Blast from the past

This week I’ve been spending some time sorting out some small ‘invisible corners‘ in my bookshelves, pulling out books that I don’t need or use anymore, and ditching papers that don’t need to stick around. There are a couple of shelves of knitting stuff in this area that I haven’t touched in years.

Friends, I found treasures. Well, not all of it was treasure. I cleared out a LOT of paper. Did I really think I needed to print out all those patterns I found on the internet nine years ago? Did I think I was never going to be able to access the internet again and I would need several dozen backup patterns in hard copy, in different styles and project types? Did I really think I needed to keep every single marked-up pattern copy I was finished with, even when I did still have the original magazine or PDF or book? I am pretty sure a lot of us did this back in the deep dark ages of 2005, oh man.

Patons booklets

I discovered some old (by which I mean, 10 or so years old – practically ancient) Patons booklets, and oh man I remember these. The Street Smart booklet was a big thing. So many people were knitting the Must Have Cardigan, and I remember when the Yarn Harlot knitted it, so many people were scrambling to knit it and going on desperate searches for the pattern booklet because at that time (2008 by that point) the digital revolution was still in progress and PDF downloads were not quite the norm yet. Brooklyn Tweed knitted the Urban Aran pullover as a cardigan and then everyone started doing the same thing. Oh, the memories. I also still really want to knit the Cabled Hoodie from the cover of that booklet, just like I did when I bought it. (It turns out now that those patterns are all available for free downloads from the publisher, so nobody needs to get into LYS fights over the last Street Smart booklet anymore. We live in crazy times.)

Also, part of me still wants to knit that Blanket Poncho on the cover of that other booklet. Remember ponchos? Have we circled back around to ponchos? Anyway I remember once seeing a knitter in the wild in an LYS wearing that poncho and was a little starstruck for a few minutes. It’s hard to let go of those patterns you’ve been coveting.


I also still had a couple of dozen issues of Interweave Knits magazine, from about 2005-2008. There was a while there that I subscribed to it, before I had a couple of years of living at a different address every year and stopped subscribing to things. Then after that it turned out I preferred to just pay to download individual patterns when I wanted them (because that became a reality a few years later), and then I stopped subscribing. I’m so glad I did subscribe for a while there, because now I get to leaf through the back issues I do have. There are so many modern classic patterns that came out of these issues. So many of us salivated over the Ivy League Vest and Venezia Pullover (well, I definitely did – I’m thinking about doing a 2nd Venezia sometime in the future now). I remember all the knitting podcast chatter and blog chatter about things like the Tilted Duster, the Lotus Blossom Tank, the Cobblestone Pullover, the Sunrise Circle Jacket. So many of us knitted Swallowtail shawls, and I remember that was the first time I did nupps. (The first row of them didn’t go so well. The next few rows were better).


It’s also pretty amazing how much change has happened in knitting world in the last ten years or less. I know sometimes we talk about the ‘before times’ in knitting as though everything was different fifty years ago, but friends, so many things were also pretty different eight years ago. Ravelry was just starting up, Twist Collective didn’t exist yet, Knitty was still pretty new, and it’s boggling how many yarns I knit with on a regular basis that either didn’t exist yet at that time or were very new on the scene. IPads and tablets didn’t exist yet. Smartphones were like crazy talk, for the super tech savvy people. Buying yarn online still felt like a new awesome thing to be able to do.

I’m not entirely sure what the moral of all of this is, but it’s not going to be me saying that everything was so much better/so much worse in the past than it is now, because neither of those things are entirely true and I have no patience for generalizations like that. Some things are better, some things are more challenging, and some things are just plain different. But I do think that if you ever have moments – particularly if you are a new knitter just starting out in this brave new digitally flattened knitting world, dear God I have no idea what that feels like – of feeling like there is so much out there, more than you will ever get the hang of, it’s okay. There is so much out there, there always will be so many things to knit and so much to learn and choose from. I’m pretty sure a lot of us still felt that way before the digital knitting world exploded the way it did. And we don’t know what changes will happen in another nine or ten years.

It’s okay to go towards the projects and yarns and skills you love, and not towards others. Do the knitting you enjoy. You get to choose, and isn’t that great?

May you have a knitting-filled weekend ahead! I’m just going to flip through a few of these pages one more time. And, uh, queue up a few more things on Ravelry. Until next time!




  1. It was funny to get this post just as I put down my book, The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up. I’m going to be fierce about this and follow through on her method of de-cluttering, category by category, and in a certain order: 1st clothes, then books, papers, komono (miscelany) and finally things with sentimental value. Seems knitting fits into all these categories. Maybe I should finish reading the book before I plunge in on the clothes! But, I already know the hand-knits are staying, at least the finished ones. It’s all the other knitting paraphernalia I may have trouble making decisions about.
    Good luck and good progress with your sorting!

  2. Amen Glenna! I agree all the knitting times have both pros and cons. And just imagine, if like me, you learned to knit in the 1960’s.

  3. Maddie Campisi · ·

    I love the Tilted Duster!

  4. Oh man did you invade my brain and write this post for me? Because I have so many of the same feelings right now. Old printed patterns, IK from the mid2000s (I do miss the old IK days I have to admit), and THAT PATONS BOOKLET which I bought before Jarod Flood made it famous. Good times.
    Good weekend to you and happy knitting!

  5. So, um, are you going to trash those magazines when you’re done looking through them? I can’t decide what to do with mine!

  6. Fantastic post Glenna! Having recently hit the bit 50 I certainly remember those paper patterns and pattern books – that’s all we had!!! I personally think the knitting world has improved 100% as we have access to so much more. Not just patterns, but yarn and most importantly people. I can learn new techniques on Youtube and chat to knitting buddies across the globe through email and blogs! I used to think I was “odd” because I was obsessed with knitting but now I know I’m perfectly normal and everyone else is crazy!!! This community of ours is the best! xxx

  7. eatcoastal · ·

    Be ruthless! You can do it!

