We’re continuing on with the history series that debuted last week. Today we’re looking at crochet in the year 1931.

1931 Crochet Portraits

president hoover

There are very few people who do crochet portraits. The only two I really know of right now are Jo Hamilton and Pat Ahern. I had always assumed that this was a new thing. But it turns out that someone apparently crocheted a portrait of President Herbert Hoover. I discovered this from several 1931 news reports about a painter named Douglas Chandor who had done a portrait of the artist. These articles quote the president as saying that he had previously had his portrait done in feathers, shells and crochet and “added with a smile that most people seemed to prefer his crocheted portraits”. I would love to see one of those. I wonder if they survived?

1931 Crochet Style

The style of crochet at this time in history continued to be mostly cotton crochet, often edgings. For example, check out this from a 1931 newspaper about Paris style influencing “99 out of 100 girls” to crochet edging on cuffs:

1931 crochet

Another newspaper talks about the fashionable crocheted lace jabot:

1931 crochet jabot

1931 Crochet Circles

The Schenectady Gazette made references to meetings of crochet circles or crochet clubs in 1931. I see these same references to crafty club meetings in newspapers today (well, in online newspapers, through Google alerts)!

And In Other 1931 Crochet News

I think my favorite thing that I found in the 1931 Google News archives about crochet was an article about an upcoming Amateur Night at The Fox Palace. It said that the headliner would be Al Drost, who had just “written and staged a musical dancing and singing revue”. It is the description of him that mentions crochet; saying that “Al has proved his couraged in the roped arena, on the gridiron and with a crochet hook”. I so wish I was able to find out more about that story!

Man Crochets In Mystery Thriller

The Painesville Telegraph published a short mystery thriller story and it mentions crochet:

crochet fiction 1931

Notice that it talks about dropped stitches; that’s from knitting, not crochet!

1931 Crochet Books

The crochet-related books that were published in 1931 included:

1931 crochet pattern book

Amy E. Smith and Dora E. Smith created this 1931 baby knit and crochet book available in full online. I love that there’s a good mix of both knit and crochet designs as well as a great variety in the crochet including coats, dresses, hats, shoes, bibs and a crochet pram cover. This pair authored several other knit/crochet books around this time as well including one on “toddler woolies” and another on crochet edgings.

vintage crochet baby book

A similar book comes from Ella Allan and is called What to Make for Baby: 55 designs in Knitting and Crochet. It looks like this one may have been written prior to 1931 then updated and published in this year.

1931 crochet afghan book

Iva Rose Vintage Reproductions has published reproductions of a couple of knit and crochet books that they cite as Circa 1031, including the afghan book shown above or, perhaps more interestingly, the one for knit and crochet underwear shown below.

crochet underwear vintage

I was especially interested by a passing reference to crochet in a 1931 book called Dancing Gods; Indian Ceremonials of New Mexico and Arizona, which described a man by saying: “The man’s heavy shoulders were outlined in crochet lace over red flannel, and his flat-topped hat rested on his hair in a queue.” I have often wondered about crochet in Native American cultures and haven’t been able to find much information so this reference caught my attention.

Some of the magazines that mention crochet at this time are Homes and Gardens, Woman’s World and Needlecraft: The Magazine of Home Arts. Not everyone thought it was great for women to spend their time crocheting, though. A 1931 women’s studies book called Our Mothers by Alan Bott and Irene Clephane hints at this in the phrasing of this sentence: “A woman’s hands, not her head, should be occupied ; and occupied they were, with interminable lengths of crochet and tatting, and masses of embroidery and woolwork.”

1931 Crochet Patterns

1931 crochet baby coat

This is an example of a 1931 crochet baby coat from the aforementioned pattern book by Amy E. Smith and Dora E. Smith.

1931 knit and crochet shawls

Etsy’s schmetterlingtag sells a reproduction of this book of 1931 knit and crochet shawl designs. I love the excerpt provided on Etsy that begins: “Nowadays, every woman who gives thoughtful preparation to her wardrobe includes a variety of knitted or crocheted garments, because of their artistic beauty and their comforting warmth. Whenever women meet, the art of knitting and crocheting is discussed-the newest garments, the best stitches, the prettiest colors.”

1931 crochet petticoat top

Etsy’s PamoolahVintage sells the PDF pattern for this vintage crochet petticoat top from 1931.

vintage crochet knit dress

The same seller (PamoolahVintage) also sells the pattern for this knit and crochet dress and explains: “This is unusual because the main part of the dress is knitted – the insertion is in beaded crochet (no beads just the style) in a contrast colour.”

Note: There are a lot of great vintage crochet patterns, including beautiful dresses, that came from sometime in the decade of the 1930s but don’t have an exact date. After I’ve done the history posts for the decade I’ll do a separate roundup post for those!

1931 Crochet Patents

Last week I mentioned that someone had applied in 1930 for a patent for a crochet stuffed toy; that patent was granted in 1931.

Another patent approved in 1931 was for an item that “relates to the making of articles of any desired shape from wire”. It mentions that it can be used to make belts and also mentions that crochet will be incorporated. Some of the figures accompanying the patent documents even look a little like crochet:

crochet wire drawing

There were only a few new patents filed in 1931 that mentioned crochet and they were all machines that incorporated a “crochet needle” but didn’t really have anything to do with crochet.

I’ll be back next week with crochet history from 1932!


San Francisco based and crochet-obsessed writer, dreamer and creative spirit!


  1. CrochetWithCris

    I am glad you caught that dropped stitches references – i read the little blurb and was like KNITTING! *laughs* Of course, maybe back then the idea of “dropping stitches” applied to both knitting and crochet, its just with crochet we call it “tearing out stitches” instead. Dunno. Something else I thought was cute was the statement “Whenever women meet, the art of knitting and crocheting is discussed-the newest garments, the best stitches, the prettiest colors.” – OH to live in a world where I could talk crochet with ALL women :)

    • CrochetBlogger

      @CrochetWithCris Great point! Luckily we have the internet so we can talk about it with lots of women :)

  2. I could not get to the Smith’s book wtih the link provided, but I managed to search in the library catalogue and find it. Here is a permanent link to it: http://handle.slv.vic.gov.au/10381/140951

    • CrochetBlogger

      Hm, that’s strange. I have no idea why the link stopped working but I really appreciate you leaving us this one!

  3. undergroundcrafter

    So cool. I wish I could see that Hoover portrait in crochet, too!

  4. Pingback: 10 Best Free Vintage Crochet Patterns of the 1930s — Crochet Concupiscence

  5. Hi – I made the “chain mail” dress from 1976 in rust worsted for my red-headed girlfriend. It suited her well

    Thanks for the memories,

    Angi Simon

  6. CrochetBlogger

    @selyasa Oh what a wonderful thing that you’ve shared!!!