My Grandma’s vintage knitting patterns

I really hoped to have an office update for you today, but it was not to be. Soooooo many boxes. So much unpacking. So much fabric and wool. I’m making progress, but it’s a little overwhelming to figure out how best to organize it all.

However, one thing that is unpacked and organized is all of my grandmother’s knitting patterns. In my last update, I promised you a peak at some of these, so that’s what I’m giving you today.

This collection is so special to me. My grandmother taught me to knit as a child, but I didn’t really make anything wearable until I was a teenager. She talked me through my first mitts, sweater, lace, cables and gave me the confidence to tackle pretty much anything. Now, I’ve taught a few other people to knit and have even started a knitting group at work.

Inheriting her patterns means a lot to me, and I’m working to take good care of them. Some of the oldest patterns date to the 1930s, I think. On the tattered bottom left corner of this book is “Canada 1936.” I’m choosing to read this as a date.

Vintage knitting patterns from the 1930s

Her patterns span the years, ages and styles. Not all have stood the test of time, but I’m not getting rid of any of them.

Vintage knitting patterns

There’s lots of clothing (she knit for all of her 14 grandchildren and 16 great-grands–we have two more greats and one great-great now), and there are other things as well like afghans or these lace patterns.

Vintage lace knitting patterns

These Mary Maxim patterns are a particular treasure. Grandma knit the sheep and sailboat sweaters for my cousins, and then they were handed down to my sisters, brother and me. My Mom eventually passed them on to my cousin’s kids.

Mary Maxim is a Canadian company started in the 1950s. Their patterned jackets–often featuring Canadian wildlife–are some of their signature designs. Check out that beaver and maple leaf jacket. Doesn’t get more Canada than that.

Mary Maxim knitting patterns

These Mary Maxim mitts are another Grandma signature. In our family, we had the birds when we were growing up, and then when my sister was a teen she convinced my Grandma to knit her a pair of crocodiles.

Mary Maxim crocodile and bird mitts

I’ve knit these a bunch of times in all sizes, even including a tiny thumbless Crocodilly for my nephew #3 when he was very wee–and apparently freaked out by Auntie and her camera.

Knitted crocodile hat and mitts

The other highlight for me is this Beatrix Potter knitting book. I remember when my Grandmother got this as a Christmas gift. In fact, the card from my Aunt is still tucked inside the front cover.

Beatrix Potter knitting patterns

The patterns in this book are all interpretations of Beatrix Potter’s stories and characters. Some are vedy, vedy British and a bit dated. Benjamin Bunny tams anyone?

Benjamin Button knitting outfits

But the graphs and the characters are timeless. I think this Jeremy Fisher with his dangling legs is super cute.

Jeremy Fisher sweater

My sister is about to add another great-grandbaby to the family in a month of so. I’m enjoying going through the patterns and picking out something for my new niece–and giving her a memento of her Great-Grandma.

10 thoughts on “My Grandma’s vintage knitting patterns

  1. I inherited all the knitting & crochet tools, patterns & books from my great-grandmother & grandmother so I understand your joy. The books are not fragile but I scanned all the booklets & pamphlets so that they would not deteriorate with use. If I want to search through them and use a pattern I use the computer file – I either pull up the pdf on my tablet or print out just the pages needed for the project depending on the complexity. We are sorting and purging at my mother-in-law’s house and I pulled a few patterns to scan before they go in the donate pile. If I can find the book or pamphlet on Ravelry I add it to my Ravelry library so it is easier to search for patterns (if I was ambitious I would figure out how to add the really old ones to Ravelry as well). Be sure to let us see what you make for the new family addition!

  2. I thought I had sent this, but it was stuck in my draft file.

    Hi Julia,

    This morning’s post was great. I have my mom’s old books with wartime things to knit. What a great treasury Grandma Muriel had as well. I loved the Mary Maxim ones she did. She often did the toddlers size with the bunnies and all. But the kittens {who lost their mittens) and other animals were done in fluffy angora( not the whole sweater, just the figures) I remember your dad had some great sweaters, fine wool and the heavy Mary Maxim wool ones. Lots of sweaters were passed down to “the smaller begats” too. She left us all a great legacy. Love, Auntie Anne

    • I remember the sweaters done with fuzzy animals. And I was also told that the sweaters started with your boys and then made their way to us, and I know Mom passed some of them on to your grands. You’re carrying on the knitting tradition too, which is very nice.

  3. I love this post! I didn’t realize I missed responding to it, but I want to now. These patterns are lovely. My mum was a big knitter as well, and my sister was insanely fast and knitted an extraordinary number of items for all the babies and children of her acquaintance. Her daughter is carrying on the tradition. As for me, I prefer to crochet. Something about working with the two needles feels awkward to me, whereas with crochet I’m using my hands right on the project.
    Now that you have finished your office, I don’t know you have the space or the desire for any more wall art, but framing a couple of these patterns would look amazing! It would continue the vibe you’ve got going with such an intensely personalized space.
    Those crocodiles are the bomb! I could see breaking out the knitting needles for those ones. 😉

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