Sunday, 29 March 2015

Adventures In Stitchcraft - 1933

The first issue of Stitchcraft that I have is Issue No 5 from February 1933.

Before we begin though, let's take a look at the year 1933.

In 1933, England was considered to be over the worst of The Great Depression, whereas in the US and Australia, the effects were felt right up until the declaration of war. Thus it does not seem strange that a new magazine was launched in England in 1933, whereas it probably would not have succeeded if launched in the US at this time.

Historical events for 1933 include:

  • Adolf Hitler was appointed Chancellor of Germany and soon bans all other political parties, turning Germany into a one-party state.
  • The first concentration camp was opened at Dachau.
  • Prohibition was repealed in the US.
  • Unemployment in the US reached its highest level in the winter of 1932/33, with 1 in 3 being unemployed.
  • Overall, Americans have about half the income they had in 1929.
  • Franklin D. Roosevelt is elected President of the US and institutes the 'New Deal' to address the Great Depression.
  • Albert Einstein emigrates to the US from Germany.
  • Neville Chamberlain visits Germany and returns to announce there will be 'peace in our time.'
  • Mass starvation in China due to crop failure caused by flooding of the Yellow River.
  • Japan invades Jehol Province in China.
  • The Loch Ness Monster is sighted for the first time in modern times.
This photo is now known to be a hoax.

In popular culture:
  • Shirley Temple signs a contract with Fox at five years old.
  • King Kong is released at the cinema.
  • The first drive-in theatre is established in New Jersey, US.
  • Lone Ranger begins a 21 year run on radio.
  • Advertisement for board games from 1933
  • The board game Monopoly is invented.
The first 5000 games of Monopoly were made by hand by a family who could not find employment during the Depression.

  • The chocolate chip cookie is invented.
  • Bing Crosby and Duke Ellington topped the Billboard charts.

What things cost (US price comparisons):
  • Average cost of a new house: $5,750 (this converts to approx $103,000 in today's dollars)
  • Average yearly wages: $1,550
  • Plymouth 6 car $445
  • Loaf of bread: 7 cents
  • Pound of hamburger meat: 11 cents
This is a Dodge, not a Plymouth 6, but it has Shirley Temple in the ad!
This doll, at $3.45, was quite an expensive purchase.
The 6th Academy Awards were held, with winners including:

Best Picture: Cavalcade
I'd never heard of this movie, but it sounds like one I would like. It follows an English family during the years 1899 to 1933, so covers the Boer War, the death of Queen Victoria, the sinking of the Titanic and WWI. Sounds a bit Downton Abbey to me!

Best Actor: Charles Laughton in The Private Life of Henry VIII

Not surprisingly, nearly all the images I found from this movie had Charles Laughton eating huge legs of poultry!
Best Actress: Katharine Hepburn in Morning Glory

My favourite though: Little Women won Best Adapted Screenplay. 

The Store by Thomas S. Stribling won the 1933 Pulitzer Prize for novels. It is the second book in a trilogy about the American Civil War and its aftermath.

Books published in 1933 included:(for a complete list, see here)
  • Lost Horizon by James Hilton
  • Farmer Boy by Laura Ingalls Wilder
  • Down And Out In Paris And London by George Orwell
  • The Story of Ping by Marjorie Flack
  • Doctor Dolittle's Return by Hugh Lofting
And in Australia:
The first Australian Women's Weekly from June 1933.
Blinky Bill by Dorothy Wall first appeared in 1933 and has remained in print to this day.

The Ashes cricket series between Australia and England was played over the summer of 1932/33, which became the infamous Bodyline series.

Bert Oldfield ended up with a fractured skull
Fashions from 1933: Lines were long, sleek and angular. Muted, deeper colours were popular. Wool, silk, cotton and rayon were the most common materials used.

Some wonderful clothing advertisements from 1933.

I would love to own any one of these pairs of shoes.

Maybe it is just me, but I love looking at all this information from prior years. I am a methodical, list making kind of person, I guess! Hopefully it wasn't too much!
In future I will spread the years' facts over a few posts as I will have more issues from future years (plus I was having so much fun and finding so much interesting stuff, I just couldn't seem to stop!)

