Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Vintage Knitting Books

As I've been sorting through my books I've come across a number of fascinating vintage knitting and craft titles.

From the bottom of the pile upwards they are - The Pictorial Guide to Modern Home Needlecraft, published by Odhams in 1946. This is a lovely book (with great endpapers - see left) covering all kinds of tailoring and is a must for the dressmaker.

Modern Needlework in 600 Pictures dates from 1937 and covers much of the same ground but is full of great photographs which explain everything in great detail. It's really good for explaining how sleeves are set in and all that technical stuff!

The Knitter's Craft by James Norbury was published in 1950. It has a great picture on the endpapers of Wensleydale Knitters dated 1814 (see right) and apart from some great tuition at the beginning has some wonderful vintage patterns.

The next two are both Odhams titles - Knitted Garments for All and Modern Knitting Illustrated. Neither of then are dated but they seem to be from the early 1940s. Both contain a multitude of patterns - everything from Fair Isle Mitts to a Vest and Pantie Set and some great Camiknickers.

Then we come to Mary Thomas. I've got Mary Thomas's Knitting Book and Mary Thomas's Book of Knitting Patterns - both of these are excellent books. I think you could pay a lot for early edition of these in nice condition, but mine are reprints and well-loved (that's bookseller speak for tatty). The patterns are great though and they both include photos of early knitting history.

The next book on the pile is in a very sad state indeed. It's Fleming's How to Teach Needlework. This is quite a rare little volume, undated but the preface is dated 1887. I guess if it was in good condition it could be valuable. Mine is not at all in good condition. It has handwritten notes and patterns scrawled on the endpapers and in the margins and patterns cut out from magazines pasted over some of the pages. The lady who owned it was obviously a knitter as the knitting patterns are pasted over all the sewing pages! I love it. As a piece of social history it's just superb.

Finally perching on top of all that lot is the beautifully pocketsized Encyclopedia of Needlework by Th. De Dillmont. My copy is a little olive cloth bound hardback, published by S. N. Cooke of Birmingham but not dated. I've had a little look and I can't see when it was published. It covers all kinds of needlework from embroidery and tapestry to knitting and crochet. It's just the most delightful little book - it fits just right in your palm and begs to be read. Wonderful.

Most of these books have been out of print for a very long time but secondhand editions are mostly available at very reasonable prices from (or if you're over the pond.) I'll continue to collect vintage craft books whenever I find them (at a reasonable price!) and I'll update you with any finds.

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