Friday, 4 May 2012

Needlewoman and Needlecraft

I’m sure it’s clear from my posts that I have rather an unhealthy obsession with knitting patterns.  Not only do I collect the individual patterns but I also, as well as other publications, collect “Needlewoman and Needlecraft” magazines.  In fact, the pattern for my most requested woolly, the “waffle” jumper, comes from a Needlewoman and Needlecraft magazine.  Due to lack of sun, and it feeling far more like winter than spring, also coupled with the fact that some kind sole has shared their rotten cold with me, I’ve stayed in the warm and have had a flick through my patterns and thought I’d share a little bit of information about these fantastic magazines with you.

The first issue of Needlewoman and Needlecraft was released in January 1940 and became a quarterly magazine with other releases in April, July and October.  The magazine was the result of an amalgamation of 2 other magazines, namely Needlecraft, which was first produced in 1907, and The Needlewoman, which was first produced in 1919.  I have issues 136 (December 1933) and 193 (September 1938) of The Needlewoman.


These magazines are quite large, measuring 23cms by 30cms.  There are some lovely knitting patterns in them but, primarily, they are more geared towards needlework of the sewing kind.  I still love them though because they are a wonderful source of information for colour combinations and have some great advertisements in them.  Just look at this one for Bird’s Custard that took up the entire back cover of the December 1933 issue – oh the colours!!


When Needlewoman and Needlecraft first came out, WW2 had begun and Britain was experiencing the “phoney war”.  The size of the magazine had been reduced down to a more modest 18cms by 26cms and had 28 pages.  Sadly, I don’t own the first issue, although I’m forever searching.  The earliest in my collection is No7 from July 1941.  It has a wonderfully written foreword about “Rationing and Needlework” and “….it’s all part of the war effort….a woman needs something to help her to relax to give her jangled nerves relief”. Impossible, I know, but, when holding such a little piece of history, I always wonder what happened to the original owner and what made her keep this humble magazine, or is that only me??  The cover design on this issue is one of my favourites and features a very patriotic pair!


Unfortunately, I then have a gap in my collection so I don’t know when, but between July 1941 and July 1942, due to the paper shortages caused by WW2, the magazine decreased in size again both in measurement, down to 14cms by 21cms, and page number, down to 22. 

The next issue I have is number 11 from July 1942, followed by number 12 from October 1942 and No 13 from January 1943.  Please excuse the rubbish photographs! 


Next up are 15 through to 19.


Closely followed by 21 through to 30.


And finally 32-39.


Obviously, the wartime ones are of most interest to me.  They are peppered with references and tips on how to “make the most”, “do better” and “do without”.  They give such an insight into the life of a housewife during WW2.  How hard it must have been to make every little bit count, not like today.  Goodness knows what the 1940’s housewife would have thought of the 100+ balls of wool stashed under my bed.  Seriously, there are that many, I just can’t walk into a wool shop without taking some home with me!  Mr Y was seriously unimpressed when a further 14 balls arrived from Deramores yesterday!  I hadn’t had time to squirrel them away before he came home - oops!  However, I digress :o)

As to dating these magazines, I don’t know why, but it wasn’t until January 1945 that a date was actually printed on them and, unlike Stitchcraft, this date wasn’t on the front, but discretely placed, in tiny font, on the inside back cover.  Does anyone know why this was the case??   

Needlewoman and Needlecraft continued far beyond the 1940’s.  It had returned to it’s original, first issue, size by No.43 (July 1950) and ran until 1970, when it became “Needlewoman” before finally being incorporated into Stitchcraft.
One day, I hope that I will be able to complete my collection.  On my “to find” list are issues 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 8, 9, 10, 14, 20, 31 and 40.

I know how fortunate I am to have such a collection.  They survived WW2, and previous owners cared enough about them to keep them safe for the last 70+ years so that I can enjoy them.  I intend to keep them just as safe so that others can, one day, enjoy them too :o)

13 comments:

  1. I collect that magazine too! I still have the ones that my grandmother bought, and I have bought over the years a few more. They are so fascinating to read and follow the patterns. Over the weekend I will be blogging about something from one of the magazines which I see you have a copy of!! I never liked the magazine when Stitchcraft took it over, mum bought a couple of copies but even she said it wasn't the same!
    Julie xxxxxxx

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    1. They're wonderful aren't they? Must be nice to have your grandmother's copies. I'll look out for your blog post :o)

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  2. I actually bought my first copy the other day because of something you said about it :) I love the wartime things too- over here, it is amazing how different the patterns and things are from the ones from back home!
    In fact, I love contrasting them! For instance, I have several pattern magazines from 1941, American, and they are big and full of lovely patterns. It is also fascinating to see the little things in the Needlewoman and Needlecraft- such as the 'make do and mend' mentality patterns.
    I always end up wondering if my Nan did things like these- she was an avid knitter, and lived through the Blitz in London.

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    1. Wow! I'm so pleased you like them - I find them fascinating. Hope you get use of the one you bought :o)

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  3. Oh my these magazines are absolutely amazing! I've collected some fashion magazines from the 40's but would adore some knitting ones! Enjoy! XxxX http://thesecondhandrose.blogspot.co.uk/

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    1. They're pretty great aren't they :o)

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  4. I was looking at buying that 1938 needlewoman magazine at a vintage fair today - what a coincidence! wish i had now, but i had run out of pennies... thanks for sharing your collection, always interesting to know more about the meagzines of the time. i have random issues of many of them, and am trying to collecting stitchcraft generally find there is too much competition for the early ones, as i can't fork out £20 per issue.

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    1. The prices that Stitchcraft change hands for, on eBay especially, are ridiculous! There are some on there for £150 for the whole year! I was really lucky and built up most of my collection 3 years ago, before bidding mania had occured - even then though I ended up paying £5.00 each. They pop up occasionally at fairs - hope you find some :o)

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  5. Hi, I have just discovered old copies of needlewonan and needlecraft on ebay .I bought issue no 36 thinking that the transfere of the cover picture of an nativity scene would be in the issue, not so, you had to send away for each of the seven embroidery transfers individually costing from 3d to 1 shilling each. does anyone have a copy of this transfere or know where i would obtain it ? How sad to loose those lovely designs

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  6. I inherited my mother's copies of Needlewoman and Needlecraft - though not her skill at knitting! I am currently re-learning crochet and am contemplating the crochet gloves from issue 43. I love that letters should be addressed to 'The Editress'. I do wish there were more of these patterns available (eg on Ravelry).

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  7. Like you I simply adore old patterns, and sewing books, I have just acquired No 8 and No 9 -October and January (although it doesn't say a year, it states that under the government control order they can only print copies for subscribers) its a fantastic magazine. I feel it all the more precious when you consider that it is over 70 years old! I am hoping to post sections of the magazine on my blog shortly, I was just doing a little research when I came across your blog. Its so nice to come across someone else who has a passion for these things!

    I really enjoy reading all the advertisements and the projects are simply wonderful.

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  8. Hi I have 10 31 and 40 you are missing avail for sale. also many stitchcraft. and needlework. not sure how to contact you by email? btw yr blog looks fab. (my fave era is the 50s but find wartime and 40s interesting too)

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    1. Hi, I'm not sure whether this message will reach you, but I can't find any other way of contacting you. My email address is lucyjyeo@yahoo.co.uk if you want to contact me about patterns.
      Best wishes
      Lucy

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