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Wednesday, June 9, 2004


But of course, one of my favorite slacking activities is and will remain: Cruisin’ eBay!

The book above, KNIT TO FIT, is one of my best acquistions to date. It is by Ida Riley Duncan, who was a Professor of Home Economics @ Wayne State University in Detroit.

It cost $1.99 and is CHOCK FULL of some of the BEST information I’ve ever seen about designing knitwear.

This book was first published in 1963. Any of us with a passion for vintage knitting patterns will attest to the wonderful styles of the day.


This is my favorite vintage pattern book from 1963. Love that redheaded party girl – their table is IN THE WATER, and if they have to wear sweaters, I’ll bet there might be some RUM in that Classic Coke coolin’ in the drink! The guy is such a stud dork as well – smokin’ IN one shot and wearin’ a LIME GREEN MOHAIR sweater in the other! I’m in LOVE!!!

Amazing how Coca Cola was working it’s tail off even back then for those product placements in other companies’ advertising. WEIRD! I thought it was only in the movies…

Ahem, back to Ida Riley Duncan! What sets those wonderful designs from the 60’s apart from, hmmmm, let’s say the 80’s, is that they were designed to really flatter the body – THEY FIT!

In this book, Duncan writes, “KNIT TO FIT comprises the material… from my Progressive School of Knit Design, as well as other pertinent information.” HOORAY, Ida! A textbook for me to roam at will and find out these among other things:

Chapters on Diagramming and Charting the back of a cardigan to the armhole – Duncan walks you through the entire design process

Shaping of the Armhole, or ARMSCYE!

How to Shape Shoulders


Fronts of Sweaters: Bands, Zippers, Pockets – both positions and type!

Sweaters and Blouses Using Lace Stitches

I’M OUTTA CONTROL HERE: there’s even a chapter on Operating a Knit Shop!

This is a university level textbook! And I’m it’s favorite student from today on…

Ida SPEAKS: “Just as in the construction of a beautiful piece of architecture, there are principles which may be followed for correct shaping. Simple diagrams are all that are needed. The Stitch Gauge (Chap. 4) and How to Take Measurements for Knits (Chap. 3) are very important. Once these are understood, there’ll be no cupping of skirts or too-tight garments across the bust, and you will realize that with correct styling, anyone can wear and be very smart in a knit.”

10 responses to “Wednesday, June 9, 2004”

  1. shobhana says:

    ‘knit to fit’ is one of my favorite books. she has another book that’s really good. i think it’s called ‘the book of of progessive knitting’. or something like that.

  2. Ruth in Houston says:

    Wow what a great book…. maybe I’ll find one in a used bookshop? Wouldn’t that be great.

  3. Rose says:

    ACK!!!!! I have that Spinnerin Book! I LOVE that one… My mum gave that to me just a few months ago, along with some vintage Japanese pattern books.

    Ah, those were the days.

  4. Annhb says:

    I too like her “prog knitting” book – but Barbara Walker’s “Knitting from the Top” tops them all hands down!

  5. froggy says:

    wow, great find. i’ll have to be on the lookout for that book.

  6. Patti says:

    I have Progressive Knitting, in fact 2, one for home and one for our boat. There are many different printings of this book, so if you are looking for one, make sure you get one with the wonderful chapter on socks. We consult Ida all the time in our knitting group and have for more than 10yrs. There is alot of fit stuff in Ida, also, but I am going to keep my eye out for Knit to Fit. A friend had a number of different editions-at least 6. She was a fanatic, but I always look for Ida when I am in a used book store; I never know when someone will need her.

  7. Allison says:

    Bonne Marie can I just tell you that one of the best sewing resources I have is the book I bought used that was printed in the 50’s (plus it has reallly funny illustrations)! I’ve been on the look out for a book like this one for knitting too! Thanks for posting the title I’ll have to see if I can find a copy:)

  8. cristina says:

    i have a million spinnerin books and almost never look through contemporary patterns anymore because almost anything designed 40-60 years ago fits me better than anything designed today! Thanks for bringing these classic publications to everyone’s attention, bonne!

  9. Rachael says:

    Enabler, you. Just alibris’ed the Knit to Fit book. Can’t wait. And thanks!

  10. Julia says:

    Hi – I love her “The Complete Book of Progressive Knitting,” circa 1940. It sounds like the techniques are similar as in the “Knit to Fit” book. I also scored my book it on Ebay. Ida Duncan Riley is one of those knitting geniuses that has been unappreciated for too long!

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