Knitted Swimsuits

posted in: knitting history | 6

I have a bit of a liking for hand knitted swimsuits – and in particular hand knitted swimsuit patterns so imagine how delighted I was when the wonderfully talented Kate Davies asked me to write about knitted swimsuits for the next issue of Textisles (issue 2).

If you don’t know about Textisles, it is a digital magazine, containing original designs and writing, all produced and edited by Kate. The magazine contains no adverts and is carefully produced around a theme – on this occasion, knitted swimsuits and designs and stories with a nautical air. As part of each magazine Kate creates at least one pattern inspired by and related to the theme alongside four extensive fashion and textile related articles. Being in the lucky position of having seen a draft copy of this issue I can say that I found Kate’s article about the Swimsuit Revolution fascinating and the pictorial essay of swimsuit parades through the ages an absolute visual, vintage treat. Three are some amazing outfits in the photos Kate has gathered from 1917 to 1927.

My own feature begins with a familiar image from A Stitch in Time, Vol 1:

I share some of my favourites, look at construction, fabric content, fashions, the popularity and decline – in short, the rise (and fall) of the hand knitted swimsuit.

If you wish to purchase this beautiful publication you can do so only from Kate. The entire digital magazine, including patterns, costs only £3.95 and the magazine will be available from early next week. If you can’t wait Issue 1 is still available to purchase right now.

To celebrate the publication of the issue next week,  I’m planning a whole knitted swimsuit related blog post, so if anyone in the meantime has any photos of themselves or family wearing a knitted swimsuit that they wouldn’t mind me sharing on the blog I would love it if you could email me the images and some information to susan (at) susancrawfordvintage [dot] com.

Thanking you in anticipation!!

Ruby xx

all images copyright Kate Davies ©2012 except for final image, copyright Susan Crawford ©2008

6 Responses

  1. fanfan gad
    | Reply

    hello ruby , if you want ,I can send you a photo of my grand-father wearing a knitted swimming suit . I don't know in which year it was but it's a long time.
    ago because he died in 1933sincerely your's
    fanfan from france

  2. Just call me Ruby
    | Reply

    oh yes please I would love to see the photo thank you.


  3. knutty knitter
    | Reply

    There's a photo of my mother and all her girl cousins as 8-12 year olds in knitted bathing suits. She said they were most uncomfortable when wet as they went all saggy.

    Let me know if you are interested. There are probably a few adult photos too but I'll have to look see for them. The beach is an important part of life round here and there were a few box brownies around 🙂

    viv in nz

  4. The Knitting Genealogist
    | Reply

    I can have a look and if I can find the one or two I know I have (somewhere!), will scan and send. My dad, when he was about 7, saved his cousin's life when cousin fell in a pond at Roundhay Park, Leeds, and dad grabbed him by "his woolly suit". That would be the 1920s. I don't even know if it was a bathing suit or not. Have some informal shots of dad's family on the beach, around 1920, maybe a bit earlier. Will see if any of those pics are usable.

  5. Just call me Ruby
    | Reply

    oh thank you that would be great. Even if there not fabulous thats absolutely fine.

  6. Sigrid
    | Reply

    I used to have a vintage wool knitted swimsuit, but I doubt I have any photos of myself wearing it. I'll look! It was great for swimming in cold Minnesota lakes, but I have to admit that once I got out of the water it would sag dreadfully and dry very slowly so I would have to strip out of it pretty fast or freeze.

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