As some of you may remember, I mentioned here once that I volunteer as a knitting expert on Allexperts.com. I enjoy answering those pesky questions that seem to plague new knitters. Most of my questions are about gauge and needle sizes. Sometimes, despite the fact that I make no mention of it, people ask me questions about knitting machines. I have no experience with such things, but I never turn down a question and usually take on the challenge of questions like these as an opportunity to learn right along with the questioner.
A great joy that I find in volunteering is having the opportunity to see the final results of a project that I helped someone with. I got such a chance recently with one questioner regarding a vintage pattern.
Here is the original question from Melissa:
I am a dreamer and I dream of completing projects that are way over my head, yet I find these the most satisfying to dig into. Thus, I would love some help on a vintage pattern I just purchased.
Here is what I need for this project, can you translate?
Two No. 2 Beehive needles, measured by Beehive gauge and two No. 000 needles, A beehive cable needle.
Tension: 2.5 sts. and 3.5 rows to one inch in stocking stitch on No. 000 needles, using 2 balls of Capstan.
Patons Capstan x2ozs. 20
Here was my answer:
Good for you for taking on the wonderful challenge of knitting vintage. Let me see if I can help you get started.
What the pattern says: Two No. 2 Beehive needles, measured by Beehive gauge and two No. 000 needles, A beehive cable needle.
Translation: In metric measurements a No. 2 would be 7.0 mm or something between a US 10.5 and a US 11. You will have to test gauge and decide for yourself which one you prefer. the No. 000 is 10.0mm or a US size 15.
What the pattern says: Tension: 2.5 sts. and 3.5 rows to one inch in stocking stitch on No. 000 needles, using 2 balls of Capstan.
Translation: 10 stitches x 14 rows should equal a 4 inch x 4 inch square when knitted in St st with two strands of yarn held together. I take it that from the gauge listed you are looking at an item that will be bulky weight that should turn out to be a very quick knit.
What pattern says: Patons Capstan x2ozs. 20
Translation: Patons Capstan Double Knitting yarn. It was a yarn that knitted up 5.5 sts/7.5 rows
on US size 10 needles. For this pattern you will be holding two strands of it together while knitting. The balls came in 2oz sizes and the pattern is calling for 20 balls of yarn. You will need about 40oz of yarn in a gauge that will knit up similar to 5.5 sts/7.5 rows on US size 10 needles.
I hope this information helps. Good luck on the project.
Then a couple of months later I received this lovely message:
Hi again! A few months back I asked you a question about translating a vintage pattern. You helped me identify the needles I needed and the yarn. I wanted to let you know that I just finished the sweater and it turned out AMAZING!! I would have never been able to even get started without you, and I would have never had the confidence to even try without your encouragement. Thank you so very very much! Your selflessness is truly appreciated!
I’m attaching a pic!
Melissa did a wonderful job knitting this beautiful sweater. She was also kind enough to share with me the journey she took to bring this sweater into reality:
I bought the pattern from PastPerfectPatterns on Etsy, I wrote her this message: First step was to contact a knitting expert online to convert the needles and yarn needs to current, US needle and yarn requirements. Next was to go to a yarn store to buy the needles, gauge and yarn. Third I went online and watched Youtube videos for everything from how to cast on stitches, knit, purl, cable stitch to cast-off and stitching seams. I actually have never knitted anything more than a scarf before and that was easily 10 years ago. So, if anyone wonders if these patterns work or how to knit with no experience, I am absolute proof that the pattern is right on, vintage can be accomplished in present times, and it really is easy to do (with a little help from our Internet friends)!!
Thank you Melissa for your beautiful knitting and for allowing me to share your journey with my readers.
There is a wealth of information and personal help out there no matter how difficult the pattern or how many years its been since you’ve picked up a pair of needles. I hope Melissa’s sweater will inspire some of you to swallow your fears and try something new. Remember, your Internet friends will be here to support and guide you every stitch of the way.