Monday, June 29, 2009

Summertime and the Crochetin' is Easy!

Child's Bikini pattern, from McCall's Needlework & Crafts, Spring-Summer, 1972

Aw, so adorable! The child, that is.

The bad news about this kind of suit is that it’ll never stay on the child. Even worse than your average Little Girl Bikini (which can be counted on to bunch up under the armpits and sag as the crotch fills with sand), the sheer weight of the yarn, combined with the "relaxed fit" will ensure that her bottoms will be down around her ankles before she even makes it into the water.

The good news is that streaking was a big fad in the early 70s, so your daughter will fit right in.

According to McCall’s, this is a "rainbow of colors for the beach" – assuming your rainbows only come in shades of pink and blue. The smog in the seventies must have severely limited the range of visible colors. McCall's also assures us that this suit is "easy to make"! Yay, let’s dive right in!

For the complete pattern (and more snark!):


SIZES: Directions for girls’ size 4. Changes for 6, 8 and 10 in parentheses.
Size ten... Back then, a ten year old girl might fit that size. I’m sure her friends would in no way make her life a living hell over wearing a hand knit "rainbow" bikini.
Body Chest Size: 23’’ (24’’-27’’-28 1/2’).

Blocked Chest Size (closed): 23’’ (24’’-27’’-28 1/2’’)
I’m not sure what the purpose is to including both body and blocked chest size, when the measurements are identical.
For body measurements, see page 28.
Nope, ain’t gonna happen. There’s entirely too much writing on page 28, and I've got a summer to enjoy.
MATERIALS: J. & P. Coats Knit-Cro-Sheen, 1 (2-2-2) balls each of Skipper Blue (SB), Nu-Purple (NP), Watermelon (W), Mid Rose (R), Parakeet (P) and Aqua (A). Steel crochet hook No. 1. (Or English size 3.) 1 1/2 yards round or oval elastic.
J. & P. Coats Knit-Cro-Sheen is boilfast mercerized knitting and crochet cotton. But don’t count on fast boiling to kill all the e-coli from your local beach.
GAUGE: 11 hdc = 2’’; 4 rows = 1’’. See page 24.
You’re on your own, Jellybean.
Notes: Suit is worked with double strand of each color throughout. Cut and join colors as needed.
And it’s crocheted in cotton thread, using a tiny crochet hook. I’m starting to get a bad feeling about this "easy to make" pattern...
STRIPED PATTERN: With 2 strands, work 1 row each of NP, A, P, SB, R, W. Repeat these 6 rows for striped pat.

TOP: BACK: Beg at lower edge, with 2 strands NP, ch 62 (65-73-78).

Row 1: Hdc in 3rd ch from hook and in each ch across – 60 (63-71-76) hdc. End off; join 2 strands A in last hdc. Ch 2, turn. Check gauge; row should measure 11’’ (11 1/2’’-13’’-14’’) wide.

Row 2: With 2 strands A, hdc in each hdc across – 60 (63-71-76). End off; join 2 strands P. Ch 2, turn. Repeat last row, working in striped pat until piece measures 2 1/2’’ (2 3/4’’, 3’’, 3 1/2’’) from start. Note last color used. End off; turn.

Shape Armhole: Row 1: Keeping to striped pat, sk first 3 (3-4-4) hdc, join next color in next hdc, ch 2, hdc in same hdc, hdc in each hrc to within last 3 (3-4-4) hdc. End off; turn.

Row 2: Sk first hdc, join next color in next hdc, ch 2, hdc in same hdc, work to within last st – 1 hdc dec each side. End off; turn. Repeat last row 1 (1-3-4) times – 50 (53-55-58) hdc. Work even until armholes measure 2’’ (2 1/2’’, 2 3/4’’, 3’’) above first row of armhole shaping. End off; join next color. Ch 2, turn.

Shape Neck: Row 1: Hdc in each of 18 (19, 20, 21) hdc. End off; turn.

Row 2: Sk first 3 sts (neck edge), join next color in next st, hdc in same hdc and in each hdc across – 15 (16, 17, 18) hdc. End off; join next color. Ch 2, turn.

Row 3: Hdc in each hdc to within last 2 hdc – 13 (14, 15, 16) hdc. End off; turn.

Row 4: Sk first st, join next color in next st, hdc in same hdc and in each hdc across – 12 (13, 14, 15) hdc. Work even until armhole measures 4 1/2’’ (5 1/4’’, 5 1/2’’, 6’’) above first row of armhole shaping. End off. Sk center 14 (15, 15, 16) hdc on last long row, join double strand of color to be used in next st, ch 2, hdc in same hdc, finish row – 18 (19, 20, 21) hdc. Complete same as for first shoulder, reversing shaping.

LEFT FRONT: Beg at lower edge, with double strand of NP, ch 32 (34-38-40). Working in stripe pat on 30 (32-36-38) hdc same as for back, work even until piece measures same as back to underarm, end same color row. Check gauge; piece should measure 5 1/2’’ (6’’, 6 1/2’’, 6 3/4’’) wide. End off; turn.
If your gauge is off, just go find another child on the beach who’s the right size. It’ll be easier than starting the whole project over again.
Shape Armhole: Row 1: Keeping to stripe pat, sk first 3 (3-4-4) hdc, join next color in next hdc, ch 2, hdc in same st, hdc in each hdc across. End off; join next color. Ch 2, turn.

Row 2: Work in pat to within last st – 1 hdc dec. End off; turn.

Row 3: Sk first hdc, join next color in next hdc, work across – 25 (27, 30, 32) hdc.

