More than just Granny Squares
October 9, 2014 6:08 PM   Subscribe

Yarn Bombs: In the '70s, Knitting Was Totally Far Out is a fun and frightening collection of knitting patterns from the 70s.
posted by Room 641-A (65 comments total) 21 users marked this as a favorite
 
Knitting is only now finally recovering from the shock.
posted by sonascope at 6:11 PM on October 9, 2014 [1 favorite]


Back then you had to buy your knitted bikini pattern on paper at some sort of store.
posted by yohko at 6:27 PM on October 9, 2014 [1 favorite]


I still have to buy my knit bikini patterns from stores.
posted by ourt at 6:30 PM on October 9, 2014


Some of these images (and certainly anything involving granny squares) are crochet! I demand tag recognition.
posted by asperity at 6:34 PM on October 9, 2014 [20 favorites]


Mostly, what I remember from the 70s was the macrame...

*stares off into the far distance*

...so...much...macrame...
posted by Halloween Jack at 6:41 PM on October 9, 2014 [5 favorites]


This man is going to kill me.
posted by p3t3 at 6:42 PM on October 9, 2014 [2 favorites]


Mostly, what I remember from the 70s was the macrame...

No, no, no! Why did you bring up macrame? Now I'm having flashbacks to the time the giant macrame wall hanging my mother had in the living room was set ablaze by a pillar candle on a side table.
posted by MikeMc at 6:43 PM on October 9, 2014 [2 favorites]


I grew up in a town with a store called Macrame Plus.

The Plus was even worse than the macrame.
posted by sonascope at 6:43 PM on October 9, 2014 [7 favorites]


Mostly, what I remember from the 70s was the macrame...

And the needlepoint! My mom still has needlepoint pillows on her bed that I made in elementary school. And a drawer full of granny square hats. I remember she took macrame classes but thankfully that didn't survive.
posted by Room 641-A at 6:47 PM on October 9, 2014 [1 favorite]


Open any current copy of Vogue Knitting or Knitter's Magazine and you'll find something just as bad, I guarantee it. Designers are always trying to crank out stuff that hasn't been done the same way a hundred times already, and sometimes it ends up just being a bad idea.
posted by rikschell at 6:49 PM on October 9, 2014 [8 favorites]


You are back in the house again. You see a macrame owl wall hanging, with wooden-bead eyes and a real tree branch clutched in its knitted claws. Hanging next to it, the string-art sailing ship on a black velvet background. To the right, a wicker ettagere with glass shelves, containing two sand candles, a novelty World's Best Dad statuette, and one of the smaller ashtrays, filled to overflowing and studded with dead Marlboros. At the end of the room, there is a sliding glass door covered with nubbly avocado-colored floor-length curtains. If you look behind them, you will see your old cocker spaniel standing outside the smudged glass, mournfully wagging his stumpy tail and hoping you'll let him in.

The carpet? Brown. The carpet is always brown. There is always a giant wooden spoon and fork hanging on the kitchen wall. Though sometimes, for no reason you can remember, they are brass.

The living room is sunken, the fireplace gas-fired and turned on with a key. The paneling is dark. A plaster fake Spanish shield with fake crossed swords hangs above the mantlepiece.

You step down into the shag carpet and sit on the plaid couch, as nubbly as the curtains (one never sat on them in shorts without getting a rash). You stare at the giant marble ashtray on the coffee table and then you look down to see that you are wearing the sweater vest, the one with the fringe, and the nobbles and the wooden buttons.

Just as you knew you would be.
posted by emjaybee at 7:00 PM on October 9, 2014 [35 favorites]


I would like very much to drink in that room.
posted by louche mustachio at 7:03 PM on October 9, 2014 [3 favorites]


NOBBLES
posted by louche mustachio at 7:03 PM on October 9, 2014 [1 favorite]


Granny squares are trippy and frightening enough if you take into account the time- and dimension-traveling Collinsport Afghan from Dark Shadows.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 7:05 PM on October 9, 2014 [1 favorite]


I'm pretty sure that this era of photography required people to remain very still while the photo was taken, and that's why they're sporting those fixed grins.
posted by asperity at 7:05 PM on October 9, 2014


The only things that were ever to drink in that room: Pabst Blue Ribbon. Cheap red wine. Jack Daniels and 7Up. And grape Shasta.
posted by emjaybee at 7:06 PM on October 9, 2014


Just as you knew you would be.

