Wednesday, November 16, 2005

The knitting books of my youth

Ok, we already know I have a weakness for knitting books, generally. But here's a true confession of a child of the '70's... I love hokey knitting books from the 1970's.

Not the esoteric skills books - "Design your own Aran and knit it in the round on toothpicks you carved yourself..." - though those are fun as well. It's the general knitting instruction books. Basic books put out by Sunset... Octopus... or other general craft publishers. Sometimes they have particular designers or photographers of interest, but that's just icing on the cake to me.

The cake is the designs and photos of an earlier era... and the assumption that you are a smart, capable knitter who can make very complicated patterns with a few hints, your own brain, and the right tools. The patterns are generally bold and use bold colors. Not oodles of subtlety in this era of design.

So far all three of my beloved books have come from my favorite used bookstore in Mountain View, courtesy of my brother's enormous built-up book credit there. (Thanks, bro!) But I check every used bookshop I come across, in hopes of finding more like these three treasures.

Without further ado, please meet The Treasures:

Golden Hands "Knitting", 1972

goldenhands        golden-hands-page

Primarily a pattern book rather than an instruction book. Patterns for men, women, children, babies, dogs & the home. The hairstyles and colors are soooooo 70's. (Check out Miss Thang!) There are some timeless garments as well and interesting textural stitch patterns.

"Knitting", Octopus. 1984

knitting1984        knitting1984-page

This book is more about instruction with about half the book devoted to instruction. But it whizzes right past knit and purl and onto textured patterns, cables, color knitting, and garment construction in a mere 40 pages. The back half features fairly interesting patterns, including a very cool bedspread with an intarsia design of garden path and the front of a house. The little boy in the striped raglan above could easily have been my dear spouse-o playing with his beloved Legos in 1976. This book features quite a few photos by Sandra Lousada, who went on to work so much with Debbie Bliss.

"Knitting: Techniques and Projects", Sunset, c 1976

sunsetknitting        sunset-page

This one features some very 70's cardigans with love slogans and Native American designs.. rainbows.. and a preview of the obsession with pastels coming in the 80's. I have to scan another page to show you the ridiculous kids' vest with cartoonish 3-D humans sticking out above and below a stripe through the middle of the body. But the hats give you an excellent sense of how very 70's this book truly is.

Only three so far... but I'm still looking!
So there they are: treasures from the used book store. Although I know they are... odd... they make me really happy. It's the aesthetic I grew up with. I don't necessarily plan to make any of these designs, but leafing through the patterns makes me feel so at home. It's wonderful to know there is an almost infinite supply of these books in the used book stores of the world, to keep me happy for years to come.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I guess I shouldn't have thrown out those knitting magazines from the 70's a few years ago. Huh? Who knew. Sorry, Mom

November 17, 2005 12:56 PM  

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