No, not yet another post of pre-Wonderwool Wales squeals. Seven sleeps to go, mind, but an unexpected delight has come up…
A friend of mine was in a little cafe where she takes an elderly relative every week. They also sell second-hand books. She picked up a copy of Montse Stanley’s Handknitter’s Handbook (at the massive sum of 50p), explaining that it was a present, and the cafe owner said, somewhat desperately, ‘Would your friend like these too? Free?’
An enormous pile of the late 60s-early 70s partwork, Golden Hands. I think I’ve now got about 30 issues, though most are only going to be in my custody briefly as they pass through on their way to the charity shop.
In the process I have acquired some issues of another kind, forced into some truly scary confrontations with the past.
I rest my case. Personally, I think we’re getting very close to crimes against humanity.
I’m only glad that my mother’s innate reluctance to part with hard cash for anything as obviously uneconomic as a partwork must have kicked in, because I just know that if she’d seen this
I’d have had to leave home. Yes, they are, I know they are, because they are quite explicitly described as bloomers in the text. The model looks deeply worried too, and I’m not surprised. We’re in Pretty Baby territory here, only years before Louis Malle ever thought about his Storyville child prostitutes. Though I suppose I could be being a little harsh.
This has to be a boy baby:
Bet – forty years on – he’s still sitting like this in pubs, though hopefully not wearing knitted leggings and a giant bobble hat.
(Interesting how much production values have improved. So often the shots are badly set up and the colours are badly chosen, even by the standards of 1972, the date of my editions.)
And then there are some other delights, quite frequently perpetrated in crocheted acrylic. So not only are they hideous – well, in my opinion, she added hastily – they also use a phenomenal amount of yarn. Still, they’d grow quickly.
Even the dog is averting its gaze. This fetching little number is described as a Killarney Cloak. Quick, throw it in the bog!
There are some appalling accessories. Hats aplenty, often with bobbles, frequently with peaks; bags not so much to die for as to run away from. Bobbles are a leitmotif. I never knew that about the very early 70s – anti-war protests, yes; mind-altering drugs, yes; magic bus through Central Asia, yes – ah ha, we may have an explanation. Here are some slipper socks (you affix your sock onto a bought slipper base):
Not that bad, really. If you ignore the terrible attack of bobble-growth disorder that is affecting the model’s left leg.
But why stop at socks – sorry, slipper socks – when you can knit yourself a whole trouser suit?
No. Just no.
The production values, incidentally, don’t just affect the styling. The knitwear isn’t very well finished either. There’ll be a close-up of an intarsia panel and you can clearly see where the ends have been inadequately woven in; I found a shot of a neckband where the test knitter had knotted off the ends and left a marked lump. Having said that, I imagine the knitters and contributors wouldn’t have been paid very much, and either they got fed up or the peanut/monkey equation came into play.
And under all the late 60s-early 70s scariness, there are actually some interesting things. This crochet dress, for instance, has a certain restraint that might go down well in a super-stylish retro vintage shop in, say, Islington:
Mind you, it’s also got the dodgy finish.
There are sections on techniques and on stitches, and on all sorts of sewing-related crafts other than knitting. Toys feature a lot (and if you are in possession of a Sasha doll and want to knit clothes for it, then you need Golden Hands). This is a – well, guess:
It’s a lamb.
Yes it is.
Because it says so. And, as it also says, the thing coming out of its mouth is a garland.
Enough. Back to garments. I quite like this, too, though I’m not so struck on the model’s hair. Is it an animal? Is it some sort of growth? Is it – I do hope it is – a wig?
And at this point I have to draw attention to the styling. At least there’s been some thinking here about colour and context unlike, for instance, the trouser suit. That seems to have been shot in the back room of a pub by a photographer who was lying on the floor, possibly having drink taken.
This one is a rather surprising bit of industrial funk (ish) with the corrugated iron and the great pile of coke behind the model, whose tense expression and pose suggest that she’s thinking of leaving if she can only make her right leg work. But do check out the signpost in the background.
It’s pointing to Cok.