Monday, December 31, 2012

Worsted and Worse

Cotton or woolen socks...funny but I've found a number of comments about not using cotton...does that mean a lot of cotton was used? 

Vanity Fair, May 18, 1861
Worsted and Worse
            Our warriors must be somewhat puzzled by the contradictory suggestions thrown out for their benefit by the daily press. One writer requests them on no account to wear any other socks than cotton socks, when marching. The Tribune, on the contrary, asserts that they must wear worsted ones if they want to save their country and their corns. We go in for GREELEY, this time. The many who sticks up for the Cotton is open to a suspicion of secessionism; while GREELEY is consistent in standing up for the Wool. We think the Cotton man will be Worsted.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Thrift Store Treasures

The past week was interesting. I hit upon some wonderful (at least to me) treasures at a few local thrift stores. Makes one wonder if the stores know what is being donated! Early last week I found two identical celery vases, blown glass and cut with a beautiful design...THEN...later in the week I stopped back in and there was a third...identical to the others! I'm still trying to date them. There is something about the design. I'm leaning towards early to mid-19th century, then I could be horribly off on the dating. But there are THREE of them!

I also found a small blown glass wine glass? It may be a reproduction...which is fine with me as I can use it at reenactments.

Then today we went to another shop and I found two boxes covered in marbled paper (I love boxes and small containers) and two blow glass bottles with stoppers. I'll use these for reenacting also.

I think I'm have a new! 

Friday, November 30, 2012


Social networking in the 19th century. Today we have many avenues to socialize and share common interests with our peers. Here is one example of how young women and girls shared an interest by starting up a club. Was this a way for a group of girls to afford an issue of the latest 1860's fashions and work-basket articles?

Godey’s Magazine, 1861

MAKE UP YOUR CLUBS.—Remember that the Lady’s Book is the best work for ladies published in this country. We have more than one thousand private letters testifying to this fact, and the press throughout the country is unanimous in saying that the Lady’s Book is the best magazine of its kind in this or any other country. The difference is the club price of the Lady’s book and that of other magazines is only a few cents, and for those few cents you get nearly one0third more reading and engravings, besides other more expensive embellishments that a low-priced magazine cannot afford to give. Clubs must be for the Lady’s Book alone, with one exception, and that is “Arthur’s Home Magazine.” One or more of that work can be introduced in a club in place of the Lady’s Book, if desired.
            Any person, with a very little trouble, can get up a club for the Book; we have frequently been so informed by ladies—the work is so popular. It is but to call and get a subscription. Clubs are always in time, as we are able to supply numbers from the beginning of the year; yet we like them sent in soon, to know how many we shall print. Remember, that a work with 150,000 subscribers can give five times as much as a work with only half that number, and the embellishments can also be made of a very superior character.
            Our terms are made plain and explicit, so that they may be easily understood. We are often asked to throw in an extra copy. In no instance can this be done, as our terms are as low to clubs that is cannot be afforded. A shopkeeper would look amazed, if a purchaser should ask him to throw in an extra yard because she had purchased twelve. And yet we are asked to add any extra copy because twelve have been ordered. It cannot be done.

Arthur’s Home Magazine for 1861.


Peterson’s Magazine 1861

OUR PREMIUM ENGRAVING FOR CLUBS.—Our old friends know that we do not give people premiums for subscribing to “Peterson.” We hold that every subscriber gets his or her money’s worth in the Magazine. But we have always made a practice to give a premium to anybody getting up a club. The premium for 1861, is, we think, the most desirable we have ever offered. It is, as described in the Prospectus, an engraving of the largest size for framing; is done in line and stipple; and is one of the best works of the late Thomas Illman. It has never before been published. In no other way can it be had except from “Peterson.” So get up a club, if you wish this costly affair! To those who prefer an Album, we will, as stated in the Prospectus, send an Album, instead foe the engraving, if they write for it. Or we will send $1.25 worth of T.B. Peterson &Brothers’ publications.

Saturday, November 3, 2012


The Alleghenian (Ebensburg, PA.) October 17, 1861

ALL HONOR TO THE LADIES !—The “Blanket and Stocking” move is flourishing luxuriantly…
            We may now confidently expect to see some considerable knitting performed.--Knitting will probably be the prevailing employment for a season. And as each fair ladye’s fingers chase one another with increasing rapidity around the circle of stitches, may the possessor thereof be cheered by the gratification of knowing that she is responding to the call of Patriotism and Liberty.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Queen's Winter Knitting Book, Another Muffatee

 The Queen’s Winter Knitting Book, by Mrs. Mee & Miss. Austin. #3 - 1862

Another Muffatee
2oz. of 8-thread German Wool. Needles No. 10.
Cast 18 stitches on each of 2 needles and 20 on the 3rd.
1st round. Seam 2, knit 2, repeat, knit 15 more rounds the same as 1st.
17th round. Knit 3, seam 1, repeat.
18th round. Plain knitting.
19th round. Knit 1 *seam 1, knit 3, repeat from. *
20th round. Plain knitting, repeat the last 4 rounds until 50 in all are done, knit 16 rounds the same as the beginning, seaming 2 and knitting 2 alternately.

My interpretation:

1 ball sport weight Nature Spun 3ply (no color was specified, I’ve done them in white and colored.)
Set of size 4 double points.
Cast on 18 stitches on each of 2 needles and 20 on the 3rd.
Ribbing - P2, K2 for 16 rows (keep a tally)
Pattern – Row 17 - K 3, P1 around (ending row with P)
               Row 18 – K
               Row 19 – K 1, P1, K3 around (ending row with K)
               Row 20 - K
               Repeat these four rows(rounds) until 50 in all are done. Ribbing – P2, K2 for 16 rows(rounds)
Nature Spun comes in 1.3/4oz. I used 1.5/8oz. for a pair. These are utilitarian, worn under the dress sleeves for warmth. They fit from wrist to elbow. 

