Very, very faithful readers will remember much of what follows.
When I was young, I eagerly bought the Vogue Knitting Book twice a year. It died the death in the late ‘60’s. In later life, I started trying to find old copies to bulk out my collection – the library of the Knitting and Crochet Guild once sold off half a dozen very tatty examples, I remember.
In the summer of ’06 I connected with eBay, and got seriously to work.
It is fairly easy, if you keep an eye on things and have a bottomless pocket, to acquire the ones from the 50’s and 60’s. That is undoubtedly because people like me are currently of an age to be shuffled off to care homes or to their longer rest. Whereas the attics of knitters who bought the early copies, in the 30’s and 40’s, have already been cleared. But there is still a trickle.
Publication began in the autumn of 1932 with a joint British and American edition. Its cover is pictured in the anniversary issue of the current publication, a few years back, with “25 cents” clearly visible. But it must have bombed, because there were no further American ones until late in the war. Whereas the British edition appeared without interruption.
I paid a lot for my copy of No. 1. It came, not as usual from a dealer or an attic-clearing grandchild, but a charity, Feed the Children. I like to think that someone brought it in to a shop and a volunteer worker had the wit to see that it was worth offering on eBay.
It would be interesting to know the precise relationship between the British and American editions in the later years. There is a near-total overlap of patterns and illustrations, but the letterpress of my copies is entirely British. Designs have either been re-knit (on one side of the Atlantic or the other) in a yarn locally available, or else the editors have made the substitution in the text without actually venturing on the experiment. Horrors!
Designers weren’t named, although photographers were (and there are some famous names among them). I wonder, in the 50’s, in the days before the Schoolhouse when EZ was selling to magazines, did she ever appear in the VKB?
During the war, the issues were smaller and things were obviously tough. There are instructions for unravelling old garments and re-using the yarn. But Vogue was stoutly Vogue throughout; unpleasantness was kept at bay. (Although there is a delicious example, in those days when projects had but recently been recommended for golf or après tennis or a cruise, where a sweater is said to be just the thing for wearing in the air raid shelter.) If you actually wanted to knit for someone in the armed services – as I am sure almost all knitters were doing almost all the time – you had to get the separate “Vogue Service Woollies”.
I was buying VKB's hand-over-fist in ’06 and ’07. Things slowed down as I got near the end. There was only one acquisition in ’08. Two in ’09 -- my last purchase was almost exactly a year ago, made as many were with the help of Helen C.K.S.’ steady nerves and eBay expertise.
You’ll have guessed long since where this is tending: the last one I lack has been offered for sale. Bidding closes a week on Sunday. It looks like a splendid copy.