One of my favourite hobbies is crafting, in particular yarn crafts (or fiber arts if you're snobby!), and I have been knitting and crocheting for years now. My at-home library contains a generous selection of non-fiction books, in particular pattern design for reference and inspiration. I came across this book on www.amazon.co.uk for just 1p plus postage, and though it would be worth a look for the price as there was something weirdly fascinating about the cover image and I liked the sound of the long-winded whimsical title. Author "Stitchy McYarnpants" used to write a blog entitled The Museum of Kitschy Stitches, which has ceased to be updated since 2012, and this book is a spin-off.
Back of the book blurb: "Welcome to the Museum of Kitschy Stitches, the astonishingly awful collection of the finest knitting and crochet horrors the twentieth century has to offer. From hideous hats and gender-bending sweater sets to a set of bonus patterns that will bring the kitsch home, this gallery of notorious knits delivers it all."
The Museum of Kitschy Stitches is a hardcover book with a neat matching dust jacket. Inside the layout sticks to a basic formula, with a full-size, full-colour image on each page, overlaid with a caption that depicts the key words in a "funky" retro looking font. Each picture clearly shows the pattern photograph in all its original glory, although sadly for anyone looking to obtain these patterns for themselves, there are no details of the production company or designer included. It is a bit disappointing that this information is not included as part of the book, it could have easily been made into a reference section at the back rather than spoil the visual presentation of each page with more text. I would say this book is not particularly useful for anyone who wants to get a hold of the patterns, and instead is more of a "coffee table" type book which can be enjoyed as light entertainment for the interesting mix of designs showcased.
The patterns are grouped by type into a number of sections, so you can choose to look at a particular style or item that takes your fancy, or just flick through pages at random if you want to have a quick browse. There is everything from hats, to dresses, to bizarre combinations of granny squares and even a collection of creepy-ass clown crafts which would best be avoided if you are one of the many people who suffers from coulrophobia! My favourite sections are the hats as I'm addicted to knitting hats for myself, and the menswear which ranges from some gorgeous retro designs to some utterly bizarre matchy-matchy his 'n' hers sets. There is a bonus pattern section at the end of the book which provides pattern instructions to make a crocheted bag and a knitted cravat.
This content of this book reminds me a lot of the old blog, "You Knit What??" which was essentially a catalogue of amusing fugly knitting items with a snappy, sarcastic commentary. In the book, Stitchy's tone comes across as a bit try-hard and I think like she is overdoing it in some of the comments which is not necessary. Let the pictures speak for themselves! Some of the captions seem spiteful and insulting, which is a shame as I would have preferred a more light-hearted approach rather than an attempt at being witty. Stitchy clearly loves vintage patterns and has amassed a huge collection, only a small number of which are included within this book, so it would have been nicer to see this passion shared in a positive way.
Overall I think this is an average sort of book. Negative: It doesn't seem best suited for actual crafters who have a real interest in vintage pattern designs as there is so little information provided. Positive: I did have a bit of a giggle reading through some of the comments and looking at the odd photo shoot styling, and it is very interesting to see how much has changed in handmade fashions over the decades. This is not the sort of thing that I would feel the need to read more than once and I have flicked through some of the pages a few times where the designs have been inspiring. I plan on giving it to a friend who is obsessed with vintage style and clothing, and feel that she might enjoy it more than I did as she will not be viewing it from a crafter's perspective.