Wednesday, 23 January 2013

Australiana Crochet

This week a customer in Tasmania bought a really old pattern for a milk jug cover, featuring a map of Australia, a popular item in my shop. She also asked whether I had any similar crochet patterns featuring Australiana.
Australia Jug Cover

My grandfather lived with "another woman" for 40 years. This "other woman', or "partner" as I will henceforth refer to her, collected many old filet crochet patterns over the years, and after she died without an immediate family, my grandfather passed them on to me, as I was the "crafty" one in the family at that time. Most of these patterns were pages torn from The Weekly Times newspaper, featuring the women's page, with patterns for knitting, sewing and crochet. So, yes, I had quite a few patterns which which I felt you could call "Australiana".

A Bush Landscape
The Australiana patterns I have were published in The Weekly Times between 1923 and 1928. They are difficult to read. The print is tiny. The text goes all the way down one long column, then starts again at the top of the next column, unlike modern newspapers which publish their articles as segments on the page. This meant that patterns could start at the bottom of the page, then end at the top of the next long column, confusing to a modern newspaper reader. Also, the pages had been folded, and where the paper was creased it was difficult , and sometimes impossible to read the text. I had to get out my super magnifying glass to try to make out the pattern directions in the creases. Zooming in on the computer screen tended to distort the scanned image after a certain point. I included my transcription notes of the difficult spots in the pdf. sent to the customer. Some words had disappeared completely, and only an understanding of the sequence of the pattern could make them out.

The Weekly Times had been running a competition, and most of these patterns were submitted by readers who had created them themselves. In those days, you made your own , or went without. I guess there was nothing much to do in the evenings except your knitting, sewing or crochet - or you created new projects because there weren't many available to you otherwise.


I put together 10 of these patterns as a pdf. file and after at least 3 hours work, sold it to the customer for $5.00. She was thrilled, and shared it with her enthusiastic friends (none of whom can crochet!)Clearly, it wasn't the profit that motivated me to do this. It was the love of the old patterns, and the desire to share them with someone who appreciated them.

That is really the underlying motivation behind my vintage shop. I want these beautiful old things to go to homes where they will be loved.

Update: As from 2015 I am not selling any more digital copies of patterns due to copyright confusion.

1 comment:

  1. Dear Joanne, such a lovely story! Yes, your patterns are truly appreciated. Only today I was chatting with a friend and her elderly mother, of Italian decent (in her early 80's) - sharing with them my treasures from you. The mother remembers clearly learning this very fine craft, and at the tender age of 6 she created her very first handkerchief with a crocheted edge. It went on from there. What fascinates me most of all are the stories behind these vintage master pieces - the desire to create the "picture"; then the creation of the pattern through trial and error; and finally creating the finished master piece. How wonderful to show case such beautifully intricate work and to have the added honour of the work being featured in the newspaper/magazine! We are lucky that some of the stories and creations have not been lost forever. And, we are part of those ongoing stories for future generations.
    I am honoured to have gained access to these patterns and will treasure them.
    Thank you.