vintage 1950

knitting in the 1950s


Helen Bond Carruthers was a maker of high quality decorated cashmere sweaters. According to family history, the sweater business most likely was born after Carruthers bought a warehouse full of old shawls, and the sweaters were conceived as a way to use them. At first, Ms. Carruthers decorated the sweaters herself, using purchased sweaters and carefully cut out pieces of embroidery from the shawls. The success of her venture led her to hire more employees, but the business remained located in Carruthers's large home.

Eventually Carruthers turned over the making of the sweaters to her employees, but she remained as the creative force behind the designs. She also designed dresses for family members, which were made up for them in her home workshop.

The decorated cashmere sweaters from Helen Bond Carruthers are among the most highly sought after cashmere collectibles. Most are highly decorated with embroidery, applique, and beads, and often the entire sweater is covered with decoration. The decorations were taken from old textiles, such as embroidered Chinese shawls and Belgian laces, and were then appliqued to the sweaters. She was active in the 1950s and through the 1960s in Versailles, Kentucky.


This Helen Bond Carruthers cardigan features hand appliqued antique Chinese embroidered motifs.

Photo courtesy


Helen Bond Carruthers 1955

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Helen Bond Carruthers Kentucky Derby Cardigan

photo source unknown

Cashmere sweaters were knit not only in lovely solid colors, they were also knit in intarsia designs. Argyles were popular, as were flowers, butterflies and other designs from mature. There were often pretty details such as collars, matching mother-of-pearl buttons and contrasting satin trim.

Most 1950s sweaters had three-quarter, or bracelet, length sleeves. This sleeve length remained popular into the early 60s. Later in the decade, sleeves lengthened to cover the wrist.

0 = Metroplis Helm, 1930

vintage gallery 1930s

 6 = Knitted Turban,1943

vintage gallery 1943

1 = Five O´Clock Hat,1938

vintage gallery 1938 

 7 = Bobble Hat,,1947

vintage gallery 1947

 2 = Dazzler Hat,1940s

vintage gallery 1940s

 8 = Jet Set Hat, 1960

vintage gallery 1960

3 = Flower Hat,1940s

vintage gallery 1940s

vintage gallery1950

4 = Tartar Toque,1940s

vintage gallery 1940s

 5 = Knitted Hood,1940s

  vintage gallery 1940s

vintage knithats 1930-1960 video

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