Monday, 8 September 2014

Tying on Some Knitting

A few days ago when I was searching for shares for my Facebook page, I came across this image. It's from the 1964 Sears catalogue. Just think, if you'd been a knitter back in 1964, this snazzy apron could have been yours, in your choice of red or aqua, for a mere $1.98. A few years back when I was at Fabriclands and browsing through their pattern catalogues, I came across a pattern for a scrapbooking apron, about which I joked with a friend who, like me, does not get the whole scrapbooking thing. But I never knew knitting aprons existed. The googling I did to try and track down some info about this ad led to my discovery that knitting aprons are actually a thing.

This illustration of and directions for making a knitting apron come from the May 1860 issue of Peterson's Magazine, which seems to have been a publication similar to Godey's Lady's Book in that it included fashion illustrations or "fashion plates" which women could use to plan their wardrobes for the coming season. I can understand why a nineteenth century housekeeper, who would have worn an apron half the time anyway, would find this a useful item. Such an apron must have been a good way of keeping one's knitting handy for those spare moments while one waited for bread to bake or while the baby napped.

Here's a vintage knitting apron that was listed on Etsy and has been sold. I can't find out how old it is, but am guessing it dates from the mid-twentieth century, say somewhere between 1930 to 1960. It reminds me a lot of an apron my grandmother used to have, which had an clothesline, clothes, and basket of laundry and clothespins depicted on it in a similar style of embroidery. Naturally Grandma Swan wore it only for hanging the wash up on the clothesline in the back yard. What else could she have worn it for? And what else could this apron be for but for knitting? Having the yarn come out of the centre of the embroidered yarn ball is very witty if a little impractical. It always amuses me to come across vintage or historical references to the fact that knitters have been fending cats away from their yarn for probably as long as knitting as existed.

There are knitting aprons available for sale these days, though they are handmade rather than mass produced. The one above is made by Etsy vendor KoalaCaddie, and is convertible from apron to bag and back again. It's a pretty clever idea, and you have the option of special ordering it from KoalaCaddie in a variety of cute fabrics, or, if you sew, whipping one up for yourself.

I can't see myself wearing a knitting apron, as I never wear aprons and wouldn't care to begin in order wear my knitting around the house. I generally will only knit during phone calls and while watching TV in the evening, and I can just fetch my knitting for that, though we were still living in the era of corded phones, I might feel differently. For me, knitting aprons are like yarn bowls — an interesting curiosity, though not logistically compatible with how I personally knit. But perhaps they will work for you.


  1. OMG! My mom had the red "knitter's apron" from that ad and it came to me in a bunch of miscellaneous "stuff". I had no idea it was anything but an apron with pockets. I may still have it around here somewhere. Probably worth a bazillion bucks on eBay. Or not. (But it's nice to know something about the item!)

  2. Jane Brocket made a linen one in The Gentle Art of Domesticity...I wouldn't put so much work into something that's only going to get dirty?!

  3. Lynda you think you could draft a pattern or post a tutorial for your red apron? email me thanks!

  4. White aprons were used in the 19th century to protect the sewing project from the dress, and the dress from the sewing project. It was probably the same for knitting aprons.