Yarn Bombs: In the '70s, Knitting Was Totally Far Out

October 1st, 2014


The most dapper of dandies were happy to wear the same sort of tiny sweater vests as their wives.


The most dapper of dandies were happy to wear the same sort of tiny sweater vests as their wives.


Progressive guys could also wear the same long vests as their girlfriends.

knit ponchos lead

In the era of caftans, ponchos were all the rage.


Man talk: Can a guy wear a poncho? Of course.


When you're making a classy cardigan, use that extra yarn to make a dapper little bow tie. Then, complete your sophisticated look with a beret.


Her coat collar is so crazy, she has to dance about it.


Colorful machine-knit fun for the whole family, circa 1975.


If you aren't tired of crocheting after making this chevron tunic coat, then go on to the matching hat.


Every sexy professor needs a cravat and a thick, cable-knit cardigan.


It's not enough to knit an image into your sweater in primary colors. If you want people to think you swiped it from your kid's closet, make it small and tight. High-waisted mom jeans are a must.


In the '70s, it was cool for young women to dress like modest grannies because senior citizens hardly ever appeared in knitting pattern books.


Or, you could take leftover "granny squares" and turn them into a skimpy and psychedelic halter top.


Vaguely ethnic looking sweaters were popular, too.


And a prissy pink sweater gets sassier with Princess Leia hair buns.


"I made this dress myself." "Classy! What's the pattern called?" "Uhhh ... Fuzzy-Wuzzy."


So many hats to make, so little time.


Keep your face warm and frighten dogs and small children in the process.


Babies look like ballers in knitted footie pajamas.


Or in tiny sweaters just like Dad's.


"Kids! Do you know how many hours I put into those sweaters?? Put that paint down now!"


This mom is so mean she not only dressed her child in a long homemade vest, she made the kid wear school supplies in a neck pouch.


Of course, this handmade pouch Mom spent hours working on may have brought on even worse schoolyard taunting.


The original hoodie, horse not included.


These crochet sweater vests are just for the guys in this household.


In the '70s, stylish dudes knew a nice leather belt could give a turtleneck that extra something.


Mustard, plum, and olive green were the colors of the day.


Foxy men knew how to rock cardigans and mustaches.


Looking smart with coordinating turtleneck and cardigan combo.


This woman takes your sweater set, and ups you with a matching skirt.


Sweater set? Who needs it when you can knit these awesome bellbottoms to match your kid's button-down sweater.


Have you ever considered knitting a one-piece swimsuit?


What about crocheting a yarn bikini?


Or just a belly-bearing crop top.


Whatever you do, remember: Vests are fierce.


Are these the best vests ever knitted? No doubt.

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, 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.

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9 comments so far

  1. peggy schneider Says:


  2. cath Says:

    I actually like fuzzy-wuzzy.

  3. Jan Smith Says:

    There are sweater styles in every decade that many people wouldn’t wear. Why call some of these “bombs”? I love the good and the “bad.”

  4. Laura Says:

    Some of these are just awesome! In different colours some others could be just as amazing. Ponchos are huge again this Autumn/Winter.

  5. Marilyn Says:

    What freaks me out are the toe reinforced pantyhose with sandals! YIKES!

  6. Adri H. Says:

    I like knitting sweaters (as in I’m currently in the process of making one for my mom). I like knitting them more than any other item to be honest. :) And, I guess because I’m in a local SnB, my friends also like knitting sweaters. None of us are into knitting pants, admittedly, or making matchy-matchy stuff, but sweaters, vests, and cardigans are still a much loved item to make by modern knitters. The knitting for animals thing is still very much true, too. :P

    Either way, I found this gallery to be amazing and inspirational! Thanks for posting it! And, if you want to see what modern knitters are making, you should check out Ravelry.com.

  7. Lucie Says:

    Hoping those knitted bathing suits were just for sunning, not swimming.

  8. Charles Haymes Says:

    Thanks for sharing .

  9. keramikos Says:

    What Lucie alluded to in comment #7 is quite correct.

    Anybody who wears a bathing suit made out of the same kind of worsted weight yarn used to make a sweater is headed for serious embarrassment if they actually go swimming.

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