Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Knitting Behind the Wheel

We hear a great deal today about the dangers of sending text messages while driving, and talking on a cell phone when driving.  

I've been equally concerned when I've observed drivers in other cars shaving, putting on makeup, eating and drinking (with both hands full), engaging in a shouting and slapping match with the front-seat passenger, and even reaching into the back seat to change a baby's diaper, all while they're behind the wheel (and sometimes traveling much faster than was prudent).  

But I have to admit, I've never seen anyone get pulled over for knitting while driving.  At least not until I found this old Needlecraft magazine at an estate sale.

The image is interesting not only for the subject matter, but also for the artist.  Ralph Pallen Coleman (1892-1968) worked during what has been called the "Golden Age of Magazine Illustration."  He produced hundreds of illustrations not only for Needlecraft, but also for Home Arts, Country Gentleman, Ladies' Home Journal, Cosmopolitan, Good Housekeeping, Saturday Evening Post, Collier's, Liberty and others.  Coleman's magazine illustrations covered many subjects, but he seemed particularly fond of painting young women getting in trouble for not being able to put down the knitting needles.  

Needlecraft, September 1935

Country Gentleman, August 1934

She's still at it.  Needlecraft, April 1937.

Even at school, the young lady is devoted to her yarn.  Needlework, September 1937.

During the 1930s, Coleman's art enhanced dozens of books by several authors, including F. Scott Fitzgerald and Booth Tarkington.  Active as an illustrator during both World Wars, Coleman combined military and religious themes in many of his works.  From the 1940s on, much of Coleman's work centered on illustrations of stories from the Bible.

Coleman's work The Lonely Christ is included in this website showing lots of religious illustrations:

In his later years, Coleman turned to stained glass design.  His 20+ windows for his home church, Grace Presbyterian in Jenkintown, PA, were executed by Willet Hauser Architectural Glass:

There are several websites dedicated to the art of Ralph Pallen Coleman.  Here's one:,rf.htm

Research by the University of Maine sheds some light on the origins of Needlecraft magazine:

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