Sunday, 16 March 2014

Bestway Vintage Knitting Pattern Archive

I'm sure it will come as no surprise to any of you that I like a spot of knitting.  If you follow me on Facebook or Instagram, I'm certain you know that I have a somewhat unquenchable love of vintage patterns, especially those from the 1930s and '40s.  The storage boxes under my bed, the drawers of my dresser and the drawers of my sideboard are all testament to my hoarding habit.  Take a book from the bookshelf, and a pattern is likely to flutter to the floor! 

I haven't been particularly good at keeping an accurate record of the patterns I already have.  When we are out scouring for patterns, and the like, my Mr is always amazed that I can, just by looking at a front cover image, know, categorically, whether I have said pattern or not.  
Although I adore most of the individual patterns from the 1940's, I always find myself specifically drawn to the Bestway patterns.  I don't know what it is about them, but I am always surprised at the varying designs and clever stitches, many of which I am yet to master!  The leaflets vary in size.  Those from the late 1930's and early years of WW2 are quite large, on thickish paper that doesn't bend easily.  As war progressed, and paper shortages became an issue, the size of the patterns was decreased and there was a significant decline in the quality of the paper.  Wartime patterns are far flimsier and tear more easily, yet survive in surprisingly large numbers. 

As you would expect, I have some all time favourite patterns, all of which are on my "to knit" list :o)

Frustratingly, I can't find a single thing out about the history of the Bestway Company.  I don't know when they first started producing patterns, or when they stopped!  I know they didn't exclusively deal with knitting patterns, as I have Bestway patterns for crochet, leather work, lacework and sewing, but sadly, that is as far as my knowledge goes.  

Liza, who blogs over at The Vintage Knitter, has done a wonderful visual archive of the front covers from the 1940's Stitchcraft magazines, which you can find HERE.  As well as knitting, I love nothing more than to ogle at all the wonderful patterns that were produced in the 1940's, and so, inspired by Liza's efforts, I decided it was about time I got a grip of my own patterns. 

Not wanting to feel overwhelmed, I started out slowly, tackling just 10 patterns a day and scanning them.  This scanning lark is boring, don't you know?! :o)  Anyhoo, I have managed to work my way through my Bestway stash and have, I think, put them into number order.  

Some I know I'll never knit, nor do I ever wish to, but I collect and love them all the same.  I like the idea of a knitting pattern archive, and so have put my Bestway covers into a Flickr album that, should you fancy a butchers, you can find HERE.

Liza has kindly agreed to send me over pictures of the covers of some of her own Bestway patterns, and if you have any cover pictures that you would like to contribute, then please do get in touch. 

Ultimately, the goal is to scan and digitally store all of my patterns.  I don't have any plans to get rid of my originals, but it is safer for them to be stored away, rather than mauled by me :o)


  1. I personally have knitted the little airman doll that you posted. It's a super fun knit, but the little pieces are so fiddly. Worth it in the end, though, and definitely cute. :)

  2. I've really enjoyed looking at all of your lovely patterns, you have a fantastic collection!

  3. Your collection looks great.
    Julie xxxxxxxxxx

  4. This is a great idea, I will be taking a look and see if I have any covers to add. I love Bestway patterns too, also Weldon's and Lavenda ones from the same era. I really like the bolero and the frilly jumper, gorgeous!

  5. Lovely patterns, I've been meaning to knit one of the forces dolls for years. Must get around to it soon xx

  6. I have a long 'to knit' list too! I love all these patterns, number 4,5 and 6 are my favourite and I love the necklaces, I'd love to try and knit them. XxxX

  7. Splendid idea. I am also scanning all my vintage magazines. I love to look at them frequently and it's really not good to handle the frail originals too often. But scanning takes a lot of time if one has a large collection, sigh.