Tag Archives: vintage crochet

Vintage Needlecrafts Pick of the Week: Magic Motif Crochet

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This week’s pick: Magic Motif Crochet by Maggy Ramsay.

Source:  Amazon.com

Publication date: 1987.

Status: Out of print but available at reasonable prices online.

Condition: Very Good.

Craft: Crochet.

Magic Motif Crochet cover

I discovered this week’s pick via this post on one of my favorite blogs, Crochetbug.  Like Leslie, I was very intrigued by the Textured Squares Afghan.

Magic Motif Crochet textured squares

As you can guess, this book is primarily about motif projects.  Though the Textured Squares Afghan is an exercise in pure texture, there are many colorful projects in the book.

Magic Motif Crochet rainbowsThis picture features the Giant Rainbow Ball, a kid’s karate outfit (how awesome is that!), and a fun Rainbow Afghan.

The author, Maggy Ramsay, was apparently based in New York when the book was published.

Magic Motif Crochet Maggie Ramsay

I wonder if she still lives in the area?  I couldn’t find any recent information for her online (although admittedly, I only glanced through the first few pages of the Google search).

I was also intrigued by the different geometric patterns, especially since someone recently asked me to make a Necker cube baby blanket.

Magic Motif Crochet climbing blocks

The Climbing Blocks Afghan is made with 123 diamonds (in three colors) and 6 triangles (for the edges).

Magic Motif Crochet tumbling blocks

The Tumbling Blocks Afghan is made with 23 squares (in two colors), 12 half squares (in two colors), 4 quarter squares (in two colors), and 60 diamonds (in three colors).

(By the way, I didn’t make up baby blanket.  That’s a whole lot of pieces for a project that I don’t get to keep!)

Not all of the projects are solid fabrics.  There are some lacy designs, too.

 

Magic Motif Crochet lace

I especially like this Antique Medallion Placemats and Centerpiece design.

What’s your favorite source of vintage crochet motif patterns?

Vintage Needlecrafts Pick of the Week: Reader’s Digest Complete Guide to Needlework (1984)

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This week’s pick: Complete Guide to Needlework (Reader’s Digest) by Reader’s Digest.

Source:  MC’s mother’s collection.*

Publication date: Eighth printing (1984) of 1979 edition.

Status: Out of print but available at reasonable prices online.

Condition: Very Good.

Crafts: Applique, Crochet, Embroidery, Knitting, Lacework, Macrame, Needlepoint, Patchwork, Quilting, and Rug-making.

Complete Guide to Needlework cover

You know a book is a classic when you find it in the collections of two amazing women.  I came across this book in my grandmother’s collection after she died, and I took it home with me when we cleaned up her apartment.  Two years later, when I moved in with MC, I found another copy in the books he kept to the side after his mother died.  (I ended up giving my grandmother’s copy to one of my best friends.)

This book is a great resource because it includes information on so many different needlecrafts, but also because it goes beyond the basics in a way that most contemporary books don’t.  There is definitely an assumption that the readers of this book will need these crafts to make garments and home decor items for their families, and as a result, the writers attempt to share the skills needed for designing and finishing great custom items.

From the section on crochet necklines.
From the section on shaping crochet necklines.
From the section on knitting necklines.
From the section on shaping knitting necklines.

The book starts off with a section on embroidery, a craft I love the look of but lack the patience for actually doing.

 

Complete Guide to Needlework 21 embroidery sampler

There are quite a few great embroidery samplers shown, followed by detailed illustrations for making loads of stitches.

Complete Guide to Needlework 46 running sts

I haven’t spent much time looking through the next two sections, Needlepoint and Applique.

The Patchwork section has a lot of beautiful and inspiring pictures, but I’ve mostly avoided it.  (As a fairly lazy quilter, I’m partial to newer books with detailed strip piecing instructions.)

Grandmother's Flower Garden pattern.
Grandmother’s Flower Garden pattern.

The Quilting chapter mostly focuses on hand quilting, but there are some tips for machine quilters, too.