For Size 8 Only: Repeat rows 2 and 3 – 28 hdc.

For Size 10 Only: Repeat rows 2, 3, 2 – 29 hdc.

For All Sizes: Work even until armhole measures 1 1/2’’ (2’’, 2 1/4’’, 2 1/2’’) above first row of armhole shaping, end arm side. End off; join next color. Ch 2, turn.
I’m starting to suspect that “easy to make” doesn’t mean what I think it means.
Shape Neck: Work as for neck shaping of back until armhole measures same as back, end same color row – 12 (13-14-15) hdc. End off.

RIGHT FRONT: Work same as for left front, reversing shaping.

FINISHING: Run in thread ends. Block to measurements (see page 27). With backstitch (see page 26), sew side and shoulder seams.

With pins, mark position of 6 (6-7-7) loops evenly spaced on each front edge, having first pin 2 rows above lower edge of each front, last pin at each neck corner.

Edging: From right side, join 2 strands P at lower right front edge, sc in edge of first row, * ch 5 for loop, sc in end of each row to next pin, repeat from * 5 (5-6-6) times, sc around neck edge to top left front, work from * to lower left front edge, end ch 5, sc in last row on lower left front edge. End off.
Maybe “easy to make” meant something different in 1972. After all the movie “Easy Rider” wasn’t exactly about an easy ride from L.A. to New Orleans.
Armhole Edging: From right side, with double strand P, sc around each armhole edge. Join with a sl st in first sc. End off.

CORD: Cut two 3 (3-3 1/2-3 1/2) yard lengths of each color. Make twisted cord. See page 103.
Sigh... All right. Just this once.


Method requires two people.
It’s a fun party game!
Tie one end of yarn around pencil. Loop yarn over center of second pencil, back to and around first, and back to second, making as many strands between pencils as needed for thickness of cord; knot end to pencil. Length of yarn between pencils should be three times length of cord desired.
Wouldn’t it have been helpful to know this before you started all that looping and tying?
Each person holds yarn just below pencil with one hand and twists pencil with other hand, keeping yarn taut. When yarn begins to kink...
Heh, they said kink.
...catch center over doorknob or hook. Bring pencils together for one person to hold, while other grasps center of yarn, sliding hand down at short intervals, letting yarn twist.
We now return to our original programming.
Knot each end. Beg at lower front edge, lace cord through loops up front edges. With all colors make two pompons; attach to ends of cord. Tie ends into bow.
Resist urge to fling top at daughter. It’s not her fault there’s still a whole other piece to crochet.
PANTS: BACK: Left Leg: Beg at lower edge, with 2 strands SB, ch 47 (51-56-60).

Row 1: Hdc in 3rd ch from hook and in each ch across – 45 (49-54-58) hdc. End off; join R. Ch 2, turn. Work 1 row R, 1 row W. Check gauge; piece should measure 8’’ (9’’-10’’-10 1/2’’) wide.

For Sizes 8 and 10 Only: Work 1 row NP. End off.

For All Sizes: Right Leg: Work same as for left leg. Working in same color sequence as stripe pat, join double strand of next color in last st. Ch 2, turn.
By this point, you should be seriously questioning why you didn’t just buy a goddamn suit for your kid.
Join Legs: Row 1: Hdc in each hdc across right leg to within last 6 (7-9-10) hdc; from wrong side, sk first 6 (7-9-10) hdc on left leg, hdc in each remaining hdc – 78 (84-90-96) hdc. Put a marker between last hdc made on right leg and first dc on left leg for center back. End off; join 2 strands of next color. Ch 2, turn.
Let’s face facts, the brat’s going to outgrow this swimsuit in a year or two, anyway.
Row 2: Work in hdc to within 2 sts of center marker, dec 1 hdc (to dec 1 hdc, yo hook, pull up a lp in each of next 2 hdc, yo hook and through 4 lps on hook), move up center marker, dec 1 hdc, finish row – 1 hdc dec on each side of marker. Work 1 row even.
And it’s not like a bikini will become an heirloom your trampy daughter will pass onto to her born out of wedlock offspring.
Row 4: Repeat row 2. Repeat last 2 rows 1 (2-2-2) times – 72 (76-82-88) hdc. Remove marker. Work in stripe pat until legs measure 7’’ (7’’-7 1/2’’-8’’) from start. End off.
That’s right, I said tramp! When a girl her age wants a bikini, it’s just a short, slippery slope to bra burning and free love.
FRONT: Work same as for back.
Warning: Attempting to crochet a bikini out of cotton thread may warp your perspective, and create a deep, abiding resentment towards all girl children.
FINISHING: Run in yarn ends. Block pieces. Sew side seams. Sew leg and crotch seams.
Although, if you’ve made it this far, you might as well finish and be done with it.
Leg Edging: Cut elastic to leg measurement; fasten ends securely. From right side, with double strand P, working over elastic, sc around each leg edge, end sl st in first sc. End off.

Top Edging: Work as for leg edging with double strand of next color in sequence.
But in future, if you see any "easy to make" project with J. & P. Coats Knit-Cro-Sheen that’s larger than a doll’s dress or egg cozy – run!

Click here for the printable pattern.

Read more!

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Who Says Crocheting Ain't Sexy?

Ad for American Thread, from McCall's Needlework & Crafts, Spring-Summer, 1972

Everyone says only little old ladies spend their days crocheting in rocking chairs. But, see? See? Crocheting is sexy! Really!

I’ll prove it.

For even more snark:

Sunshine days, what girl doesn’t love sunshiny days and skimpy clothing, and the wolf whistles as she sashays past?

