Saturday, August 18, 2007

We’re back in Edinburgh for a long weekend of r&r. I tried to write yesterday, but the computer ate my homework.

There’s much to say about knitting (not to mention life). I read a short story once about a beautiful woman who went straight from being 22 to being 24 and then was allowed to take days of being 23 at whatever points in her life she felt she wanted them. I’d like to do that with August.

There’s much to say under various knitting-related headings: Vogue, grandchildren knitting, the Princess, Ketki’s gansey. Perhaps I’ll take them a day at a time.


I bought Vogue Knitting Book No. 4 on eBay last week, at very considerable expense. All the excitement was in the last 90 seconds. Three of us were in pursuit. Grandson Alistair enjoyed cheering me on.

Yesterday the much-touted 25th anniversary issue of VK turned up (along with the new IK – the absence of Knitter’s becomes ever more conspicuous). I had hoped for a bit of information about the series I’m collecting. It’s scanty, but there’s something there, and it’s puzzling.

On page 106 they acknowledge that this year is in fact the 75th anniversary of Vogue Knitting. If you peer at the covers illustrated for 1947 and 1948, you can work out – assuming two issues a year – that American Vogue Knitting began in autumn, ’43, which fits nicely with my vague impressions. Presumably knitting became big during the war, and Vogue rode the wave.

But they also show a cover from 1932. That must be it – Number One, the holy grail of VKB collectors. There’s a paragraph in my newly-acquired No. 4 which says, “An occasional second-hand copy of the historic First Book reaches Vogue. If you would like one, write, and we shall put your name on the waiting list.” Sort of like Ravelry.

But that 1932 cover is clearly American – price 35 cents, published in New York City. How did that happen? The British series is numbered consecutively from then (so my new No. 4 must be spring, ’34). On the whole, the British ones are numbered and undated, but there are ways we experts can date them. Spring, 1953, couldn’t resist a couple of references to the Coronation – you can count forward and back from there.

And for two issues, just after the war, dates are provided, American-style. Then they dropped the idea. But these fixed points agree with consecutive twice-a-year numbers starting in autumn, 1932.

Another oddity in the anniversary issue occurs in the interview with the knitting greats. Asked when they first heard about the magazine, Kaffe says, “I remember being thrilled when my first design – a little diagonal waistcoat – was accepted by Vogue Knitting. [It appeared in Holiday 1986 issue, for a feature called “The British Knitters: Virtuosos”.] Although I was becoming known in England, I wasn’t known at all in America…”

Well, I’m sure he hasn’t forgotten that his first design was published in the British Vogue Knitting nearly 20 years earlier, in the late 60’s. It was a Fair Isle waistcoat, pretty routine-looking now.

I’m afraid I’m going to have to dig both that pattern and Holiday ’86 out of my archives for comparative purposes. More tomorrow, if strength allows.


  1. Congratulations on your success on ebay. I look forward to hearing more. Have only had time to scan your post - am going off to "music camp" for a week.

  2. I believe Vogue Knitting US wasn't published for a few years in the 70s or maybe the 80s. That would account for the discrepancy.

  3. Actually, oddest in the interview with the old gaurd was that AS sounded rational. Good luck in the games! Tell Sam the Ram that people in a little town in California are cheering him in a little town in Scotland. Isn't the internet wonderful?