Monday, August 20, 2012

A Crafty Collection

Pic-heavy post today; I just couldn't resist sharing some of these beauties. It’s another of my collections: Golden Hands magazines from the 1970s.
click on photos to see larger
I bought one of these in a used bookstore just a few years ago, not knowing there was an entire collection to be had. After finding a few more in a magazine bin at a thrift, I realized there must be a whole series. I tried to resist, but it was futile.
I’ve picked them up here and there when I could find them for $1 or less (some are going for $10!). I’ve actually been pretty lucky, and my collection is now close to 60 of the total 70+ magazines issued. I’m not picky about condition, as long as they have all their pages and nothing has been spilled on them.

The magazines were published by Marshall Cavendish in the early to mid-70s. People in the UK probably know the magazine better than we do, but it was also popular here in the US. Viewed today, the aesthetic veers between timeless classics (above) and outfits that are so dated they are almost back in style (below).

The amount of information packed into each issue was incredible. 
Beautifully intricate embroidery patterns

Monthly home decor projects too

Usually it was a combination of knitting, crochet, applique, embroidery, lace, quilting, and sewing projects, with patterns. Plus there would be examples of museum pieces of quilts, carpets, or embroidery, articles about fitting, patternmaking, fabric care, and styling. The idea was to collect all the magazines and have a complete “beautifully illustrated needlecraft encyclopedia.”

One thing I love about pre-digital magazine photography is that the lovely models have their blemishes and body hair intact. Isn’t it refreshing to see a human woman on a magazine?
The male models were also handsome but realistic.

I could overlook the sideburns and, uh, ascot(?) but I'd have to banish the cigarillo.

The illustrators are the unsung heroes of each issue, as far as I’m concerned. J. Rankin was a regular contributor, although I was not able to find out anything about her in a quick internet search.
Look at the incredible detail in these drawings by J. Rankin.

My other favorite illustrator is B. Firth. Her name shows up on technical drawings of patterns, stitches, and techniques, as well as fashion drawing.
excerpt of instructions and illustration by B. Firth

From an article on shirt dresses - I think this is so pretty you could frame it

I was able to track down a B. Firth – I think she is Barbara Firth:
When she was three, she began drawing plants and animals, and when she was eleven years old, her family moved to the country, enabling her to spend even more time sketching the flora and fauna around her.
After leaving school she studied pattern cutting at the London College of Fashion. She was offered a job in the Marks and Spencer design department, but turned it down in favour of a job on Vogue knitting books, producing step-by-step illustrations of knitting, crocheting and dressmaking. It was with Walker Books, however, that Barbara was able to do illustration work in her favourite field – natural history – and has gone on to illustrate many award-winning books. She now lives in Harrow, England.
 “I have always been biased toward illustrating natural history, so it was a joy to be able to draw pages and pages of bears,” Barbara Firth says of her collaboration with Martin Waddell on Can’t You Sleep, Little Bear?, the first of their classic Big and Little Bear series.
Doesn't that sound like a wonderful career!

I hope you enjoyed these amazing images (and your internet connection didn’t time out). I use the magazine more for inspiration than reference, but I would agree that Golden Hands creates a complete if somewhat disorganized "beautifully illustrated needlecraft encyclopedia."
Did you (or your mom) get issues of Golden Hands in the 1970s? Do you remember making anything from its pages?


  1. We never had Golden Hands as my Mum bought the Stitchcraft magazine for many years....and I wish we had all of those now too.I agree about the work of the illustrators...just wonderful!!

  2. My mother and grandmother were Stitchcraft buyers too. I think Golden Hands must have been too trendy! You're right, the styles look in fashion again.
    I've seen old copies in charity shops here sometimes.

  3. I have 5 volumes of the weekly and I don't know how many of the monthly ones. I have made lots of things from them they are filled with lots of information