Monday, 22 July 2013

A plethora of patterns. Part Two.

My friend's pattern pile that I talked about here also contained several Stitchcraft magazines from the 1940s and 1950s. Because she is very lovely she let me keep the ones that I did not have in my collection which I was overjoyed about. I have been building up my collection over the past couple of years but am not near to completion yet! I love Stitchcraft for its interesting mixture of knitting patterns for the whole family and for all the other craft projects that it contains. As with any vintage magazine it gives a real flavour of the times and a peek into other lives.

I thought it would be nice to have a look through these magazines here. I am going from earliest to latest in date and from the front of the magazine to the back so that it is as near as possible to flicking through it yourself.

December 1943.

 Fancy fur bonnets on the front cover; patterns for adults and child's sizes are inside.

As this is the Christmas issue there are some ideas for gifts for young and old. At the top is a necklace of a butterfly and flowers made from wood or cardboard that has been enamelled and then tied with a shoe lace. This gives a great insight into the inventiveness needed for wartime gift giving.

The cigarette stand is made from painted cardboard or wood. It is interesting that this was a really acceptable gift, showing clearly that it is from the time when the health risks of smoking were not widely known about and were not publicised.

The part photographed item is a belt made from a length of binding with buttons, wool and stitching for decoration.

This is a boy's pullover which has socks to match. It is knitted in a lovely cable stitch in 3-ply.

Titled 'This little jumper is Teddy Bear's parade ground', this is a lovely jumper for a small child knitted in 3-ply. I love the marching teddies.

These three patterns are featured on a double page spread entitled 'Ready for the cold spell'. The first is 'Bobbles and Rib for the slim'! It is knitted in 3-ply and suggests using a dark shade for the ribbing and a lighter shade for the body and sleeves. In another nod to wartime austerity they suggest knitting the body and sleeves with pulled back wool if you have any available.

The second is the 'Brick patterned cardigan-jumper', again in 3-ply and with a lovely collar. I like this stitch pattern.

The third is called 'With pockets in the welt' made in 3-ply. You can just see the pocket on the left hand side of the picture.

I think it is amazing that all these patterns and more are found in a magazine that is A5 in size due to wartime paper shortages and is only 19 pages long.

The back cover

This lovely rabbit and duck require transfers that readers could send away for. The rabbit design cost 11d and the duck design 6d. Within the same series there is also a fox-terrier, a squirrel and a teddy bear.

April 1948.
 The front cover features a 'pretty jumper' knitted in 3-ply. It uses a main shade and two contrast shades and involves slipping and dropping then knitting stitches to create the pattern.

This 'Design from the East' was inspired by an oriental panel and is for the 'critical needle-woman'. To make the tea cosy and accompanying tray cloth you would need to send off for a transfer for the pattern. It is worked in a delicate colour scheme of pinks, peach, blues, gold and greens.

This sun-suit, knitted in 3-ply, is for  a little boy or girl. It has a pretty two colour pattern and comes with a matching cardigan.

 'A smart jacket' knitted in 3-ply. This is such a bright and cheerful colourway and uses moss stitch and stripes to create texture. I think it is very elegant but I am not sure that I actually like it.

 Another two page spread containing three patterns 'For sunny days'. 'Woollies for warm spring and early summer days. Stitchcraft selects these three lovely designs for your new knitteds.'

The first is a square neck jumper knitted in 2-ply. The lovely stitch pattern is a twisted rib.

The second is a two colour short sleeved cardigan, knitted in 3-ply. It has crochet scrolls across the yoke.

The last is a tuck in sports shirt, knitted in 2-ply to give warmth without weight. The main part is worked sideways.

Back cover.

'If you are going to the sea this year start early and knit yourself this attractive two-piece beach-suit - for sunning or swimming. The suit will behave itself in water as the main fabric is a close twisted stitch and the two colour cable panels are very firm and help keep the shape'. Would you wear it?

April 1951
 Look at this totally fantastic set! I love it! A matching cardigan and gloves  worn by a quite severe but stunning woman, accessorised with a puppy. What is not to like?! This is a 'Set for the Summer'. It can be knitted in 4-ply with long or short sleeves and with or without the necktie. The finished items are embroidered with satin stitch hearts and lazy daisies with stems and leaves.

'White is right for the sun, and what could be prettier than this attractive holiday twosome, with a Tyrolean air, for those days when the sun is shining but a chilly breeze makes it not quite as warm as it might be. Wear this light-hearted set and you will look cool and fresh and be comfortably warm. Quick to knit in inexpensive and hard wearing wool you can make the complete outfit very cheaply'.

