An alternative view of 1980s handmade style

Well hello again! This will mainly be a picture post, to offer a view into the dark side of the 1980s. I came across these knitting magazines last time I visited my mum. Now, before you think ” bad taste household” let me assure you that these could be considered as the pinnacle of European creativity in the knit world, boasting a host of embellishments and texture and plenty of batwings. My mum has kept them because a. She is frugal and not influenced unduly by fashion and although she would not even have been seen dead in their whole glory even in the 80s she is capable of moderation in her adaptation skills and b.they form a library of different stitches and pretty rib techniques, and I reckon there is also a c. She likes a rip roaring good laugh every now and then, as she is also keen to spot fashion funnies as big as their proverbial shoulder pads. So without further ado, I give you a peek through some ” nina” knitting magazines from the late 1980s, motto being ” knitting is fun” ,

1. A front cover in case you didn’t believe me. Now this kind of purple is not on my season’s sewing/ knitting list! Shoulders, textured yarn, Halloween type black squiggles ….errr, sort of reminds me of Terminator for some reason?! :-s

2. Delightful! Brights! Weird dinosaur heads and what on earth is going on with that fringed yarn? But she looks happy, so it’s ok!  nice buttons!

3. Now if you can identify just how many crafts are going in in this particular piece I’ll be impressed! I recognise the stitch in the plain mustard though, I’m sure my mum might have used that in an altogether plainer knit project.

4. Ohmygod! It says “straight out of Arabian nights”….more like Arabian nightmares!

5. For some reason yellow comes up quite a lot….some typical 80s geometry going on here…& oh look, what a surprise, more textured yarn!

6. Will this make it onto anyone’s autumn list of projects?  I don’t think I would ever put these colours together ….ever.

7. For the festive season? Start now and you might be able to get it ready in time?

8. And this one reminds me of strange conversations we have ( ie ladies who are kind if 40+) when running about ” spiders legs” that creep out of your swimming costume….say no more!
9. This one, to be fair has a whole range of pretty features…look at that collar, see the cable rib, for example. But with the appliqué, patchwork of stitches,beading, geometry, shoulder pads and more……it’s kind like someone scoffed a whole craft shop and then was kind of a bit ill….

All of these patterns appeared in Nina knitting magazines 11/89, 4/90, 7/90, 10/89, 12/89, 7/89, but not necessarily in the order listed. Thank you for the entertainment and for inspiring my mum ( and countless other knitters I’m sure). Now this might appeal to some of you out there, if so, berate me and put me in my place. There is after all a whole heap of talent that goes into the creation of such wonders. Let’s have a vote though, which is your favorite, or the one you think is the epitome of 80s hand knitwear gone o.t.t?

44 thoughts on “An alternative view of 1980s handmade style

  1. Marie

    Golly, what an assault on the senses! The Arabian nighmares one looks like a Big Bird costume!!! I can’t even pick a worst…there’s too many ;o)

    Reply
  2. anne w

    Ohmygosh! Arabian nights is pretty horrid, but the dinosaur one and the fucshia pink fluffy concoction rate a very high 2nd place! I had some batwing jumpers in the 80′s that my mum knitted for me, thankfully not in these colours, nor with this amount of textural detail!

    Reply
  3. Shari

    Wow. There is a lot going on in all of those sweaters/jumpers! The Arabian nights yellow with the linebacker fluff shoulders is definitely o.t.t. I had no idea the shoulder pad look was popular in 80′s knitted clothing.

    Reply
  4. Lauren

    Ahhhhahaha I’m so glad my mother didn’t knit in the 80s. She sewed, and that was bad enough – but at least you can justify getting rid of a handmade dress. A handmade sweater (with the hours & hours of work put into it), not so much.

    But all those sweaters look to have been right up her alley, style-wise. What can I say? My mom was a fashionable lady ;) I HAVE THE GLAMOR SHOTS TO PROVE IT.

    Reply
    1. scruffybadgertime Post author

      It’s funny what you say about throwing away hand knitted things from the 80s….I sent a couple of gorgeous, but very baggy ( because that’s how I liked them) chunky cabled jumpers to charity in the 90s and it felt wrong.
      Your mum sounds like she’d have a great fashion archive! I love seeing pics of my mum in the 70s when she made jackets , blouses and skirts. She always looked so smart..

      Reply
  5. Amanda

    Lol, having grown up in the 80′s I see stuff like this in a sort of spacial paradox – on the one hand I remember clearly how this sort of thing would have been considered the epitome of high fashion, on the other hand I’m so appalled, I can’t even believe humanity was once capable of such atrocities lol.

    It’s a shame so much work goes into these things – the time & talent could be used for good rather than evil ^_^ lol

    Reply
    1. scruffybadgertime Post author

      I’m lucky that in the 80 s I was old enough to have had my (limited) style views respected! But then, I doubt whether it would be worth putting this amount of work into something for a teen…even if she did want something this, er, ornate!! But yes, I guess these Styles would be catwalk knitwear ;-)
      Scary!!!

