Guest post: Top 10 free 1940s knitting patterns from the Vintage Pattern Files

I’m excited to share a great guest post with you today for Knit for Victory!

Wendy is a talented knitting and sewing blogger from the Butterfly Balcony, (hello, look at this amazing outfit she sewed for Fall for Cotton), she was one of my Victory test knitters, and she’s the brains behind the hugely helpful vintage knitting, sewing and crochet pattern database, The Vintage Pattern Files. A woman of many creative hats to say the least!

It’s that last connection that brings Wendy here today. Read on below for her Top Ten list of free 1940s knitting patterns!

Top 10 free 1940s patterns from Wendy of The Vintage Pattern Files


Hello my name is Wendy, I run The Vintage Pattern Files, a link library of vintage knitting, crochet and sewing patterns scattered across the web. Tasha very kindly asked me to pop by today to give you all a bit of ‘Knit for Victory’ inspiration with a list of the Top 10 Free 1940’s knitting patterns linked on my site. I have tried to pick a good cross section of patterns so that there is something in the list to suit everyone, no matter what your experience level. I have also listed beneath each pattern, the size, the yarn weight & the stitches you will find within the pattern (with links to tutorials where I think it will be helpful) to hopefully make it easier for you to decide from the get-go if it is the pattern for you!So without further delay lets start the count down!

At No.10 we have a one of the most popular patterns on my site, with 3000+ views and counting:


Apricot Leaf with Feather Border Counterpane
Modern Knitting Illustrated 1940’s
Size / Yarn: Free Size – Any yarn with any size needle you like.
Knitty Knowledge: Knit, Purl, YO, K2Tog, S1 K1 PSSO.

“This beautiful counterpane has retained its loveliness after a century of use”

Although published in the 1940’s the pattern actually dates from about 150 years earlier, making it a vintage pattern even during the war! This is one I have knitted myself and know that once you get into the rhythm of the pattern the squares are really quite quick to knit up. Make up a few squares for a cushion, a few more for a cot quilt, or even more for a blanket, it’s the perfect project for using up left over yarn!

No. 9 is a modern take on a classic 40’s design:

Quick Knit Twisted Rib Sweater
by Wendy Harman of Flossy and Dossy
Size / Yarn: 32″-36″ Bust / 300g Aran weight Yarn
Knitty Knowledge: Knit, Purl & Right Twisted Rib Stitch

Not a strictly vintage 40’s pattern, but one certainly worthy of a place in the Top 10, here’s what the designer Wendy Harman has to say about her Quick Knit Sweater.

I wanted to design a 40’s style knit but on bigger needles with thicker yarn, Something you can rustle up in no time, whilst waiting for the cup cakes to bake. The twisted rib pattern could easily be substituted for any other rib pattern and is very flattering to all shapes and sizes.

A quick knit which uses thicker yarn and has all the classic 40’s styling, Yes please!

No.8 in our Top 10 is a very fun little pattern:

Hooded Scarf (with Parker)
The Australian Women’s Weekly Knitting Book for Adults 1944
Size / Yarn: Should Fit all / 4 ply yarn
Knitty Knowledge: Knit & Purl (knitted in K1,P1 rib)

 What is cuter than a pixie hood with curls peeking out! Kindly reproduced by the lovely Bex who blogs over at Subversive Femme, this little hooded scarf would make a great beginners project – for those who are up to knitting 40″ or so of K1, P1 rib that is, though I am sure it will be worth it for such a snazzy little hood!

At No. 7 we have another classic wartime garment:


Coloured Snood
Modern Knitting Illustrated 1940’s
Size / Yarn: Knitted on size 0 UK (11 USA) needles with 4 ply wool or crochet cotton
Knitty Knowledge: Knit, Purl & Blackberry Stitch

You will also need to know a little bit of crochet, SC (the pattern actually calls for a DC which I found was just too chunky) around the edges to encase the elastic!

This is yet another treat from Bex over at Subversive Femme, this time it’s a stunning little snood. Knitted in blackberry stitch (also called raspberry stitch) on extra large needles which means that the 14″ needed to complete it will knit up really quickly, and what could be more emblematic of the war effort than a hair-protecting snood!

No.6 in our list is perfect for keeping up the glamour in the cooler weather:


Angora Hat & Muff
Size / Yarn: One size / Angora fingering yarn or Mohair. You will also need some wadding and taffeta for lining the muff & perhaps a fancy brooch for the hat
Knitty Knowledge: Knit, Purl & a little basic sewing

This pattern was kindly reproduced by Mar at Bramcost Publications who wrote this about it and I think it says it all!

