Historical Knits & Crafts, Holiday Knits & Crafts

World War I knits—the annual free pattern post!

It’s my four-year blogiversary, and even though I an swamped with work, I can’t forgot my annual tradition of sharing WWI era knitting patterns! Since I started this blog on 11/11/11, which is Veteran’s Day in the US and Remembrance Day in Canada and the UK, I have been sharing patterns from my 1918 copy of Fleisher’s Knitting and Crocheting Manual (16th edition).


For previously posted free patterns and instructions on needle size, yarn, and gauge, please see the posts from 2012, 2013, and 2014.  And now onto the pattern book!

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(things I love about this introduction: all service wear has been “approved by competent authorities”; scarves are apparently “growing in favor,” and US knitters and crocheters are collectively known as “yarn users of America.”)

First, up: The Red Cross Afghan.

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This is a crochet pattern, which I suppose makes sense, given the heft of blankets. But note that cross here is done in “khaki” yarn, not white!

Somerset Afghan

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Another crochet afghan, but this one has an intriguing colorwork design. Is it some sort of leaf or vine? I’m not sure, but part of me wonders if it could be adapted into a nice knitting colorwork pattern as well.

Woman’s Glove

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I love the little details on this glove, especially the cable. Of course I doubt I’d attempt these, as I’ve never made gloves and these patterns are often a bit vague on the details.

Savoy Sweater

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Look at this long full coat! I don’t even want to imagine how long with would take me. I’d at least ditch the belt. I do like the pleats though.

Pauline Sweater2015-11-11 16.33.49

2015-11-11 16.33.59This is a child’s crochet sweater, but I’d rather like it in a grown up size. I think the off center buttons are such a nice touch.

Bernadetta Scarf2015-11-11 16.35.35I think this might be more accurately labeled a shawl due to its size, but it’s hard to see the full shape from this photo. Nevertheless: what a lovely chevron piece!

Miscellaneous stitches 

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I complain a lot about the vague directions and unclear photos in this book, but it reality these is a little section that’s part stitch dictionary and part closeups of stitches used in the patterns. (I still don’t know what “narrow” means as a stitch though…)

Hope these World War I era patterns are useful to you!

p.s. I still wear the red crochet poppy I shared in my very first post:

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Historical Knits & Crafts, Holiday Knits & Crafts

Remembrance Knits: Cardigan Sweaters from The Great War

Three years ago—on November 11, the anniversary of World War I’s end—I started this blog. Every year since, on what is known as Veteran’s Day in the U.S. and Remembrance Day in the Commonwealth, I have shared free knitting and crochet patterns from my thrifted 1918 copy of Fleisher’s Knitting and Crocheting Manual (16th edition), which dates to the era of the Great War. (Check out the 2012 post and the 2013 post for more patterns.)

I’m continuing the tradition this year with a special post of all cardigan sweater patterns. There’s a little something for everyone—knitting and crochet, children’s and adult’s sizes. I decided to share all sweater patterns partly because it’s National Knit a Sweater Month, and partly because I have finally seen what one of these 100-year-old sweaters looks like in color! Way back in February, Cassandra of Knit the Hell Out knit the Pensacola Sweater from this knitting manual (You can read about why she made it and how she interpreted the pattern here). You should really check it out!

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Sweaters are inspiring me this year. So without further ado: this year’s free knitting patterns!

Bobby Sweater and Rosemary Sweater (knit)


Have some little ones? Then check out these adorable mini cardigans for children. Like most of these patterns, there are no sizes listed. The “Germantown Zephyr” yarn was a probably a DK or worsted weight yarn and a ladies vest took about 6 balls to make, if that helps. As the Bobby Sweater requires only 4 balls, I would guess it’s probably more of a toddler size, and the Rosemary Sweater at 8 balls was probably intended for preschool to early elementary school age children, but again, it’s hard to say.

I love the simplicity of Bobby—only 3 big buttons!  But I also love the details on the Rosemary, with its fun collar, interesting stitch pattern, and off center row of buttons.

Athol Sweater (knit)


Who can say no to Angora cuffs? Ok, that’s not really the biggest appeal of this women’s cardigan to me. What I like about Athol is the stitch pattern, which looks easy enough but is eye-catching with its ribs and ridges. I also really appreciate that sweater model is making use of those pockets.


Athol also comes with a handy schematic of for sweater construction. It looks pretty straightforward—back, set in sleeves, two front pieces. (Guess you’re on your own for attaching the collar.)

Northwoods Sweater (crochet)


One of the interesting things about this Fleisher’s Manual is how many crochet patterns it had. Northwoods is a boy’s cardigan done in crochet with a worsted weight wool yarn. I think every detail of this sweater is nicely done—the pockets, the cuffs, the shawl collar.

