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Knitting Vintage

May 2, 2011

The Erin Cardigan from Vintage Modern Knits
I use modern technology as much as the next person, maybe more—I am an online editor, after all. But I love all things historical, from ancient Egypt to Tsarist Russia to 1920s France. 

There are many opportunities to keep history alive in everyday life, and knitting is one of the best. There's so much history in knitting, it's really a privilege to be a knitter and carry on our knitting ancestors' craft. 

It's important to keep knitting design current, though, and wearable; after all, wearing our knitted creations is the ultimate way to keep knitting history alive. "Vintage modern" is a style that's all the rage lately. It takes vintage sensibilities and applies them to modern design. This trend is active in all aspects of design: graphic design, interior design, and knitwear design.

One of our dips into the vintage-modern pond is the wonderful Vintage Modern Knits by Kate Gagnon Osborn and Courtney Kelley; it's a collection of classic pieces with contemporary twists, just what you'd expect from Kate and Courtney.

One of my favorites is the Erin Cardigan designed by Kate. This is an all-over cable cardigan, updated with set in sleeves, saddle shoulders, and a more figure-flattering fit. Here's what Kate has to say about her design:

I love the saddle-shoulder design of the Erin. It's so flattering paired with the set-in sleeves.

"Cabled Aran sweaters—named for the islands off the coast of Ireland where they are believed to have originated—are ubiquitous, but surprisingly recent additions to knitwear history. They became widespread in the early 1900s when women of the islands began to knit garments to supplement sparse household income; patterns became commercially available in the 1940s.

Of the many myths surrounding these sweaters, one of the most widespread is that a fisherman drowned at sea could be identified by the unique pattern of his sweater. What is established fact is that as knitting trends change and evolve, Aran sweaters continue to be hugely popular."

I love the play on words: Erin/Aran—it's an Aran cardigan designed for a woman.

Getting Gauge

Measuring gauge in cable patterns is sometimes a challenge. Counting traveling stitches as the cross over and under each other isn't easy! Here are some tips from Vintage Modern Knits.

"Sweaters designed with a lot of cabling are easy to knit once the proper gauge has been achieved. Because many sweaters incorporate multiple cable patterns and because the gauge in each pattern can differ, it is a good idea to measure the gauge in the given filler stitch as well as in the cable patterns. This process takes just a little bit longer than swatching a single stitch pattern, but it ensures the best possible end result—and is arguably much quicker than ripping out an entire sweater!

To measure the gauge properly, simply isolate a few of the main cable patterns in the garment and knit a swatch for each cable pattern, plus a few extra stitches on each side for ease in measuring gauge. Knit a full pattern repeat, then block the swatch and measure the width of the cable repeat."

I like this method, because you can measure the width of the blocked swatch and simply go by the number of stitches you cast on to see if you're getting gauge. You don't need to count the individual stitches, trying to follow the ins and outs of the cables. Another plus to this sort of swatching is that you get to practice cable pattern on a small scale before working it on the sweater pieces. It's the perfect time to work out any kinks.

The Erin Cardigan is going in my queue for the fall. How about you? Get your copy of Vintage Modern Knits today and queue it up with me!


Featured Product

Vintage Modern Knits Contemporary Designs Using Classic Techniques

Availability: Out Of Stock
Was: $24.95
Sale: $17.36


Inspired by traditional knits, up-and-coming designers Kate Gagnon Osborn and Courtney Kelley put their own contemporary spin on knitting in Vintage Modern. These are designs you will simply love to wear!


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rkr4cds wrote
on May 3, 2011 5:35 PM

HI Kathleen,

Saddle shoulders are THE Best fit for most people! It gives the set-in shoulder sleeve look but brings the top of the sleeve and the body up where they belong and doesn't allow either of them to just drop off the shoulder so unattractively--like the 'drop-shoulder' sleeves of today's deigns, which are merely tacked on rectangles, giving a droopy stretched out shoulder seam, and way too much bulky material under the arm where very few women can afford to have that extra material bunching up.

The drop sleeve/shoulder is such a lazy way to design and it fits so few *real* people attractively!

But what I'd like to ask about is the neckline on the Erin Sweater; two views are provided. I feel that the rhetoric of *modernizing* the Arans of old is being shown in the wider neckline, as designers have been are telling us to wear our layered clothing with the under layers showing at the top and bottom (necklines and hem) for several years--OK on the youngsters with cute bodies but a Cardigan like this could have been given the WOW! Factor if it had had the option of 2 necklines, this newer styling and the Classic.

This is a classic cabling design and while I'm going to order it now, I also know how to redesign the neckline to bring it back to a classic neckline.

My issue is with the second image: it would appear to be that of the shoulder seam area. Anyone not looking closely enough at the first image for comparison would expect this close-up image to represent a classic jewel-neckline, as it appears to end at the base of the neck, not several inches (1"to ?") away from the base of the model's neck. Her shirt collar is covering up the space...

I'm not sure if this was an oversight during the photo shoot or during the selection process of which images to post but there is no good image of the whole sweater on which the buyer may make an informed decision.

On that basis I'm disappointed in Knit Daily.

Best regards,


on May 2, 2011 10:23 AM

Hi LynnV,

The Erin pattern is only available in Vintage Modern Knits at this time. If you buy the book, there are tons of great patterns in there besides Erin, too.

Happy knitting!


LynnV@5 wrote
on May 2, 2011 8:28 AM

Hi Kathleen,

I love the Erin sweater! I appreciate the price reduction on Vintage Knits but budgetary issues mean that even at that great price... well, you know, I'd rather put the money into yarn! Is it possible to purchase (by PDF) just the Erin and not the rest of the book?

I can't be the only one asking - can I?