for Christmas and she loves my Fair Isle beret, so I whipped this one up in six days. It’s made from oddments of yarn. As any make-do-and-mending 1940s knitter would tell you, the great thing about Fair Isle is that you don’t need lots of any one colour. I picked colours that would work with mum’s red hair. I hope she likes it!

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