Minutes to spare. Sure, because she’s got to finish that alluring bikini in time for the pool party!

Hours to live...

What? How is THAT sexy?

Apparently American Thread is radioactive. In just a few hours she’ll look like a rapidly aging Captain Kirk in that Star Trek episode “The Deadly Years”.

No, we won’t underestimate the Uncommon Seamstress, we’ll just mourn her when she’s gone and buried in a lead lined coffin. And all she had time to create was the lining, frantically hand-crocheted in Harvest Gold and Reaper Orange.

Read more!

Thursday, June 25, 2009

It's Prom Night!

Lacy Stole Pattern from McCall's Needlework, Fall-Winter, 1952-53

“You look radiant!” said her mother.

Ruthie didn’t feel radiant. She felt itchy. “What’s this made of?” she demanded, picking the shawl off her shoulders with two fingers. “You promised me a new silk stole for the prom!”

“Rayon taffeta ribbon is much more practical than silly old silk,” her mother said, in a soothing tone.

Tears welled up in Ruthie’s eyes. She didn’t want practical. She’d planned on brushing up against Frank as he affixed her corsage, the sensuality of her silk shawl against his skin promising that if he was very good, she’d left him get to third base tonight.

But instead her mother had presented her with this rayon, latticework eyesore that would probably get snagged on her date’s admittedly hairy hands.

“And I don’t care what your father says, sunshine yellow is very chic this season.”

“Makes her look like she’s got jaundice,” came the pronouncement from behind the evening paper.

Ruthie burst into tears. “Frank won’t want to be seen with me! It’ll be the worst night of my life!”

“Nonsense! I’m sure some of your girl chums will be there, you can always have fun with them if Frank turns into a cold fish.”

Ruthie narrowed her eyes suspiciously at her benignly smiling mother. Was this some kind of diabolical maternal plot to have her die an old maid?

For the complete pattern (and more snark!):

Lacy Ribbon Stole

Size: Aprox 22’’ wide, 2 1/2 yds. Long

Materials: Nomotta Ruban d’Art, 6 spools. Plastic crochet hook, No. 6.

If you look very closely at the lower right hand corner, you can see the hideous yellow ribbon Ruthie's mother used to make her stole.
Note: Work loosely and hold ribbon flat for best results.

Ch 2, s c in 2nd ch from hook.

Row 1: * Draw up a 1/2’’ lp on hook and make a ch to complete lp, ch 1, repeat from * until 42 lps have been made. End row ch 1. Turn.

Row 2: Sk 3 lps, s c in next ch-1, * draw up a 1/2’’ lp and make a ch to complete lp, ch 1, draw up a 1/2’’ lp and make a ch to complete lp, ch 1, sk 1 ch, s c in next ch of previous row, repeat from * across; 20 large holes.

Row 3: The lps in this and following rows are made the same as lps in previous rows and will be referred to as lp.
The “lps” in this and following rows being entirely different creatures from the 1/2’’ lps mentioned earlier. These lps presumably include not just the original lp, but also a ch 1, and additionally they might even include a “sk 2 ch, and a s c in next ch of previous row.” Or not.
To start row make 1 lp, ch 1, 1 lp, ch1, 1 lp, ch 1, sc in next ch 1 of previous row, * 1 lp, ch 1, 1 lp, ch 1, s c in next ch-1 (between 2 lps), repeat from * to end of row.

Rows 4 to 100: Repeat row 3. Scarf should be almost 2 1/2 yards long.
And if it isn’t, then you just keep right on until it is. There’s no crying in crochet!
Blocking and Pressing:

Block stole full length and width. Pin down on padded surface. Lay a damp cloth over stole and steam with a hot iron. No damp cloth is necessary if steam iron is used.
Because anyone who was anybody had an electric iron by the early fifities -- but one with a steam attachment, now that was exciting new technology!

Picture courtesy of Meeker's Patented Antiques.

Leave stole blocked until dry. Block and press before making loops at end.

Loops at Ends:

Finish the two short ends with sc lps in each ch st. To make lp st, wind ribbon over first two fingers, insert hook into st, draw ribbon through, pulling ribbon from under finger, drop lp from finger, letting it fall to right side of work and complete s c.
Yeah, like that’s not going to snag on absolutely everything, until it completely unravels at the most inopportune moment.

Ruthie was right! Her mother was determined to make her daughter’s prom an unmitigated disaster, thereby keeping Ruthie virginal – and living at home – for the rest of her life.

Click here for the printable pattern.

Read more!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Cultural Appropriation is Very, Very Tacky

Ad for Reynolds Yarns, from McCall's Needlework & Crafts, Spring-Summer, 1972

What is a Kutu, you ask the wise, old hermit who lives on the mountain top.

He strokes his long white beard, and replies, Know this, seeker of truth, Kutu is a town in the Congo, a Bantu language in Tanzania, and a blood sucking flea in Malaysia.

Kutu is also one man’s answer to "How was it in Cambodia?", a Warrior Priest in a Massively Multiplayer Online game, and an acronym for the mother of all menstrual cramps.

However, if you seek full enlightenment, you must know of the terrible depths to which this venerable word once sank. For once upon a time, Kutu was a collection of wild, wooly and wretched ponchos, replete with false promises of witchcraft and social acceptance.

Knit yourself up a Kutu and you will be magically transported to the deck of a cruise ship with your exotic lover. Fortunately, this ad also reveals that Borneo royalty wore Super-Chromatic Peril Sensitive Sunglasses to protect themselves from the tackiness of their royal garb.

