Patons Woolcraft Bicentenary Edition – Vintage Knitting/ Crochet Book

Today I wanted to do something a little different and take a look at one of the craft books in my collection. I have a fair number of books on knitting, crochet and other crafty pursuits (even macrame!), most of which are quite old because I tend to happen across them in my local charity shops (thrift shops for any¬†American readers). A lot of my library seems to predate me, being mostly from the early to mid eighties when the only thing bigger than the shoulder pads was the hair and bright colours were the norm. This example is from 1985 and it belongs to my Mum but I wanted to include it because this is the book I learned to knit from. The book in question is Patons Woolcraft (the Bicentenary edition) and this book is still being sold by Patons today¬† presumably in a slightly updated form. This edition is entirely in black and white (apart from the cover) and has 102 pages with “over 60 designs” included.

Patons Woolcraft Cover

I love this cover, the art style is just awesome!

A little history first… My Mum is an extremely accomplished knitter who can turn out those awesome Intarsia jumpers (like this one on Ravelry) in almost no time and devours even complex Aran at terrifying speeds. She sat with me, over many patient hours, trying to show me this magic trick, but for some reason I just couldn’t “get it”. After I left home, I borrowed the Patons Woolcraft book, bought some cheap and nasty DK and tried to learn. (Pro tip, don’t try to learn knitting with something that feels like a screwed up plastic bag and splits if you look at it funny) Nope. It just seemed like knitting was something I couldn’t do. At all. Ever. Anyway, fast forward a couple of years to November 2012. It was a bitterly cold winter and we were having to economise on everything because our heating bill was enormous (pre-pay meter = a special kind of sadism). I had no gifts and little money, so I pulled out a failed crochet project – which had actually caused me to snap a crochet hook in frustration – and made a mug hug in crochet, using the instructions in the book. “Aha”, said I, “Now I shall try knitting because it’s cold and I want a hat”. This time, it clicked and my first project (after a rectangle) was a hat on DPNs in chunky yarn (on Ravelry here). Imagine our mutual surprise, though, when we were both knitting and it turns out I was using the continental style even though I learned from the English instructions! My brain, honestly. To this day, even when carrying two colours I just can’t do English style, so maybe that was the problem over the years. Anyway, this is exactly what I learned from:

From these clear, instructions I somehow learned Continental instead of English knitting. Good going brain!

From these clear, instructions I somehow learned Continental instead of English knitting. Good going brain!

Mmmm, line drawings! There’s a decent stitch library too:

Patons Woolcraft Stitch Library

This is just a small selection of the stitches available for both knitting and crochet. The instructions for each stitch are nice and clear as well

And you can learn crochet with helpful photographs:

Patons Woolcraft Crochet Examples

These photographs were really helpful to me when I was starting out. I still got it wrong, but at least I could see it was wrong!

Metric, anyone?

Patons Woolcraft Mectrication

This section is really useful – the really clever bit is that you can pop a crochet hook over the drawing and it will tell you what size it is!

And finally, some of those patterns just scream “I am from the 80’s look at the huge hair!!”.


Patons Woolcraft - Dat Hair!

Cardigans! Hair! 80s!

I haven’t seen inside the newest edition of Patons Woolcraft, but it’s certainly from good pedigree and might be a nice gift for a would be yarnist in your life. I also find that it’s a good reference work, with a nice sample of stitches for knit and crochet – it even has tunisian crochet in it if you want to go a bit hard core. Some of the patterns in this edition are, of course, a little dated, but let’s face it – gloves are gloves and as far as I know the human hand hasn’t changed much since the 80s! I hope you enjoyed a little peek into this lovely retro work and I plan on making this an occasional series which will be used either when I feel the urge or, like today, when I’m feeling rough and want to look at pretty pictures.

Thanks for reading!

About Izzy Tinsley

Izzy is a yarn addict who crafts as often as she is able. You can usually find her with yarn and needles (and a nice cuppa) in the home she shares with her husband, quietly stuffing yarn into every available corner.

Share your thoughts!