The Rise And Fall of Stitchcraft

Stitchcraft July 1946

Stitchcraft July 1946

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

Next Post:
Previous Post:
This article was written by
There are 0 comments for this article
  1. Christina at 13:14

    How delightful!
    My own collection has been in a frustratingly “almost complete” state for over 3 years now – with all those (impure?) 1960s editions as well.

    Of course, I think FullTable is quite wrong in the assessment of the magazine and in suggesting it compounded any lower status of women at the time. In fact it seemed to me that the opinion was derived from a predisposition to sneer at knitting, which is also clearly expressed in the text.
    I don’t think domestic pursuits were ever mandatory – many men who demanded their “tea on the table” etc also disliked to see – or even forbade their women to knit… isn’t that a terrible imposition to consider?!

    • admin at 10:29

      I agree about the FullTable view, and that’s a good point that maybe knitting didn’t lower womens’ status at that time – perhaps that came later, post-feminism, when women were supposed to compete with men (pint for pint). Anyway, that’s another debate.

      The thought of being forbidden to knit chills my handstitched soul, although I rather like the idea of starting up a knitting speakeasy …

  2. m eltringham at 06:37

    I have about 130 stitchcraft magazines starting from no 153 priced in australia. They are in good condition. There is 5 that have cellotape on. A lot of them still have transfers in. I wish to sell them, do you know where I can. Thnkyou.

    • admin at 08:07

      Not sure where you’d be able to sell the Stitchcrafts in NZ – I’d hazard a bet at eBay. I know there’s a healthy vintage knitting scene in NZ & Australia so you should do pretty well. I’ve published your comment here in case anyone reading wants to get in touch with you … good luck!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>