Pattern of
the Month

On the Needles
(...and Off the Needles)



Vintage Patterns

About the
Idle Hands

Archive entry for July 2009

« June 2009 | Main | August 2009 »

July 2009

Dainty Bolero


I cannot do better than quote the original introduction from the 1940s.

"The charm of this little bolero is that it makes either a dainty bed-jacket, or attractive Angora coatee, for day or evening wear. The pretty shape makes it fit beautifully and you will find the openwork sleeves and border simple and quick to do."

I will add that you should choose your colours and styling carefully, otherwise its roots as a bed-jacket may be too obvious. When I knitted Rowan's Carolina by Sharon Miller in pale blue/grey - which is lovely in my opinion - I find myself unable to wear it as day wear and feel it needs to be in a more striking colour for evening wear. (Matches my pyjamas nicely though...)

Note that this pattern is untested, and reproduced here as per the original.


The body of the bolero is worked in fancy rib over 2 rows as follows:

1st Row: Knit.
2nd Row: (K1, p1) repeated across row.
[Editor's note: Keep the rib aligned as you increase and decrease to get the shape.]


Cast on 84 stitches and work in ribbed pattern as above.
K keeping the continuity of the rib carefully, cast off 2 stitches at the beginning of every row until 44 sts remain.

Now cast off 1 stitch at beginning of every row till 16 sts remain.

Work 20 rows straight.

Continue to work in pattern but increase 1 st at each end of the next and every following 3rd row until there are 26 sts on the needle.
Cast off.

Side Pieces

Using three needles, pick up and knit 110 stitches up right side of back piece, then cast on 122 stitches. Arrange the sts as follows:
1st needle: 92 stitches; 2nd needle: 70 stitches; 3rd needle: 70 stitches.

Join into a round and work 20 rounds in pattern.

Next Round: * k2, k2tog; repeat from * to end.
Work 15 more rounds in pattern, beginning with a rib row.
Next Round: k2tog all round, casting off firmly at the same time.

Work second side to correspond.


With five needles, using 2 strands of wool together, and right side facing, pick up and knit 42 stitches across lower edge of back, 60 stitches round right side, 13 across back of neck and 60 stitches round left side.

1st Round: Knit.
2nd Round: Purl.
3rd Round: Knit.
4th Round: Purl.
5th Round: * K1 winding wool round needle 5 times; repeat from * to end.
6th Round: Purl, dropping all the stitches wound round needle.
7th Round: Knit.
8th Round: Purl, increasing once in every 4th stitch.
9th Round: Knit.
10th Round: * P1 winding wool round needle 5 times; repeat from * to end.
11th Round: Knit, dropping all the stitches wound round needle. 12th Round: Purl.
13th Round: Knit.

Repeat 12th and 13th rounds, then 12th round again.
Now, with crochet hook, fasten off by working 1dc into each stitch as it comes off the needle, with 1 chain loosely in between.


Starting at the top with two needles and double wool, cast on 36 stitches and knit 4 rows garter stitch (every row knitted).

5th Row: * K1 winding wool round needle 5 times; repeat from * to end.
6th Row: Cast on 3, knit to end, dropping all loop stitches.
7th Row: Cast on 3, knit to end.
8th Row: Knit.

Repeat from once, then 5th row again.

Next Row: Cast on 6 stitches, knit to end, dropping all loop stitches.
Next Row: Cast on 6 stitches, knit to end.
Next Row: Knit.

Next Row: * K1 winding wool round needle 5 times; repeat from * to end.
Next Row: K2tog, knit to the last 2 sts, k2tog.
Next Row: Knit.
Next Row: K2tog, knit to the last 2 sts, k2tog.

Repeat from once, and then again omitting decreasings.
Knit 2 rows.
Cast off.

Making up

Press very lightly only.
Join sleeve seams and sew in sleeves.
Press back border round neck to form roll collar .


Original quoted 5ozs Beehive Non-Shrink Baby Wool 3ply.

Five No 7 (4½mm) double-pointed needles, or one pair of needles and a circular needle.

No 8 (4mm) crochet hook.

[Alternative 9 (½ oz) balls Patons Fuzzy-Wuzzy Angora and five No 8 (4mm) needles]


28 stitches to 4 inches over pattern rib in back; 40 stitches to 4 inches over pattern rib in side pieces.

Size matters

To fit size 32-36 inch bust; length from top of shoulder to lower edge, 16 inches; sleeve seam, 4½ inches.


k2tog: knit 2 sts together (decrease).

dc: double crochet remembering that this is UK notation, and in the US is referred to as single crochet.

ch: chain

A Word
on the Wool.

I have not made this up in a modern equivalent yarn so have no comments to offer from experience. From the tension, and the possible substitution of the angora yarn, it seems this would knit up with a modern 4 ply rather than 3 ply. Generally I refute the claim that old wools were thicker than modern ones - the bottom line is that in times past people patiently knitted much finer wools than we like today. However I have noticed that in the 1940s patterns there is no doubt that some of the 3 plys have tensions of 7 sts to the inch rather than the 8 or 9 that you expect with a 3 ply. I plan to knit this using handspun (hence not completed yet....)


In transposing any pattern it is always a risk that errors will be introduced, in spite of dedicated proof reading.
If you have any problems with this pattern, please and I will try and assist.


© Christina Coutts 2007

Helpful Stuff

Pattern Archive


Yarn Links

Fabric etc

Stuff to do

  • Little rabbits
  • V&A 1940s Patterns
  • Monkey Socks
  • Necktie Bag
  • Posh Gloves
  • Criss-cross coasters