The second volume of the influential vintage knitting book A Stitch in Time was published last year. Can it live up to the high standard the first volume has set? Rebecka Mustajarvi reviews.

If one can talk about cult-classics when it comes to knitting books, A Stitch in Time is probably as cult as it gets. First published in 1972, Susan Waller and Jane Crawford’s A Stitch in Time Volume 1: Vintage Knitting & Crochet patterns 1920-1949, quickly gained an enthusiastic following and helped spark an interest in the iconic knitwear designs of the inter- to post-war era. Republished in 2008, it re-kindled the interest in vintage knitwear whilst introducing these designs to younger generations too.

The much-anticipated second volume, A Stitch in Time Volume 2: Vintage Knitting Patterns 1930-1959 (Susan Crawfor and Jane Waller) was published in 2011, and with its 400 pages of 80 knitting patterns it is a veritable fashion treasure trove. It has everything from jumpers, pinafore dresses and boleros to hats, mittens and coats, all photographed in full-colour detail. As the book reproduces copies of each of the original patterns, as well as outlining the changes in knitwear design for each decade, it serves equally well as a luxurious fashion sourcebook for the coffee table as a knitting guide.

Unlike many other “vintage style” knitting books, in which vintage patterns are often altered by adding a modern twist, the patterns in A Stitch are as period accurate as you get, whilst at the same time being more user friendly than their originals. The pitfalls of knitting from original vintage patterns are many – most yarn weights and types from these eras are no longer available and finding suitable modern replacements requires a fair bit of knitting-know-how just to get started.

Then there are the potential problems of misprints, gauge and sizing to consider, as vintage patterns were only made to fit one size. What makes A Stitch so useful is that Crawford and Waller have done all the background work for you by selecting the most suitable contemporary yarns and adapting the patterns to fit a wide range of sizes. There are patterns simple enough for the beginner and more exacting ones that wouldn’t bore even the seasoned knitter.

Although the wide range of patterns is worth the price of the book alone, what makes it invaluable is the introductory section on vintage knitting know-how. It guides you through the necessary basics of pattern abbreviations and making-up to embroidery and choosing the best vintage buttons for your garment. If you think vintage knitwear is only for the very young and slender think again – there is a guide on how to get the perfect “vintage fit” with helpful tips on how to choose patterns to best flatter your figure, whether you want hide away that spare tyre or de-emphasise broad shoulders.

As a bonus, should you ever find yourself stuck with any of the patterns, there is a dedicated A Stitch in Time group on the knitting community Ravelry, where other vintage knitters are always keen to help with your knitting woes. And you can view patterns as featured in the book on Knitonthenet.

A Stitch in Time Volume 2
Normally £35, special offer for readers £30 (+p&p)
from or by calling +44 (0)1704 320052 and quoting WWASIT when ordering.

Alternatively orders can be posted to Susan Crawford Vintage, The Studio, rear of 13-15 Church Road, Banks, Southport, PR9 8ET
(Offer applies to UK mainland customers only. Offer valid until 30 June 2012).

3 Responses

  1. Sarah Mellor

    I totally agree with this review, I bought the first volume and was lucky enough when preordering the second to get a signed copy! It is an absolute joy to work from and read and is a bargain considering the amount of patterns, quality of both the instructions and images and the advice and guidance contained within. I knotted the Christmas Beret and gloves first for a gift, absolute joy!


  2. Michael Vaughan-Rees

    Great review, but let’s not rewrite history. Jane Waller (who I’m proud to say is my wife) was the only author of the original 1972 “A Stitch in Time”. I doubt if Susan Crawford (who has done a brilliant job on both volumes of the new “Stitch”) was even born when it came out.

  3. Rebecka

    Thanks for the correction Michael! I wasn’t aware of that, though I certainly should have been (tad lazy journalism, my apologies).