Are you some kind of witch? How could know these things? If you had mentioned that oil drizzling lamp I would have had you burned at the stake because you just described a '70s Christmas gathering at my aunt and uncle's house.
posted by MikeMc at 7:06 PM on October 9, 2014 [4 favorites]


Let's talk about crochet for a minute. Nobody loves poor old crochet, but it has its place. It's denser than knitting, and hard to shape, so it lends itself best to flat projects. Most blankets are crocheted rather than knitted, same with doilies and dishcloths. It isn't just doll-shaped toilet paper covers and granny squares, if you wanted a really structured Chanel-style jacket, crochet would be your best bet.

Knitting is better for most clothing because it has more give, it's easier to shape around a body and it stretches. But if you are a highly skilled knitter you almost have to have some crochet skills in your pocket, for things like provisional cast-ons, edging, and buttonholes.

Almost everything crocheted looks less professional than everything knitted (side-by-side comparisons of similar patterns on Ravelry will bear this out), but when I saw the Jean-Paul Gaultier exhibit at the DeYoung a couple years ago, I saw this dress and was happy that, because I can both knit and crochet, I could conceivably recreate it. And you can knit with a machine, but there is no machine that truly replicates crochet. If you find a crocheted doily or tablecloth at a thrift store, someone's grandma made that from scratch while listening to the radio.
posted by padraigin at 7:08 PM on October 9, 2014 [21 favorites]


I have described, with almost no embellishment, my childhood home ages 5-7. That owl still haunts me.
posted by emjaybee at 7:08 PM on October 9, 2014


From the article:

"But no knitter I know has had time to make a whole sweater."

So....the author admits to knowing no knitters. (I've been knitting for 8 years now and I've made about 9. Two were even for an adult. One I just wore to work two days ago.)
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:08 PM on October 9, 2014 [8 favorites]


Oh, and I am lying here under a granny-square afghan I crocheted myself SUCK IT HATERZ
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:09 PM on October 9, 2014 [11 favorites]


That owl still haunts me.

My mom had two owl lamps. One was a large owl the other had two smaller owls. You could just light up their eyes like night lights. Like this... the '70s were a strange time.
posted by MikeMc at 7:31 PM on October 9, 2014


Sexy Professor's cardigan is quite nice. I'd knit that.

(I mean that literally, not as an "I'd hit that" joke)
posted by Metroid Baby at 7:34 PM on October 9, 2014 [1 favorite]


Yeah, come on, I've made dozens of sweaters. A couple with some intarsia. One with a Fair Isle yoke. I've never steeked anything yet, but man, there's time. There's time.
posted by padraigin at 7:34 PM on October 9, 2014 [4 favorites]


Y'all are missing out for the nostalgia of Golden Hands, the brilliant 1970s crafting magazine that my mother had collected into nine volumes on our living room shelves, that I still regret not stuffing in my luggage the last time I was at my parents' house, because when my husband found one vintage copy at a shop, I welled up with tears of joy looking at the patterns I had poured over obsessively. And also why I want boston ferns in macrame hangers next to white painted cane furniture with needlepointed cushions. And uh, I have like 90% of that in my house.

The 1970s was MAGIC.
posted by viggorlijah at 7:40 PM on October 9, 2014 [6 favorites]




In 1979, my eighty-year-old grandmother from low country Georgia asked me what my favorite color was, and I said "green," because it was, and remains, green. Months later, I was given something very green.

