Fit to Be Tied with Funny Knitting and Crochet

Times change, and nothing proves it more than crafting trends from a half-a-century ago. That's what I love about finding ephemera at thrift stores and antique malls. What seemed perfectly normal then-- from marketing lingo to photo styles-- today can seem a little...



and, um, one step away from needing to call child welfare services.

Fortunately, the 1947 craft guide, "The New Baby Book," doesn't disappoint.

I believe the ladies at Threadbared discussed some of the items in this book once, but having come across it at the Salvation Army for $0.99, I just felt it merited another, more detailed look-see.

I mean, right off the bat we begin to see the publishers of this book had a somewhat skewed view of the practicalities of parenthood...

"Babies are such fun to dress," the inside cover proclaims, and shows a cartooned tot standing, diaper dangling and waiting to be ensconced in love and crochet.

For anyone who has dressed a small child, they know; as sweet as the little tykes may eventually look-- the actual dressing process is not always exactly a cakewalk.

Those without children, or who haven't done extensive baby-sitting, you can get a sense of the experience by taking a willful aquarium octopus... then try putting it in an eight-armed jumpsuit. See how that works out for you.

I think you'll reflect on the fun of the experience in a somewhat different light. Even if the mollusk does look just too sweet in its matching knit bonnet.

Of course, the New Baby Book remains blissfully unconcerned about the many varied moods of your average child. Like here, for example.

Here smiling Dorothy is happy in her sweetly-crotcheted dress. But then we have our little friend on the left. The one in itchy wool Leiderhosen and one step from weeping. Oh, the small one is trying to keep a brave face, but the stress... it's noticeable.

"Why is it so hot, Mommy? Why am I so itchy? And why, oh why, am I wearing such short pants when I have such long sleeves? "
We apparently print his picture anyway. Crying children are entertaining in the Depression era. Toughens you up... Gets you ready for those times you'll have to walk to school in three-foot snowdrifts uphill both ways.

Get used to it, sonny.

Yet the New Baby Book also seems to feel strongly that bibs should be used for children well-beyond the baby-food phase...

The little girl on the right is already old enough to walk to school uphill both ways. But here, for some reason, we have the scene before she and the boy on the left "show us how the piggies eat." Let's just see her bring that bib out during school lunch. I bet it will be a big hit.

The New Baby Book folks also seem to be trying to use mind-control on the children. See, because the children are old enough to read, they know the bib says, "I like carrots." Eventually, if they read this enough at every meal, they will believe it.

By the way, how easy it is to launder a food-encrusted bib made of wool?

And while we're talking about knitwear and washing, here we have some early Doublemint Twins modelling the latest in beachwear...

Aren't they adorable? Sure, they are now. But what will happen when the sand and surf get into those lovingly-knitted bikinis? I mean, sweaters made of natural fibers tend to stretch out and sag or even shrink when exposed to water and...

Well, perhaps these swimsuits are different. Perhaps they're made of some exciting, new-fangled water-resistant yarn?...

Um, no. No, they aren't.


So, hey-- have you ever wondered whatever happened to Rosemary's baby?...

I think this is what they did the moment the toys started levitating around the crib.

"Tie 'em in and keep 'em warm," says the caption. Safety first, right? No crib deaths to worry about here. Though based on the look on that child's face, it appears more like we're protecting the parents from the kid.

This must be how Hannibal Lecter started off life. "I'd like Gerber's minced liver, mashed fava beans and a nice milk. SSSSSLLLLPPPPTHHHHPPP!"

They remove the face mask, like now, for when he eats.

Below we have distracted Little Miss Muffet by giving her a complicated physics problem to work out...

This was necessary because for the previous 37 takes, she removed her knit booties, hat, sweater and was considering a serious career in nude modeling. It would be artistic and not likely to involve anything fiberous.

Seriously, what kid would keep that hat and those booties on for more than five seconds?

Of course, this poor dear below is just a disembodied head...

The other boys there in the illustraton have been using him to practice their softball throw. And they've been just tossing him back and forth, again and again.

He'd be okay with all the exercise but, truthfully, he does get a little airsick. In fact, you can see how nauseous he looks here.

Let's all sing a rousing chorus of "I ain't got no body," shall we?

Now this little girl, she looks happy because her mommy's told her she's going to be a star someday...

She poses like this in all the family's photos. She's done it for years. Her mother is sure if she keeps up this catalog modeling eventually she'll be discovered and get a movie deal like Shirley Temple. She sings and dances, too... Mary, you want to just give a nice little demo for the people now? Go on, don't be shy...

Of course, when she gets to be ten and still hasn't broken into the business, Mom is bound to be disappointed. Imagine, investing so much time and energy, and Momma's never going to get that mink coat after all.

Mom will mention it. Once every couple of days or so. "We'd have been rolling in dough, if you'd just tried a little harder, Mary. Put a bit more effort into it. Thought of your parents and their needs. Didn't you want your mommy to have her mink?"

Mary'll end up a diner waitress with dice earrings and low self-esteem in the City of Broken Dreams.

This next one is a bit reminiscent of a nightmare I had once....

Possessed children dressed as Santa's elves had crawled down my chimney and were coming to do me in.

Is that a sandpail shovel I see her holding? But she's wearing woven wool from head-to-toe!

