In this week’s edition of 50 Years of Crochet History we’ll take a look at the world of crochet in 1934.
Favorite 1934 Crochet Find
My favorite find of the week in researching 1934 crochet was this stunningly beautiful crochet swimsuit that Etsy’s annalaia sells the vintage pattern of. It seems so risque for the time and in a way totally like a design that would work in contemporary times. I actually found several crochet and knit swimsuits from this era so it seems like they were on trend. Finally, I want to point out that the Etsy description says that this pattern is for a size 16, which of course we consider big today but shouldn’t; it was a normal size in the 1930s.
1934 Crochet Style
White cotton crochet jacket, pattern for sale via eBay (the dress it goes with is knit; it was common for crochet and knit to be mixed in many outfits at this time)
White cotton crochet continued to be the main form of crochet that people were using in patterns. Wearables for women, particularly college age women, continued to be popular in 1934. A 1934 newspaper crochet pattern starts off by saying, “Today, the woman who crochets is right in step with Dame Fashion for she has chosen crochet as her outstanding note.” Not surprisingly, of course, women also continued to crochet for the home and for children.
Boys with Banjos shared this combo knit and crochet dress that I love in a roundup of 1930s knit and crochet patterns. As mentioned above, combining knit and crochet seemed to be really popular at this time. The Palm Beach Post featured an article about a clothing store that mentioned that one of the most popular items at the time was a one-piece knitted dress of wool boucle with hand-crocheted sleeves.
1934 Crochet Patterns
White cotton crochet shawl pattern free online via Trove (Australian newspapers online)
Etsy’s PamoolahVintage sells a copy of this vintage crochet cape pattern that actually uses hairpin crochet, which I hadn’t yet seen being used in this year.
Miss Julia’s Craft Connection Vintage Patterns sells the reproduced pdf of this short sleeve crochet sweater pattern from 1934. She sells some other crochet patterns from this year on Etsy: OriginalsByMissJulia.
1934 Crochet Books
Etsy’s fenderbearsnook is selling the printed vintage crochet afghan booklet featuring 17 pages of patterns from 1934
Iva Rose sells the reproduction of this 1934 crochet home decor booklet.
1934 Royal Society Designs for Crochet. 23 pages of different crochet projects.
DRESS: The Art of Vintage sells the original copy of this knitting and crochet fashion book from 1934. Of course, it’s no longer priced at the original ten cents!
1930s Crochet Magazines
The Needlewoman was a magazine that covered crochet as well as the other needlearts. It looks like it was actually coming out a few years prior to 1934 but I didn’t learn about it until this week when I spotted a 1934 issue on ebay.
1934 Crochet Fiction
In August 1934 the Rochester Evening Journal shared a fiction story about a young woman who is engaged to one person but falls in love with another. It mentions crochet briefly in a description of a kitchen, saying: “It had always been the most cheerful room in the house, with Anna’s crochet work on the shelf beside the clock and her potato vine growing in a pot on the window sill above the sink”. Sounds cozy!
1934 Crochet History
This handmade crochet doily was made to commemorate Victoria’s centenary in 1934. Museum Victoria explains: “The Centenary of Victoria and Melbourne was celebrated with considerable energy in 1934-1935; for many people the celebrations marked the beginnings of better times after the 1930 Depression. As well as official souvenirs, patterns for a range of home made domestic souvenirs were available. Often they featured the skyline of Melbourne, and suggested the progress that had occurred in the last century. This is a quieter commemorative piece, focusing on the place, Victoria, through a map, and basic information about the date of the celebrations and the word ‘Centenary’.”
When I started researching crochet health stories for my book, Crochet Saved My Life, one of the things that I discovered was that there is a Neediest Cases Fund in New York. Basically it offers help to people, mostly with mental health issues, who need that help. Often it seems that they give money or supplies to women to help them crochet (or sew or knit), allowing them to heal through crochet and also often to sell their crochet for a little bit of income and a sense of productivity. This fund was launched in 1912; in 1934 there was a newspaper article specifically about a Mrs. N. who had received funds. It say: Mrs N. “long an invalid, accepted privation cheerfully and, proud of her mottoes and crochet and embroidery, tried to brighten up the miserable home.”
There was an article in the October 1934 issue of The Rotarian that was all about the value of creating bookmobiles that could deliver the books people in rural areas would want since they didnt’ have public libraries or easily accessible books elsewhere. The link to crochet is that one of the things it talks about is that the person running the bookmobile really needs to know the market and what books customers might want, suggesting for example that “Grandmother wants some crochet patterns” from her bookmobile delivery. What’s funny is that it’s all these years later and the same essential suggestion has been made for mobile yarn trucks but this time it’s to urban areas!
1934 Crochet Designers
Looking up crochet in the Google archives for 1934 turned up tons of links to the Spokane Daily Chronicle which had a households arts section featuring domestic tips and crochet patterns. Above you can see an ad from a mid-July issue for a crochet gloves pattern that you could mail away to get at that time. The name listed as the designer is Alice Brooks; however I learned from Maggie’s Crochet that actually: “Alice Brooks is a fictitious name listed with mail order patterns in newspapers starting in the 1930’s. The mail order company felt they needed to have a “pattern designer” listed with the sales information to add a personal touch if they wanted the patterns to sell. These listings appeared as a “reader service feature”, and were not considered an advertisement or a column in the paper.” You can still find “Alice Brooks” patterns today but whoever the original designers were is usually lost to time.
In April 1934 the Times Daily mentioned that designer Anny Blatt was launching new handmade tweeds “to complement her very individual hand-knit and crochet dresses, pullovers and blouses”. It further said that “such reputedly elegant women as Princess Achielle Murat and Mrs. John Stewart Lithiby wear Blatt models for twon as well as country wear.” A quick search on Ravelry reveals that Anny Blatt was probably more of a knitwear designer but did have crochet patterns, too,
Other 1934 Crochet News
In 1934 The Schenectady Gazette was still advertising that the local crochet club was meeting. This makes me happy because I first found this in a 1932 newspaper so the popularity of the craft group continued for at least two years.
The Lewiston Daily Sun had an article about the 92nd Oxford County Fair, which mentioned that there were a lot of knit, crochet and other handmade items on display for all to see. In 1942 the fair would have celebrated its 100th anniversary so I had to know if it’s still going on; it appears that it is. Not only that but as recently as 2010 there was still crochet on display in the halls there.
Remember last week when I mentioned the needleworker strike? The controversial issue continued into 1934. A New York Times (subscription only) article says: “The fight of NRA authorities against permitting home work in various industries, notably the needle trades and the artificial flower industry, suffered a setback yesterday in a decision by Justice Edgar J. Lauer in the Supreme Court.” I know that some mothers were being issues permits to work from home so apparently the issue had to do with whether or not workers in crochet, embroidery and other domestic arts could be paid to work from home.
My favorite crochet news find of 1934 came from an article in the Daily Boston Globe, although unfortunately I was not able to access the entire article because it costs money to see it. The snippet I was able to see starts: “He said that while in jail Norma has learned to crochet; that one of the inmates had been teaching her, and that today she had been enjoying the freedom of … ” This interested me a lot since I love learning about the benefits of crochet for prisoners.
Next up in this vintage crochet series is, of course, 1935 crochet! Look for it on the blog next week.