In 1965, Needle and Yarn sold for 60¢, and in 1969 Needlecraft sold for 75¢. Curious as to what they would cost in today’s dollar, Thor suggested I use the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistic’s Inflation Calculator. It was then easy to figure out that in today’s inflation-adjusted dollar, those magazines should sell for $4.38 and $4.75, respectively. Hmmmm.
Knitter’s Magazine is now $6.95 an issue; Interweave Knits is $6.99 an issue, as is Interweave Crochet. So the price for textile-crafting magazines seems to have risen faster than inflation.
I got a little crazy using the Inflation Calculator.
Needlecraft contained an advertisement for Barbara Walker’s A Treasury of Knitting Patterns for $10. Inflation adjusting the price, today it should cost $62.69, but it costs $30 at Amazon – as well as at most yarn stores. Curiouser and curiouser.
I found some advertisements whose names I recognized (e.g., Sirdar, Boye, and Susan Bates) – but no prices to compare. I came across an advertisement for “Dexter’s Orlon Sayelle” for 89¢ for a 4 ounce skein (69 colors!). That would be $5.58 today (inflation-adjusted).
I saw another advertisement for synthetics by Unger advertising (but providing no prices):
- “suberb Courtelle acrylic yarn in 36 colors,” though no price was mentioned.
- RYGJA yarn (a wool yarn from Norway – “Viking strong”) available “at your town’s sportiest stores.”
I found several fiber-related companies that I do not think any longer exist: Cliveden Yarns and Melrose Yarn Company.
Fair-Tex Distributing advertised knitting needles:
- A pair of 10″ or 14″ single points by Inoxal (could this be Inox?) ranged, depending on needle size, from 25¢ to 65¢ ($1.57 to $4.08 today, inflation adjusted).
- Circular needles by Imra in 16″, 24″ or 29″ length) came in sets of 3 to 6 and ranged from $2.79 to $4.89 ($17.49 to $30.66 today, inflation adjusted).
I didn’t expect to find advertisements by companies offering discounted yarns. Oddly, no yardages were given!
- Toward the back of the 1969 journal was an advertisement by Eskimo Yarns Discount House, featuring 100% virgin wool, knitting worsted weight, in 4 ounce hanks (75 colors) for 79¢ a hank. Inflation adjusted, that would be $4.95 today. The advertisement also notes: “Compare with National Brands selling at $1.59.” In today’s dollars (inflation adjusted), that would be $9.97.
- Some of the yarns advertised by Yarns Unlimitedinclude:
- “100% Finest French Angora Fur Fiber,” 3 ply in 10 grams for 49¢ a ball – a “79¢ value.” Inflation adjusted, that would be $3.07 and $4.95, respectively.
- 100% “Irish Fisherman’s Yarn” for 69¢ for a 2 ounce skein ($4.33 today, inflation adjusted).
- “Alpine 4-ply sport yarn” of the “[f]inest Australian wool” in 2 ounce skeins for 98¢ ($6.14 today, inflation adjusted)
- “Kadischa” from France, 75% wool/15% mohair/10 vinyon [sic], in 50 gram balls for 99¢ ($6.21 today, inflation adjusted).
- Italian Alpaca, 40 grams for $1.29 ($8.09 today, inflation adjusted).
So what did I learn from my first perusal through these magazines?
- I can’t get a sense of the yarns used. The pictures weren’t good: no close ups, scant information and, worse, no yardage!!
- Orlon seemed to be very popular. As noted by one advertisement, Orlon is made from DuPont’s Orlon. Perhaps crafters in the 1960s were less bothered by yarn being made by a chemical company than they would be today.
- The magazines were supposed to be about needlecrafts but were chock full with advertisements that had nothing to do with fiber art, including (but not limited to): becoming a writer, learning to be an artist, cookbook clubs, woodworking, metal magazine stacks, compact tool kits for “car, home, office, shop, sportsman, or garage,” switchplates, lingerie clips, ad infinitum, ad nauseum. (Perhaps these had something to do with the magazine’s lower price when compared with their prices in today’s inflation adjusted dollars. I don’t know.)
Lastly, I wonder if in another 50 years, young textile artists looking through these magazines from the 1960s will view them as we view Weldon’s Practical Needlework!