1918 Fleisher’s Knitting & Crocheting Manuel

The reason that old sayings tend to endure is that so often they are true. In this case, “You can’t judge a book by its cover” applies.  This dull brown cover gives little hint of the treasures within.

At over two hundred pages, the Fleisher’s Knitting and Crocheting Manuel is more than a basic how-to book. First of all, it’s an advertisement, as Fleisher’s was a brand of yarn. It’s also a book of knitting and crocheting patterns with garments for the entire family. And best of all, it’s a time capsule.

In 1918 the USA was involved in the Great War, now known as World War 1. There were a dozen patterns for garments and accessories for the man in service. Many were easy to make, and I’m sure many clubs and groups were busy making  Service Sweater, Type “C”, or mufflers and socks.

This cap and face protector and muffler in one was called a helmet, and was often mentioned in magazines of the period as a prized possession of many doughboys.

I learned how to crochet in high school (it was, after all, the crafty Seventies) but I really had no idea that so many stitches were possible beyond the standard single and double crochet, and the popcorn stitch. My eyes have been opened to the wonders of crocheting.

There’s a whole range of sweaters, all photographed in the out-of-doors – on the beach, in boats, on a woodsy walk.

One thing I really love about this book is how there are piece charts for many of the sweaters.

It’s not all sportswear. There are quite a few patterns for bed jackets, shawls, and “kimonos”. Even the bed jackets are called kimonos.

In 1918 it appears that the sizes of knitting needles and crochet hooks were not standardized.  Fleisher’s helped to solve the problem by numbering the metric diameter of each tool. I’m not sure that still applies because I measured my 10.5 knitting need and it has a diameter of  7mm.

One could either crochet or knit a tam.

By 1918 the middy blouse was wildly popular. I love the middy influence in this sweater.

While most of the sweaters have a waistband or belt, and definitely have an early Coco Chanel look, this one is looking forward to the more streamlined  Twenties.

Now, if only my skills were as good as these designs, I’d be making a sweater instead of just writing about them.


Filed under Fashion Magazines, Proper Clothing, Sportswear, Textiles

9 responses to “1918 Fleisher’s Knitting & Crocheting Manuel

  1. Jacq Staubs

    TREASURE! As you stated – a “time capsule”. Now i know why my Great Aunt(my treasure) was so keen to crochet! Being in her mid / /late teens during that period. And did beautiful work. I have a vest and two blanket throws she made for me ! As a request ( as she got older and needed a project)my mother purchased her the skeens and she obliged! Thank you so much for – mystery solved! B T W – still using the throws from 70’s – in perfect condition too! O.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I find this post extremely interesting, Lizzie, and also Jacq’s comment. I learnt to crochet early, as gran would crochet smallish bathroom rugs using soft cotton yarns from Woolworth’s. Fast forward to my 1970’s crocheting search for patterns with some fit. All I could find were squares and rectangles stitched together. That wasn’t my style then, and in general isn’t now. Always wondered why crochet patterns didn’t follow the idea of dress patterns with shaped arms, fronts & backs like these do. Thank you so much for showing these!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Diane

    Make a helmet!
    I love it,especially since it might be easier than some of the others.
    Ps just finished reading “the Paris wife” about Hemingway’s first & these sweaters are what comes to mind when Hadley compares her simple duds to those of her & Ernest’s more fashionable cohorts.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I love the practical design of so many of these patterns.
    I would love to have the gentleman’s knit “helmet” for the coming winter!👍🏻

    Liked by 1 person

  5. You could wear some of those sweaters today, maybe with a few adaptations.


  6. Aida Nazario

    Are any of these patterns available for free??


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