Mary Frances needs to learn all kinds of skills. She needs to learn to cook, clean, sew, knit, crochet, garden. Her world is full of learning! Mary Frances stars in an entire series of instruction books, beginning with a cookbook in 1912. In The Mary Frances Knitting and Crocheting Book she learns to knit and crochet. She makes clothes for her doll along the way. Her teachers are the Knitting People, a delightful set of tools that come to life and tell Mary Frances exactly how things should be done.
In the pages of The Mary Frances Knitting and Crocheting Book we meet Knit and Knack the knitting needles, Crow Shay the crochet hook, and Yarn Baby, a yarn doll. These characters, along with their friends, show Mary Frances the ropes of creating with yarn. She makes doll clothes, a baby doll’s set, and a few things for herself. And you can find patterns for all of these in the book. Because The Mary Frances Knitting and Crocheting Book was published in 1918, the last set of patterns is from the Red Cross. A flyer of knitted articles for World War I soldiers gives Mary Frances experience with adult-size clothing.
Note: This is a book of its time. It may contain outdated references or illustrations, like most books from 1900-1930.
One Adventure After Another
By the time Mary Frances graduates to knitting and crocheting, she’s much older than the little girl who started the series with a cookbook. She’s had adventures with the Kitchen People when she learned to cook. The Thimble People taught her to sew. She learned the basics of housekeeping from the Doll People. And in her last adventure before she learns to knit, she meets the Garden People. Her knitting and crocheting book is more advanced than any of the other books. It contains more projects and less chatter. The story line still exists, but it’s not as all-encompassing as the story you find in the Mary Frances Sewing Book.
When the story opens, Mary Frances is accosted by her great aunt Maria, who is, of course, a paragon of the textile arts and cannot believe that Mary Frances doesn’t know how to knit or crochet. She offers to teach her, and Mary Frances says that she’s been wanting to learn for the longest time. Then Mary Frances remembers how Aunt Maria taught her father to knit, and how much he hated it.
She sits down with her knitting bag after her aunt scurries away, and wishes that helpful fairies like the Thimble People could teach her to knit and crochet. Crow Shay the hook begins to talk to her, and she realizes that real help waits for her after all.
Learning from the Pros
She endures one lesson with Aunt Maria before her aunt is whisked away by a family emergency. Mary Frances finds herself alone with her brother, talking knitting needles, and Katie, the household cook.
This gives Mary Frances the freedom she needs to concentrate on the lessons from the knitting needles and crochet hook. With their help she creates a doll’s wardrobe. A little over the first half of the book teaches crochet. Then the chapters switch to knitting instruction. Black and white photographs from 1918 show how to form the stitches.
Illustrations throughout the book show how the finished articles should look. In the original book several color pages show the progress of a sixteen inch doll’s wardrobe. Mary Marie, the doll, received a complete handmade wardrobe in the sewing book, but now she needs coats and hats, shopping bags and mufflers. The book even gives instructions for an aviator doll outfit and a Teddy Bear Suit. The suit looks like a WWI army uniform, but teddy bear suits were actually one-piece sitcot jumpsuits. WWI airplane pilots wore them. So although it’s quite cute with its trousers, jacket, and tam, I’m not sure what it’s supposed to be, or why it’s called a Teddy Bear Suit.
Read It For Yourself
Whether you’ve wanted to learn knitting and crochet like Mary Frances, or you’d like a romp through a century-old instruction book for children, you might enjoy this book. Download The Mary Frances Knitting and Crocheting Book from the Internet Archive or Project Gutenberg. And let the yarn adventures begin.