  8. Loved this post! My old IKs and VKs and….are all neatly stored away. I love that I recognized most of those patterns without clicking the links!

  9. Looking around my office Glenna I am suffering from 10 years of owning a yarn shop. Having recently closed up, I find I’m unsure whether to keep the library of magazines (I bought 8 per month towards the end), books and patterns or gift/sell or trade them. I love Ravelry, but find I can loose hours of my life perusing the designs when I should be knitting. There’s also something rather lovely about being given patterns that have been used and have that knitters notes on them. Even better if it’s a quirky vintage pattern.
    Now where did I leave my needles?

  10. Loved this! I have also been perusing and clearing my shelves. Old books are a quick and easy decision. And they can be donated to the local library. I have yet to attack the stacks of old knitting magazines including IK, Knitters Mag and the beautifully printed British The Knitter Magazine. The library doesn’t take them and I hate to just toss the lot.
    It has been interesting to see how publications have expanded the size range of their garment patterns in the last decade. They are also more careful about clearly photographing pieces.
    Thanks for the stroll down memory lane

  11. Glenna…this is rather spooky, creepy….because I spent last week doing exactly the same thing. EXACTLY. With, amazingly THE SAME BOOKLETS, magazines. Yep…I knit that Must Have Cardigan (and it still remains a favorite), and I spent time going through ALL my interweaves…keeping just a handful for a bit of future nostalgia. Cleaned out a whole book shelf…and of course, ditched all those copied patterns from a decade ago, all the written up copies—who am I trying to kid? Just showing off that I actually DID knit these? The Tilted Duster…ditto! Didn’t it sort of blow your mind at how many patterns appeared again and again in speciality editions. I, for one, always thought they were brand new patterns!!! Glad we both made room…..for more! 😉

  12. What a fabulous post Glenna and it’s funny, I’ve rather looked back too. Eight years ago I lived in Kentucky and before moving to Arizona discovered Knitty and Ravelry. Wasn’t sure what they were all about but look at them now! Amazing. I also started following many blogs, yours included. While I don’t often post, I still follow and read. This post calls to me greatly. Happy knitting 🙂

  13. Loved this post! Practically all the patterns mentioned I have in my stash. Some I printed directly off the internet or searched frantically on ebay, or bought the magazine. Now I must find the half finished Tilted duster. Thanks for the inspiration!

  14. I started knitting about 12 years ago. Was thinking the other day about how I kind of miss the pattern madness of yesteryear- the Must Have Cardi, the Tilted Duster, etc. You are so right! I think the last trend I remember was the Color Affection, which I didn’t get caught up in as I don’t really like to wear stripes. With so much saturation it’s hard to get noticed on a mega scale like that.
    I still subscribe to IK, despite a few years of them only featuring bland sweaters in taupe yarn. I like to browse the old hard copies. And I once got Norah Gaughan to autograph the Tilted Duster cover! Those were the days. Any way. Thanks for the trip down memory lane.

  15. I also have a gazillion printed copies of things I will never knit from ages ago, including multiples. Apparently, I got very excited about my office having lightning-quick Internet and an available printer outside my door…

  16. this was a wonderful and reflective post to read! I started knitting only 2 or 3 years ago, but even then Ravelry was this endless database and I felt/still feel overwhelmed by the amount of stuff I want to make!!! Having said this, plus side Youtube has been invaluable in teaching me what I’m missing and also how to crochet 🙂 it must have been wonderful to find these things in your house and for that to spark this thoughtful run 🙂 thanks for sharing! jenny xx

  17. You have what I consider to be “the Golden Age” of Interweave in your library. Don’t throw them out! They make wonderful bedtime reading.
    And where was I during the Street Smart craze? I don’t recall seeing it before. I love the cove jacket!

  18. Ashley Wornell · ·

    I love this!

  19. I love this and relate to so much of this. I have a big (really big) binder of patterns I printed out and lots of books and magazines. I do tend to still pick up magazines as I like to look at them when I have a moment – probably should go through my shelves. Maybe when the kids head back to college.

  20. drchristineberger · ·

    Hi! Bit of trivia. The tilted duster model is Caitlin Fitzgerald who plays Libby on Masters of Sex. Her mom is the famous Pam Allen!

  21. I just can’t bring myself to part with books – I’ve got so many, and some I’ve never knit from. Magazines, however are another thing. I’m most of the way through my project – go through the magazine, tear pages out that have patterns you want, and then pitch the ads. Of course I’ve enough patterns to last the rest of my life and years beyond [and I’m in my 70’s], but at least they are getting put into plastic sleeves and binders!
    Just loved this blog.

  22. anastasia · ·

    I do this too from time to time. I love looking at my past issues of Interweave & Vogue Knitting because those along with Knitty is what made me fall in love with knitting. I try to go through & destash my knitting books but it just never works very well. Also it didn’t work well for my yarn that I tried to destash.

    The last time I did go through my books I made a point of queuing at least 1 pattern from each magazine. Maybe when I have time to go through again I will get rid of any magazine that doesn’t have anything queued. Or eventually just get all the digital copies of the patterns I want. I think it’s great that you can buy a digital copy of single patterns or a whole magazine. Although, I am still a bit old fashioned & I like something I can hold in my hand.

    I didn’t feel at the time I took up knitting again that there was just so much out there to knit but there sure is now. I don’t know if I’ll ever get through it all (there are 1400+ patterns in my library). Thanks for reminding me of this awesomeness.

  23. […] a postagem da Glenna contando sobre o passado que ela viveu, fiquei pensando como isso aconteceu comigo. Recomendo a […]

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