Thursday, November 17, 2011

Spectacle Case

I'm always losing my spectacles, they needed a case. Looking for inspiration in various ladies magazines 1840-1865 for dimensions and materials, plus looking at a few originals I came up with one. I was not going for an exact copy. Thinking about Christmas I wondered what a young girl would have had available to make a gift, one just the right be hung on the tree.  She would have seen one in a magazine for her inspiration, then rummaged through her mothers box of scrap fabrics and floss or trims, and some pasteboard.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Finished A Diary From Dixie

A Diary from Dixie
by Mary Chesnut (1823-1886)
Edited by Isabella D. Martin and Myrta Lockett Avary

I just finished listening to the audio book A Diary from Dixie by Mary Chestnut, on There are forty sections (chapters) and on average each section is about 20 minutes long, some shorter and a few longer. The book is free and you can download it onto portable device. (I have listen to other books when traveling) I completed a lot of needlework while listening to this one.

In developing a persona, listening to audio books may help. It is interesting hearing the words being spoken as apposed to reading words in a book. You begin to develop a critical ear for the vocabulary and phrases of the social class during this period.

Mary writes about the war, politics, social situations, events and her friends and acquaintances.

What I found interesting was her description of the foods available to her.  Mary talks about the expense of foods, not any lack of foods. The southern elite like Mary Chestnut are able to purchase what they want and need since they can pay for it. The costs and inflation of all goods, plus the value-worth of Confederate money is of some concern.  But food, even towards the end of 1864 is plentiful for her. It was not until 1865 she writes of not having enough to eat, even then her friends provide her with an array of foods. 

I would recommend this audio book if you don't have time to read the book. Take it in sections while you are doing other things.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Audio book

I love knitting 19th century garments. Right now I'm working on a knit bonnet....that is driving me crazy!!!! It's not really difficult it is just prone to errors. Listening to a book would be a good use of my reworking time :p

The reader of this book is very nice to listen to. I "tried" reading this book many, many years ago (found it dry) so listening works for me. :)

A Diary from Dixie
by Mary Chesnut (1823-1886)
Edited by Isabella D. Martin and Myrta Lockett Avary

Monday, October 3, 2011

House Keeping

Finished reading The housekeeper’s book, Frances Harriet Green, 1837, which is the featured book on the foodways group. I enjoy reading these types of books. Each author has their own opinions about what they think is important for the " housewife" to know. Each book may cover different topics related to cooking and house keeping.

This particular book has a section on houseplants besides the regular cooking, laundry and cleaning instructions.  Each chapter begins with general information. I found this book informative. She went into details others leave out. But then that is typical of the period.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Confederate colors

My diary North and South, by Sir William Howard Russell, 1863
A small war is waged by the police recently appointed by the Federal authorities against the women, who exhibit much ingenuity in expressing their animosity to the stars and stripes--dressing the children, and even dolls, in the Confederate colors, and wearing the same in ribbons and bows.

The Rebellion Record: edited by Frank Moore, 1863
Newport, Kentucky, June 20.--A daughter of Captain Semmes, commander of the famous rebel pirate Sumter, attended a wedding a Saint Paul's Church, night before last, enveloped in a scarf of rich material, bearing the confederate colors, red and white, arranged in bars or stripes.--Cincinati Commercial, June 20.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Red, white and blue...

The United Service Magazine, Vol. 96, pg 438

A Yankee Army Wedding
Miss Sarah Beesely, one of the daughters of the Rhode Island Regiment, became the wife of Mr. Charles Tibbets, private in the same Corps. The bride was dressed in Bloomer costume, with blue pants, cherry coloured blouse, and white felt hat, with white plume, making up the national colours--red, white, and blue.

Sounds like a cute little outfit.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

A Southern Poem

Savannah Republican, GA, January 16, 1862

There’s but one Pair of Stockings to Mend To-night.

An old wife sat by her bright fire-side,
Swaying thoughtfully to and fro,
 In an ancient chair whose creaky craw
Told a tale of long ago;
Wile down by her side on the kitchen floor,
Stood a basket of worsted balls – a score.