While I’m not sure what size it is, this patterns also comes with a schematic for how to piece it together. Once you have swatched to get gauge, you could figure out approximately what size you will end up with.


P.S. There is also a man’s version of this sweater, but it’s missing pockets! Why?? I don’t know, but it just didn’t look as nice as the boys version.

Man’s Sweater (crochet)EPSON MFP image

So instead of sharing the adult Northwoods, I thought I’d share the creatively named “Man’s Sweater.” Man’s is also crochet— not exactly a common phenomenon for men’s cardigans! (I looked on ravlery for crochet men’s cardigans and there are like, six total.) I think the upper pockets are a bit ridiculous (and I swear they are not lined up properly in the photo) but I like the button collar and the overall construction looks very pleasing.

Hope you enjoyed this year’s 1918 patterns! I promise to have some of my own knitting posted soon.



Historical Knits & Crafts

Blogiversary Special: More (free!) 1918 Knitting Patterns

Knitbyahenshop turns two today! Starting my blog on Veteran’s Day (and on 11/11/11) makes this a fairly easy date to remember. In honor of both things, I’m posting more free patterns from my 1918 copy of Fleisher’s Knitting and Crocheting Manual. This time, I’m posting patterns for a blanket, several kinds of men’s “service wear,” and two children’s patterns. There’s both knitting and crochet to be found too. Enjoy!

(For last year’s free World War I era patterns, which include women’s sweaters, women’s hats, and men’s service wear, see my “Knitting for Victory” post.)



As I indicated in last year’s post, most of these patterns will take some interpretation and creativity if you want to make them—a lot of the descriptions assume you know the basics of knit and crochet, and needle and yarn sizes many not match contemporary ones. But this blanket pattern looks pretty self explanatory to me:

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The man modeling Service Sweater Type B  looks rather unhappy in this photo, but I really like the construction of this pattern—especially the three pockets. Very practical indeed.

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There’s a pattern for his hat too! I like this photo much better. The pattern here looks quite doable to me, pretty straightforward hat construction.

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I have been knitting socks recently (still a work in progress) so I was curious about what sock pattern was considered standard in 1918. Looks like it was a top down sock with a gusset heel. If you are quite familiar with sock construction I bet this pattern would be fine, but the directions are a little vague so I don’t think it would be good for a beginner.


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Children’s Sweaters

Here’s a little crochet for you! I love the color pattern banding on this Dorothea Sweater. The collar looks especially fun. Too bad it doesn’t say what colors were used in the original!

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I also love the collar detail on this Pearl Sweater. Again, apparently there are two colors used here but I can’t tell what they would be. It looks like three quarter length sleeves to me, but it’s hard to tell from the photo.

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These should help you if you want to actually make these patterns:

Fleisher's needle sizes
Fleisher’s needle sizes
Fleisher's yarn descriptions
Fleisher’s yarn descriptions

As always, let me know if you make anything using these patterns, I’d love to see it!

Historical Knits & Crafts

Knitting for Victory! (free knitting patterns included!)

knitting and history

[UPDATE: I posted even more patterns from this historic knitting book here in 2013!]

Today is Veterans Day and it is also the 1 year anniversary of when I started this blog. So this post will combine two things I love: history and knitting. With free historic knitting patterns, no less!

As I wrote about in my very first post, what we in the United States call Veterans Day is known to Europe, Canada and most of the world as Remembrance Day. This year we’ll observe the holiday on Monday, but the actual date is the eleventh because Nov. 11 1918 was Armistice day—the day that World War I ended. The United States lost maybe about 100,000 or so soldiers in the Great War. European countries lost millions.

The  Great War, as it was then known, started in 1914, but the U.S. did not join until 1917. During the years the U.S. was at war, the government and other support organizations asked Americans to help the war effort. One of the ways they were asked to contribute? Knitting!

Socks were important in bad weather and trench warfare situations. Sweaters, wristlets, scarves and hats were also in demand. This website does a pretty good job of explaining some of the history about the wartime knitting effort if you want to know the details. I noticed that the article on the website cites a book called No Idle Hands: The Social History of American Knitting, if you want to know even more about knitting history.

Even though I knew about the knitting aspect of WWI, I never really thought much of it. That is, until I came across this book for $2 at my local thrift store:

I knew it was old when I first picked it up, but I was shocked when I discovered that it was from 1918!  What a find! The very first section of the book is all patterns to knit for soldiers. The rest of the book includes a bunch of crocheting and knitting patterns. Some of the patterns will probably never be fashionable again, but many of them are still rather stylish by today’s standards. And from what I can tell, they’re no longer in copyright. So without further ado, I present to you my favorite knitting patterns from 1918!