Thirty-five years later, it is almost as new. I do not know why, but I think a pact may have been made.
posted by sonascope at 7:49 PM on October 9, 2014 [16 favorites]


viggorlijah, I have a seven-volume run of 1970s Golden Hands (UK). I flick through it regularly just for the fashions. My favourite projects are the little one-shot pages opposite the table of contents that suggest one idea a week -- 'Make a useful box out of pasta!' 'Brighten up jeans with these super studs!' -- and tread a fine line between madness/sanity. Thanks for the Pinterest link I shall enjoy seeing how the various editions looked.

It's the one thing I asked from my Nana's belongings when she died. Thanks Nana, it's given me hundreds of hours of enjoyment!
posted by NoiselessPenguin at 7:57 PM on October 9, 2014 [1 favorite]


It's like Sad Etsy Boyfriend, but sadder.
posted by chaoticgood at 8:00 PM on October 9, 2014 [2 favorites]


Nobody loves poor old crochet, but it has its place. It's denser than knitting, and hard to shape, so it lends itself best to flat projects.

Eh, density with the same yarn depends on what size hooks and type of stitches you're using. There's no reason crocheted fabric has to be dense! And as for hard to shape, because you're generally only working one stitch at a time with crochet, you can take it in any direction you want. I always feel like I've got fewer problems shaping things on the fly than my knitter friends do, though it's possible this is a pattern choice issue.

As for less professional: I think that since we're all exposed to so much machine knit, the closer the fabric looks to that, the more we see it as professional-looking. Meh to that.

In conclusion, "crochet has its place" is fighting words, crochet is not unloved, and furthermore, nobody gets to borrow my awesome crocheted clothing with plenty of drape, thankyouverymuch.
posted by asperity at 8:04 PM on October 9, 2014 [11 favorites]


This man is going to kill me.

At least you'll die happy?
posted by Grandysaur at 8:17 PM on October 9, 2014 [1 favorite]


NoiselessPenguin, if you happen to hear muffled noises in the night do not be alarmed, it is merely me coming to steal your Golden Hands collection. SO JEALOUS!
posted by viggorlijah at 8:25 PM on October 9, 2014


I am pretty sure that my mother and aunts knitted some of those patterns, so my father and uncles were sad Etsy boyfriends before it was cool. (Unfortunately I was small and therefore easy to knit for, so I was sad Etsy kid and trust me, it wasn't cool.)
posted by Dip Flash at 8:41 PM on October 9, 2014


Whatever you do, don't click this link to 70's latch hook images....
posted by mikelieman at 8:47 PM on October 9, 2014 [3 favorites]


Granny squares are the building blocks of fashion.
posted by Sophie1 at 8:48 PM on October 9, 2014 [2 favorites]


One of these days I am going to put my collection of knit and crochet books from the 1930s to the 1970s on my site. They really are too funny to keep to myself.
posted by Sophie1 at 8:52 PM on October 9, 2014 [3 favorites]


MAN TALK
IN TOTEM
posted by middleclasstool at 9:01 PM on October 9, 2014 [2 favorites]


The only things that were ever to drink in that room: Pabst Blue Ribbon. Cheap red wine. Jack Daniels and 7Up. And grape Shasta.

I WOULD LIKE A TAB PLEASE.


In conclusion, "crochet has its place" is fighting words


This is a fact, I will fight you.

Maybe it's the wine talking, but srsly I have a K hook in my hand RIGHT NOW, and your two pointy sticks don't scare me.


Winter scares me though, so I crochet. I cannot stop. I have a bazillion skeins of wool and I am mad with power. THIS THING IS NOT BIG ENOUGH. CH5!
posted by louche mustachio at 9:19 PM on October 9, 2014 [12 favorites]


I saw this dress and was happy that, because I can both knit and crochet, I could conceivably recreate it.

So how's that going? Did you try it?

Crochet and knitting both have their uses. But crocheted clothes are a lot better--and easier to find decent patterns of--than they used to be.
posted by jenfullmoon at 9:20 PM on October 9, 2014 [1 favorite]


I would like very much to drink in that room.