The Knitting chapter is one of my favorites.  Some of the highlights include tips for getting neat selvages…

Complete Guide to Needlework 284 Selvages

illustrated and written instructions for different types of double increases and decreases…

Complete Guide to Needlework 291 decreases

Complete Guide to Needlework 293 decreases

and the above-mentioned tips for neckline shaping.

Complete Guide to Needlework knitting necklines 2

There are also some great patterns, like this one for a classic Aran sweater…

Complete Guide to Needlework 315 aran pullover

and this one for a lovely evening set.

Complete Guide to Needlework 354 evening set

And, naturally, I love the crochet section, too.  Like the knitting chapter, it includes a stitch guide…

Complete Guide to Needlework 377 motifs

and sections on quite a few specialized techniques including woven crochet…

Complete Guide to Needlework 383 woven crochet

Tunisian crochet…

Complete Guide to Needlework 387 Tunisian crochet

and broomstick lace.

Complete Guide to Needlework 389 broomstick lace

And also like the knitting section, there is plenty of information about shaping crochet garments.

Complete Guide to Needlework crochet sleeves

After the crochet section, I tend to lose interest since I don’t do any lacework, macrame, or rug-making.  But I do like that there are sections on all of these crafts, because you never know when I might pick one of them up!

Vintage Needlecrafts Pick of the Week: Crochet Workshop by James Walters

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This week’s pick: Crochet Workshop by James Walters.

Source:  Amazon.com

Publication date: 1983 reprint of a 1979 publication.

Status: Out of print, but available online (sometimes, for exorbitant prices)  Update: Thanks to PlanetJune for letting me know that Crochet Workshop will be republished by Dover next year.  You can pre-order it on Amazon here.

Condition: Good.

Craft: Crochet.

Crochet Workshop cover

I first learned about this delightful book from Crochetbug.  (You can learn more about James Walters in this post on Crochet Concupiscence.)  Unfortunately, the book’s condition is such that it is difficult to enjoy.  You see, it reeks of smoke.  One day, I hope to air it out enough for me to actually want to read through it, but until then, I am limited to brief moments of picking it up until the smell is unbearable, and then washing my hands profusely.

I did take some time to photograph it so I could share some of it with you.

Crochet Workshop 8 suit
A freeform crochet body suit.

You can almost immediately feel the sense of whimsy, creativity, and joy that Walters has to offer.

Crochet Workshop 67 shaping

The book includes all kinds of information that you would rarely see in a crochet book today.  As a freeform pioneer, Walters shows you how to create your own projects, rather than rely solely on patterns.

Crochet Workshop 105 swirls

There are many great illustrations, and I can’t tell if these are by Walters or someone else.  Here is one showing the progression of various spiral crochet pieces

Crochet Workshop 156 motif2Crochet Workshop 157 motif1

These are part of a section that explains how to construct motifs of different kinds.

Crochet Workshop 207 freeform

There are examples of several freeform garments included in the book…

Crochet Workshop 214 hairpin

as well as explorations of specialized techniques, like hairpin lace.

Crochet Workshop 215 hairpin lace risque

Most of the projects are displayed artfully, rather than functionally.

Crochet Workshop 248 thigh highs

I really wish I could bear to read through this book, because I am sure I would learn a lot and be completely inspired.

Crochet Workshop 225 gown

Hopefully, one day it will come back into print (or be available as an ebook) and I will have the chance to read it cover to cover.  Until then, does anyone have any tips for removing foul odors from books?

Vintage Needlecrafts Pick of the Week: Tricot Crochet by Rebecca Jones

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This week’s pick: Tricot Crochet: The Complete Book
by Rebecca Jones.

Source: Lacis Museum of Lace and Textiles.

Publication date: 2000 US reprint of a 1991 Australian publication.

Status: Available online ($22 at Lacis, or $80 on Amazon).

Condition: Excellent.

Craft: Tunisian Crochet.

 

Tricot Crochet cover

I reviewed this book before, but I felt it needed another look as a vintage book.  It is delightfully quirky, in a self-published prior to 2005 kind of way.