Now on to the magazine itself!
As I have spent so long on 1933, I will share some of the magazine this week and some next week.

I bought this issue as a PDF from Subversive Femme's wonderful Etsy shop. Bex has lots of Stitchcrafts available in PDF format. And do check out her wonderful blog here. There are heaps of free vintage knitting patterns, so if you want to find something to knit along, have a look! I found a pattern for the Swagger Coat which is from 1933.

Some baby related advertisements from this issue:

The very first project I have embarked on for Adventures In Stitchcraft is a baby one. Very simple pattern, very quick to knit. Anyone who has visited me in the last week has already seen it in part, as I must admit to getting ahead and starting it last week.
It is a 2x2 rib baby vest, with the front and back being knitted in one piece and the sleeves picked up afterwards.

The pattern calls for 3 ozs of White Heather Vest Wool 3ply, made by J &J Baldwins. I could not find anything about this yarn, although I did find an advertisment for it from a 1933 Australian newspaper.

1/- means one Australian shilling, presumably per ounce but I'm not sure on that. 

As I have mentioned previously, I am not intending to be 100% historically accurate in my choice of yarns or fabrics. In 1933, this vest would have been knitted in pure wool in off white or cream colour. But my vest is being knitted in a 4 ply sock yarn that I had in my stash, unfortunately with no label, but more than likely contains nylon/polyamide. And it is variegated. 

Nylon/polyamide was not manufactured commercially until 1938 when DuPont launched nylon toothbrushes. In 1940, nylon stockings went on sale, with approx. 5 million pairs being sold on the first day!
Nylon is added to yarn, especially sock yarn, to improve durability and prevent pilling as it is the strongest synthetic fibre. It is, however, water resistant and so doesn't breathe as well. 
I cannot find any reference to when it was first added to knitting/sock yarn. If anyone does know this, I would love to hear from you.
Similarly, I cannot find any information as to when variegated yarn came onto the scene, but I am thinking 70s or 80s. I don't really remember seeing it during my childhood and my mum was a test knitter for Jenny Kee in the 80s, so we had a lot of yarn in our house!

Next week, I will be sharing the women's fashions and homewares from this issue.

I would love any comments, especially suggestions and your vintage knitting projects.
I hope you enjoyed Adventures In Stitchcraft!


  1. Jayne, what a wonderful post! You've put so much detail and work into it and it was so interesting to read. I enjoy history so this is right up my alley! :) Your project from this issue turned out well. I'm not sure when variegated yarn showed up in stores. I'm think maybe the 70s or 80s as well. Looking forward to next week's post. Thanks for sharing!

  2. Thanks, Sandra, for being my first visitor! I love history too (as you can tell). I had to stop myself or I could have gone on for ages! So glad you enjoyed it.

  3. Excellent post. Very informative. I enjoyed reading it. Looking forward to future posts.

    1. Thanks so much for visiting! Look forward to seeing you again next week.

  4. Fascinating to see events from the year your magazine was published all in one post - a very momentous time. And interesting to think that whilst all that was going on people were knitting the very same pattern you're making now. I think it's going to look great in the yarn you've chosen :)

    1. Thanks Janine! Being a bit of a history lover, I find it really fascinating too. And I love how the patterns are all still so knittable and wearable today. I think this will be such a fun adventure!

  5. I really enjoyed this post, Jayne! I love history, especially civilian history (military history is interesting too but I love knowing how people LIVED!) so this was really fun and interesting to read! Thanks for all the hard work you put into the research and I'll look forward to the next installment!

    1. Thanks so much, Sarah. I enjoy reading about the everyday stuff too - digging for victory, how housewives managed their food resources, etc. There is something for us all to learn there, I think!

  6. Jayne , I'm visiting from Sandra's and I'm so glad I did. What a wonderful post and quite informative :). Thank you for all the research you out together can't wait to see the end product :)

    1. Thanks so much for coming to visit! I am having heaps of fun with this project and am really looking to lots more posts.