The good man dozed o’er the latest news,
Till the light of his pipe went out;
And unheeded, the kitten with cunning paws,
Rolled out and tangled the balls about;
Yet still sat the wife in the ancient chair,
Swaying to and fro in the fire-light glare.

But anon, a misty tear-drop came
In her eyes of faded blue,
Then trickled down in a furrow deep,
Like a single drop of dew;
So deep was the channel – so silent the stream,
The good man saw naught but the dim’d eyebeam.

Yet marveled he much that the cheerful light
Of her eye, had weary grown,
And marveled he more at the tangled balls-
So he said in a gentle tone:
“I have shared thy joys since our marriage vow,
Conceal not from me thy sorrows now.”

Then she spoke of the time when the basket there
Was filled to the very brim,
And now there remained of the goodly pile
But a single pair – for him;
Then wonder not at the dimmed eye-light;
There’s but one pair of stockings to mend to-night.

I cannot but think of the busy feet,
Whose wrappings were wont to lay
In the basket awaiting the needle’s tines –
Now wandered so far away;
How the sprightly steps to a mother dear
Unheeded fell on the careless ear.

For each empty nook in the basket old,
By the hearth there’s an empty seat;
And I miss the shadows form off the wall,
And the patter of many feet;
“Tis for this that a tear gathered over my sight;
At the one pair of stockings to mend to-night.

“Twas said that far through the forest wild
And over the mountains bold,
Was a land whose rivers and darkening caves,
Were gemmed with the fairest gold;
Then my first-born turned from the oaken door,
And I knew the shadows were only four.

Another went forth on the foaming wave
And diminished the basket’s store –
But his feet grew cold – so weary and cold –
They’ll never be warm any more –
And this nook in its emptiness, seemeth to me,
To give forth no voice but the moan of the sea.

Two others have gone towards the setting sun,
And made them a home in its light,
And fairy fingers have taken their share,
To mend by the fire-side bright;
Some other baskets their garments fill –
But mine! Oh! mine is emptier still.

Another – the dearest – the fairest – the best –
Was taken by the angels away,
And clad in a garment that waxeth not old,
In a land of a continual day.
O! wonder no more at the dimmed eye-light,
While I mend the one pair of stockings to-night.

Helen and Mary

I've been researching poetry and verse about knitting during the American Civil War. This is an early one from the North. I have not discovered as many poems from the South...but I know they are out there.

The Ladies’ Repository, Vol. 22, 1862
Pg. 368

Helen and Mary, by Josephine Pollard

“Nonsense, Helen: there’s no reason
         Why you should remain alone;
Nothing in the world to hinder—
         Every moment is your own:
You can lounge, or walk, or visit,
         Taking comfort as you go;
Come and see me often, Helen,
         I am seldom out, you know.

Household cares are so engrossing,
         And my children are so small,
I have very little freedom,
         Scarcely time to make a call;
But there’s nothing to prevent you,
         ‘Tis no task to grant this boon;
Come and see me often, Helen,
         Come and see me very soon.”

“True, no children cling around me,
         Claiming mother’s love and care;
Though no household cares distract me,
         Duties spring up every-where.
In such times as these, dear Mary,
         Want at many a threshold stands;
There is work to do in plenty—
         Could I sit with folded hands?

Those brave men who have gone forward
         For our country’s flag to fight,
Need warm garments to protect them
         Through the wintery day and night.
Women’s hands must labor for them;
         Women’s hearts must send good cheer
To the homes where widows languish:
         Soothing many an orphan’s tear.

Mary, I’ve no heart to visit;
         I’m not idle, though you say
I have plenty leisure moments,
         Duties spring up every day.
Here are soldiers’ socks to finish
Coverlets to baste and tack;
Slippers waiting for the binding;
            Shirts and blankets yet to pack.

While brave men have left their firesides
            To endure want, woe, and pain,
We should practice self-denial
            Till sweet Peace returns again.
When these troublous times are over,
            When with palms we deck the brow
I will come and see you, Mary,
            Every day; but, O, not now.”

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

While researching socks....

I found this little tit-bit...

Southern Watchman, Nov. 5, 1862
4th column
Lamp Wicks.--A correspondent gives the Columbia Guardian the following useful bit of information.
"It might interest some  of your readers to know at this time when it is so difficult to get lamp-wicks that the tops of old home-knit cotton socks cut into strips of the proper width, make as good ones as the best that ever came from Yankeedom." 

