The Twentieth Century Society

Campaigning for outstanding buildings

David Heath in front of the Bauhaus

From Bauhaus to your house: knit a classic pullover

The name Auntie Elsie won’t be familiar to aficionados of 60s knitwear, but the creator of David Heath’s sleeveless pullover deserves her place in mid-century fashion history.

The pullover dates from 1968, the year David set off for university. As the picture shows, his enterprising aunt adapted a Jaeger pattern for a ladies’ ‘Celtic-spun slipover’. The stylish garment has ended up lasting longer than many Brutalist buildings of the era.

David wore his cherished sweater last November at the C20 debate on ‘Britain’s greatest 20th century building’, in which he championed the virtues of the Southbank Centre. In the June issue of C20 Magazine he reflects on how the Centre and his wonderful woolly exemplify the qualities of ‘Long Life, Low Energy, Loose Fit’.

While lesser garments have simply unravelled or been eviscerated by moths, David’s well-travelled slipover has accompanied him on his architectural adventures. In 1970 the Auntie Elsie classic slipped into a black and white photo taken in front of the Bauhaus in Dessau.

This is the age of the selfie, so why not make your own version of Auntie Elsie’s pullover and then snap yourself in front of your favourite C20 building. Just download theĀ Pullover pattern and share the results with us on Facebook or Instagram.

On a sweltering July day knitwear is probably the furthest thing from your mind. But if you get your needles out now you should have your classic pullover ready in time for Open House weekend in September!


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