Friday, September 26, 2008

Stitchery and Mishaps

Introducing the new Friday internet sensation: the ugliest wall hangings of the week! Yes, soon these newly popular wall hanging posts will pop up on every blog. Eventually, they will feature funny net-speak captions with adorable cats peeking out from underneath them. That, in turn, will become one of the most-downloaded Flash games of all time. Before any of that can happen, however, we have to start with the first Wall Hangings Friday post. These wall hangings, each one an assault on the eyes, were all found in the wonderful Better Homes and Gardens' Stitchery and Crafts. Just take a look at these wall hangings!

Undeniably, Wall Hangings Friday will take the internet by storm. (Soon to be) as seen on Boing Boing (or wherever quality internet trends begin)!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Stitchery and Scraps

The lesson for today's post is 'sewing for the home can be fun'! Better Homes and Gardens shows you just how much of a hoot sewing, weaving (or knitting with a loom), and summer stitchery can be in these four pages from Stitchery and Crafts.

Surely if weaving (or knitting, rather) had been this simple in Penelope's day, her plans would have been foiled much sooner, and history would be forever changed. Also, she would have been able to make many fashionable shawls in a jiff!

From afar, these cushions look pretty neat with their boxy geometrics, bold colors, and textures that seem to pop off the page. Up close, however, you realize just how useless they really are and that they resemble the bottom of those cheap Easter baskets.

It would be worth it to toil all winter long just to have your summery stitches all ready for those warm days out by the lake. You'd better get started now; you'll need pillows, rugs, runners, cushions, fabric awnings to hang off the bridge, covers for your wire-framed chairs, parasols, table cloths, covers for directors' chairs and tree swings, and, of course, your ottomans. You might need to quit your job to get them all done in time!

Monday, September 22, 2008

Stitchery and Gasps

Crochet is the most venerable of all forms of needlework. But don't take my word for it. Better Homes and Garden's Stitchery and Crafts has this to say on the matter: 'Crocheting is a venerable art.' See? The art of crochet might have hit rock bottom in the 1970s, but in the 1960s it was still a fresh way to create unique details and breathe new life into your various doodads.

Odd tufts of yarn is a perfectly acceptable way to create texture and intrigue in a room. If your furnishings are a curious mélange of styles and colors, red tufts on the wall will draw the eye away from the general decor and create a sense of panic and confusion that will silence any critiques of bad taste in a jiffy. Crocheted designs can also be attached to store-bought pillows and cushions. The middle cushion, for instance, has a handmade trivet glued to it.

Ancient bearded god or fancy trilobite?

Sheets with personalized embroidery say all the things that mere words cannot. The blue sheet set on the right, for instance, says, 'I breed rabbits.' My favorite part of this page though is the doddering, bespectacled cat on the bedside table of the first picture.

Check back soon for more crafts-related wonderment!

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Stitchery and Laughs

Here are some more knitted and quilted wonders from Better Homes and Gardens' Stitchery and Crafts.

These quilted beauties for your boudoir display all the colors that matter. The copy on the page concedes that there is no color scheme or actual design to the various quilted accoutrements. So you can have full control over your vanity stool cover and swing chair cushion!

'In the past, creative knitting was limited by the scarcity of yarn,' says the book. Lucky for us all, the yarn boom of the 1960s and 70s made it possible for amateur knitters and crocheters everywhere to blanket the world in knitted covers and crocheted mats.. and crocheted cushions and knitted pouches. These days, everything rightfully belongs hidden underneath a tastefully crafted cover. Just think of all those ingenious toilet paper holders! This page has some pillows that look like they were made from some pretty nice sweaters and some knitted placemats and chair cushions made from Cliff Huxtable's sweaters.