Sunday, August 7, 2011

How to Cook a Husband

There are a number of variations on this article into the 20th century

The Rover: a weekly magazine
Pg 411
            The lady Editress of the Boston Transcript said that “many of our married lady readers are not aware how a good husband ought to be cooked, so as to make a good dish of him. We have lately seen a recipe in an English paper contributed by one ‘Mary,’ which points out the modus operandi of preparing and cooking husbands. Mary states that a good many husbands are spoiled in cooking. Some women go about it as if their lords were bladders, and blow them up. Others keep them constantly in hot water, while others again freeze them, by conjugal coldness. Some smother them in the hottest beds of contention and variance, and some keep them in pickle all their lives. These women always serve them up in sauce. Not it cannot be supposed, that husbands will be tender and good, managed in this way, but they are, on the contrary, quite delicious when preserved. Mary points out her manner, thus; ‘Get a jar, called the jar of cheerfulness, (which bye the bye, all wives have at hand.) Being placed in it, set him near the fire of conjugal love; let the fire be pretty hot, but especially let it be clear. Above all, let the heat be regular and constant. Cover him over with quantities of affection, kindness and subjection. Keep plenty of these things by you, and be very attentive to supply the place of any that may waste by evaporation, or any other cause. Garnish with modest becoming familiarity, and innocent pleasantry; and if you add kisses or other confectionaries, accompany them with a sufficient secrecy and it would not be amiss, to add a little prudence and moderation.’”

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Bathing Dress

Arthur’s Illustrated Home Magazine, Vol. 13-14 1859
Pg. 49
Bathing Dress.
The material is common Scotch plaid, green and red, in alternate checks. It is cut short, in the bloomer fashion, which, though very convenient when half veiled in the snowy surf, ought to astonish the sharks themselves on dry land. But a bathing dress is only intended for convenience and the least idea of making it elegant would be preposterous. The dress is made with a loose skirt set into the old-fashioned tight yoke, and gathered around the waist with a plaid belt; it is cut short, leaving the feet and ankles free. Long bishop sleeves fastened around the wrist with a band, protect the arm. The pantalettes are made loose, and fashioned around the ankles with narrow bands. 

There is an the magazine.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Reached Perfection...

I like this description of the stages of life :)

Health and beauty, 1864
By Rexey Ann Caplin

Pg. 15
It only remains to offer a few remarks on the recognition of beauty in the different stages of life. The beauty of childhood is in its simplicity and helplessness, in the utter unconsciousness of everything but its own feelings and desires. In youth it is the budding graces that we admire; it is the springtime of life. Womanhood is the summer and full bloom of beauty. Middle age is the autumn, when the ripe and mellow fruit of life attains perfection. Nor is advanced life without its beauties; the icicles and snows of age have charms and glories peculiarly their own. Thus, from the cradle to the grave, the pure, the wise, the good, the well-developed, are always beautiful.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Red. White and Blue Socks - Poem

Leaves from the battlefield of Gettysburg: a series of letters from a field hospital; and national poems, 1864
By Emily Bliss Thacher Souder, Mrs. Edmund A. Souder

Pg. 93
Knitting for the Army.
Inscribed to a lady of Christ Church.

All honor to the noble dame,
            Of fourscore years and seven;
To loyal heart and willing hand,
            Let honor due be given.
While youth and health the needles ply,
            And knit the livelong day,
We look with loving pride on her
            Who soon must pass away,
Yet wearies not, in hour of need,
            When faithful sons for country bleed,
To guard their feet from winter’s cold,
            Thus comforting the soldier bold.
Six pairs of hose, her busy hands
            Have hastened to prepare;
A happy soldier must he be,
            Whose feet these good socks wear.
The colors of our country’s flag
            They also bring to view,
And heart and eye alike are cheered
            With the red, white and blue;
So soft and warm and smoothly knit,
            A soldier’s foot they well will fit;
Grateful must prove the favored one,
            When told whose hands the works has done.

