A pretty, low-cut, jewelled cocktail jumper for evenings, dating from 1957. Originally knitted in Patons Beehive Fingering 3-ply, this version uses a fine vintage Phildar yarn in sunshine yellow. The original colour suggestion was pale pink, with black embroidery, (which I omitted altogether for my version to avoid looking like a bee as much as possible). I think it would be very pretty in pink.
My pose above is in imitation of the orginal model, which is in itself quite a challenge despite the air-brushing techniques available for digital photographs....
Row 1: (right side) k1, wfwd, sl1,
k1, psso, k1, * k1, k2tog, wind wool twice
round needle, sl1, k1, psso, k1; repeat from *
to last 4 sts: k1, k2tog, wfwd, k1.
Back and front alike.
With No. 13 needles, cast on 114 (126) stitches, and work 4 inches in
k1, p1 rib.
[Editor's note: I worked both sides together in the round, (so every round knit) up to the start of the armhole pattern, when I split the work, and continued each side separately. Mark the sides with st markers to aid placement of the increases.]
Introduce lace pattern at the centre:
Next row: Inc in 1st st, k55 (61), pattern 26sts as
1st row of lace pattern, k55 (61), Inc in last st.
Next row: pattern 14sts as 1st row of lace pattern;
k40 (46); pattern 38sts as 1st row of lace pattern; k40 (46); pattern 14sts as 1st row of lace pattern.
Divide for neck as follows:
Row 1: pattern 14sts as 1st row of lace pattern; k34
(40); k1, wfwd, sl1, k1, psso, k1, * k1,
k2tog, wind wool twice round needle, sl1, k1, psso, k1; repeat from *
twice more, k1, k2tog, turn, and leave remaining sts on a spare needle.
Continue in pattern, decreasing 1st at neck edge on every alternate row, and at the same time, taking an extra 6 sts into lace pattern at neck edge on every following 1st pattern row until 49 (51) sts remain, ending with right side facing for next row. At this point 9 (10) complete patterns have been done from the start of the lace pattern.
Now work over all stitches in pattern, still decreasing 1 st at neck
edge on next and following 3 alternate rows. [45 (47) sts]
Shape shoulder as follows (right side facing):
Next row: Cast off 12 (14) sts, pattern to last 2 sts, K2tog.
With right side facing, rejoin the wool to the remaining sts and work the other side of the neck as follows:
Row 1: k2tog, k1, * k1, k2tog, wind
wool twice round needle, sl1, k1, psso, k1; repeat from *
twice more; k1, k2tog, wfwd, k1; k34 (40); pattern 14sts as 1st
row of lace pattern.
Finish to correspond with the other side of the neck.
Making up - Press stocking stitch parts only on the wrong side under a damp cloth. Join shoulder and side seams. Press seams.
Crochet edging - Using the main colour, work a row of double crochet (US single crochet) all round neck and sleeve edges.
Embroidery - Using 2 strands of stranded cotton, embroider 4 petal
loop stitch flowers in centre of diamonds round neck edge and sleeves,
as shown in the photograph, then add a jewel or sequin to the centre of
Original pattern calls for 5oz of 3-ply.
One pair each of numbers 13 and 11 needles. Number 12 crochet hook.
(5mm) or sequins and stranded cotton for embroidery.
32st and 40 rows to 4 inches (10cm) on No 11 (3mm) needles.
Instructions for two slim fitting sizes: 33-35 (36-38) inch bust; length from top of shoulders 18½ (19¼) inches.
A word on the wool.
I used an old Phildar yarn (Loisirs) which knits 30st to 4inches; Phildar
Luxe is a quality fine yarn in a fair range of colours - but both
these yarns are mixed fibres with only 15% wool.
(well...almost a disclaimer...)
Substituting the wool
The recommended yarn is a 3-ply. Knitting these old patterns makes you think "gosh - I'd forgotten how fine 3-ply was" and "gosh - how small and dainty people were in the 1950s".
In addition to the issues with size and tension, 3-ply is a very fine
(fingering) yarn which is now really restricted to baby wools, assuming
you can find it at all. The baby ranges usually offer it in white only,
and tend to be "easy care" - or as we know it: synthetic. I
have not done exhaustive research, but there does not seem to be any of
the standard bread-and-butter brands in this wool weight. I imagine that
some of the heavier crochet cottons may knit up to these kinds of tensions,
but the texture of the knitting may be a little stiff.
You can aquire some vintage 3-plys on eBay (for example, Jaeger 3ply Botany, or even Patons Nylox, which is 80% wool and not entirely restricted to mens sock colours). I notice also there are very fine yarns available in cones intended for use with knitting machines, but often content and weights are not clearly defined.
The good news is there has been quite an opening up of the 4-ply wool weights* which I think is due to the popularity of sock knitting now. There are some lovely colour ranges, and Rowan, for example, offer several 4-ply ranges including suitable cottons. This top has turned out to be very pretty, and I would have much preferred it in a cotton or soft woollen yarn.
Knitting in 4-ply will help you with producing a bigger size but check
your tension carefully, experiment with smaller needles, and do your arithmetic.
Changing from 8st per inch to 7st per inch makes a small 35 inch bust
leap to 40. This style is meant to be tight, and don't necessarily be
put off if you have an ample figure - as long as it goes in and out in
the right proportion!
If you want to change the number of stitches to alter the size then you need to add or subtract 12 at a time. You can alter the length up to the arm easily enough, and also lengthen the armhole by simply knitting more of the lace pattern before you start shaping the shoulder, (as I did).
*The "quickerknit", or fine double knitting yarns, seem to be offered in many more ranges now as well ; at one time this too was relegated to the baby wool shelves only, and it is one of my favourite weights to knit with.