Saturday, 25 August 2012

Going undercover

It's a sad fact of life that some craft books lure you in with a dazzling exterior, then dash your hopes and dreams by containing nothing but reams of text and a few forlorn grey diagrams.

But that doesn't mean such books are without their charms, so here's a little round-up of books of disappointing content that I have bought for their covers alone...

Published by Hamlyn (1972)
I lugged this 500-pager back from Totnes in Devon years and years ago, already having come to terms with the fact that its content in no way lived up to the cartoon Clarice Cliff landscape with yellow brick road leading to a giant sewing machine that graced its cover. How could it really? Still glad I got it though.

John Gifford (1969)
This was an ex-library book I bought when they had a sale in Hornsey Library in Crouch End c2002. The foxy 60s chick on the cover belies the grainy black and white photos of granny squares within.

Chartwell Books Inc (1973)
Liberated from a south London charity shop, this is an American craft book FOR MEN. It has chapters on woodwork, leathercraft and metalwork as well as printing, weaving and mosaics. Sadly it's all written and illustrated in the most boring way imaginable. Lovely cover though.

Doubleday & Co Inc. (1974)
I picked this up at the secondhand bookshop at the National Trust property Felbrigg Hall in Norfolk. With chapters called 'Something up your sleeve' and 'Pressing your iron into service' the writer had a sense of humour but unfortunately the designer was in no mood for fun.

The Knitting Council for Schools (1973)
To be fair I bought this *for the cover*, off eBay, and it's only a leaflet so what did I expect. Nice though innit?

Van Nostrand Reinhold Co (1973)
And last but least, one of my all-time favourite craft book covers and titles ever. I got this at a car-boot sale on a boiling hot morning in Kent a few years ago and although the few colour plates it does have make it absolutely worth its shelfspace, 70% of the photos inside are in black and white. Nooo... the whole point of patchwork is colour!

Wednesday, 15 August 2012

It takes Allsorts

allsorts kids
Really sweet

I was lucky enough to stumble upon* a huge collection of Sunday Times Magazines from the early 1970s at the weekend, and if it hadn't felt like a sauna in the shop, I'd have gladly loitered around and looked through the lot. As it was, I only sweatily flicked through a few choice issues with good covers. I must go back!

allsorts ST cover
70s Lady Macbeth

Nevertheless, this Sunday colour supplement was so good design-wise in those days that after a mere moment's leafing through the 28 February 1971 edition, I was feasting my eyes on Big Deal, a brilliant feature on Pop Art-style furniture...

allsorts page
You don't have to wear black to use this furniture but it helps

As well as the false-teeth sofa, giant hand chair and industrial-sized fruit cushions, overleaf there was a kiddies' sofa in the shape of a pile of super-duper kingsize ciggies...

allsorts fags
Fag mountain

a massive telephone chair...

allsorts phone
The antithesis of the mobile phone

... and the pièce de résistance, a sneakers sofa:

allsorts shoes
Elton John must have been missing a pair of plimsolls

All this reminded me that somewhere I had a pattern for knitted Liquorice Allsorts cushions... and after a bit of a rummage, I found it in the A-Z Colour Guide to Homemaking Crafts by Marie Katherine Burne-Jones (Published by Langham Press 1983).

This is them:

allsorts knit
That's a toddler's hand on top, to give you an idea of scale

OK so I know XXXXL sneakers or false teeth would have been even better... but this is close enough to Big Deal-style Pop Art furniture, non? Click here and here for your free giant Liquorice Allsorts knitting pattern.

*thanks to eagle-eyed Rich for spotting the pile of mags on the floor