Another charm the soft wool holds,--
            Let me the secret tell:
Three times, the loyal thirty-four
            Within the circle dwell.
A stitch for every silver star—
            Woe to the hand that seeks to mar
The flag that floats o’er land and sea,
            Emblem, my country dear, of thee!
Withered the arm of every foe
            That aims at thee a deadly blow;
Palsied the traitor’s serpent tongue,
            Poisoning the fountain whence he sprung!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Confederate Socks

I recently came across two references of Confederate socks with the Confederate flag knit into them. One is a contemporary source that I still need to check out its documentation/source. 

Memorial Record of Alabama: Herbert, H. A. Alabama in Federal politics. Cochran, J. The medical profession. Clark, T. H. Judicial history. Screws, W. W. Alabama journalism. Clark, T. H. Religious history 1979

Pg. 870 "A pair of fine socks with the Confederate flag knit into them came back to the regiment with a card attached, addressed. "To the gallant Randle."


With Porter in North Missouri: a chapter in the history of the war between ...By Joseph Aloysius Mudd 

Pg. 328 "Among other things, they found a pair of white yarn socks which I had made with a Confederate flag knitted into each sock. I was then about sixteen years old."

Now if I only new what they looked like...

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Patriotic Socks

A while back there was a pair of socks on Antique's Roadshow, blue wool with the American flag at the top and the Confederate secession flag knit into the foot. This particular pair was dated to earlier in the war. In doing research on knitting socks for the soldiers I came across an article about a pair presented to President Lincoln in 1864. This story was reprinted in a number of papers.  I wonder how many of this type of sock design was knitted during the course of the war. What happened to this pair?  

Daily national Republican.(Washington DC), March 21, 1864, Second Edition, Image 2 (Library of Congress)

A PATIOTIC GIFT. (the misspelling is as in the paper)
            At the Presidential reception on Saturday, Major French presented to the President a pair of woollen socks, knit expressly for the President by Miss Addie Brockway, of Newburyport, Mass. On the bottom of each was knit the secession flag; and near the top the glorious stars and stripes of our Union, so that when worn by the President he will always have the flag of the rebellion under his feet. These socks were sent by the maker to Mrs. Wm. B. Todd, of this city, and at her request Major French presented them with a few appropriate remarks. They were most pleasantly and graciously received by the President.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Almost the end of June

I have been reading in dribs and drabs....and knitting...stupid directions are holding me up!  There is a great book list on the website for The Society for Women and the Civil War. I did find quite a few digitized on google.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Summer is here....I need a bathing dress

so...I've been doing some research and came across a description of what people wore

American Photographs, Vol. 1
1859 (London)
Chapter XIII, Newport, Plymouth, and the Pilgrim Fathers, Boston.

Oh! ye bathing women of Brighton! What would you have said? – not a bathing women in a woolen dress; not a machine on wheels; not a blue flannel dress to be seen. Long rows of little sentry boxes are placed, forty or fifty feet from the sea, for the use of ladies and gentlemen, who all bathe together!
            Now let us take a look at the beach. Every now and then extraordinarily dressed figures rushed from the sentry boxes into the water, where there were perhaps a hundred ladies and gentlemen amusing themselves in the water at one time. It was a complete Aquatic Bal Costum. There were groups of bathers taking hold of hands, others swimming, - but all in full costume. We saw sailors, Turks, and Hungarians, and others in dresses of red, white, and every colour of the rainbow, disporting themselves in the water. There were two, a lady and gentleman, who particularly excited our notice; they were dressed in grey tunics, with huge red collars and cuffs, and the trousers below the knee were of the same hue, and on their heads were grey and red caps.
            The ladies’ dresses were composed of thick materials generally reaching a little below the knee, and confined round the waist by a leathern belt; they had also Turkish trousers, fastened round the ancle. These dresses were of the brightest colours. Red tunics decorated with eight or ten rows of wide black braid, the collar, cuffs, and trousers trimmed in the same manner. On the head a white straw hat with alternate rows of black and red braid round the crown, and in the front a large bow of the same colours. White and blue dresses decorated with red, black, or blue; in fact, every variety of marine dress, - it only wanted old Father Neptune with his trident to complete the scene. All the ladies wear straw hats to protect them from the heat of the sun, - a most excellent arrangement.    