1918 knitting patterns

First off, of course, is “service wear,” or knitting patterns for soliders. Most of these are so basic as to barely need a pattern (like the garter stitch scarf). But a few caught my attention.


First of all—look at those illustrations behind the model! As for the pattern itself, this looks thoroughly practical—it covers your head and a lot of your face, and has the scarf like parts to keep the rest of you warm. Also, it goes well with a hat.

Service Sweater Type ‘C’

Once again, the illustration really catches my eye. But I also like this design—a cardigan with three pockets, which I feel like I haven’t really seen before. This pattern also has this paragraph underneath it which begins with the sentence “Since 1914 The Fleisher Yarns have been in active service on the battlefields of Europe.”

Meta and Dexter caps

Ok, I know what your thinking—the names of these hats have certain pop culture associations now that they certainly never intended! Nevertheless, I think these hats could be conceived as fashionable today, though maybe minus the crazy huge bow on “meta.” Pretty much all of the hats in the book are crocheted, and these are no exception.

Marcelona Jacket

I was surprised at just how many crochet patterns I actually liked in this book. Normally I don’t care as much for its appearance and thickness, but I think it works with this jacket. I also like the wrap around effect.

Rivoli Sweater

This is probably my favorite of all the knit sweater patterns. It’s a fairly simple pattern but I love the overall effect. I’m not sure why this pattern has a separate page for the construction and dimensions of the sweater, because few of the patterns have this diagram. But it looks helpful.

Pensacola sweater

This is my other favorite sweater pattern. I really like the fit and the way the buttons are placed. I also like the idea of the cuffs, even though I’m not sure if I would use angora for them. I’m also not exactly sure how the snaps are incorporated.

EDIT: You can now see what this sweater looks like when made by a modern day knitter! Check out this post at knitthehellout. For more knitting details, see Cassy’s ravelry project page for Pensacola.

I really hope that I will have the chance to attempt one of these patterns someday! More than that, I hope that others out there can use these patterns to make something. Reading through the directions, I realize that there are some hurdles to actually re-creating these garments for yourself. The first is that there is only one size given for each pattern, and there’s not a lot of info on the finished dimensions (except on the rivoli sweater). The second is trying to figure out needle sizes and yarn types and amounts. There is a kind of visual knitting gauge in the book that I’m posting below because it seems helpful, and there is a list of the kinds of yarns and some descriptions that is less helpful:

One thing the patterns do provide? Gauge. I think that if you used the gauge, figured out a relatively similar yarn type by comparing it to the list, and then overestimated the yardage it would take, I think it would be possible. If anyone wants to try these patterns, I’d love to hear how they turn out!


Food & Garden

Day of Thanks

Pilgrims! etc.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Being in a house with TV today, I woke up this morning to watch the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade. I was still a little sleepy but one of the the first  floats I saw, I swear, was a turkey surrounded by Pilgrims and  Avril Lavegne lipsynching. Yay weird American traditions!  Sometimes I think humor is the only way to handle the sort gross missrepresentation of American history one sees around this holiday. This image below, for example, made me chuckle:

Of course, there are always exceptions—last Thansksgiving, the NY Times has an excellent article by Jill Lepore on what life was really like for Ben Franklin—as compared to his sister Jane. Really fascinating stuff from a historian I admire.

Our bountiful table    thanksgiving1

Thanksgiving was a small but good one . I threw these decorations together at the last minute with other decorations my mom had and some leaves from outside. I was thinking that I wish I had brought my knitted pumpkins from my apartment—they would have fit right in:

I used this ravelry pattern, but after I made them I came across a ton of others that were even more elaborate. I’m pretty happy with how these turned out, though I never did get around to using thread to make the different sections. I bet it could be modified to make a gourd too. The best thing about these pumpkins is that you can use up small bits of really cool looking yarn that you have left over.

What I did “craft” to put on the table this holiday was the dessert. For some reason I wanted to make a tart. A lemon tart, specifically. And this turned out to be a lot more work than I bargined for

I used a Martha Stewart recipe for a caramelized lemon tart. While making the crust recipe  I discovered two things. 1. The tart pan I was had a raised bottom but not a removable one. The first time I tried to make a crust in this, it was a disaster, bubbling in the center and with no edges. But thankfully I discovered 2. The recipe was made for a much larger tart pan, so I had enough to do a second, improved crust:

Then I made the filling—squeezing 6 lemons and separating a dozen yokes from whites took forever, as did cooking it. I was in a hurry at this point, so the photo is pretty blurry.