This is, apparently, a picture of the interior of a new age-y center. Maybe this is a room where you go to recharge the balance of your life force. I think there is some sort of spiritual significance to the placement of the plants. The knitted pieces on this page include a dust-attracting wall scarf (or, perhaps someone is knitting a scarf for an elephant) and a blanket for the chic swing chair. I'm not sure what the appeal of the swing chair was. Is it because it kind of resembles a cracked eggshell, and curling up in it evokes memories of a fetal state? If so, that's pretty new age-y.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Stitchery and Gaffes

It has been said that life is a great quilt of experiences, of joys and sorrows, and the thread of humanity binds us all together. This is one of the two most poignant quilting-related quotations that have been said. Lucille Ball, in all her wisdom, urged women to 'use a make-up table with everything close at hand and don't rush; otherwise you'll look like a patchwork quilt,' but that probably doesn't resonate as much. If careless cosmeticians would create a look that resembles any of the quilts in these pictures, though, there would probably be a few tearful ladies. For your viewing pleasure, here are some bedspreads and other quilts from Better Homes and Gardens' Stitchery and Crafts.

Here we have the sort of sparse, faceless bedroom that any child would love. Especially any child who would envy the fittings of hospital rooms and prison cells or are excited by signs on restroom doors. Basically, the design is a little creepy. I prefer the second project: 'platter' party supplies, including a tote for carrying records and a matching cushion to sit on.

This quaint children's room has an adorable circus theme. The bed linens and rug are bright and cute, and I believe there is a giant popcorn machine in the corner behind the photographer. The problem, however, is the horse's head. Regardless of whether the horse's head is right in your bed or just on a shelf of the bedside table, it's never a good sign. The living room in the bottom picture is far less scarring, luckily. Note the use of harvest yellow predating the wild popularity of the color by a few years.

I think the bold geometric pattern of this quilt and the vivid green wash of the walls (which looks as if it might glow in the dark) would cause sleeplessness and, possibly, eventual madness. The headboard looks like it was fashioned from a car seat.

The top photo shows one of the few quilt designs that could leave a positive impression on the reader. Amazingly, it looks like it's made of hundreds of sand dollars! Or, maybe, it was made of hundreds of potholders.

The thing about this bedchamber is that it clearly is supposed to be the most tasteful and luxe of their designs, a majestic room fit for a queen. But it only succeeds in being cheaply flamboyant. The pom-pom trim was a nice touch, though.

Monday, September 01, 2008

Stitchery and Crafts

To the discerning eye of the kitschy cookbook collector, Better Homes and Gardens is the pinnacle of quality. No matter the occasion, meal, or ingredient, Better Homes is always filled to capacity with fascinating, frame-worthy works of art. It should come as no surprise that every picture in their various non-food volumes is just as sensational. Their decor guides abound with tasteful mid-century modern furnishings that would look perfect in a fashionable apartment. But it seems to be their craft books that provide the most varied eye-pleasers. For the next few weeks, I'll be highlighting some of the most dazzling works from Better Homes and Gardens Stitchery and Crafts, published in 1966. It promises to be a 'complete guide to the most rewarding stitchery and craft projects for the whole family' and includes examples of the artistry of weaving, appliqueing, knitting, paper designs, mosaics, and bazaar ideas.

This is the front cover. On a cool spring afternoon, mother and daughter work on their tapestries and rugs in the barn. Mother wears her sweater about her shoulders to combat the slight chill in the air and daughter sips a soothing cup of tea whilst admiring her regal handiwork. But, as is common for all of these publications, there are usually hints of something more sinister in the background. Notice the great rudimentary farming tools strapped to the wall. There is, perhaps, a shovel and a hoe. Much to my horror, I notice that the last implement is actually the severed hand of Struwwelpeter! Clearly he got what he deserved, but it was still a shock to see it hanging there. This visual sets a macabre tone for the rest of the book.

A few lovely burlap sacks and a gorgeous striped tote bag. I would buy that striped tote bag if I saw that in a store. It's beautiful!

Where is Mrs. Bates? Though this rocking chair does have a bright and jaunty cushion, this picture is still reminiscent of Psycho.

There will be more alluring (or alarming) craft items in the coming days, and if you're interested in seeing more 1960s Better Homes and Gardens handicrafts (specifically of the yuletide variety), you can revisit last December's month of crafty Christmas cheer!