Found a post Civil War Bathing dress on another blog.... 

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

More about Angola yarn

I came across a reference to "Angola yarn" today.
Tales of the Living Age. 1858
Eddies Round the Rectory. by Owen Varra (fiction)

"Don't you remember the day Miss Cooper advised home-knit Angola stockings as the best for winter wear, and you gave a laughing glance at me?"

Interesting the writer used this wool in home knitting, which means this type of wool/yarn is available for purchase for hand knitting. This yarn seems to only show up for use in stockings. I love when I discover new information and I'm not looking for it. I'm usually on a different quest. Go figure!

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Memorial Day Weekend

The start of the summer for many. Living in Florida...we have already had over 20 days in the 90's. That is OK as I'm heat tolerant :)
My vegetable garden is quite productive...we have been eating green beans, yellow squash and zucchini..the peppers and tomatoes are getting bigger but not ready yet...hoping for some watermelons and pie pumpkins in the fall. Oh, and I planted some spaghetti squash and corn. I kinda like this gardening.

We will be hitting the beach today, purchased a "sun shelter" at the sport we can spend the whole day...packing drinks, chips, sub sandwiches and apples. I love waking on the beach and collecting seashells. Will also be bringing a book to read. I picked up a used book published in 1975...few citations...about every day antebellum life. Citations were used less then and it was written by a guy...women's social history is sorely lacking!
I read that term recently..."social history" which differs from "great men/great deed" history as it is about the common man and life.

Well off to make lunch and on to the beach...sun and sand...grilling tonight and tomorrow for dinner.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

"Carded together" google search

I am slowly discovering new search terms relating to admixed/intermixed plant and animal fibres. One thing I am learning is to keep an open mind towards research, there are new discoveries around every corner. Technology has created an open classroom on the WWW where we can share information and discoveries.

Knowledge for the people: or, the plain why and because. 1832 (Boston) & (1831 London)
Pg. 213
Why are Angola hose preferred for their superior warmth?
Because they combine worsted and cotton in the closest intermixture of the fibre. the separate materials are first passed through a machine called a picker and blower, to clean and lighten the wool or cotton, so that half an ounce will fill a bushel measure. These are then carded together, by which the intermixture is effected, part of each material being dyed blue and black. It is then spun of various fineness by throstles and mules.

The new American cyclopaedia 1862
Pg. 105
Stockings (2nd col.)
The materials used are woollen yarns, lamb’s wool, cotton, silk, and mixed cotton and wool or Angola.

Fiction but interesting use of what appears to be a common practice.

Tell tale rag, By G.W. Henry 1861
(Moral stories)
Pg. 8
The third master of Tell Tale was a cotton manufacturer at the Pemberton Mills, Mass. By him Tell Tale exposes many fashionable sins of the day, by mixing religion with the world, spiritual and political adultery. This master was a fusionist, a compromiser, as he would card together cotton and wool, give it a beautiful color; weave it into a web, then swear it off upon his customers as all wool.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Heavy Yarns?

Treatise on the art of knitting: with a history of the knitting loom, 1861

"I have used on of your Machines for several months, and in that time have done some very fine worked, and made some very heavy and choice hose."

"I have knit hundreds of pairs of socks and stockings, from the very heavy yarn for the field hand down to the infant's stocking,"

I wonder how heavy "heavy yarn" is? Could it between sport/ DK weight? Hmmmm

Mixing of spun fibres

Reports by the juries on the subjects in the thirty classes into which the Exhibition was divided

In yarns made from a mixture of silk and wool (mixed in the carding and preparation), there were samples shown both white and coloured, which, so far as wee were competent to form a judgment, were very good: but as this branch of the worsted trade is comparatively new [1851] (at all events to us). the Jury could not venture to give an opinions as to the relative merits of the different yarns of this class.


While doing some research on Vicki Betts website, about knitting for the soldiers I came across the word "admixture"

Memphis Daily Appeal, August 8, 1861
"Exertions should be made to gather up all the wool that can possibly be obtained, and if necessary, with a little admixture of cotton which will be plentiful—let it be knit into socks and woven into a stout and durable material, suitable for warm and comfortable clothing.

