I don't know who Mrs Leach was, or if she actually existed, but a lot of magazine titles were published under her name. A monthly magazine called Mrs Leach's Fancy Work Basket was published from 1886 until (according to the British Library catalogue) 1910. The first issue is headed "Practical Lessons in Art Needlework, Crewel and Crochet Work, Knitting and Embroidery". (The first volume of the Fancy Work Basket is available online from here, though be warned that it's nearly 500 pages.)
By the 1920s, other titles had proliferated, including Leach's Home Needlework (from 1915 to 1929) and Leach's Sixpenny Knitting Series (1920 to 1935). I wrote about two issues of the Sixpenny Knitting Series here and here.
|Leach's Newest Jumpers|
There were also other publications under the Leach's umbrella that weren't issued as part of a series. One of these, Leach's Newest Jumpers, is in the Knitting & Crochet Guild collection and I have scanned it to create a pdf version for Guild members. The jumpers in it were 'newest' in the early 1920s; the publication isn't dated, but I think it was published in 1921 or 22.
It is always exciting when we can identify the pattern used to create an item in the Guild collection. One of the favourite garments in the collection is a filet crochet jumper with a design of butterflies worked on it, and we realised last year that pattern that was used to make it is one of the cover designs in Leach's Newest Jumpers. The yarn specified in the pattern is a mercerised cotton, though we have assumed that the one in the collection is in rayon.
|Butterfly filet crochet jumper|
There are another ten patterns in the magazine - some knitted, some crocheted, some both. The blue jumper on the cover is knitted in wool, though the colours suggested in the pattern are sulphur-yellow, with an edging of smoke-grey rabbit wool (angora) at neck and wrist. The description says that "Shetland shawl patterns are to the fore in the jumper world just now."
It's not easy to see in the photo, but as well as the lacy basque, there is a panel of feather-and-fan just below the square neck, and the lower parts of the sleeves are done in the same stitch - the Shetland shawl pattern mentioned in the description. It looks very effective, though I'm not sure how easy it would be to get an even tension over both stocking stitch and lace.
The green jumper on the cover, with a "ribbed shoulder yoke", is also knitted in wool. The overall style is very unlike the others in the magazine, and unlike our usual impression of 1920s jumpers. The collar, cuffs and bottom edge are finished with a crocheted trimming in gold thread. Although a crochet edging might look well on the collar (which is in single rib), I think on the bottom edge and the cuffs it would interfere with the stretchiness of the rib - and gold thread on a woolly jumper seems out of place.