And if it's for playing in the snow then, um, where IS the snow? Have we sent little Suzie out into the yard to dig in the cold hard earth?

Or did Suzie steal the sandpail shovel prop from those Doublemint twins, after they had to go in and wring out their sagging, waterlogged bikini bottoms?

I can't figure it out.

But lastly-- "gay and gifty" are these items below...

Here we have a knit dolly, a clown and.... what's that item on the right?

Why a baby bottle cozy! What do small, gooey fingers need more than a beautifully crocheted baby bottle cozy to smear with formula and drool?

It's destined to be a beloved family heirloom.

Well, that's all for today, my friends.

Otherwise I hope you see your smiling faces on (or whatever facial expression you might bring with you) on Wednesday, when we uncover Christmas treasures, lusterous fun, and more.


Anonymous said...

Sure makes me glad I was not one of those kids. Although I did have this knitted sweater that made me look like Ernie from Sesame Street.

My cousins did knit from a very young age and they even made a "bottle-cosy" for my brother. How adorable of them !

When I eyed the smock girl - but with part of the the picture below the scroll - I could only think - Marylin Monroe.
Click here and see what I mean.

Jenn Thorson said...

Jaffer- Oh yes, each kid is obligated to have one sweater which is the problem-garment. :) Mine was a green turtleneck which used to choke me. My mother never understood why I didn't love that sweater.

How did your brother like using his bottle cozy? Was it as functional is it was visually pleasing?

Lana Gramlich said...

My evil mother grew up in this era & reading some of these things helps me to understand why she was so damned warped!

Essential Oil Premier University said...

Thanks for the belly laugh today. I grew up during those times and very, very thankful my mom, aunts and grandmother did not knit like I do!!! I guess this was why children were to be "seen and not heard," ~ because if they were heard they would have been crying and complaining.

Umm, that last item, instead of a baby bottle looks like a booze bottle cover to me. . . to be used years after these poor little children grew up after the years of torture wearing woolens!!



Da Old Man said...

"show us how the piggies eat."

That just made me LOL.
And that kid with the bib. Oy, it looks like she REALLY LOVES CARROTS. Is mom having her wash those carrots down with vodka gimlets? Her enthusiasm is so, I don't know, overwhelming.

Anonymous said...

I don't remember how my brother treated his bootle cozy - but I am sure not it did not go well because it wasn't to be seen after he'd turn 1.

But even today I see bottle covers to keep that milk warm.
And I've seen babies struggle and demand to take it off so that they could hold the bottle with their feet !

Anonymous said...

Lana- I do think we can find therapy in these old magazines. I, for instance, learned there was a trend for moms to sneak things their kids disliked into food anyway. Now I know. It wasn't just me. Do you know how much we could save in therapy?? :)

Sher- Might be something to that booze bottle cover theory... It would explain much. :)

Da Old Man- That kid with the bib seems unnaturally happy-- yes. And WAY too old for it. She'll be DRIVING soon. (Okay, well, a bike. But still.)

Jaffer- Sure, you can't get a good grip if you've got yarn in the way. I mean, when I try to drink Pepsi bottles with my feet, I need a seriously grippy surface and... :)

the author said...

Awww! It makes me kinda wanna go pull out the yarn! heh heh

Sarah said...

Oh my goodness I'm weeping from laughter. I have got to design a baby bottle cozy, I'm sure that's something today's moms would love. :)

Anonymous said...

MizSmoochieLips- Just be responsible with that yarn-- you can see what happens when things go wrong. :)

Sarah- Oh yes, you could be the one to bring it BACK! Wouldn't these new mothers be grateful?

Carrie said...

You do such a great job of interpreting the vintage publications you share with us!

Melanie said...

Why oh why couldn't they have had such helpful pattern books when I was a young mom armed with a crochet hook. If I'd known there was a pattern out there that would tie Lil Miss into her crib, you'd better believe I'd have crocheted it!

Anonymous said...

Carrie- It's always fun to go through-- I'm never quite sure myself which way it will go.

Melanie- My one cousin was an escape artist, so I can see my aunt might have liked that particular pattern as well. Though somehow I suspect he'd have done a Houdini and gotten out of that, too.

Lenox Knits said...

Brilliant post. It made me laugh out loud. I love the commentary on poor little mary.

Anonymous said...

Lenox Knits- It is sad to see what's happened to Mary, isn't it?

But I think with plenty of therapy, she might be okay. :)

Rosemary said...

You crack me up Jenn!!
Hope you have a great week,

Anonymous said...

What a horrible thing to do to a baby it looks so silly . I got a bunch of those knitted swatters from my mother in law they are all still in the closet.

Anonymous said...

Rosemary-- Hey, you too. I know the build-up to Halloween was probably exhausting for you. Hope it all went well.

Linda- I admire the talent of folks who can knit or crotchet, but the folks I know who do so never made anything that involved trapping me into furniture, or "cozying" anything.

Danielle Combs said...

Got a good laugh from your post! It was so gay and gifty of you to share with your readers.

My SIL had some old Christmas crafty magazine/books...ya shoulda seen some of those ideas...whew! Like the front door decorated with the heck?

Anonymous said...

Danielle- That's what I love about these kinds of books-- the total impracticality! And as you said, Christmas seems to bring those sorts of things out, too. :) Fruit??