For the even more snark:

This woman thought that a mohair Kutu with zebra stripes would be just the foxy new thing to wear to the new social club for singles. Something that would say, “I am a confident, cosmopolitan woman who will still knit and cook for the right man.”

But the other women whispered behind her back and the men stammered and made excuses rather than look directly at her. It was the minister’s wife who finally pulled her aside and asked why she wore something so obscene to a church organized social.

“We can support your decision to become a feminist,” she said, “but do you really have to wear a picture of your, ahem, womanhood on the outside of your clothes?”

Reynolds didn’t just supply Southeast Asian inspired poncho patterns to white suburbanites. They were also hard at work meeting the demands of the superhero niche market. The woman on the far left is summoning her fishy friends, while the one in the centre is about to use her awesome flying squirrel powers to nab an arctic bank robber. We’re not sure what the final woman’s superpower might be, but it appears to have something to do with rainbows.

Read more!

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Happy Father's Day!

Golf club cover pattern from Beehive Knitted Wear for Men, published by Patons & Baldwins Limited, Toronto, c. 1940.

Just look how rugged and active these handsome men are, Mildred thinks. Why all she has to do is knit up one of these sweaters or vests, and Bob will surely take up hunting or yachting. Some manly pursuit, anyway. He’ll become the dreamboat she’d always wanted, a virile, confident man like Clark Gable or Humphrey Bogart, who’ll whisk her away to cocktail parties and soirees. Instead of the pushover she married, who got drunk last Father’s Day and spent the night weeping over his lost youth, face first in Mrs. Neely’s begonias.

But then Millie opens the magazine, looks at the live models’ faces, and she’s no longer so sure.

Golf club covers, she decides. She’ll make him some golf club covers for this year’s Father’s Day. Then Bob will have to learn to golf, and he can go out onto the links with his boss, and maybe he’ll finally get that damn promotion.

For the complete pattern (and more snark!):

Golf Club Covers


Beehive Wool String, 2 oz. Blue, 1 oz. each Red, White (or you may use your odd ends of wool string for the stripes)
I have no idea what weight “wool string” might be, but with a gauge of 10 sts to a single inch, it’s probably similar to sock yarn. After all, they do somewhat resemble socks. For men with truly terrible bunions.
Set of No. 14 “Aero” Steel Knitting Needles.


Length of shaft cover, 8 ins. Length of head cover, 3 1/2 ins.
Yeah, they all claim their shaft is 8 inches ...

10 sts. = 1 inch

Check Tension – see page 42.
Oh, all right!
Alas, you can no longer write to Patons & Baldwins as they were bought out in 1961 by J.P. Coats, who are now owned by the Guinness Peat Group. Which means that now “in case of difficulty”, your best bet is to have a wee pint of stout.
No. 1 Cover for the Driver:

With Blue wool cast on 48 sts. (16. 16. 16).
Surprise! You’re knitting in the round!
Work 8 ins. ribbing (K2, P2).

Next row: *K1. Make 1 (by knitting thread between the 2 sts. on previous row). K1. P1. Repeat from * to end of round. (72 sts.). Work 1 1/2 ins. ribbing (K1, P1).

To make Stripe: Join White wool. Knit 1 round plain. Join Red wool. Knit 2 rounds plain. Join White wool. Knit 1 round plain. Join Blue wool. Knit 1 round plain. Continue in ribbing (K1, P1) for 1 1/4 ins. Divide sts., 36 sts. on 1st needle, 18 sts. on 2nd needle, 18 sts. on 3rd needle. Proceed:—
Red, White and Blue. You’d think a Canadian publication could have picked a more Canadian colour scheme. Like the green, red, yellow and indigo of a Hudson’s Bay blanket, surely that won’t clash with his golf pants.
**1st needle: K2tog. through back of loops. Rib to last 3 sts, K2 tog. K1. 2nd needle: K 2 through back of loops. Rib to end of needle. 3rd needle: Rib to last 3 sts. K2tog. K1. ** Repeat from ** to ** to 32 sts. in round. Graft sts. See page 44.
Sigh. For the record, this is what page 44 says...

Divide the stitches equally on two needles. With the wool at one end and with the right side of the work facing, break off the wool, leaving a length of several inches, and thread this with a wool needle. * Inserting the wool needle, as if for knitting, into the first st. of the front needle, draw it through the st. and slip the latter off the needle: inserting the needle as if for purling, into the second st. of the front needle, draw the wool through and let the st. remain on the needle: taking the wool under the front needle and inserting the wool needle, as if for purling, into the first st. of the back needle, draw the wool through this st. and slip the latter off the needle: inserting the needle, as if for knitting, into the second st of the back needle, draw the wool through and let the st. remain on the needle, bring the wool forward under the needle and repeat from * until all sts. are worked off, darning in the end of the wool securely when finished.

Or you could just sew a goddamned seam.
Okay, that last sentence was mine.
No. 2 Cover for The Brassie:
“Brassie” is a historical term for a style of club no one uses any more. It’s similar in purpose to a 2 wood, which you’re unlikely to find in a modern bag. If he complains, tell him where he can stick it. (On his 5 wood, of course! Sheesh, people...)
Work as for No. 1 cover to 72 sts. in round. Work 1 1/4 ins ribbing. Work stripe. Work 4 rounds ribbing. Work 2nd stripe. Work 14 rounds ribbing. Finish as for No. 1 cover.

No. 3 Cover for The Spoon:
“Spoon” is more defunct golf terminology. It’s somewhat like a 3 wood.
Work as for No. 1 cover to 72 sts, in round. Work 12 rounds ribbing. Make stripe. Work 3 rounds ribbing. Make 2nd stripe. Work 3 rounds ribbing. Make 3rd stripe. Work 6 rounds ribbing. Finish as for No. 1 cover.