I would very much need to drink in that room
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 11:48 PM on October 9, 2014 [2 favorites]


Oh man! Someone in the past made unfashionable things (to our eyes)! And that's because they didn't have internet? And today we have internet & people still make stuff, but not any big things?

I await the next instalment with bated breath. Can we have something involving woodwork? Or maybe beer-brewing? With bad fashion choices?
posted by kariebookish at 2:45 AM on October 10, 2014


Oh God, Golden Hands! My Grandma gave me loads of Golden Hands (UK) in special Golden Hands golden binders. The projects are completely fucking insane, there is nothing in there that isn't bananas. 'Crochet beaded beige and green waistcoats for your husband, son and dog!' 'Needlepoint yourself a puffy collar with blobby semi-unrecognisable flowers and dangly things hanging from it for some reason!' 'Weird paisley patterned toast cosy somehow made from rope!' '14 bizarre outfits for your baby that look like it's halfway through being swallowed by an alien!' Everything in Golden Hands is so yellow. And everyone is always drowning in beads and strangely-constructed chunky lace.
posted by Acheman at 3:38 AM on October 10, 2014 [4 favorites]


Eh, I still see all these patterns, but around parking meters now, not people anymore.
posted by telstar at 3:56 AM on October 10, 2014 [1 favorite]


Okay - I freely admit to owning this book, and to eyeing not only the crochet projects, but also the weaving projects, the beading projects, and - even the macrame.

Now, they do a good job about updating a lot of the projects to look less, er, dated - their take on the granny square afghan, for instance, makes a point of confining itself to a strict color palette, as they argue that the whole reason that the old-style ones you remember from your 70's rec rooms were sort of "anything goes" with the colors and that just looked goofy. Stick to a small range of colors - all pale greens and blues, say, or earthy browns with a little touches of berry - and you'll have something a bit more updated in feel.

But I gotta admit, the thing that tipped me over from just flipping through it in a store to "omigod I wanna buy this" is when I saw the section on candlemaking talked about how to make sand candles and ice candles, and even rainbow candles, and it triggered this flashback to being about seven years old and browsing in the gift shop in the local mall that had all these "mystical" groovy 70's stuff that I coveted as a kid and that did it.

I attribute a lot of my DIY instincts and foodie-preservation stuff to having seen a lot of this kind of thing around in the early 70's and actually liking it. If I'd been a young adult in the 60's I'd totally have tried to go live on a commune.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:12 AM on October 10, 2014 [5 favorites]


Soooooo, many of these patterns were not bad, actually!

... says the woman who still has her mother explain which of her clothes make good outfits together.
posted by chainsofreedom at 6:50 AM on October 10, 2014 [1 favorite]


This seems as good a time as any to namecheck Mefi's Own Orange Swan, author of The Knitting Needle and the Damage Done, previously featured on Metafilter and even Ask Metafilter. Poor design choices in yarncraft abound to this day.
posted by Liesl at 7:14 AM on October 10, 2014 [4 favorites]


Oh god, my orthodontist's office had that dripping oil lamp in the waiting area. Thanks for the flashback that was both painful and tasteless.
posted by interplanetjanet at 7:35 AM on October 10, 2014


There is always a giant wooden spoon and fork hanging on the kitchen wall. Though sometimes, for no reason you can remember, they are brass.

You have neglected to mention all the matching kitchen appliances in Harvest Gold.
posted by poffin boffin at 8:38 AM on October 10, 2014 [2 favorites]


Rosey Grier + the 70s + needlepoint, may or may not = this
posted by Emor at 10:54 AM on October 10, 2014


You have neglected to mention all the matching kitchen appliances in Harvest Gold.

And how about the ash tray that's the size of a punch bowl?
posted by orange swan at 10:58 AM on October 10, 2014


and the shag carpet in the conversation pit that you have to comb with an actual rake.
posted by poffin boffin at 11:03 AM on October 10, 2014


And the brown naugahyde recliner in the corner. So many naugas were slaughtered in the 70s...
posted by Esteemed Offendi at 11:22 AM on October 10, 2014


I have that book, too, EmpressCallipygos! The denim skirt projects appeal to me.

