Knit Back In Time, Geraldine Warner
A few of the vintage lovelies I talk to on Twitter (I'm @crinolinerobot, if you want to find me!) have started knitting recently. I've been doing it for nearly a decade now – I learned when I was 30 – and wanting to make my own clothes from vintage patterns was one of the things that drove me to learn. It came as a bit of a shock to realise that a lot of the things I was really interested in knitting were only written in one bust size. Susan Crawford and Jane Waller's A Stitch in Time books are fantastic, with resized patterns and modern yarns, but what if you've got an original pattern you want to knit? How do you resize things? Knit Back in Time explains the process clearly and simply.
The book starts with a brief introduction to vintage knitwear styles. Like a lot of vintage lovers, Geraldine Warner draws the line at 1960, but this makes sense from a knitting point of view as by then shapes were simpler and multi-sized patterns and the yarn weights we're familiar with today had become commonplace, so the chances are if you want to knit something from a 1960s-or-later pattern, you'll find it fairly straightforward anyway.
There are two main sections to the book: first, how to adapt vintage knitting patterns, and second, how to adapt later patterns to give them a more vintage feel (changing the sleeve style, neckline and so on). Most people I know will find the first half of most use, and it is seriously useful. It starts out with choosing the right yarn to recreate the shape of vintage knitwear and choosing period-appropriate colours before getting on to the nuts and bolts of resizing. I've taught myself to resize things in an acceptable fashion, but I've got a fairly standard body shape, it's just wider than most vintage patterns were written for. If you have very wide or narrow shoulders, or a very high or short waist, the detailed adaptations Warner takes you through will prove invaluable. If you have a very non-standard body type, you may prefer to get a pattern you know will knit up to your size or shape, and then work some of the features from the second half of the book into it instead.
There are no actual garment patterns in Knit Back in Time, so you'll have to find those for yourself, and you will have to be prepared to take a little time and do some straightforward maths for the resizing. I'd still recommend that a fairly new knitter starts with one of the A Stitch in Time patterns, with the resizing done for them, but as long as you've made a couple of garments following patterns as written, this should give you everything you need to resize old patterns and create unique garments for yourself. I'll certainly be using it myself to get an even better fit next time I resize anything.
Book source: my copy was a gift from Lyndsey Mayhew. It's published by Search Press, priced £15.99, so you can order via Search press' website or get your local bookshop to order it in for you. (I'm not getting paid for that link, I just thought I'd make it easy for you to get the book if you want a copy!)