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Some knitting tips from the 1960s

Recently, I found a small book from the 1960s at Half Price Books that claims to be a guide to help you knit better with "more that 100 ways to improve your knitting." I thought it might be fun to see the tips inside, so I took it home with me. And, perhaps not surprisingly, not a whole lot in the foundations of knitting has changed in the past 50+ years. But the book did hold a few gems that I wanted to share with you (some for a laugh and some as truly helpful).

Regarding knitting needles: Mention is made of a new type of needle called the "jumper needle" which sounds like a combination of a circular needle and straight needle (meaning it's technically a straight needle but has a flexible shaft). The discussion of circular needles makes it sound like the idea for using circular needles as straight needles might not have been as common and thus these "jumper needles" were a middle ground.

Regarding older wooden needles with rough spots: "Using the very finest grade of sandpaper, rub them lightly. Then, using a very slightly dampened cloth dipped in a fine-grade kitchen cleanser, rub them with this until smooth. Let dry thoroughly and wipe off. Crumble up a piece of heavy waxed paper and really scrub the entire length of the needles until it is well polished."

Regarding changing styles: "If you remember the '40s, you will also remember that skirts dropped from three to five inches in length almost overnight! It will be a real economy to buy two or three extra skeins of yarn if you are making a dress or suit. That knee-length skirt may have to be lengthened to the new proportions and, if you do not have extra yarn of the same dyelot, it will have to be put away for that mythical 'seven-year' period when styles supposedly change back."

Tip on winding a center pull ball by hand: "Take a small tube (a soda straw, cut to about 4" will do very nicely), run one end through this and wind the yarn around the fingers and thumb, and around the tube as well, leaving about 3" of the starting end clutched in your hand and always visible. After about twenty turns, take out the fingers and thumb; still holding onto the starting end, change positions of the fingers and start winding again in another direction. When the ball has been wound, tuck the last end under a few strands of the outside of the ball, remove the tube and you're off and running."

The book makes a very important point (in all caps) that gauge is the most important factor in making sure the garment fits. I won't use all caps here, but that is definitely something that has not changed! Another all caps point made (I'll lowercase it) is "Do not underestimate the value of the half stitch." A very good point to remember!

Regarding what project to make first: "One of the best knitted articles for a beginner to make is a V-neck sweater." I think this is the first time I've heard that suggestion, but she makes a good point: "Practically all of the problems that arise in knitting will present themselves at one time or another and must be solved during its making."

I hope this trend never comes back in style, but there's a helpful section on how to make a knitted shoulder pad: Knit a 4" square in garter stitch, fold it into a triangle and you have a shoulder pad.

I really enjoyed reading through this book and marveling at some of the advice given: some for the laughs and some for the excellent advice. In case you're interested in this book and want to look for a copy, it's Marcia Lynn Presents "You Can Knit Better."

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