Archive for the ‘Vintage books’ Category

Stitchcraft – 2KCBWDAY5

Today’s challenge is to do something a little different from the norm. I’m cheating slightly, as I’m doing something I have done once before, but whilst I was intending it to be the first in a series of posts, I didn’t get any further – perhaps this will inspire me.

Before I started knitting again, my main interest/hobby was book collecting. I have a large collection of old girls’ school stories, including quite a lot of old magazines of the Girl’s Own Paper type, and I’m still collecting. Naturally these days I also look out for old knitting/craft books, and I had a plan to do a series of posts around these. I managed one, about the gorgeous Little Girl’s Knitting and Crochet Book, back in May last year, but that’s as far as I’ve got so far.

But yesterday I was in a charity shop, and happened upon a box of old knitting patterns. Most weren’t very exciting, but there were two very tatty old editions of Stitchcraft Magazine there, so I snapped them up for 50p each, and they inspired me for today’s post.

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The first is from March 1942. Britain had been at war for three years, and this is reflected throughout the magazine, nowhere more than in the adverts, which are always one of the most interesting parts of old magazines to me.

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Click on the photos to enlarge them.

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Yorkshire Relish. Grand with spam.

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How to cook food in a haybox, by the Ministry of Food.

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Even in wartime, you need curls and white teeth. And I’m sure magazine staff today will emphasize with the sentiment in the bottom right corner!

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Now to the patterns – first up is an embroidered bolero, with shoulders a American footballer would be proud of.

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I was intrigued to see that the yarn is described as ‘fingering’ – many Brits on Ravelry these days seem determined that fingering is an American term.

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Next is a ‘cardigan in butterfly stitch’, the model wouldn’t look out of place in one of Susan Crawford’s books.

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Then we come to a ‘make do and mend’ item – make this jaunty little number out of an old felt picture hat. Presumably in 1942 you’d not only know what one of those was, you’d have one hanging around.

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And make your own collar and cuff set, with darning on net. Lovely. And not at all scratchy round the neck. Oh no.

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Make a gay patchwork jacket. How words do change. And fashions. Although it looks quite 70s to me, perhaps it’s about to come round yet again. Count me out if it does.

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There’s a few pages missing at this point, sadly, so we’re back to the ads. And the P word which must not be mentioned.

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Fabric with slimming action. Bring it on.

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But keep this far far away from me.

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The other issue is from January 1948, three years after the end of the war, but we were still in the grip of rationing. This issue is smaller than the other, so presumably paper was still in short supply too.

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Not sure you’d get away with calling a pattern ‘Fuzzy-Wuzzy’ these days.

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A charming twin-set for only seven coupons.

stitchcraft (119a)

With this fascinating shoulder shaping – short row shaping tends to be regarded as a fairly modern invention, but here it is in 1948. No wraps and turns, or three needle cast-offs, but definitely short rows. Interestingly the patterns in the 1942 edition all cast off in stair steps.

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A sewing pattern for a ‘blousette’, which seems to be a waistcoat-like garment to go under a jacket but save fabric on the sleeves.


And a fetching vest and knickers set! Again the yarn is described as fingering, although it’s 2ply this time – perhaps it was a generic term for thin yarn?

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A cardigan for the man in your life, and a jumper with ponies on for a young girl. Top Shop it ain’t.

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But good news, Lux was back.

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And you could boil a kettle in two minutes on this up-to-the-minute gas cooker.

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Whilst you had a quick run round with this self-generating vacuum cleaner. The mind boggles.

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I treated myself to this pretty little book at a book fair a couple of years ago, and promptly forgot about it until I stumbled across it last week. It was first published in 1915, and edited by Flora Klickmann, then editor of the Girl’s Own Paper – this is the second impression, so probably a year or two later.

There are some lovely adverts at the front, reflecting the fact that we were at war (click the pictures to enlarge them).




There’s a lovely picture on the title page of little girls winding wool, no swifts and ballwinders in those days!


Another nod to wartime knitting – and more ballwinding.


I love this little poem.


Now we get to the knitty-gritty, as it were. The book doesn’t seem to assume any previous knowledge, and I’m not sure how it defines a ‘little girl’, but it does seem to hit the ground running, especially with crochet, which is really the main focus of the book, knitting hardly gets a look in. Within a few pages of first picking up her hook, the little girl is going to be producing reasonably complicated clothes for dolly.


Including crocheted combinations!


There are instructions for knitting socks – I’m not sure how thin Baldwin and Walker’s three ply was, but for socks for a baby, the little girl is instructed to use size 14 needles (I think that’s about a 2mm) and cast on 60 stitches – I use 2.5mm needles and 64 stitches for socks for me!


When you’ve made baby some socks, you can also make her some knitted stays…. There’s some very strange abbreviations in this one – k2tog is N for narrow. I suppose it would have been easier to type out if it had caught on.


Soon we’re making what looks to me (as a non-crocheter!) fairly complicated decorative edgings.


Which you can use on your knickers.


And to wear over your knickers, you can knit yourself a petticoat.


And when you’re exhausted from all this productivity, you can have a cup of Fry’s Cocoa to help you sleep.


There’s a bit more from the book on the V&A’s website, here.

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