Make 3 tassels, using all 3 colours in each tassel. Sew one at top of each cover.
All done! For nothing says “Happy Father’s Day” like garish, tassled covers for his golf clubs.

Click here for the printable pattern.

Read more!

Friday, June 19, 2009

The Tell Tale Crochet Hook

Ad for Cartier-Bresson, Famous French Cottons, from McCall's Needlework, Fall-Winter, 1952-53.

Today she’ll be spending twenty hours crocheting the latest accessories out of French Cotton Thread. Only the best cotton will do. It just has to have that lustrous quality, that beauty and delicacy that only Cartier-Bresson can provide.

Twenty hours. She’d work longer, but the man must have his dinner. And then there’s after dinner... but she doesn’t think about that. Instead she thinks about single crochet, double crochet, and crocheting through the back of the loop. As soon as he’s asleep, she slides out of bed and picks up her crochet hook and starts again.

For even more snark:

As her fingers fly she vaguely remembers that her life wasn’t always like this. Back before she’d given up her bridge club for séances and black magic, she’d hardly spent any time at all crocheting. Laughing over a copy of C.B.’s Modern Crochet Fashions and a silver cup of goat’s blood, it had seemed like such a delightful idea to summon a handcrafter’s demon to help her finish all her half-completed projects. If only she’d read the small print about “round-the-clock fashions. . .”

Her eyes are stinging with fatigue and she thinks to herself that if she had no eyes, she wouldn’t be able to crochet. She could finally put her hook down and sleep. But no... the toilet seat must have a doily. So must the trash can lid. And she realizes with horror that the man has no lace to decorate the sleeves of his shirts.

She keeps crocheting.

Read more!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Spiderwoman, Spiderwoman...

Sweater Pattern from "Newlands' - Original Designs by Kerry Kane" Vol 7, Book 12, 1948

...does whatever a spider can. Which in 1948 meant knitting! But not any old kind of knitting. Spiderwoman, AKA mild-mannered Jessica Drew, was all about the newfangled “graph knitting”. This sweater girl’s web won’t just catch thieves, it’ll catch all the young men’s hearts.

Despite Marvel’s attempts to cover up the real story, Jessica did not spend decades in a stasis chamber after her fortuitous uranium poisoning. Instead she spent several years crashing college socials, netting vulnerable lettermen in her seductive sweater web.

After an unfortunate incident involving a telephone booth cram, seventy-five nubile young men, and her super strength, Jessica was arrested by then CIA agent Nick Fury and imprisoned in a secret maximum security facility for super-hussies.

For the complete pattern (and more snark!):

As this recent photo by Frank Cho proves, she spent the next several decades honing her knitting abilities, before finally escaping. Sadly, the pattern for this sexy costume is still classified by S.H.I.E.L.D. But thanks to the Freedom of Information Act, the Retro Spiderwoman outfit is now available to everyone.

“It’s Five O’Clock” Dressy Wool Sweater

Five o’clock AKA the cocktail hour. You can’t just get sloshed in any old frumpy sweater. So, release your inner spider woman, get out to the lounge and snag yourself a piano man!
Size 34
Apparently uranium poisoning makes you rail thin. Who knew?
Materials Required

6 oz Newlands Adalusian *Kroy Baby Yarn or 3 ply Dawn Glo Yarn
No. 10 needles
2 packages gold sequins
The asterisk above takes us to a note on the bottom of the next page. “Buy *KROY and be SURE” That next asterisk takes us to even tinier letters, which inform us that Kroy is a registered trademark. I was disappointed that there were no more asterisks to be found, explaining just how SURE we need to be.
Tension: 8 sts – 1 inch. 10 rows – 1 inch.
Yep, you’d better possess superspeed if you want to finish this one before you go insane.
Using Seed Stitch and basic graph outline work to underarm making sweater 4’’ longer than stated on graph.
Because for God’s sakes they couldn’t give you an accurate graph. This is still new technology, people!
At underarm decrease 6 sts in 2 rows (4-2).
If anyone understands what 4-2 means in this context, please post! Inquiring minds want to know.
From underarm to shoulder continue in seed st without increasings.
Good grammar! Clear instructions! A Jedi craves not these things!”
Sleeves: Cast on 90sts (32-34 size) 98 sts (36-38 size). Work in seed st for 1 3/4”. Decrease 1 st each side every other row 24 times then decrease 1 st each side every row 13 times. Bind off remaining sts.

Sew sequins directly on sweater in SPIDER design as illustrated.
And that’s it.

What? You were expecting more? C’mon, superheroines don’t need their hands held.

And besides, they’ve got years to kill while they’re serving their time in the big house.

Click here for the printable pattern.

Read more!

Monday, June 15, 2009

DIY Cloche Hat

It’s amazing how much of a difference the choice of yarn makes. Here is Patty’s fun in the sun Straw-Tex cap, crocheted in two strands of warm and cozy Noro sock yarn. Just because I’m encouraging my readers to make these retro gems, doesn’t mean you’re wedded to the original – and occasionally questionable – choice of materials.

“JFK” was my model for this fashion photo shoot. Despite her pseudonym, she appears unconcerned about the nearby grassy knoll. Perhaps she’s intending to make her getaway in the boat under the blue tarp.

For more pictures:

Here is the cap pictured from a different angle, revealing the unexpected feature of a slight point in the very centre. No, that’s not the actual shape of JFK’s head. That peak is there to drive home to all of us the necessity of owning a hat steamer (which, from the look of it, could double as a bong).

