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Jazz-Age Knitting

Apr 4, 2014

In the 1920s the economy was strong, and fun was in fashion. Perhaps the most recognizable figure of the decade was the flapper, the icon of the "Roaring Twenties." This period in time is also called the Jazz Age, probably because of the rise of jazz music and the dance halls that popped up everywhere, where people could dance, drink, and enjoy this new music style.

Biarritz Cloche by Ashley Rao

The cloche was every self-respecting flappers choice in headwear. Designer Cirilia Rose wrote about the history of the cloche and its place in fashion:

The Cloche

Sartorially speaking, nothing transmits "flapper" as clearly or as quickly as a cloche hat. These headhugging chapeaux were the hats of choice for liberated ladies in the Jazz Age. Besides offering an air of mystery and a sleek silhouette, the hats were worn to keep short bobs in place while dancing feverishly. In some cases, the hats concealed disaster wrought by newfangled heat-styling tools or an awkward cut. Resourceful flappers knit boudoir cap patterns at a firm gauge to keep their bobs in check.


Zelda Cloche by Alexis Winslow

I visited the Goorin Brothers haberdashery here in Seattle, where I learned a little more about the topper named after a bell. Adornments were used as coquettish signals, in the same way gloves and fans had been used in the past.

A knot meant that the woman wearing the hat was married, while an arrow indicated that she had a beau. An actual bow was the flirty emblem of a single lady. Goorin Brothers had plenty of beautiful hats on display, but if you'd rather knit or felt your own, don't miss the Peekaboo collection. Guest designer Christa Baker created elegant add-ons like Plume, an oxblood flower made of ostrich feathers and smoky pearls. Try adding one of these to your hand-knit hat for that authentic flapper look. Goorin Brothers has been making and selling hats in Seattle since 1895.

—Cirilia Rose, Knitscene Spring 2013

The Art Deco design movement also began in the Twenties, bringing with it the strong motif-based designs such as those seen on the Chrysler Building in New York City. This style carried over to just about everything, including clothing.

In the the Spring 2013 issue of Knitscene, we celebrated the Twenties and Art Deco style with designs inspired by the decade.

Patou Tunic
By Danielle Chalson

This knit was inspired by Jean Patou, the 1920s designer known for lithe, unrestricted silhouettes—the quintessential flapper style.

A lace panel recalls the strong lines of the Art Deco movement.
Grenadine Tunic
By Michaela Moores

Beads shift across a sumptuous fabric of wool
and silk.

This long tunic blouses above a deep band—a great knit to pair with leggings or skinny jeans for a modern flapper look.
Zelda Tank
By Moira Engel

Can't you just see Zelda wearing this tank with a slim, long skirt? It would have been perfect for a summer day in a Paris Cafe.

The dramatic ruffled collar and a variegated yarn make a simple tank fabulous, just like Zelda herself.

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-1346188257 wrote
on Apr 6, 2014 12:32 AM

Like Susan, I'm not sure about whether they would suit my  figure (mature, to put it kindly) even  they optimistically run up to larger sizes, but cloches suit even difficult face shapes. Keep bringing us a selection of fashions though as I have 9 grand-daughters who love them.

PS. Susan I have emailed you re your digital query.

on Apr 4, 2014 6:27 PM

I would like it knit the hats. I think they're great. The sweaters are good looking if you have the figure for them. Kind of like leggings.

Is Knitscene going to be offered digitally?

Susan Banks

gumbiecat wrote
on Apr 4, 2014 12:35 PM

All are very attractive outfits!!  I do have the Zelda Cloche pattern, and it will be next in my knitting projects, probably followed by the Zelda Tank.  The styles are absolutely perfect.  I've always liked looking through the old family albums that include my Aunts dressed in "flapper style".  Judy in SE Wisconsin  

globalynx wrote
on Apr 4, 2014 12:20 PM

Love the cloches! The flapper era is a great inspiration for design - I am happy to see these gorgeous designs. Wonderful!!

Bettyjosey wrote
on Apr 4, 2014 10:50 AM

These are the cutest outfits I've ever seen on your site.  Please feature more designers like these two as well as designers like Faina Goberstein.   She is a genius in knitting designs!  

Bettyjosey wrote
on Apr 4, 2014 10:49 AM

These are the cutest outfits I've ever seen on your site.  Please feature more designers like these two as well as designers like Faina Goberstein.   She is a genius in knitting designs!  

KareyS wrote
on Apr 4, 2014 9:24 AM

These are the most gorgeous patterns I've ever seen you feature.  The next best thing to being there -- perhaps better now we've got some of the amenities the ladies of the jazz age lacked!  

IsDihara wrote
on Apr 4, 2014 8:10 AM

What do I think of flapper style? Love, love, LOVE it!  Thanks for creating this great themed issue.