The OED defines admixture as:

admixture, n.
The action or process of mingling one substance with another, or of adding as an ingredient; the fact of being so mingled. 

Savannah Republican, November 14, 1862, also makes mention of mixing fibres.
"to say nothing of the wool locked up in mattresses—were picked to pieces, and carded with cotton, they would probably suffice to furnish more than half the socks now needed by our soldiers.  True, the staple will be found short and crisp, and probably the barbs of the wool would be worn smooth, but these defects will be met and remedied, in part, by mixing the wool with cotton"  


The Repertory of patent inventions: and other discoveries and improvements in arts, manufactures, and agriculture; being a continuation, on an enlarged plan, of the Repertory of arts & manufactures 1862

Specification of the Patent granted to Charles Samuel Henry Hartog, of Norfolk-street, Strand, in the County of Middlesex, Merchant, for Improvements in the Preparation and Treatment of Vegetable Fibres, the better to Adapt them for Combing, Working up, and Dyeing with Different Fibres, such as Silk, Wool, Cotton, and others, and in Apparatus used in such Treatment or Preparation.-Dated December 4, 1861.

[notice it says “Improvements in the Preparation…”, improvements in means this is not a “new” concept]

“These improvements consist, first, in producing and preparing vegetable fibres of a silky and woolly nature suitable for admixing, spinning, and working up with animal wool and hair, shoddy and mungo wools, silk, cotton, or other different fibres,…”

and YES there is more to come...

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Ladies' Reading-room...New York

Ballou's Monthly Magazine 1856
Ladies' Reading-room
In the New York Society Library a ladies' reading-room has been opened, and it is hoped the advantages for mental improvement it presents will be eagerly embraced."

The Home: a fireside monthly companion 1857
"A Ladies' reading room has been established in New York, and among other things furnished by the polite librarian is a "Suggestion Book," in which the fair visitors are expected to write their requests. The most unanimous suggestion recorded, thus far, is one which asks for a "looking glass in the ladies room."

Monday, May 16, 2011

Current reading

Currently reading:
Grander in Her Daughters: Florida's Women During the Civil War by Tracy J. Revels

Women's History

Woman's history is rich and fascinating yet women know so little about their own history. This is our heritage, learn about it and represent it with knowledge and pride.

Effect of Wearing Silk Dresses

I love searching Google Books for books/magazines in the public domain. I found this article the other day, it is quite humorous.

The Harbinger of Health by Andrew Jackson Davis, 1861
Pg. 218-9
Effect of Wearing Silk Dresses.
A lady correspondent propounds the following question:
"How does the wearing of silk dresses affect us ladies?"
Answer.-The wearing of "silk dresses" exerts a variety of wonderful influences
upon both body and soul. We have seen examples of intense chronic suffering
occasioned by the habitual wearing of "silk dresses" too tight over the region
of the diaphragm. Instances are on record, also, where the length of "silk
dresses" has inveigled the wearer into divers and sundry difficulties.
Deplorable cases are known where the price of "silk dresses" has disturbed the
financial equilibrium of very respectable progenitors. That alarming and
epidemical phenomenon of the age, known as the trailing of "silk dresses" over
tobacco-stained pavements, is rabidly developing among sensible classes a
psychological disease called "disgust." In young female minds we have observed,
with some beautiful exceptions, that the wearing of very fine "silk dresses"
produces an enlargement of certain cerebral organs-developing the symptoms of
insulation, superiority to poor folks, pride, approbation, and temporary
shallow-mindedness. the physiological effect of "silk dresses" is not much,
however, unless the wearer is nervously-diseased and dreamful. Then the fabric
is too electrical for health.

Susan Patricia

I found a letter that my grandfather wrote to my parents when I was born.
With your new baby doll
We hope she grows up like a pricess
Blond, curley and two dimples
And not so short, and not so tall
We love her name-Susan Patricia
A name like from a fairy book
You could not find a better name
From Alaska to Sandy hook
May God will always bless you
With the things for which you strife
And keep you all together
To enjoy a perfect life
Opa and Oma Tand

Welcome to my reading room.

I enjoy reading and learning about women during the 19th century. As a reenactor I use books to research topics on the material culture of the period.