Alternatively, you could boost the retro appeal of this beanie by adding a propeller to its pointy top!

The original pattern crocheted up fairly easily, except that my gauge may have been off by a considerable amount. If I had cast off when instructed, my beautiful model would now be wearing a yarmulke. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

If you are brave enough to recreate or redesign any of the patterns listed on this site, take a picture and send it along to victoriadunnwrites at hotmail dot com. I’ll be happy to display your handiwork here for universal adulation.

And this blog is guaranteed 100% grassy knoll free.

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Saturday, June 13, 2009

Yesterday’s Craft Generation Thinks You’re Square

Ad for Walco Macrame Belt kits from McCall's Needlework & Crafts, Spring-Summer 1972.

Feeling bad about your Dacron plaid jacket and perma-press polyester pants? Are the cool kids all wearing wrinkled tie dye t-shirts and ripped jeans? Do you stand on the outside, wistfully breathing in the fumes of patchouli incense and Mary Jane? (The drug, not the girl, even though rumor has it that M.J. has refused to bathe until Nixon is out of office.)

Well, despair no more! Thanks to the good folks at Walco, you can now fit right in!

For even more snark:

For a measly five dollars each (together equal to $51.15 US today), you can order a Macrame Belt Kit which will get you groovy Walcords in stunning colours never seen in nature, and easy to follow instructions on how to tie a knot.

It’s about time. Your mother can’t tie your shoes for you forever.

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Thursday, June 11, 2009

The Curious Case of Bonnets & Bags, Part 2

Lacy Brim Hat and Bag Pattern from "Bucilla easy-to-crochet Bonnets and Bags", 1970.

As of last posting, the perpetrator of Patty’s airport misadventure has been identified as the infamous villainess, Dr. Egret.

The cancellation of The Man from U.N.C.L.E. the previous year did not just deprive many teenaged girls of their sexy, pouty Russian boy toy, but also left many T.H.R.U.S.H. villains at loose ends.
We may never know who the bomb was originally intended for (although the visiting Sultan of Fictistan may have been a target), but it appears that poor Patty earned Dr. Egret’s ire by daring to fashion herself a matching hat and bag out of Straw-Tex.

Who could have suspected, in the halcyon days of 1970, the significance of this green-eyed crime? This was the first documented case of Crochet-Rage and, as recently declassified U.N.C.L.E. files reveal, it was regrettably not the last.

For the complete pattern (and more snark!):


Bucilla Straw-Tex
Hat—8 skeins, Bag—6 skeins
Bucilla Straw-Tex is “raffia satin straw” which just sounds so classy. And comfortable! However, 8 skeins isn’t as much as it sounds, and as this picture proves, you’ll soon be singing “I found it on E-Bay”.

Plastic Rings—1-1/8th’’ in Diameter
Hat—1 ring, Bag—74 rings
Just getting classier by the minute! Only the best for Dr. Egret.
Felt for bag lining—19 ins. by 11 ½ ins.
Wait, not plastic? Or Naugahyde? What about zebra stripes? They go with everything!
Gold chain—28 ins. long—see Finishing.
So, is it real gold, plated gold, or plastic painted gold? Three guesses and the first two don’t count.
Crochet Hook:

Hat—“Boye” Aluminum Hook, Size H, Size H—or size you require to obtain gauge.
Bag—“Boye” Steel Hook, Size 0
What? Now plastic just won’t do? And you can forget about those hippie dippy wooden and bamboo hooks. They come from Red China, and you’ll just be crocheting communism into every loop.
Gauge: Hat—7 sc = 2 inches , 4 rounds = 1 inch


With loop on hook, work 18 sc in plastic ring.

Note: Do not join rounds. Mark first st for beg. of round.

Round 1—* Work 2 sc in first sc, 1 sc in each of next 2 sc; repeat from * 5 times around; 25 sts.
Round 2—* Work 1 sc in each of next 3 sc, 2 sc in next sc; repeat from * 5 times around; 30 sts.
Round 3—* Work 1 sc in each of next 2 sc, * 2 sc in next sc, 1 sc in next 4 sc; repeat from * 5 times, 1 sc in each of last 2 sc; 6 sts increased. Repeat round 3 six times, being careful not to have inc. over inc. of previous round; 72 sts.—about 6 ins. in diameter.
This was originally written as “Repeat round 3-6 times...” which gave this transcriber a brief moment of confusion. How on earth was she to decide whether to crochet three, four, five or six more rounds? Was it dependant on the size of the hat-wearer’s head? Changing the “6” to a “six” and removing the hyphen made everything much clearer.
Draw up last loop leaving yarn attached and steam lightly.
One option is to buy a hat steamer. But if you can’t find one at Walmart, you can always just hold your hat over a kettle or a steaming pot of water until it’s damp (but not soggy!), then shape it and let it sit until it’s cooled down. While you’re waiting, you can crochet a poodle cosy for the teapot.
Next Round—Work 1 sc in each sc around.
Repeat last round 15 times.


Round 1—Ch. 3, * 1 sc in next sc, ch. 3; repeat from * around; end ch3.
Round 2—*1 sc in next ch 3 loop, ch 3; repeat from * around; end ch 3.
Repeat Round 2 until brim measures 3 ins., join with sl st into ch 3 loop at beg. of last round. Fasten off.

Cord Trim:

With 2 strands of yarn, work a ch 28 ins. long. Sl st in 2nd ch from hook and each remaining st of ch. Fasten off. Pin and sew cord along last sc row to desired headsize. Tie as illustrated.
In other words tie it in a knot. Evil T.H.R.U.S.H. villains are masters of knot tying, especially when it comes to restraining helpless U.N.C.L.E. agents.

