I'm always on the lookout for great seasonal patterns to share with our customers and readers, and am often impressed at the "oldies but goodies" found in old magazines. From back issues of Life in the 40's to Ladies Home Journal in just about every decade, there are wonderful vintage patterns that are as relevant today as they were the day they were published. A great example is this Vintage Coat Sweater. Done in a conservative color it would be a great fall addition to your outerwear wardrobe. Done in a more trendy color, maybe with a belt, it would be a great gift for a teen. Change the personality of the buttons to make it funkier or more stately.
The thing that throws many knitters for a loop when looking at old patterns is the vintage yarns are often no longer available, and are often listed only in weight, not yardage. While these are inconveniences, they are not problems. The LYS staff will be able to help in any of these situations. Bring the pattern in to the shop, and let the staff guide you.
Don't want to ask for help? That's fine, too. Take the needle size in the pattern and consider the usual yarn weight associated. (Size 7 usually works worsted weight, 13 usually works bulky, etc) Read a few ball bands to get an idea of standard yardage-per-ounce ratios in that fiber. (Remember wool, cotton, silk, and synthetics average very different yards per ounce!) Pull out your calculator and do the math. If a pattern calls for 10 oz of worsted weight wool yarn and the standard yards per ounce is 70 yds, you need 10x70=700 yards. Once you know the yardage, you can change the fiber if you wish. Just make sure to get the yards recommended for the original fiber and you're good to go!