Tuesday, 7 August 2012

A pair of 1930s baby bootees

A copy of Patons woolcraft dating from the 1930s with two knitted baby bootees on top
The bootees were knitted in a 4ply yarn.
Knitting pattern terms haven’t always been standard. This copy of Patons Woolcraft is the oldest pattern book I own (not counting ones I’ve downloaded – the Winchester School of Art Knitting Reference Library has put complete Victorian knitting pattern books online). For Nerd Wars round 2, one of the challenges was ‘Sheep in History’, and involved knitting a pattern or using a technique that was common over 50 years ago. I chose to knit a pair of baby bootees from Patons Woolcraft. (In case you’re wondering, ‘bootees’ is the British spelling. ‘Booties’ is American.)

The bootees were knitted flat. I’m not a fan of foot-garb being knitted flat; in my opinion seams have no place in socks. However, as babies don’t do much walking around, a seam isn’t such a problem in something like this. The construction was unusual, starting with knitting a rectangle – the bit that goes round the leg – then working on the centre stitches only to create a flap for the top of the foot. This creates an eight-sided T-shape, and you pick up across the lower five sides of the T to work the toe and sides of the foot. The seam runs down the sole of the foot and up the back of the heel and leg.

The pattern was mostly easy to follow, although if I hadn’t read a few Victorian patterns I might have thought ‘knit plain’ meant stocking stitch rather than garter stitch (the photo wasn’t clear enough to be really helpful), and I found the instructions for where to rejoin the yarn for the toe and sides of the foot a bit sketchy.

There are a number of other patterns for baby garments in this book, but I think I prefer the designs I’ve got from the 1940s and 1950s as they’re a bit more intricate.

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