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vintage 1960s needlework book

Creative Needlework was a hardcover book published in 1969. It shares more than one dozen different types of needlework, at the end of which it tells us a little bit about crochet. It’s interesting to look back at the way this craft was viewed through the lens of a historic perspective.

About Creative Needlework

Creative Needlework, published by New York’s Fawcett Publications, was co-authored by Solweig Hedin and Jo Springer. Hedin was the crochet designer for the book and Springer was the author of the text. All of the book’s photos were taken by Frank Stork. Many of the photos are in color, unique for books printed in that era; even craft books were usually black and white due to the prohibitive cost of color printing. I couldn’t find much information about crochet designer Hedin although she did author a knitting book in 1981. The cover of the book is a bold orange with a beautiful embroidered flower, a design that looks like entirely emblematic of the 1960’s!

Under-Appreciated Crochet in the 1960s

Crochet was a popular craft in the 1960s. We’ve seen lots of great granny square crochet from that era. But because it was so common, it seems that it was a bit unappreciated by the end of the decade. The beginning of the book’s section on crochet says,

“If it is true that familiarity breeds contempt, we are going to have a tough time convincing you of the intrinsic beauty of crochet. We have all seen too many bad examples of handkerchief edgings and limp doilies to view crochet with a completely unjaundiced eye. Do try to forget the bad examples, however, and you will soon see how lovely a really fine piece of crochet can be.”

Later the author adds:

“Crochet need not be elaborate to be totally acceptable. A functional pot holder is as significant as a glittery crocheted evening bag. They each serve their purpose. The great variety of uses is one of the most interesting things about crochet.”

vintage needlework book from 1960s

Crochet History

The book goes on to talk a bit about the further-back roots of crochet, noting that little is known about its very early days but that the very simplicity of making loops with string suggests that even “the most primitive people” likely had some version of crochet. The author adds:

“We can imagine that whenever people, especially children, had a strong – perhaps a fiber or a sinew – they would loop it through itself using only the fingers as a tool. As they became more adept at this looping technique they sought for a tool more refined than stubby fingers. Finally the first crochet hook was probably developed from a sliver of bone or wood.”

It goes on to share some of the crochet history we do more about, like the crochet done during Ireland’s potato famine.

Crochet Patterns in this Vintage Book

The book goes on to share the basics of how to crochet, including the ch, sc, hdc, dc along with the taller treble, double treble and triple treble crochet stitches. Then it adds in some additional terminology to know, followed by several crochet patterns. There are crochet patterns for three different potholders, a long striped and fringed muffler, an intricate tablecloth, and a thread crochet bedspread.

Other Needlework

Crochet is the final technique covered in this vintage needlework book. If you’re a multi crafter, or simply interested in the history of crafting, you might enjoy the wide variety offered in this collection. You’ll find information and projects using appliqué, cross-stitch, crewel, knitting, monogramming and needlepoint, among other options. I was surprised, however, to find that there was no macrame featured in this book.

Author

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

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