The book’s subtitle is “Everything you wanted to know about this cross between knitting and crochet which has been given such common names as Afghan Crochet, Scotch Knitting, Fool’s Knitting and Shepherd’s Knitting.”  And it definitely covers a lot of ground.

For example, Rebecca shares some of her favorite vintage crochet ads.

Tricot Crochet  vintage ads

She also includes cute stick figure drawings to explain different concepts.

Tips for fitting a sweater.
Tips for fitting a sweater.

She shares a sizable stitch guide.

Tricot Crochet stitchesMost of the book is in black and white, but you do get to marvel at the color pictures in a few sections.

Tricot Crochet cat pillows

I suspect Rebecca is a cat lover…

Tricot Crochet color sweaters

With the revitalized interest in Tunisian crochet in the past several years, this book may not seem as critical.  But I applaud Rebecca Jones for putting together this book when she did, and for sharing her love of Tunisian crochet and her sense of whimsy with all of us!

Vintage Needlecrafts Pick of the Week: The Crochet Sweater Book by Sylvia Cosh

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This week’s pick: The Crochet Sweater Book: Over 30 original designer patterns by Sylvia Cosh.

Source: PaperbackSwap.com.

Publication date: 1987.

Status: Out-of-print but widely available online.

Condition: Very good with protective library-type plastic cover.

Craft: Crochet.

Crochet Sweater Book cover

The Crochet Sweater Book is the first true crochet fashion design primer that I’m aware of in the modern era. (Notice I qualified that with “that I’m aware of.” Those of you with fantastic vintage collections, please feel free to jump in with suggestions to correct me.) Written by the extremely talented Sylvia Cosh (with, according to the inside but not the cover, James Walters), this book basically translates runway fashions onto your hook.  (Ravelry members can see 12 of the designs from the book here.)

In her introduction, Cosh describes crochet as “one of the easiest and most versatile forms of fabric making” and reminds us that it’s “surprisingly easy, and very satisfying, to create different textural effects, unusual color combinations, original stitch patterns or an indvidual garment shape.”

This book highlights Cosh’s favorites from her collection of “hand-dyed crochet sweaters and cardigans…exported to Europe, the United States, and Japan” and shares the patterns in “yarns readily available in the shops.” In addition to her shop fashions, she includes

a range of complimentary, but rather different, designs, to ensure greater variety. However, one of my aims in preparing this book was to offer inspiration and to encourage experimentation… I hope you will use my patterns as a starting point for individual interpretation and eventually for creating your own crochet designs.

A woman after my own heart!

Two versions of the Basic Sweater, made with sport weight yarn.
Two versions of the Basic Sweater, made with sport weight yarn, from the Simple Beginnings chapter.

The book begins with a section on Crochet Design, where Cosh describes some of her inspiration from nature and shares how she uses crochet stitches to interpret these themes. She also mentions her preference for “[l]arge batwing sweaters” that “seldom date.” Um, I’m not totally sure I agree with that assessment, but it is good to know what her preferences are! Cosh also explains that her garments are also predominantly made in the round to eliminate the dreaded seaming issue.

The next section, Before You Begin, reviews materials, measurements, and working in the round, and refers you to other section of the book for reference on colors, charts, pattern abbreviations, and techniques. She spends a full page on gauge, and includes a detailed insert on making a gauge swatch.

The next several sections focus on yarn and color section. Selecting Yarn has some great pictures of different weights, types of yarn, and colors. Yarn Texture shows swatches of double crochet and bobbles/dimensional stitches in a variety of textured yarns and explains different fibers and yarn textures. In Selecting Color, Cosh enables all of us stash horders by providing tips for “Building Up a Yarn Collection.” In Sources of Inspiration, Cosh shares pictures of yarn (in balls and wrapped) next to various inspirations including shells, pottery, flowers, mushrooms, and beads. It is a really interesting way to look at yarn colors and textures! For Understanding Color, Cosh provides a basic overview of color theory.

