Tuesday, July 15, 2008

The Workbasket

I have 10 years' worth of The Workbasket, from 1954 until 1964. Someone in my knitting group brought them to a meeting once, and I snapped them up, loving vintage patterns as I do. Yet, somehow, I never sat down and went through them all. Since going through magazines has been my major way lately to avoid picking up the stitches for another domino motif, I found this particular stash over the weekend and read them all.

The theme is crafts for home and for sale, but it's a weird split. The needlework patterns are incredibly fine and detailed, mostly crocheted and tatted doilies, but with lots of knitted doilies and sweaters, then some oddities, like huck embroidery, netted hammocks and hooked rugs. There is equal space again devoted to gardening and to recipes. The recipes are, surprisingly for a mid-century women's magazine, almost all from scratch. They often look quite tasty.

The crafts featured seem way too time-consuming for anyone to make them for sale at a church bazaar. The reader-supplied tips for money making verge on the bizarre, however, with lapel pins made out of pecans and cupcake carousels decorated with magazine cutouts.

Then there are the ads. Hoo boy! The most common ad is for selling greeting cards to make money. For some reason, coffee urns as prizes feature prominently.


There is a Postum ad every issue. This one is my favorite.


Lots of weight loss ads, as you might expect. But, just as I would wear a year 1954 size 16, fifty years has brought some change to our understanding of what being overweight means.


Two categories of inexplicably numerous ads are for hearing aids and accordions. Coincidence?


There are ads for needlework supplies. This one strikes me a quite defensive.


There are career opportunities which have nothing to do with selling greeting cards.


And finally, there are ads that you just won't find in Interweave Knits.




pdxknitterati/MicheleLB said...

Thanks for sharing this. It's strangely interesting. I guess lots of women's groups were trying to make money so they could get a coffee urn for their luncheons? And nutria! Water rats, around here. Non-native, invasive, someone imported them and let them go...now we know why. Furs!

Alison said...

My friend http://www.work4idlehands.co.uk/ collects vintage womens and knitting magazines and the best part is the adverts. She also has done some nice projects reworking old patterns for modern yarns etc. I think I have days when an urn of coffee would be pretty useful!

Anonymous said...


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Cris said...

Loved this. Thanks for sharing the ads. They are a hoot. Who in their right mind orders a burro?