Little Book of Horrors

I love going through other people’s bookcases. Especially when at a bach or holiday home with older books. It’s then that you’ll come across gems like this:


It’s the Woman’s Day Complete Book of Handicrafts from 1973.* And it’s simply packed with Crimes Against Craft.

Crime No. 1: Sewing

I love fashion from many different decades; the 70s is not one of them. The fit of the shirts, the size of the collars, and – most of all – those terrible bloody fabrics are just too much. Also, making Dad and son matching shirts – who convinces their menfolk to where these?


Also: a ‘Long Evening Skirt in Patchwork’. Words fail me.


Crime No. 2: Crochet

You knew this was coming. The 70s abused the beautiful craft of crochet so badly its taken decades to recover. I don’t understand why with all the beautiful things you can do with yarn and a crochet hook, you make peggy squares and then turn them into a vest.


Or better yet, turn them into a vest and then adorn it with tassels.


Crime No. 3: Knitting

Okay, I’ll admit. A few of the knitting patterns weren’t truly horrific.

There was the traditional baby layette:


Some Aran sweaters that weren’t hideous:


But all of this okay-ness was undone by the ugliest knitting pattern I’ve ever seen in my life. Are you ready? I’m not sure you’re ready.

Seriously, brace yourself.


Everything you see there – jacket, knickerbockers, and deer stalker – is knitted. Okay, the knickerbockers aren’t too bad, but that jacket? And the hat?

I tried to work out why it looked so inherently wrong. Was it the colours? Replaced with neutral greys and a pop of pink would it look better? Was it the lines? Where they too close together? Was it the shape?

To reassure myself that knitting hadn’t contributed the ugliest item in the book, I turned to the macramé section. Because there’s two things you can rely on macramé for: ugliness and holding pot plants.

And then shit got weird.

There weren’t any pot holders. There were some slightly strange jewellery and an odd-looking shawl, but nothing really hideous. And, then, to turn the world completely on it’s head, there was this:


This is actually in attractive skirt. Made in macramé. Sure, it’s made in eight ply acrylic and would weight more than a kilogram, but I would actually wear this one.

I wonder if it’s possible to convert the pattern to crochet….


* Interesting tidbit – the Australian magazine is the Woman’s Day, while the New Zealand version is Women’s Day. Draw what conclusions that you will about the communal spirit of Kiwi ladies.