      Reply
  6. Corinne

    Well, let me just say I am on the verge of speechless. I always say that I was so busy during the ’80′s that I don’t remember much. Apparently that is a good thing. Over the top design and lots of work for the hand knitter. Poor darlings, what ever happened to these beauties? Because we have these photo’s we know they were made at least once. While I agree that the Arabian Nights piece is the epitome of eeek! I am going to vote for the cover piece “the Purple People Eater!” The purple, the black trim, the shoulders, the pained look on the face of the model…..the winner to me!

    Reply
  7. Katrina Blanchalle

    Aaaagh! You just had to go and prove me wrong about the poor, misunderstood 80s. Now I feel a bit ill and have to go lie down.
    Before I do though, I must admit that if I had that first magazine (and if I could knit) I would be tempted by that thing up in the corner. Is it a bird’s nest in a tree? It might make nice pillow cover.

    Reply
    1. scruffybadgertime Post author

      Well, there is always two sides to everything ( like the force and the dark side)…. That is a birds nest you know, there are some totally WEIRD design choices in these mags!!

      Reply
  8. Tanit-Isis

    Oh, LMAO! I was doing okay, and then it got to the “Arabian Nights” one, and I lost my shit.

    I confess, I kinda-almost-sorta-like the spider-legs one.

    I was a kid in the 80s, and I confess I spent a lot of time wondering why people wore such ugly clothes. (Not that my own were any better, looking back…)

    Reply
    1. scruffybadgertime Post author

      Ha ha ha!! Great reaction! Yes, ugly ugly ugly, but there MUST have Ben some redeeming features of the 80s….leg warmers, baggy shapes, grandad shirts, dungarees….neon….yep, actually my style choices weren’t that great ( never a neon wearer I hasten to add!)

      Reply
  9. Karen

    Great fun, Winnie! Thanks for sharing. I am so glad I escaped the 80s with only a few large shoulder-padded suits (unfortunately I wore some of them at weddings, so there’s photographic evidence), along with giant red glasses frames.

    Reply
  10. Shelly

    OMG!! I have a stash of patterns very much like this – they are so “80′s”. No. 5 is talking to me for some reason; I actually like it, although I would never make it. Great fun! :)

    Reply
  11. Debbie

    EEEEEEK! What a collection. My worst/best is the dinosaur heads, though closely followed by that yellow monstrosity. You made me smile, thanks for sharing. :) xx

    Reply
  12. Sam

    Oh my goodness, they take me back! I remember my mum having several big folders of similar patterns – one of those “partworks” they were so keen on back in the 80′s – where you collected a small section each week for about 10 years!

    I don’t think she ever knitted anything quite like any of these though. I love the way they just seem to throw as many different colours, yarns and embelishments as possible at each one.

    Reply
    1. scruffybadgertime Post author

      Oh yes, i remember those, there were sewing ones too, teaching you a technique a week and collectible in a binder. then came those “rip off” magazines that string you along for years before your dolls house got completed….

      Reply
  13. Lynne

    Oh good grief!! These photos are scarey!! I, too, remember these fashions as a child, and they were not good! My favourite (or should that be worst) is the purple number in the first photo. It makes me think of an evil villainess in an 80s soap. Shudder!!!

    Reply
  14. prttynpnk

    I think that during the 80′s a secret ninja band of housecats snuck into that company, silenced the workers and designed sweaters that they wanted to see made and worn. These are all very enbticing if you like to curl up on mohair or bat tassels…….

    Reply
  15. Ginger

    Wow! These are AMAZING! I honestly don’t even know what to say! They’re so fuzzy… and so bulky… and unisex? Is that even the word? Yikes!

    Reply
  16. MrsC

    Oh holy Moly, these really are on the scary fringe of 80′s fashion! I think that each one is more hidjus than the next, although the Arabian Nights one wins on its WTF??? factor. But the pink one is scary.
    And yes, nearly had a coffee spraying moment about the spider legs!!

    Reply
  17. missjoiedevivre

    Terrifying and hilarious. Arabian Nightmares is the stuff of legends. I have to admit I have a penchant for buying cheap knitting patterns that are too hideous to be believable, mostly 60s and 70s, so when I say to people “honest, it was a crochet full legged one piece jumpsuit!!!” I have evidence. My favourite is the matching mother-daughter knitted liederhosen…

    Reply
  18. Andrea

    Oh my goodness, these are awesome! My favourite has got to be Arabian Nights… look at all those tassels. My grandma knitted me a sweater in the early 80s in much the same style as these ones, minus all the embellishments. It had the huge dolman sleeves and puffy shoulders… and it was yellow! I hated the thing but my dad made me wear it whenever we went to see grandma – from the vantage point of a teenager, it was hell.

    Reply
    1. scruffybadgertime Post author

      I remember that obligation wardrobe so well….I’m guessing most children have some element of this ( eg Rudolph jumper in Bridget jones diary ) but something resembling Arabian nights?! My sympathies !!

      Reply
  19. Liz

    Blergh – I think I just lost my lunch!! Sad, but I remember knitting something along these lines in the late 80s/early 90s, it was a Jenny Kee jumper – she was famous for her bright colours and designs. Looking back it was awful, but at the time I thought I was pretty cool!

    Reply
  20. Josie

    Ohhh-ergghhh Arabian nights what an eye sore that has to be the best/worse. I remember my Mum wearing creations like this, she loved a good mohair jumper, the only trouble was we always had hairy ratatouille for dinner!

    Reply

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