Knitting Books from World War Two

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I recently wrote an article for Piecework Magazine’s blog about some old knitting books I have that were passed down to me. They originally belonged to my Great-Grandmother and they were all published during World War Two. The article includes a picture of the books, a look inside the books, and a picture of a crocheted table mat that I made from one of the books.

I have really enjoyed reading through these books, looking at the crazy (and beautiful) fashions and black and white pictures. I have also used some of the patterns. The photograph above is of another crocheted table mat that I am making. The pattern is from one of the books. I think it’s so pretty!

I thought I would share some more details about the books that didn’t make it into the article for Piecework.

I noticed there was a theme of sustainability. The knitters and crocheters of that time made the most of what they had and were very creative. The Pictorial Guide to Modern Home Knitting (1939) included instructions on how to straighten bent plastic needles with hot water and how to make a stitch and row counter out of cardboard.

One great tip for those who didn’t own a yarn bowl was to put the ball of yarn in a jam jar, or wrapped in a serviette with an elastic band, so that the wool would unwind without getting dirty rolling around on the floor.

Ingeniously, the author even suggested filing the end of a broken metal needle to make a cable needle though I think today most people wouldn’t resort to this for the sake of a cable needle.

Also, all the books had detailed instructions on how to unpick, steam, straighten and reuse wool to make new garments and accessories. Knitting for All Illustrated (1941) had a whole section in the back that showed pictures of the before and after of remaking garments. Even felted garments could be saved by cutting away the worn areas and crocheting new collars and sleeves on.

I found it interesting that all the knitting books included a short section on crochet with some crochet patterns. Knitters utilised simple crochet for embellishing knitting and more advanced crochet was used to make lace and table mats. It seems crochet was seen as a useful tool in a knitter’s belt.

I hope you enjoyed hearing a bit more about my knitting books.

Do you own any vintage knitting books? Have you ever made a vintage pattern?  Let me know in the comments, let’s talk about the 1940s!

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