Row 1—Work and join 11 rings as follows: With loop on hook, work 13 sc in first ring to cover half of ring, * work 1 sc next ring to join ring, work 12 more sc in same ring; repeat from * until 11 rings are joined. Work 13 sc in remaining half of last ring, ** drop loop from hook; from right side insert hook under back loop of last sc on next ring; pick up dropped loop and draw through sc; work 13 sc in remaining half of ring; repeat from ** 9 times. Fasten off.

Mark 5th ring for lower edge of front of bag and 7th ring for lower edge of back of bag, 6th ring will be bottom of bag.

Row 2—*Work 7 sc in new ring; drop loop from hook; from right side insert hook under both loops of 7th sc in last half of first ring of row 1; pick up dropped loop and draw through sc—thus joining rows 1 and 2; work 6 sc in same ring; repeat from * joining 11 new rings to corresponding rings of Row 1 and to each other. Continue around remaining half of all 11 rings as in Row 1. Fasten off.
Repeat Row 2 four times; 6 rows of rings are joined.

Fold piece in half crosswise. The first 5 rings of each row form front of bag, the 6th ring forms the bottom of bag; the last 5 rings form the back of the bag.

Side Gussets:
Make 2. Work and join 4 rings as for Row 1. Fasten off.

Pin the 4 gusset rings to 5th and 7th rings of bag to form sides of bag, beg. at lower edge and ending 1 row from top of bag. Tack center st of gusset rings to center st of corresponding rings on sides and bottom of bag.
Line bag with felt or scarf.
Because what else are you going to do with all those excess handmade scarves you have lying around the house? It’s not like you were actually going to wear them.
Note: Chain for handle may be purchased in any drapery or trimming department, or with double Straw-Tex, make a ch 28 ins. long. Slip chain through top rings of bag at both ends and join together.
Straw-Tex! Accept no substitutes!
Unfortunately Dr. Egret remains at large. All that U.N.C.L.E. agents found of her was a purple Straw-tex hat and a hand-crocheted mask.

Click here for the printable pattern.

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Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Crochet Hooks Are From Mars

Ad for Boye Crochet Hooks and Knitting Needles from McCall's Needlework & Crafts, Fall-Winter 1952-53.

On first glance, the sexy curves of the green crochet hook complement the green chair in which our curvaceous young mother is sitting. And the bright red needle perfectly matches our new father’s tie in both colour and phallic form.

However, using our handy dandy magnifying glasses, we discover that the crochet hook boasts a masculine “round head” which is used for speedy “crocheting action”. While the concave point of the needle suggests a traditional feminine role in eliminating dropped stitches (picking up after everyone again).

And the cross gendered fun doesn’t end there!

For even more snark:

Why, just look how enthusiastic Dad is about his wife’s new knitting needles.

One might suspect that his crushing despair at his first born being a girl(e) has driven him crackers. Or perhaps he’s thrilled at finally finding just the right implements to destroy those pesky vampires next door.

But the truth is, Dad just wants to get his hands on those enormous needles, in order to knit himself a sexy little angora sweater. Mother’s been complaining that he’s stretched all of hers out of shape. Which is hardly fair, considering that he’s no wider across the shoulders, and she’s far chestier. Especially when she wears those sexy cone bras that she never, ever lets him have.

Maybe I could knit myself one of those, he thinks.

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Sunday, June 7, 2009

The Curious Case of Bonnets & Bags, Part 1

Cap and Bag Pattern from "Bucilla easy-to-crochet Bonnets and Bags", 1970.

Patty thinks airline travel is a gas. She’s bugging out of her small time burg in her best blue frock, with the collar that reminds her of wings. She’ll be taking flight with National Airlines, because there’s no friendlier airline around. Their stewardesses all wear buttons that say, “Fly Me!”

She doesn’t understand the tingle that gives her inside, but she can’t wait to join the Mile High Club with one of them. She overheard her dad bragging about it to his poker buddies, and she’s determined to crash the party. After all, it’s 1970! Women aren’t second class citizens anymore.

Making a good impression on a budget isn’t easy though. Patty has hand crocheted a matching hat and bag to knock their socks off. Too bad this phrase will turn out to be literal, when the mysterious lady in purple plants a bomb in her bag.

On the bright side, when Patty opens her bag, she will definitely be joining the Mile High Club. Parts of her, anyway.

For the complete pattern (and more snark!):

Cap and Bag

Materials: Bucilla Straw-Tex, Cap – 4 skeins, Bag – 14 skeins
Crochet Hook: “Boye” Hook, Size G
And remember only Boye will do. Don’t be trying any of those fly-by-night Acme hooks. They’ll just blow up your hands.
Ch3, join with sl st to form a ring. Work 6 sc into ring. Mark for beg. of round.

Round 1 – 2 sc in each sc; 12 sc.
Round 2 – 1 sc in next sc, 2 sc in next sc; repeat from * around; 18 sc.
Notice how there isn’t actually a * for you to repeat from. That’s to see if you’re paying attention.
Continue to inc. 6 sts in each round, with care not to have inc. over inc. of last round, – until piece measures 5 ½ ins. in diameter.
You’ll need to pay attention, because it’s going to take some advanced math to figure out how to inc. evenly while simultaneously never playing one inc. over another. Isn’t this fun?
Next Round – Ch 3, * skip next sc, 1 hdc in next st, ch 1, repeat from * around, end with sl st in top of ch at beg. of round.