A fashion sketch of Silver Linings in blue.
A fashion sketch of Silver Linings from the Simple Beginnings chapter.

The next chapter, Simple Beginnings, shares four simple patterns, including the Basic Sweater with two variations, Simple Stripes and Color Blocks, and Silver Linings, with a turtleneck and bobbled center panel. Many of the sweaters have a simple shape so the patterns are a page or two at most (including pictures!).

The Bobbles and Diamonds chapter is where Cosh starts exploring her wild textures and colors. The five patterns in this chapter combine yarn and color with stitch texture to create bold projects. My favorites are Hydrangeas, a vest with bobbled floral motifs, and Crunchy Creams, which looks like a totally radical ‘80s fashion fantasy come to life.

Stone Circles cardigan.
Stone Circles cardigan from the Circles and Stripes chapter.

In the next chapter, Circles and Stripes, Cosh plays with a Catherine Wheel pattern (the “circle”) as well as stripes. Her Midnight Circles and Stone Circles cardigans and Balloons child sweater use the same stitch pattern with different sleeves and colors for completely different looks. In her Gilded Pinks cardigan, Cosh shares tips for combining many colors for a stashbuster project while avoiding “a rag-bag look.”

The Geometrics chapter is where Cosh uses color blocking, highly contrasting stripes, and charted color changes to create exaggerated color effects.

City Squares, from the Geometrics chapter.
City Squares, from the Geometrics chapter.

 

Cotton Jazz (left) and Jazz Lines from the Geometrics chapter.
Cotton Jazz (left) and Jazz Lines from the Geometrics chapter.

The Chevrons chapter makes use of ripple or chevron motifs, often with added texture from post stitches.

The dramatic Butterfly Blues, from the Chevrons chapter.
The dramatic Butterfly Blues, from the Chevrons chapter.

The final chapter, Celtic Cables, makes use of bold cabled diamonds with encased bobbles.

Kids Cables from the Celtic Cables chapter.
Kids Cables from the Celtic Cables chapter.

In the back of the book, Cosh has a Crochet Techniques section with illustrated instructions and/or descriptions for basic crochet stitches, increasing and decreasing, working in the round, joining and working with multiple colors, and finishing. She also has a small gallery of textured stitch swatches.

Swatches from the Crochet Techniques section.
Swatches from the Crochet Techniques section.

Throughout the book, you get a sense of Cosh’s warmth and creativity, and you can tell that she is a passionate freeformer. You have a feeling that even if you follow the pattern exactly, you will have a uniquely individual creation each time. I enjoy that feeling of freedom and whimsy that she shares in her writing – it doesn’t seem that you can do anything “wrong” with your crochet when reading this book.

My one gripe about this book is the subtitle.  There are exactly 31 designs, and, as I mentioned, several are variations on other designs.  Yes, technically over 30 but really right on the line.  But this is a relatively minor complaint for a book with so much going for it.  The Crochet Sweater Book has great, stylized photography that shows the details of each design.  The patterns are frequently charted in addition to the abbreviations.  Cosh shares design tips throughout and the layout is easy to follow and attractive to view.  And, it’s a hardcover so it lays flat and you can crochet while reading.

Confession time: Way back when, I bought this book online for a few bucks. When it arrived, my inner-teenager had a fashion attack. (Parents/teachers, you know what I mean. You’re trying to show an important image or film from the past, and all the kids can talk about is how stupid everyone’s hair looked back in the day.) I looked through the pictures and many of them screamed ‘80s to me. I decided I would never use this book and ended up selling it to someone else online. Years later, I learned about Cosh and discovered she was a crochet genius so I probably needed to give this book a second chance.  I ended up searching for it again and finally brought it back into my collection.

I’m telling you this story because if you were overwhelmed by bright colors or over-sized sweaters in the ‘80s, too, you might have this gut reaction. I urge you to work your way through the book anyway, because what you will find is exactly what Cosh promises in the introduction, a starting point for your own creativity to flourish, aided by her expertise as a designer and teacher.  If you can get your hands on a copy, I strongly recommend that you do.