I’m planning to curate as much crochet history information as possible, decade by decade. My research began with a deep investigation into 1930s crochet, which I’ve collected in year-by-year posts. I thought I’d round up that information in one post today to share everything I now know about crochet in the 1930s!
You can visit the links below to find many people who sell reproductions of vintage crochet patterns (usually on Etsy) and check out the individual posts (linked by year here, 1930-1939) to see the full information for each year.
1930’s Cotton Thread Crochet in Lace and Filet
cotton and crochet embellishment, circa 1930, via Etsy’s EnglishVintage
The general trend in crochet at this time was to work in mercerized cotton thread using small crochet hooks. Lace crochet and filet crochet were popular techniques throughout the 1930s. Textured stitches like popcorns and bobbles began to appear occasionally, starting in 1937. Some of the most popular things to crochet (although certainly not the only things) were:
- Home decor items like doilies and table runners
- Children’s wearables
- College-age women’s garments
- Garments that combine knitting and crochet
- Accessories sets, such as a matching hat and purse
- Religious crochet patterns (although these only emerged in 1939)
Decade by Decade: My Favorite 1930s Crochet Finds
Here were my favorite things to discover in my research about 1930s crochet:
In 1930, British poet / author Ruth Manning-Sanders published The Crochet Woman: A Novel, one of her first full-length novels. Bella Crochet explains that The Crochet Woman is an evil queen who uses her crochet work to cast spells! Crochet was mentioned in passing in a variety of fiction stories published in newspapers and magazines throughout the 1930s (see snippets in my various individual posts), and it was also mentioned in the dairies of Anais Nin, but this was the only novel I discovered.
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.
1933 crochet pattern for a string market bag – an item that’s found new popularity in recent years!
Grandmother Clark’s How to Make Hand made Crocheted Rag Rugs, 1933. I had no idea that there would be a book about crochet rag rugs from this era. But then I did some more research and found out that there were a lot of patterns for rag rugs, crocheted and otherwise, from this era, which I suppose makes sense since the Depression Era did require upcycling material in this way. By 1936 there were also other patterns for different styles of crochet rugs.
Speaking of upcycling, what about crocheting with cellophane? 1935
The Needlewoman was a magazine that covered crochet as well as the other needlearts. Other magazines of the times included NeedleCraft, Workbasket and Knitting and Home Crafts, all of which I showcased in the 1937 vintage crochet post. Mentions of crochet also sometimes found their way into other popular 1930s magazines including LIFE and Popular Science.
In 1937 a woman was using crossword puzzles to inspire crochet designs!
Jeanne Tripier was a French saleswoman who, in the 1930s, close to the age of 60, she “became fascinated by spiritualistic doctrines and divination” “to the extent that she gradually stopped going to work”. In 1934 she was committed to a psychiatric hospital where she spent her time making art, including crochet art. “She considered all her creations to be mediumistic revelations.”
The Cabin Countess recounts the story of Martha Hiestand who started crocheting and knitting for her family in 1939 and turned it into a thriving business with her husband. The business moved from their home to a shop offsite, beginning with just a few employees, ending the decade with close to one dozen and employees and by the 1950s they had 400 employees! Their core product was the “mukluk”, which is basically a sock that has a shoe sole on it.
1930s Crochet Style and Fashion
A 1930 news article said that the best way to finish a knee-length sateen underskirt was to attach a knee-length facing using single crochet stitch with mercerized cotton.
The crochet jabot was popular in the the 1930s. Crochet yokes were also common.
Cloche hats, although often associated with the 1920s, were also popular in the 1930s. This is a 1935 crochet cloche hat pattern.
Crochet lace gloves were also popular throughout the decade. These were from 1936.
There was also a rare book that come out in 1937 called TASTE AND FASHION: From the French Revolution Until Today. This book was a fashion book, obviously, but I see from the table of contents that it does mention crochet in fashion in two different sections of the book. It would be fun to get a copy of that!
Crochet News from the 1930s
- In 1930 a Senate tariff rate was approved to charge one half cent on every 100 yards of crochet, knitting and embroidery thread.
- In 1930 a news article mentioned that yards and yards of crochet were used to beautifully decorate rooms for the needy.
- In 1931 there was a mention of crochet clubs or meetings. And we still have them today!
- In 1932 a woman committed suicide after several unsuccessful attempts including one in which she stabbed herself in the heart with a crochet hook. She was the mother of a child who murdered someone and couldn’t live with the guilt.
- Also in 1932, an article noted that many women bought a lot of yarn so they could knit and crochet at the start of The Depression but with the years dragging on they are no longer so gung ho about it and that yarn (or “wool” as the article actually calls it) is now just sitting there wasting away. However, another article says that college girls are crocheting their own wearables so it’s hard to say what the full story was.
- Several 1933 newspapers, such as the Boston Globe, had a “household advice” section that would frequently offer crochet suggestions, such as using a crochet chain to sew the ends of a curtain together.
- In 1933, The Bonnaz Embroidery Workers Union, an affiliate of the International Ladies’ Garment Workers, had a 100% response rate to its call for a strike and so 15000 needleworkers went on strike.
