Once again I have ventured onto eBay, that dangerous treasure store, and emerged with a copy of the March 1953 edition of Needlework Illustrated, published by Weldon's, an edition intended to help its readers make their Coronation souvenirs. The front cover is brightly adorned with knitting, embroidery and wonderful little felt toys of a soldier, a sailor and an airman.
The centrefold contains a wonderful double page colour picture of the embroidery transfer of the month (which is still extant with the magazine), with the Coronation coach and horses processing across the bottom. It would still make an attractive embroidered cushion or wall picture, I rather think my embroidery skills would need work first though!
Naturally I was most interested in the knitting patterns; it was one of those, for a man's jumper with a Fair Isle border, which interested me in the first place. It is the sort of jumper I could imagine my father wearing, though hopefully he would accept it in a colour other than fawn, as I do not relish acres of stocking stitch in fawn! The accent colours are red, green and blue, rather than the red, white and blue I would have expected. Elsewhere there are a couple of women's patterns, including the twin set from the cover and a very sweet dress and bonnet set for a toddler. The yoke of the dress is knitted in the round on a circular needle, which is earlier than I had previously come across their use, certainly in a mainstream British knitting pattern. However, I did then wonder why the skirt of the dress was knitted flat in pieces.
Other features include table mats, some small items for gifts or bazaars - including a charming kangaroo sewn in felt and a crocheted tea cosy in an "Elizabethan" design. In addition there is a schools' page with a simple embroidery design and a small piece at the bottom advertising Weldon's historical costumes for pageants, as seen in Weldon's Fancy Dress, price 1 shilling. As in any old magazine the adverts are fascinating, mostly related to needlework, as you would expect and include holiday guides, knitting machines, children's clothes, fabric remnants, embroidery cloth and threads, knitting wool and a postal dress making course. The best of the adverts is, of course, on the back cover and is for a series of Coronation Hats in Strutt's Candlewick Cotton. Many of the designs look more to me like something a French Revolutionary would have worn to man a barricade and the thought of them made in the same material as those old Candlewick bedspreads such as my grandmother used to have makes my mind boggle!
Anyhow, there we have it, a small piece of social history.