This pattern was originally knit in black angora, but you can choose any color and angora-type yarn you like. The hat can be worn with the point in front or back and the muff can be finished with a brightly colored silk flower or other finding. This pattern is truly from wartime 1940’s, as it states that you can “while away those tedious black out hours in making it.”

On to No.5 and this spot goes to a coupon saving knit:


Economy Checked Jumper
Cronit Home Craft Economy 1940’s
Size / Yarn: 34″ Bust / 3 or 4 ply yarn
Knitty Knowledge: Knit, Purl, Moss Stitch, K2Tog, Make 1

“Many knitters find their work baskets fill up with odds and ends of wool left over from earlier projects. If this is the case with you and you thought there was no possible use for them, Think again!”

The jumper consists of a panel made from five 18″ strips of alternating Moss Stitch and Lace squares, to be knitted in various shades of yarn. The pattern advises using one of the colours used in the squares for the yoke, side panels and sleeves to create continuity. This is really a stash buster project, designed to use up all the left over or reclaimed yarn from other projects, really embodying the make do and mend spirit of the era.

At No.4 we have a cardigan which is sure to get you noticed!

The Date Maker
Columbia Style Book vol. 108 1946
Size / Yarn: 32-34″ / Worsted weight or DK yarn
Knitty Knowledge: Knit, Purl & a little crochet to cover the buckle – though you could leave it off

“There’s a lot of uplift…good lines and cause for admiration in this definitely new version of your sport jacket”

For this pattern you need look no further than this very blog as it was kindly shared by Tasha a few years ago. Since then it has become very popular and there are many gorgeous versions on Ravelry to prove it! This is another pattern like the Twisted Rib Sweater at No.9, which uses thicker yarns, meaning compared to its 4ply counterparts this would be a relatively quick and easy knit!

At No.3 we have something for the boys, well wouldn’t want to be too selfish now would we!

Fair Isle Pullover
Taken from 1947 Stitchchraft
Size / Yarn: 35-37″, 37-39″ Chest / 5 different shades of 4 ply yarn
Knitty Knowledge: Knit, Purl, Pick up stitches & How to do knit with 2 colours

It was kindly shared by the picture perfect Tickety Boo Tupney, and nothing says 1940’s dapper chap than a funky fair isle! This is a perfect pattern for those new to colour work as you never use more than 2 colours at one time and the pattern is a very simple one. I knitted this for my Dad last year and was surprised how easy it was to do. I converted mine to knit on the round which made the colour work much more fun as there are much fewer tricky purl rows!

No.2 spot goes to another 40’s girl staple:

Knit yourself a Turban
From a 1940’s edition of Home Chat
Size / Yarn: Any Size / 4ply yarn, but you could easily use any weight yarn you fancy.
Knitty Knowledge: Knit & Purl – Another great beginners project!

This pattern was reproduced by the lovely Lucy from 1940’s Style for You! Now I may be biased, as Lucy knitted me one for a Christmas swap last year, but this is really gorgeous pattern which holds its shape beautifully and is just the thing for those bad hair moments or keeping those pin curls in place whilst you go about your day, and it’s perfect for this time of year as wearing it will always ensure you have nice warm ears!

At No.1 we have the very patriotic:

Your Victory Jumper
From Home Notes 2nd June 1945
Size / Yarn: 32-34″ bust / 3 ply yarn or swap for some modern 4 ply.
Knitty Knowledge: Knit, Purl, S1 K1 PSSO, K2Tog, YO (wool forward) & pick up stitches

Reproduced as part of the Victoria & Albert Museums Knitting Archive, this is one of the most viewed patterns linked on my site, with 4000+ views so far. It’s even got 70 projects listed on Ravelry! It’s little wonder really, as it’s quite a beauty, and what could be more fitting a knit for Knit For Victory! The Wavy lace pattern looks very intricate but is in fact deceptively easy, and I am told that once you have the hang of it, it’s no more taxing than plain stocking stitch!

So there you have my Top 10 Free 1940’s knitting patterns. I hope you enjoyed the count down and that it has given those of you still deciding what project to choose a little food for thought.

Happy Knitting everyone!


Thank you so much Wendy for this fantastic Top Ten list! And with this post I have several more projects to add to my knitting queue, don’t you??

Make sure you check out The Vintage Pattern Files regularly for more great vintage knitting, crochet and sewing patterns!

Filed: Free Patterns, Knit-alongs, Knitting

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