Believe it or not, this 1940s chevron stripe jumper was completed way back in April of this year, but I’ve only just got around to photographing it. Shame on me! The main reason it’s taken me so long is because I’ve never quite been happy with it. I know I say that with just about everything I make but this one was a particular pain in the butt. (And I promise I have a positive post coming up of something I made!)
The main issue was to do with the pattern instructions. As it was produced during WWII it was very lacking in information. Paper and printing ink was rationed during the war and it was reserved only for the most important documents. Therefore, knitting and crochet patterns had to be produced on the smallest amount of paper possible. This meant that instructions needed to be edited and reduced down to their barest minimum.
The instructions for the materials needed was as follows:
Two balls (4 oz) of dark colour, 1 ball (2oz) of light colour, 1 ball (2oz) of white, 1 small bone crochet hook
Oh yeah, well thanks, that’s..um…not helpful in the slightest! This may have made more sense to someone back in the 40s but to me, it was just useless. The seller of the PDF pattern suggested a 4 ply, so I decided to just go with that. However, they didn’t mention the hook size so I was left guessing. In the end, after a few tests of the vague gauge instructions, I opted for a 2mm. However, if I made it again I’d probably opt for a 2.5mm, or even a 3mm, just to make it a little bigger as I had to make a few adjustments.
The seller also didn’t mention whether the original pattern was from the UK or the US, so I had to go hunting for clues in the pattern text. There was only one stitch, which is a term used in both countries, but it did spell ‘colour’ the proper way (sorry American friends, but colour without a ‘U’ is just plain weird!) so I knew it was British.
(For those of you who don’t crochet, knowing the pattern’s country of origin is very important as stitch names can be the same, but actually are done very differently.)
The whole thing started off well and I got into the flow of doing the design quite easily. It’s made up entirely of trebles (UK version) and the ‘V’ shape is created by stitching five trebles into the centre stitch of the previous row. Once finishing the first six blocks of colour, the shoulder width was done and when I held it up to myself it fitted perfectly. Next it was on to shaping the armholes both sides, which also went well. The issues started once I got to the end of the armhole at the side seam.
If I’d carried on as the pattern stated the jumper would’ve ended up way too small for me around the bust. This is despite the pattern being a bust size 35″-36″ (my bust measurement) and the gauge seemingly correct. So, to combat the issue I just kept stitching further at the end of each row than stated in the pattern. This worked perfectly, but I just had to remember to do the same on the back as well.
The weird thing was though, it didn’t need to be made any longer. When I got to end of the fourth block of the three colours, this was the finished length as stated in the pattern. So, how had it ended up being too small in width but absolutely fine in length? Who knows!
The problems continued when it came to the back, which wasn’t supposed to have a deep ‘V’, but rather be up tight around the neck. This definitely was the most perplexing part of the entire pattern. I followed the instructions word for word three times, but yet I still ended up with a tiny triangle of crochet, measuring about 5″ across, and this was supposed to be when you started shaping the armholes. If I’d continued from this point, the back would’ve ended up about 10″ wide rather than about 17″-18″!
I swear that something was missing or completely incorrect in the instructions. There’s no way they were right. So, in the end I just did the same as the front and actually I think I prefer it, it’s got a much more 1930s elegance look about it. I did have to add bra strap holders to the shoulder seams though because, as anyone who owned a double V neck batwing jumper in the 80s would know, it kept slipping off my shoulders.
When it came to the sleeves I did as suggested on the pattern and started exactly as per the instructions for the back (the way it should’ve been done!). From there I pretty much did my own thing and just looked at the image of the jumper that came with the pattern for guidance. Of course, if I didn’t have my sewing experience behind me to know what the shape of a sleeve should look like I never would’ve attempted this, but my long-acquired knowledge is very beneficial in these situations.
Once all of the pieces were done, came the wonderful task of weaving in all the loose ends, which quite frankly was hell on earth! Every single strip of colour had at least two ends, which meant hours of trying to hide them all. I did vow at this point that I’d never do any colour work ever again, but I broke that straight away with the next project (coming to the blog very soon!).
After all the problems I had, it actually didn’t take me long to make, about 6 weeks. It has, however, taken me a lot longer to fall in love with it. Initially, it just sat in my wardrobe waiting for that first outing, but after a month or two I did start wearing it a little bit. Now that the weather has got a bit colder I’m wearing it a lot more and actually rather like it.
The yarn is gorgeous, it drapes beautifully being a bamboo and cotton mix. I also adore the colour combination, it’s so 1930s, and can be worn with my white, brown and navy skirts. I’d really like to find a fabric in a similar green to the yarn to make a skirt to match it, but finding that colour is proving rather difficult.
Would I make this jumper again? No probably not, although I do love the chevron striped effect. Perhaps, when I get a little more confident with my crocheting, I will be able to create my own patterns and I’d definitely like to use this effect in another piece. It was enjoyable to do such a quick garment, so I will be seeking out 1930s patterns which use 4 ply yarn rather than teeny tiny threads. Don’t even get me started on how long my current, and very fiddly, one is taking me!
Pattern: 1940s Chevron Stripe Jumper from My Vintage Wish on Etsy
Yarn: King Cole Bamboo Cotton 4ply in Coral, Verdi and White
Hook: 2mm steel hook (pattern asks for a small bone crochet hook)