Tuesday, 22 September 2015

'Vintage Hollywood Knits' - Book Review

New out this month is Vintage Hollywood Knits published by Pavilion Books and based on fashion designer Bill Gibb's own interpretation of silver screen knits.

Gibb (1943–1988) was an influential British designer who specialised in knitwear. He closely collaborated with fellow textile artist, Kaffe Fassett, to produce collections for fashion house Baccarat during the late 1960s and early 70s; later prolifically designing under his eponymous label. Though a dress designer too, it was Gibb's machine knitted jersey and acrylic garments with their Fair Isle inspired patterns that earned him international recognition. His choice of tactile textiles and a rich palette of earthy colours suited the ethnic vibe of 70s fashion and contributed towards the popularity of the decade's fashion knitwear.

In this book Gibb's patterns are based on twenty photos of film stars wearing knitted garments (sixteen for women and four for men), which have been updated for today's knitters. This updating includes yarn options from well-known brands such as Rowan and Debbie Bliss, and the patterns featuring a range of bust sizes from 32" to 40" for the women's patterns; although some patterns only go up to a 38".

Below is a selection of the designs available:

Top left: Vilma Banky's flag motif v-necked sweater. Top right: Marilyn Monroe's sleeveless pullover. Bottom left: Greta Garbo's textured buttoned sweater. Bottom right: Cary Grant's traditional cricket sweater

My favourites include Adele Jergens' fluffy midriff baring jumper that reminds me of the similar cropped jumpers that were popular in the early 1990s...

...and Jane Wyman's top with its cigarette motifs brought a smile to my face. I suppose e-cigs  are the modern equivalent!

The book also includes a basic techniques chapter and also an interesting Introduction, which includes a list of films that featured knitting in one way or another. I like the sound of The Bat (1926): "Nothing can faze an obsessive knitter. Writer Cornelia van Gorder (Emily Fitzroy) knits in most scenes while caped killer The Bat murders her house guests one by one".

Vintage Hollywood Knits is a handy book for those who like to knit their own vintage-style woollies, as the designs featured in it all are wearable and feature knits for a range of abilities. The patterns are clearly written and include detailed schematics and coloured charts where necessary. 

My only reservation is that I would have liked some colour photos of the garments knitted up in the yarns specified and worn on modern models to provide a more visual guide to refer to when knitting.


  1. Loving the fluffy crop top, it wouldn't have been out of place at an early 1990s rave!
    The fag jumper is hilarious. xxx

  2. What an interesting concept for a book. Loving Greta's jumper, and that fab photo of Twiggy (I'm guessing she's not a natural knitter...!) xxx

  3. Fabulous book. Cary Grant looks so dashing:)

  4. This book looks amazing! Although I was cracking up at the giant needles in the last picture... I agree that more colourful pics would help but I'd still fancy a copy.

  5. This looks like an updated version of the 1980s original? http://www.amazon.co.uk/Hollywood-Knits-Bill-Gibb/dp/1851451218
    I agree some great pattern ideas but the original didn't show any of them knitted up either.
    The real bonus of this edition however, sounds like the introduction - no such fun tales of bats, murder and knitting in the original!

    1. Hello Tess and thanks for your comment. Yes - it looks like you're right.I haven't seen the original version but I reckon the Intro has been fleshed out a bit to add a bit more 'interest' rather than launching straight into the patterns themselves.


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