Tag Archives: paperback book swap

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

Source: Paperbackswap.com

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

Source: PaperbackSwap.com

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

Source: PaperBackSwap.com

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.


New Series: Vintage Needlecrafts Pick of the Week


Regular readers may know that I have a sizeable collection of vintage needlecrafts books.  (I’m using the Etsy definition of vintage, which includes anything at least 20 years old.)  I currently have over 50 vintage books, e-books, and magazines in my collection.

I love looking through older needlecrafts books.  While the very old pattern books can be hard to follow because the authors assume a high level of familiarity with construction techniques, shaping, etc., for those of us who like to modify patterns or design our own projects, these books can be an endless source of inspiration.  And my inner sociologist is often amazed (or amused) by the cultural snapshot vintage needlecrafts books can provide.

I would love to share my passion for vintage books with my readers, but if I’ve learned one thing since I started blogging, it’s not to over commit.  So I make no promises that I’ll review a vintage needlecrafts book each week in 2013, but I certainly will highlight no more than one a week ;).

To kick off this series, I’d like to share my favorite sources for vintage needlecrafts books and e-books on the cheap.  (I’ve yet to come across a steady source of vintage magazines, but would love to hear your suggestions in the comments.)

Free e-books and patterns


Low cost options

  • Amazon is a great source for vintage books, but the price range is very broad.  Sometimes you will find out-of-print books selling for hundreds of dollars and other times you will find a treasure for $0.01 plus the cost of shipping.  I generally search for specific titles, often discovered through Crochet Concupiscence (especially her series on 1970s crochet designers) or Crochetbug.  I’ve also found a lot of free vintage e-books for my Kindle.
  • I periodically search Etsy for vintage pattern books.  I find it too difficult to investigate whether or not the seller has the right to sell vintage PDF patterns, so I only buy physical copies.
  • Half.com is another interesting source for vintage needlecrafts books.  You can sort your search by publication date in both directions, so the oldest books will appear first.  It is now owned by eBay, so you can easily search there, too.  Like Amazon, there can be a wide spread in prices.
  • Library sales and thrift shops sometimes have great vintage finds for low prices.
  • PaperBackSwap is a website where you swap books.  You earn points for each book you mail to another user and can use those points to “buy” books from other members.  Essentially, you pay the cost of shipping a book media mail.  I’ve gotten a lot of vintage books here, and even if a book isn’t listed, you can add it to your wishlist so you’re contacted as soon as a member offers it for sale.

What’s your favorite source for vintage needlecrafts books and magazines? 

Vintage crochet finds

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Since getting an amazing deal on Modular Crochet: A Revolutionary New Method for Creating Custom-Design Pullovers, I have started amassing vintage crochet books at a rapid pace.  My favorite sources are PaperBackSwap.com (free books!),  Amazon.com, and Etsy. I was inspired to share my recent finds with you by this post by Andi at Untangling Knots.  Following Andi’s lead, I am limiting your exposure to the scary projects.

Vintage crochet fashion books.

I’ve already posted my favorite pictures from Modular Crochet (1978)  here. Here are some of my favorites from The Woman’s Day Book of Designer Crochet (1980).

I really liked Jacqueline Henderson’s take on various projects including home decor and clothing.

I found it harder to find projects I loved in Design Crochet (1978).  This book features many designers and is edited by Mark Dittrick.  Most of the projects were way over the top, late seventies style, and I couldn’t imagine making them today.  In general, even when the projects looked amazing in black and white, the color pics didn’t quite hold up.

The models in Design Crochet are all quite sassy.

Vintage home decor books.

The Great Granny Crochet Book (1979) is a retro version of Sarah London‘s Granny Square Love: A New Twist on a Crochet Classic for Your Home.  But without the awesome colors Sarah is known for :). Weekend Afghans (1987), by Jean Leinhauser and Rita Weiss, is the newest book in my batch, and it includes many classic afghan styles.  Decorating with Crochet (1975) by Anne Halliday is actually my favorite of the home decor bunch.

Anne definitely has a color sense to match up with Sarah London!

Vintage technique books.

Apparently, Stitch By Stitch Volume 1 (1984) was part of a multi-volume series.  Although most of the projects are pretty dated, it does have some great “how-to” photos for knitting, crochet, and other needlecrafts.  It also includes a “Shoestring” section of inexpensive projects which often feature upcycled materials.

The first page in Stitch By Stitch’s crochet tutorial.

The Coats and Clark’s Book No. 208 (1971) is something I picked up for the day when I become a hairpin lace master, while Exciting Crochet: A Course in Broomstick and Tunisian Crochet (1987) by Muriel Kent, was to add to my Tunisian crochet collection.

My copy of The Best of Woman’s Day Crochet: A Treasury of Classic and Contemporary Crochet Patterns (1976) is missing a dust jacket so I didn’t take a cover picture.  But there are some awesome projects inside.

As with Design Crochet, these fashions are best viewed in black and white.

What’s in your vintage collection?

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