Vintage Needlecrafts Pick of the Week: French Chic: Fashion Knitting

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This week’s pick: French Chic: Fashion Knitting by Conran Octopus Ltd


Publication date: 1986

Status: Out of print but widely available online.

Condition: Price tag on the cover and worn edges, but otherwise in good shape

Craft: Knitting

Since last week was all about fashion crochet, I thought I should share some fashion knitting this week.  As the cover photo suggests, this book is rooted firmly in the 1980s fashion aesthetic.  The subtitle is “An Exquisite Collection of Original Handknits — From Simple Cottons to Sumptuous Wools!”

According to the back cover, French Chic was a series of needlecrafts books adapted from the “highly successful French magazine, 100 IDEES, and in book form for the first time.”

The book opens with some illustrated knitting instructions and then dives into 25 patterns that are loosely organized thematically.

The Ming Jersey is inspired by a Ming vase.
Woven Roses “suggests a sunny trellis covered in climber roses.”

The patterns are mostly for sweaters worked flat and then joined.  Some are probably not going to make the transition into the 21st Century…

The Cinemascope Jersey (subtitled “jungle scenes on filmic black”).
Multicolored Coat, subtitled “black and brilliant,” from the Technicolor Mohair section.
These “simple cotton cover-ups” from the Geometrics in the Shade chapter remind me of something we might have seen on the Cosby show.

…while others fit right in.

Roll Collar Dress, also from the Technicolor Mohair section.

Befitting the ’80s color sensibility, most of these patterns include elaborate colorwork charts.  One of my favorite designs is the Japanese Wave, inspired by Hokusai.

I also like the classic short sleeve tops in the Thirties Favorites chapter.

Although many of the patterns are dated, I think a sweater lover could have fun with this book.  And, of course, the colorwork charts could be used for other projects as well.

Ravelry members can see some of the other patterns, including the beautiful Paintbox Cardigan (which I forgot to photograph), here.

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