A decade ago, Debbie Stoller, the co-founder and editor-in-chief of “Bust” magazine, published the first of her Stitch ’n Bitch knitting books and made knitting cool again. Since then, it seems like almost every woman my age knits (and many men), mostly making scarf after beautiful scarf—and the occasional baby blanket for a shower. However, not a single knitter I know has found the time to make a sweater, let alone a skirt or pair of pants. And matching sweaters for the whole family? Forget about it!
“The newfound thrill of androgyny led to catalogs filled with couples in matching outfits. Did any couple actually wear such things in public?”
However, if you browse through vintage knitting and crocheting patterns from the 1970s on eBay or Etsy, you get a sense it was a very different era. Like the 2000s, people in the 1970s wanted to get back to nature and old-timey hobbies—but they didn’t have the Internet, smartphones, or even cable TV to consume hours and hours of their time. Pretty much anything, from bellbottoms to bikinis to bow ties, could be whipped up with enough yarn and determined clacking of needles. Every fall and winter, in the days before climate change set in, people were very concerned about keeping warm any way possible, even if it meant very silly hats, scary ski masks, or ridiculous collars. And if you wore a cardigan, you had to button that sucker up. The newfound thrill of androgyny led to catalogs filled with couples in matching outfits. Did any couple actually wear such things in public? And whatever happened to the knitted vest? In the ’70s, vests for both men and women were ubiquitous.
Once you finished your yarn masterpieces and dressed your family and friends, you had to go find some horses to pet, of course. If no horses were available, a sailing trip or a retreat to a rustic mountain cabin would have to do. Click through our slideshow above to see all the weird and wonderful garments people in the late 20th century made with yarn.