But finally, I got to the really fun part: caramelizing the top. There was a brief moment where it looked like we were out of sugar (!) but it turned out okay because there was some left in the sugar bowl on the table. I used the broiler to get it to brown. Again, I wish I’d put on more and taken more time to do this, but the results were delicious.

I’m really pleased with the effect—the crunchy caramelized top is a great contrast with the smooth tangy lemon filling. But seriously: so much work!

Quick Knits & Crafts

11/11/11, make a wish!

My No. 1 post

Flanders Poppy
Crochet Poppy
crochet poppy

I’ve been debating about whether to start a blog for a while. I figured I’d probably get around to it at the end of this week, maybe Friday. Then I realized: Not only is Friday Veterans Day. Friday is Nov. 11, 2011.


Sounds like as good a date as any to start something. 🙂

. This article tells me people are planing to do quirky things to celebrate the weird date. Of course, this other article says other people are freaking out that the world is going to end (but then again, isn’t someone always freaking out about Armageddon?).

So. A blog. Yes.

Questions you might be asking yourself if you are here:

Ok you probably aren’t asking any questions. But I will ask some for you.

Q: Why is this blog called knitbyahenshop?

A: Great question. Several answers:

First and foremost it is an anagram, and I love anagrams. (if you don’t know what it is an anagram of, think about who is typing this:)

Second, its a completely made up phrase that sounds like it should actual exist. Like, oh, yes, knit by a hen shop. Isn’t that a yarn store? Er, a craft studio? It’s run by a lady?

Yes. Sort of. (google these words and you’ll see what I mean)

Third, and perhaps most important, no one else out there seems to be using this phrase or handle or what have you besides me. Yay! I’m a unique snowflake on teh internets! I will adopt this nonsensical moniker and people will know me!

Q: What do you blog about?

A: I don’t know yet, but I hope that it will include creative adventures like knitting and other craft-ish stuff, vegetable gardening haps and mishaps,  historical tidbits that I swear will be interesting even if you’re not into history, and anything else I feel like putting here.

Q: Do you have some sort of adorable animal that you can post cute pics of?

A: Of course I do! This is the internet!

A bit of light, furry reading.

This is Josephine, but mostly I call her Jo. Her hobbies include drinking from the shower, stealing socks from the drawer, and rubbing her face on men’s beards. She likes you even though she has not met you, because for some reason that is how she rolls. She’s a people cat.

Q: So, do you have something knitted to share or what?

A: Finished objects are harder to come by these days, and I don’t want to post any gifts that haven’t been delivered yet. But I do have a few.

[Edit: the Crochet Poppy above is my own pattern, but I never wrote it down!]

Aviator baby hat and booties

aviator hat

I made this aviator hat the night before my cousin Marie’s baby shower, while listening to Tina Fey’s Bossypants on audiobook. I had never done any baby knitting before, but it turns out to be exactly what you expect: knitting things in tiny sizes. I really liked the short row shaping for this hat. I’m also really impressed that the ravelry pattern comes with directions for three different yarn weights and six different sizes! I think the biggest would actually fit my head, so I might have to make myself one someday. Only tricky part was picking up stitches for the straps, but I think that’s because I knit left handed and it made semi-confusing directions completely backwards until I figured out to flip them.

baby booties

These baby booties are pretty basic, which is what I wanted. I picked this multicolored yarn to match Kaleb’s nursery theme (night sky with sun moon and stars), so I wanted a simple pattern. I actually made them first. Sewing them up was a bit of a pain, but I’m just impatient when I finish knitting and have to sew a seam. This also involved some short row shaping, which I’m starting to really like. I only wish I’d gone down one size—my loose gauge is always causing me problems with size. But overall I like them.

On a final note

This post has gone on far longer than I intended, but I have to say one thing about the poppy. I posted the poppy photo because I’ve meet a lot of people who don’t know why poppies and Veterans Day go together.

What we in the United States call Veterans Day is known to Europe, Canada and most of the world as Remembrance Day. Nov. 11 1918 was Armistice day, the day that World War I ended. While the United States lost maybe about 100,000 or so soldiers in the Great War, European countries lost millions. Its estimated that France and the United Kingdom lost 30-40% of their young male population—in a few short  years, a whole generation was cut in half.

One of the ironies of the war is that in the midst of the disturbed earth from trench warfare and the graves of so many casualties, poppies bloomed more beautiful than ever. There’s a famous WWI poem “In Flanders Fields” that came to symbolize the experience of that war for many, and the red poppy remains the icon of Rememberence Day.

It never seemed to have caught on in the States—but I kind of wish it would.