Friday, November 05, 2010


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 apr├Ęs 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.


  1. If there were any justice in the world, the seller should be able to remove the offer, and deal direct with yourself!

    Since that is not the case, I hope any rival bidders may become aware that you deserve it more than they do, and that they hold back.

    Everything crossed to wish you luck - including my trusty knitting needles.

  2. Anonymous10:54 AM

    I must be one of those faithful readers, I do remember the whole saga! The last one, maybe, where the ads had been removed? I am rooting for you to win,if nothing else, you certainly deserve it!

  3. This is very exciting news! We will all be waiting anxiously to see if you are successful in your bid.

    I wanted to send you an email but wasn't sure if your email address linked at the side of your blog was still active. It is regarding Tiananmen Square, and too lengthy for the comment section here on your blog. If you don't mind, would you be able to let me know how best to get in touch? My email is Or you can leave a note in the comment section of my blog. Thanks so much. And that was a great story about James and the launching of his career in China!

  4. Anonymous1:24 PM

    I have my fingers crossed for you, Jean. How marvelous to complete you collection.
    Ron in Mexico

  5. Fingers crossed! Which makes me wonder where that comes from as a wish for luck. Since crossing fingers behind the back when telling a lie was something we did as kids.

  6. Good luck!! You certainly deserve to complete the collection.

  7. Anonymous4:45 PM

    Certainly I remember the story of your search. Good luck!
    -- Gretchen

  8. I hope you and/or Helen have nerves of steel for this episode. Best of luck.

  9. Oh, the suspense! re E.Z. - it happens that her niece, Tricia Holman, is coming to give a talk this month to the Spinners and Weavers guild to which I now belong. Are there any questions you would like me to put, if the oppotunity arises?