This 'Summer Roses' cross stitch chart could have been obtained for 7d and is suggested as a picture or a cushion. I really like the colours they have chosen.

'Cables or stripes add colourful touches and use up those precious half ounces'. Of the first pattern it says 'this cheerful outdoor sweater for a girl in her teens, in the best-loved-of-all classic shape, with diamond patterns adding a gay, youthful note. If you want to use up really small scraps don't stick to one colour for the diamonds and cables'.

For the second pattern you are advised to 'go as gay as you like with this jazzy cardigan, specially designed to introduce three or more shades. Stick to one colour for the foundation - white would be pretty for summer - but use as many colours as you like for the stripes'.

These three pictures show garments which have been decorated using the transfer 'Nursery friends to embroider' which cost 11d. The instructions to make the heart shaped pinny and the dungarees are also included in the magazine. I really like the blue tits and the ducks, they are so cute.

Following on with the cute animal theme are these 'Nursery friends to knit for boys and girls of 3 and 6'. The animals are a duck, dog, puppy, lamb, rabbit and a cockerel. I would have adored this cardigan when I was a little girl. My Grandma knitted me one with Scottie dogs around the edge and I loved it.

At first glance it is a little difficult to decide what this is but it is a candlewick knitting bag. 'Candlewick is very popular at the moment, chiefly, I think, because it is cheap and quick to do, and gives cheerful, striking effects that go well in the average living room of today.' To do it doubled cotton is sewn in running stitch in the desired pattern. The stitches are not pulled down flat to the material, a little loop is left. The loops are then cut and rubbed over by hand to fluff them up and remove any loose bits'. My Grandma had several candlewick bedspreads and I used to enjoy playing with the patches of different textures on them. It is funny how something that was once as common as a bedspread is now so out of fashion.

'For the men at home'! Some lovely patterns for men and boys - a school pullover, a weekend waistcoat and diamond socks. I think the socks, in particular, are a lovely interesting pattern.

Back cover.

This image is just so pretty and I do love an ensemble! I am sure I would be better dressed if I thought about ensembles more often. Perhaps that can be something to aspire to! This ensemble consists of an angora twin set, the jumper is cabled and the cardigan is in stocking stitch. These look lovely either worn separately or together. I have several twinsets on my to knit list as they are so versatile and really increase your possible outfit combinations. The skirt is knitted in 4-ply. I really like the thought of a knitted skirt but I don't know how flattering they would be to all figures. Also, I can not imagine how long they must take to do!

This is already a giant post so I have decided that A Plethora of Patterns will continue into a Part Three.

To finish here are Stitchcraft's three golden rules for the good knitter:

Follow the instructions carefully, paying particular attention to materials and tension.

Take great pains with the making up and don't rush this.

Wash often and wisely.


  1. You showed us some lovely patterns!

    I also tried to complete a range of dutch knitting magazines. But I discovered it's quite difficult!

    1. Thank you. Are you still looking for the Dutch magazines? What era are they from?

    2. They are from the late 40s and early 50s. I'm not searching as intensive as I did before, but I always keep it in my mind when I'm at a flea market.

  2. What a jaw-droppingly lovely array of knitted pieces - each one appeals to me in various ways, and there are good many that I would be ecstatic to wear. I agree with you about the fact that knit skirts doesn't necessarily work on all figure types though. They're rarely forgiving and tend to really highlight everything (good, bad or otherwise) about a person's figure, which is why I've never taken the plunge on buying one myself (I'm not saying I wouldn't point blank, just that I have't seen one I thought I might have a half decent chance of being able to look good in).

    Thank you very much for sharing more of these marvelous Stitchcraft images with us, sweet Kate, I sincerely enjoyed seeing them.

    ♥ Jessica

    *PS* I love that you held onto your pink 60s bathroom. So long as it was structurally intact, I definitely would have done the same thing. I've always adored mid-century pink bathrooms!

    1. I have been thinking a bit more about the knitted skirts and wondered if they may be more figure flattering if worn with period appropriate foundation garments? I guess that everyone at the time would have been wearing a girdle or similar.

      Thank you for your lovely comment, I am glad you are enjoying the patterns.

  3. I love Stitchcraft - don't have many as old as your 1940s ones, though I have lots from the 1950s and 1960s.

    (Are you on Ravelry at all? I'm on as idontlikecricket)

    1. It is just the best magazine isn't it? Even though there are lots of patterns here I still haven't featured a complete Stitchcraft. I may have needed parts four and five to do that.

      I am not on Ravelry but so need to be. I will sort it out and then look out for you.