Also, this book is now a need, just because of the title.
posted by annsunny at 1:43 PM on October 10, 2014


And how about the ash tray that's the size of a punch bowl?

Look, it was really a time of different values. We smoked a LOT of cigarettes, and it was either that, or the overflowing mess on the shag carpet.

DON'T JUDGE ME!
posted by mikelieman at 2:20 PM on October 10, 2014


Hell yeah, crochet. Granny squares are like giant pixels.
posted by rmd1023 at 3:53 PM on October 10, 2014 [1 favorite]


This dude is hot. And the sweater don't hurt. All's I'm sayin'.
posted by GrammarMoses at 4:10 PM on October 10, 2014 [2 favorites]


Also, protip: Do not get your crocheted cotton bikini wet. It gets heavy. Emerging from the pool can be quite perilous.
posted by GrammarMoses at 4:20 PM on October 10, 2014


Don't forget the inexplicable large ceramic snails that terrified me as a child. And I'm sure I saw these topped with a knitted doily. In brown. Or avacado. Or orange. I imagine the owner standing in their bathrobe with their personalized coffee mug full of Sanka and trying to decide which color was going to best represented by that particular day.
posted by 1f2frfbf at 6:19 PM on October 10, 2014


I distinctly recall some kind of trendy fetish for misshapen mushrooms. They were tall and bulbous, shaped like those lumpy lovers in the "Love is..." cartoons. Also there were rug hooking, stained glass birds/animals/cartoon characters that suctioned to your windowpane, and collections of natural items (flowers, wheat, seashells) encased in lucite trivets.
posted by GrammarMoses at 7:23 PM on October 10, 2014 [1 favorite]


emjaybee, that was perfect - but you didn't have the wooden wall holder that displayed souvenir teaspoons with decorative handles, or a plant sitting on a white ceramic elephant stand? And if the appliances weren't harvest gold they were likely to be avocado green.

I remember still the days when *everyone* seemed to have at least one plant in a macrame hanger. Don't forget knitted or crocheted ponchos (including some made of granny squares). Also, colorful woven or knitted belts fringed belts that you wore around your waist. (I still have a leather purse from that era with fringe embellished with wooden beads.) And lava lamps, Mr. gudrun says one of his doctors had several lava lamps in the waiting room.
posted by gudrun at 4:53 AM on October 11, 2014 [1 favorite]


I wish ponchos were fashionable right now. They're so convenient and easy to wear (warming without being too warming, stay put better than a shawl, and leave your arms free), and they look like they'd be fun to make with modern styles and colors. I just don't dare because they've had like one year of popularity since the 70s, and that was entirely due to Martha Stewart's prison crafting.
posted by asperity at 1:58 PM on October 11, 2014


asperity, I think ponchos are back now!
posted by Room 641-A at 5:16 PM on October 11, 2014 [2 favorites]


Wow those Golden Hands things are awesomely awful.

Google image search of Golden Hands Crochet.

And my favorite useless thing so far.
posted by small_ruminant at 11:14 PM on October 11, 2014


For the record, I would totally wear that knit bow tie.
posted by The Outsider at 3:31 AM on October 15, 2014


I remember helping my mom sort through all her back issues of Vogue Knitting one day in… must have been 1987. Once we'd made our way through the two-foot stack of magazines she looked at the two piles ("keep" and "toss") and realized that she'd saved issues from years up to and including 1969, and from 1980 and later, but not one single issue from the '70s had survived the cull. Not deliberately, mind — the ones from the '70s were just all So. Damn. Ugly.

So who's doing the "regrettable 1980s knitting" compilation? I remember lots of bat-wing sweaters with excessive colorwork… and did anybody here ever make that "map of the world" sweater?
posted by Lexica at 7:15 PM on October 15, 2014


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