Vintage Needlecrafts Pick of the Week: Better Homes and Gardens Crocheting & Knitting

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This week’s pick: Better Homes and Gardens Crocheting & Knitting


Publication date: 1977

Status: Out of print but available online.

Condition: Smells like a basement, but in relatively good condition.

Crafts: Crochet and knitting.

BH&G C&K cover

I went on a hunt for this book after seeing Crochetbug’s version of the afghan on the cover.  (For those of you considering making your own, Crochetbug has set up a page with details about how she made hers.  You can also find more information on her Ravelry project pages for her original and reprised versions.)

BH&G C&K afghan
Jackie H. Curry’s Granny Square Sampler Afghan.

I even tried my hand at some of the blocks, which I eventually donated.

This book has a lot of fun home decor crochet and knitting projects.

Some of my favorites…

The Old Fashioned Windowpane Knitted Afghan by Winnie Juhl.

BH&G C&K scraps

Spiral Crocheted Table Toppers by Mary Walker Phillips.  (Side note: Mary Walker Phillips was a fascinating woman.  You can read more about her cultural impact in her obituary.)

BH&G C&K placemat


Crocheted Bed Throw.

BH&G C&K bedspreadFilet Crochet Chair Set.

BH&G C&K chair

Cozy Quilt Patterned Throw by Susan Toplitz.

BH&G C&K cozy quilt

This book is unusual for the time because it actually lists the names of the designers (in the back, but still).  Until recently, relatively few designers were actually able to include their names in their publications.  Most designs were unattributed, with the yarn company or magazine acting as the implied author.

Vintage Needlecrafts Pick of the Week: French Chic: Fashion Knitting

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This week’s pick: French Chic: Fashion Knitting by Conran Octopus Ltd


Publication date: 1986

Status: Out of print but widely available online.

Condition: Price tag on the cover and worn edges, but otherwise in good shape

Craft: Knitting

Since last week was all about fashion crochet, I thought I should share some fashion knitting this week.  As the cover photo suggests, this book is rooted firmly in the 1980s fashion aesthetic.  The subtitle is “An Exquisite Collection of Original Handknits — From Simple Cottons to Sumptuous Wools!”

According to the back cover, French Chic was a series of needlecrafts books adapted from the “highly successful French magazine, 100 IDEES, and in book form for the first time.”

The book opens with some illustrated knitting instructions and then dives into 25 patterns that are loosely organized thematically.

The Ming Jersey is inspired by a Ming vase.
Woven Roses “suggests a sunny trellis covered in climber roses.”

The patterns are mostly for sweaters worked flat and then joined.  Some are probably not going to make the transition into the 21st Century…

The Cinemascope Jersey (subtitled “jungle scenes on filmic black”).
Multicolored Coat, subtitled “black and brilliant,” from the Technicolor Mohair section.
These “simple cotton cover-ups” from the Geometrics in the Shade chapter remind me of something we might have seen on the Cosby show.

…while others fit right in.

Roll Collar Dress, also from the Technicolor Mohair section.

Befitting the ’80s color sensibility, most of these patterns include elaborate colorwork charts.  One of my favorite designs is the Japanese Wave, inspired by Hokusai.

I also like the classic short sleeve tops in the Thirties Favorites chapter.

Although many of the patterns are dated, I think a sweater lover could have fun with this book.  And, of course, the colorwork charts could be used for other projects as well.

Ravelry members can see some of the other patterns, including the beautiful Paintbox Cardigan (which I forgot to photograph), here.

Vintage Needlecrafts Pick of the Week: Quilts & Afghans from McCall’s Needlework & Crafts

This week’s pick: Quilts and Afghans From McCall’s Needlework & Crafts


Publication date: 1984

Status: Out of print, but widely available online

Condition: Acceptable

Craft(s): Crochet, knitting, and quilting

This is a collection of patterns that originally appeared in McCall’s Needlework & Crafts magazine.

The book includes 14 quilt patterns, 11 crochet patterns, and 5 knitting patterns.  The last chapter includes general instructions for patchwork, applique, quilting, tufting, embroidery, crochet, and knitting.

I was amused to see that the introduction talks about the “modern interpretations of old-fashioned patterns.”  I guess that phrase never gets old.  (Naturally, the book now appears dated.)

It opens with the quilting patterns.  Some of my favorites are the Fan Quilt and the Broken Star Quilt.

The patterns are pretty detailed, but mostly use templates.  I’m guessing that many of today’s quilters might prefer strip quilting (or is that just me because I’m lazy?).  Of course, you can always convert the projects or just use the quilts for inspiration.

One major difference from many modern quilting books is that there are actual instructions for how to quilt the tops, including templates for the stitch outlines.  There are even tips for enlarging the templates (without a scanner or copy machine).

The next section is the crochet patterns.  Most are also quilting inspired.  Some of my favorites are (clockwise, from top left) Color Wheels Afghan, Star Quilt Bedspread, Florentine Afghan, and Autumn Windows Afghan.

Another sign of the times: The Florentine Afghan is made with Tunisian crochet and then there is a chart to work needlepoint over it.  Today, it would probably be charted as a crocheted (or Tunisian crocheted) colorwork pattern.

The Star Quilt looks like an awesome scrap buster, but I don’t think I could handle making all 114 blocks (each of which is made up of 12 pieces!).

Most of the knitting patterns are not really to my taste, but I did like the Argyle Afghan.  The chart could also be used for Tunisian crochet or single crochet.

Overall, this book has some nice patterns and some good tips.  I like the fact that it is multi-craftual and that doesn’t seem to be a problem as it might be today.  It has great inspiration inside, but I think many of today’s crafters would probably take some shortcuts and make adjustments to the patterns.