Vintage Bobble Cardigan (1939)

brass and oatmeal hand knit vintage sweater

This sweater pattern is from 1939 from Vintage Knitwear for Modern Knitters (on Ravelry here). I’ve been knitting it since November and spent 93 hours from start to finish.  The yarn was from a cone of fingering weight, undyed, 50% wool 50% silk (that I also used for my fractal crochet and needlepoint heart).  When I purchased it, I thought I would dye it to some fun bright color for this sweater, but I think a nice neutral shows off the pattern beautifully and will be a good basic piece to have in my wardrobe. Overall I’m pretty happy with how the sweater turned out. My only frustration is that the buttonholes are wide and horizontal so the buttons sit at the edge of the buttonhole – I would recommend to anyone wanting to make this pattern to knit them vertically instead.

1939 vintage sweater bobble back

I discovered while knitting this sweater that I really hate knitting tons of bobbles. They are slow and since this yarn is half silk (which is not a fiber with any give), they were fussy and hard to manipulate. So I decided not to knit the bobbles on the sleeves. I actually like the contrast in textures. I also knit the sleeves in the round instead of flat which meant that I had one less seam to sew at the end (well, two since I have two arms). I also added several inches to the sleeves, which is a common adjustment for me.

vintage wool and silk sweater

Since this sweater only has buttons at the bottom, it needs a shawl stick to hold it together at top. I bought mine from Etsy sellers Nicholas and Felice and had them shorten it to 3.5″. I think it adds a fun little detail that nicely complements the rest of the sweater. I’ve never had a reason to use a shawl stick or shawl pin (as I never really wear my shawls as shawls, instead wrapping them around my neck like an overside scarf), but I think it’s a fun vintage-esque detail that I will have to keep in mind for the future.
knit sweater facing

The construction of the sweater was quite simple. It is knit with facing-front-back-front-facing all together with the front facings folded over at the end. I didn’t sew my facing down on the sides as I found that tacking them down at top and bottom and steam blocking them was plenty to keep them in place. faux chest pocket knit

The buttons were from my stash of vintage button and either were cut off of a worn garment or have been banging around for a long time since they have dents and scratches – but I thought that made them perfect for this cardigan. The chest was supposed to have small pockets on either side, but I thought that they would be too small to be functional so I made them pseudo-pockets. The pattern also has you knit the collar separately and then sew it to the sweater but I picked up and knit the collar directly from the body.

natural off white wool sweater vintage bobbles

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4 Responses to Vintage Bobble Cardigan (1939)

  1. megthegrand June 17, 2013 at 12:47 pm #

    Love your button choice and the contrast between the body and the sleeves! It turned out beautifully, and I think the nice neutral color will be a lovely staple in your wardrobe! So very well done!

  2. LLBB June 17, 2013 at 12:55 pm #

    I agree, the contrast with bobbles on the main but not sleeves is great!

  3. Bobbi June 18, 2013 at 8:22 am #

    I have that book – your sweater is much prettier than the pattern picture. The white and gold buttons look great on you.

  4. Jean June 22, 2013 at 6:16 am #

    Very cute! I love the bobble look (but I hate knitting them — such a pain!) and those buttons are perfect. How funny that you have to add inches to your sleeves — my consistent adjustment is to shorten sleeves by a few inches!