Ever since I saw a sketch of Elsa Schiaparelli's beautiful…
If you wander over to the Stitchcraft aisle (second floor, next to the perfume and knitted underwear) you’ll see I’ve gone Stitchcraft mad recently. My personal collection was recently augmented by a bound folder of issues from 1935 which I wouldn’t part with for love nor money, and the gorgeous patterns got me intrigued – it’s a quality magazine which often gets overlooked in the scrabble to buy vintage Vogue Knitting magazines which, incidentally, are getting harder and harder to come by.
The way it steers its obvious target audience towards all things domestic doesn’t always sit comfortably with the post-feminist view we have of ourselves but that’s fairly representative of many women’s publications of its time. An article over at Fulltable is of the opinion that it ‘forbids energy, passion or the consequences of ideas‘, which I can kind of see in the context of women’s position in class and society at the time, but for me the accompanying pictures to the post defy that statement – inventive, creative garments, gorgeously crafted. Of course that was all about to change in wartime Britain as women took on more challenging roles … and yet still found time to create gorgeous clothes, nowt wrong with that.
It started out in October 1932, a Patons & Baldwins publication published in a large magazine format and, as the title would suggest, it’s not just a knitting magazine but gives directions for sewing and embroidery, tapestry etc, often including free transfers and the odd adventurous project for a wooden box or wood-framed bathmat. This makes it all the more interesting for me, you can get a real flavour of the times, right or wrong.
By 1942 times were tough and rationing meant that it halved in size, as most knitting patterns did, although it still managed to produce some fantastic fair-isle and gents’ one-offs. It didn’t size up until 1949 (although even then it was a smaller version of its pre-war days), by which time it had blossomed into a gorgeous curvy creation which strutted its stuff through the 1950s, but by the ’60s it was starting to feel its age and was happier with its feet up by the fire rather than go-go dancing down Carnaby Street. A prematurely aged Stitchcraft limped into the ’70s and by the ’80s P&B decided to do the humane thing and put it out of its misery.
Having said that I do have some early 1960s editions which still contain some cracking patterns, but knowing the purists you all are I’ve left them off the site.
Fancy a new collection? Get shopping!
n.b. The Fulltable link courtesy of Work4IdleHands who also has a fuller version of the Stitchcraft history