Next Round – * Ch 2, 1 hdc in ch 1 space of last round, 1 hdc in next st; repeat from * around. Join with sl st in top of ch at beg. of round.

Band – Work one sc in each st around. Continue in sc for 1 ¼ ins. or desired depth. Join with sl st. Fasten off.
And oh look, we’ve got a cap! Telling us which one we were doing first would have spoiled the surprise. Much in the same way that calling 15 minutes before a bomb goes off just ruins it for everyone.

Work as for cap until 5 ½ ins. in diameter.
Because in no way is that boring.
Next Round – Work 1 sc in back thread of each sc around.
Next Round – 1 sc in each sc through both looks of sc.
Repeat last round 3 times.
It appears that women libbers have rejected stitch markers as relics of the antiquated, sexist past, but for God’s sake don’t lose your place.
Inc. Round – 2 sc in each sc around.
Work even in sc until 9 ins. above inc. round.
Dec. Round – * Draw up a loop in next 2 sts, yo and through all loops, 1 sc in next st; repeat from * around.
Work 3 rounds even.
Eyelet Round – Ch 3, skip next sc, work 1 hdc in next st, *ch 1, skip next sc, 1 hdc in next st; repeat from *; end ch 1, join into top of ch 3.
Next Round – Work 2 sc in each ch 1 space around.
Inc. Round – Work 2 sc in each sc of last round.
Work 2 rounds even.
Next Round – * Ch 3, skip next sc, 1 sc in next st; repeat from * around.
Fasten off.

Drawstrings – Make 2 – Using double yarn, make a ch 48 ins. long. Fasten off. Starting at any point, weave one drawstring through eyelets around entire bag. Knot ends of drawstring together. Beg. at opposite end, weave 2nd drawstring in and out of same eyelets as first drawstring. Knot ends of 2nd drawstring together.
Then leave your bag unattended for several minutes. When they ask you at the airport, “Did you pack this bag yourself?” make sure to say, “Why, yes sir! Let me show you what’s inside!”

Yes, it’s little adventures like these that brighten an otherwise humdrum existence.

Click here for the printable pattern

ETA: Part 2 (with the thrilling conclusion) is here.

ETA x 2: DIY Straw-Tex Hat (except it's not actually made with Straw-Tex)

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Thursday, June 4, 2009

DIY - Poodle Tea Cosy!

In the spirit of fair play, it’s not enough to merely mock the vintage patterns on this blog, we have to attempt to recreate at least a few of them.

Like this one!

Here is a poodle and a half (the other half is spaniel), photographed outside because my camera isn't very good:

As you can see, my puppy is working on honing her psychic abilities. Can I eat it, Mom? Can I? Huh?

My neighbour walked over at this point and looked down at my latest, greatest home decorating effort. “You actually spent time on that?”

“Only a couple of hours!”

“But, you spent time on that!” He left, shaking his head in disbelief.

Men. They just don’t understand the inherent rewards of domestic creativity.

For more pictures:

I have no idea why people kept slowing their cars down and staring out their windows at me and my poodle tea cosy. Haven’t they ever seen an outdoor fashion photo shoot before?

True, my poodle pal doesn’t look exactly like the one in the picture. He came out a little bit more... plus sized than I’d expected. I’m not sure why. Perhaps teapots were larger back in the sixties.

I just need to find something taller...

There’s a coke bottle under my poodle now. Amazing! It’s a perfect fit!

Poodle-warmed coke, the drink of the new generation. Also works beautifully for extra large bottles of cheap alcohol, and any other drink you might want to serve warm.

Here’s my poodle revealing his handy-dandy super-secret pouring hole. Either that, or he’s showing the effects of a long night of partying.

For the Record: My poodle tea cosy was crocheted in Red Heart Supersaver Worsted, white, on a 6 mm crochet hook – yes, the pattern called for a size 00, but 9 mm seemed ridiculously large, so I went with a smaller sized hook. Tongue is crocheted out of a scrap of red yarn, as my husband expressed some resistance to the idea of cutting up his clothes. And no, you’re not seeing things. Those eyes are indeed two green Christmas tree shaped buttons. This is what happens when patterns don’t come with complete materials lists, and crochet projects become scavenger hunts.

If you are brave enough to recreate any of the patterns listed on this site – including this poodle! – take a picture and send it along to victoriadunnwrites at hotmail dot com. I’ll be happy to display your handiwork here for the whole world to see!

And just think, once something is on the internet, it never, ever goes away.

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Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Pompoms will change your life!

Ad for Walco Bead Company from McCall's Needlework & Crafts, Fall-Winter 1954-55.

Little known fact: The “Glamour for Pennies” business was a cut throat, dog-eat-dog, fight to the death back in the 1950s. How do we know this? Walco Bead Company was forced to register "Cork ’n Pompom" as a trademark.

Because goodness knows, back in the day everyone wanted to cork ’n pompom. It was all the rage, and why not? Cork ’n Pompoms can be dangled from your wrists, your neck, your ears. You can use them as curtain pulls. Hang them off the cat’s tail. Glue them to the toes of your husband’s shoes. He’ll be thrilled! And if not, your Cork ’n Pompom pasties are sure to restore domestic tranquility.

For more snark:

However, cork ’n pompomming was not a hobby for the faint of heart. Unlike modern instant gratification crafts, these glamorous pearl, sequin, and rhinestone encrusted cork balls were not glued together, they were sewn. One heartbreakingly, miniscule bit of bling-bling at a time.

So chic... so sophisticated... so very OCD.

Be sure to save up those pennies. You'll be needing a lot of them!

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