“Oh dear… Prepare to do your own washing and cook your own tea for a few weeks. Mum’s been to the car boot sale…”
There are times when you’re brought face to face with your weaknesses, and I well know that one of mine is a total, slavish addiction to 1970s handicraft magazines, the “Golden Hands” series in particular. So you can imagine my delight when I spotted the familiar logo through the sides of a battered plastic box at the car boot sale. “How much are the mags?” I enquired, trying to sound casual, flicking through a couple on the top. “Ooooh, I don’t know…” the vendor muttered, turning to her husband and spreading her hands. “What would you think – about one pound for the box?” “What, for all of them?!” I gasped, all pretence at disinterest shattered. “Yes, all of them – and you could take this fabric, too. Please…” They were having a loft conversion and just needed shot of everything that had been up there. She was clearly someone who had been a more-than-competent creative dabbler in the past; I think she was pleased to find someone who still valued them.
Well, I can’t believe my luck. In that box, as well as some of the standard GHs, there are all 15 of the sequel magazine, “GH New Guide”, 81 of the 98 issues of the GH Encyclopedia of Crafts and one issue of GH Monthly – I already have a few more of those. I have hunted down over the years, & now own, a full set of the standard series, so those will end up in my shop, but I didn’t have any of the Encyclopedias & now I only have 17 left to find! But better still, there was one issue of something called “Fashion Maker – the GH encyclopedia of patterns for everything you will ever want to make” which I’d no idea existed. It came in 98 parts, so there are 97 of those left to hunt for, provided they printed the whole set – that should keep me happily occupied for ages!
The reason I love these magazines so much is that they actually tell you how to do things from the bottom up. Some of the projects are dated, but most of them can be modernised extremely easily and to great effect, with a little imagination. Modern craft mags, or at least those easily available on the high street, sadly have a tendency to be 90% product placement & adverts, 10% patterns & techniques, and though I do crack & buy them sometimes, I’m nearly always disappointed & wish I’d saved my money for supplies instead. But good basic designs & techniques remain the same; the colours & the necklines (not to mention the hairstyles!) may have changed, but many of the patterns from 35 years ago would look perfectly at home at any gathering of Ravellers today. And I’ve got a whole host of new ideas & projects to tackle already, although I’ve only looked inside a few of them so far.
So I’m well-chuffed. But I’m finding it remarkably easy to lose all track of time whilst gloating over my unexpected treasures; in the immortal words of Baloo in Disney’s version of The Jungle Book, I’m gone, man, solid gone…