- In 1934 there was a news article mentioning that a woman was learning to crochet from an inmate in a prison, which I loved reading about since prison crochet can be so beneficial for inmates today.
- Harry Haberman, described as “the tatting bartender who lifts a barrelt of beer without batting an eye” also seemed to crochet at work in 1935.
- It was mentioned in 1937 that then-11-year-old Princess Elizabeth would usually knit or crochet with her sister after lunch each day.
- Crochet contests were held at various state fairs. The National Needlecraft Bureau launched its first crochet contest in either 1937 or 1938.
- The 11/5/38 issue of The Montreal Gazette shared information about a crochet beader job that earned $15 per week.
- One book says that “It is estimated that every third Swedish woman knitted, crocheted, or sewed clothing for the Finnish troops” during the Russo-Finnish Winter War of 1939-1940.
- The World’s Fair was in 1939 and had lots of crochet doilies made to honor it.
1930s Crochet Books and Booklets
Let’s look at some of the most popular crochet books of the 1930s, many of which are available as reproductions today.
Crochet Thread Manufacturer Pattern Books
One of the most popular types of crochet books throughout the decade was pattern books (often, but not always, combining both crochet and knitting patterns) that were published by the makers of cotton thread. This would be like the equivalent of the free crochet patterns on yarn store websites today.
A Complete Collection of Crochet Designs published by Spool Cotton, 1932. Spool Cotton continued to publish crochet books throughout the decade. For example, they published at least three crochet books in 1938 alone: Bedspreads in Crochet & Knitting, New Ideas in Crochet Table Topics, and Decorative Ensembles to Crochet
This vintage filet crochet book with 19 patterns in it is believed to be circa 1930.
2009 reprint of a 1933 book that is described as “a classic edition of knitted and crocheted garments from the Depression Era” for both women and children
Crochet Pattern Books for Kids
These crochet books were filled with patterns for children.
What Children Wear in Knitting and Crochet by Ella Allan, 1930. She also published What to Make for Baby: 55 designs in Knitting and Crochet.
Amy E. Smith and Dora E. Smith created this 1931 baby knit and crochet book. his pair authored several other knit/crochet books around this time as well including one on “toddler woolies” and another on crochet edgings.
Crochet Smart Candlewick Cotton Accessories for the Home: Cotton Crochet Patterns for Bath Mats, Table Doilies, Luncheon Sets, Pot Holders, Chair Sets, 1937
Blankets and Other Crochet Pattern Books for the Home
Lux was a brand of knitting and crochet pattern books that started coming out around this time and continued through the 1950s. This is a 1933 crochet book.
Reproduction of a 1932 book called Fleisher’s Afghan Book. It is described on Amazon as: “A Depression era collection of vividly colorful afghans and throws worked in various afghan stitches, including Tunisian stitch (afghan stitch).”
Other Crochet Pattern Books
1931 Crochet Lingerie pattern book reproduced by Iva Rose
knitting and crochet fashion book from 1934
Hats and Bags: 29 Vintage Crochet Patterns From 1936; some of the patterns in this old book remind me of some of the patterns in the brand new book Vintage Crochet Hats and Accessories!
Colorful accessories to crochet and knit, 1937
1939 Irish Crochet Lace pattern booklet sold on Craftsy by Vintage Pattern Collection
A Little About 1930s Crochet Designers
Some of the popular crochet designers of this time included Mary Card and Anna Valerie. They were submitting designs around this time to various places such as Ladies Home Journal magazine. However, it’s difficult to know if the names that we see on old vintage crochet patterns are actually really names since it was apparently common to use just a few pen names for patterns that were actually produced by dozens of different anonymous crochet designers.
For example I learned from Maggie’s Crochet that: “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.
One crochet designer I was able to find some info on was Anne Champe Orr, who started producing various needlework designs in 1915. She didn’t limit herself to crochet designs; she created designs in knitting, embroidery, cross-stitch, lacemaking (including tatting), quilting and rugmaking. She actually originally started by self-publishing these patterns and then eventually she got hired by a number of different companies and publications. Want to know a strange fun fact about her? She actually wasn’t a needleworker herself! Orr passed away in 1946 but there was a huge revival of her work in the 70s and 80s when several reprint publications came out aggregating and sharing her designs.
I also learned that Anny Blatt was a knitwear designer of the time who also had some crochet designs. Her work was popular with some of the elite women of the decade.
Most Popular 1930s Crochet Patterns
Etsy’s annalaia sells the vintage 1932 crochet pattern for this super adorable hat and tie
filet crochet pattern for a milk jug cover, which is sold on Etsy by VintageKnitPatterns, 1932
Etsy’s annalaia sells the vintage pattern for this 1933 crochet shawl that is really the classic kind of item I actually expected to see a lot of from this era, even though it doesn’t seem to be as prevalent as I presumed. The same seller also has the 1934 swimsuit pattern shown below:
1934 crochet sweater pattern reproduced by Originals by Miss Julie on Etsy
Hot Dish Mitt Pattern in Crochet, PDF sold on Etsy via DreamDesignsStudio, 1935
Patternsalacarte sells this 1938 crochet hat pattern
1939 Irish Crochet lace baby set pattern for sale by annalaia on Etsy
1939 vintage crochet wedding dress pattern via Cemetarian