I’m holding a reproduction copy of the first ever edition of ‘The Woman’s Weekly’, published in 1911, a magazine that is still going strong today, as far as I know. I’m turning the pages out of historical curiosity and because, well, vintage knitting/crochet.
Apparently ‘WWW’ stood for ‘Woman’s Weekly Wednesday’ in those days: I guess they’ve had to ditch that acronym, in recent years.
May I show you a few things? Let’s begin with the sublime, before moving on to the ridiculous.
I was disappointed that there was practically no knitting, other than an unillustrated pattern for ladies’ and gentlemen’s bed socks that was so brief, I can show you it here in full:-
<whispers> Had they not heard of gauge? Don’t think I’ll be casting on that one.
There was plenty of crochet, however: some stitch instructions for beginners, and a couple of dainty lace designs. 1911 was a time when facts were facts and anyone thinking differently was just wrong, and let me tell you, There Was Only One Way To Hold A Crochet Hook. (The ‘pen’ grasp, rather than the ‘knife’ grasp, in case you’re interested, with the hook protruding a very precise 1.5 inches from the tip of one’s forefinger. Can you imagine the side-eye in social circles when some young upstart held her hook incorrectly? Anyway, I’m all about the ‘knife’ grip, so I’d have been a social outcast.)
I rather like the mistletoe lace, worked as crochet leaves sewn on to a crochet foundation. And it seems like the WW (or rather WWW) staff liked it too, since it was billed as “one of the most charming patterns ever designed,” and “the first mistletoe lace pattern ever”. (How did they know? These people didn’t even have Ravelry!)
You know, this could be pretty, perhaps worked double-width as a table runner against a contrasting cloth for the Christmas table. There’s a pretty edging design, too, described as especially suitable for your underclothes threaded with ribbon. Um. No. But I hope I’m not snarking too hard, because I love reading this stuff from a historical interest point of view.
The rest of the magazine, especially the adverts, is a mixture of stuff that makes me think plus ça change, and stuff that makes me go, “Woah….” whilst waggling my hands in front of me and backing away slowly. In the former category, we have the delights of “the removal of over-fat” (loving that terminology) using an exciting new medication called Antipon. I’m not quite sure what Antipon does, but it’s clear from the text of this advert-disguised-as-article-in-a-way-that-would-be-unethical-today that It Definitely Works. There’s also the unspecified bust enhancement remedy, and the treatment of ‘hair neglect':-
Amongst the slightly more concerning content (to these modern eyes), is Our Very Own Medical Adviser, who is confident that infant convulsions are caused by eating the wrong sort of food, and that they may be treated by dunking the poor wee convulsing child in a warm bath whilst pouring cold water over their head.
Let’s just leave that one there, shall we, and hastily time-travel back to 2015.
By the way, here’s my usual statement that the infrequency of blogging at present is related to ongoing IVF. (Only another 10 days to go, so I hope to be more productive after that.) And I was in the children’s hospital with one of the Toddler Twinnage for a few days (he’s fine now), so it’s been a little crazy and even quite un-knitty here for a while.
But let me finish by showing you something fun, that’s got nowt to do with yarn. I don’t know whether you’ve ever seen these kits for children to look after caterpillars and watch as they mutate into lovely Painted Lady butterflies. (I say ‘look after’, but caterpillars make delightfully undemanding pets.) I bought a set for the Toddler Twinnage, and it was all rather successful. We had tiny fluffy caterpillars, then we had stonking great chubby (‘over-fat’ in WW parlance) waddling caterpillars, then we had cocoons hanging from the lid of their enclosure, and then suddenly and magically, we had beautiful Painted Ladies. When we set them free in the garden, they seemed reluctant to leave
probably too institutionalised and rested on our hands for a while, delighting both my sons, who now regard themselves as experts on butterfly handling.
My crochet made a good place to land, too, though it slowed my progress on my latest crazy project, somewhat.
Some very large and very crazy crochet is on its way. I can’t wait to show you…
Acknowledgement: Mother Twisted, many thank yous for the vintage Woman’s Weekly. And I’m so excited that by the end of this week, we’ll be living in the same county as each other!