Friday, August 3, 2012

My Weakness! TEAPOTS...& BOOKS

I'm a little teapot
I'm short and I'm stout
I've got a little handle and I've got a little spout

Today I scored an old teapot in pretty good condition.

Picked up an 1844 McGuffey's also.
It pays to be a volunteer in unexpected ways! 
McGuffey's Rhetorical Guide or Fifth Reader
Elegant Extracts in Prose and Poetry

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Union Poem 1861--We, and Our “knitting-work.”

Cincinnati, Daily Press, (Ohio) Wednesday, December 11, 1861 (Library of Congress)

(From the New York Evening Post.)
We, and Our “knitting-work.”
By Laura Elmer.

Nimbly forward, knitting-pins,
When ye lag kind conscience dins;
Round and round—hast to the hell— (ROFLMAO- I rechecked and "hell" is a period typo...should have been "heel")
Click and clatter, glittering steel.

First the heel, and then the toe,
Shining bodkins quickly go.
O, ye heed not, but we heed
All the good that’s in your speed.

Loop the pliant thread of wool,
In and out, each needleful;
“Slip-and-bind” the flexile string,
Till “toe’d-off”’s the elastic thing.

So its mate—then click along,
Till we have a knitted throng;
“Pillow-case-ful” of the hose,
Is the rule, each woman knows.

Off now—toward your mission flit—
“Tis for loyal feet ye’re knit;
Keep them snug and warm each day—
We’ve no fear they’ll run away.

Stay, there’s one thing—just suppose
Rebels steal ye, fleecy hose!
Dare not shield their toes from damps—
‘Flame their soles, and coax the cramps.

Quick they’ll swear—but be sure,
‘Legiance’tisn’t—‘two’n’t endure!
Snap your thread and gape in holes—
Ho! their corns and swell their soles!

Dare not give the rebels aid—
For their comfort ye’re not made:
Let all traitors barefoot flee—
Be unto them P.P.C.

Monday, July 23, 2012

One pound makes 4 pairs

I'm working on Civil War "Socks for the Soldiers...or Army". There are many printed versions for these socks or stockings. At times the same directions were printed in newspapers, both the north and south. One common feature was that one pound of wool yarn will knit up 4 pairs of socks. But, and there are always buts in historical knitting, some directions state to knit plain heels and toes, or knit the heels double and plain toes, or knit the heels and toes double. There are a number of ways to knit double heels.

The current directions I'm working on state "One pound of yarn, costing from seventy-five cents to one dollar, will furnish four pairs of socks. The heels and toes should be knit of double yarn."

So...I'm questioning...if one pair of socks uses 1/4 lb or 4 oz of wool does this factor in the extra yarn needed to knit the heels and toes double, when other directions leave that specific part out? There are also articles specifically about heels which state to knit the heels double. Makes one wonder who developed the original directions, what was written and what was added later to make a better sock or what was left out for editorials sake to make the directions short and sweet.

There are many variables to consider then and now. Based on the printed directions, I expect the yarn used was commercially spun, but not every one purchased the same wool yarn, or they used homespun. Did every one spin the exact same weight? Is all the wool from one type of sheep? We know mixed wools were spun to enhance certain attributes of a better or worse quality wool, etc. Plus directions call for "large needles and coarse yarn" Then you also have to consider the knitter, loose, even, or tight. A lot of variables.

This can get complicated...but if I don't ask these I doing good research?

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

THANK YOU...Miss. Lambert !

Knitted Cuff, Shell Pattern, My Knitting Book by Miss. Lambert 1843
Knit with lace weight 

I recently began using Miss. Lambert's "The Standard Filiere" knitting needle gauge to knit up a few items from her and Miss Watts knitting books. Many of the patterns are reprinted in a number of other 19th century books. In some cased the needle size was left out, in a few the needle size is a typo, so comparing other books may clarify some errors. For example in one book the shell pattern cuffs/ muffatees call for size 11 needles but in another is states size 22. After testing the gauge the 22 turned out to be the correct size. It helps to know and compare the yarn, number of cast on stitches, to the needle size. Since using the Lambert gauge, there has been no need to change the cast on to make my cuffs/muffatees larger. They are stretchy, but hug my wrists comfortably.  Sometimes a pattern states to change the number to cast on to change a size.  I’ve stayed with the original directions and looked at multiple directions.  Some books may or may not have additional suggestions for the same item, depending on the author. Also found the same item listed under a different name.
Muffatees, Feather Pattern, The Ladies' Knitting and Netting Book by Miss. Watts 1840
100 % wool, four ply fingering

Corkscrew Muffatees, The Ladies' Knitting and Netting Book by Miss. Watts 1840
100% wool, four ply fingering

All the above are knit in the round using 4 double pointed needles.
This summer I’m going to try out some more knitting patterns using Miss Lambert’s Filiere knitting gauge. The illustration for the gauge in My Knitting Book is to scale. I downloaded the page in the book with the illustration. To print out the page I made sure every thing {pdf and computer printer) is set at 100%. 

The Ladies' Work-Table 

Friday, June 15, 2012

Thrift stores and a critial eye

I love shopping in thrift stores! Over the past year I found quite a few interesting items. As a reenactor I found some great gems, both originals and reproductions to use at reenactments and in exhibits. It takes a critical eye to spot the good "stuff". But you must research...look at lots and lots of originals in museums and books, books and more books to develop a critical eye.

Here are a few of my recent "finds" and no one item was over $5. 
The red ware bowl is from Greenfield Village, and green glasses are reproductions from Jamestown.
The dish is early 19th mark on back...sometimes I wonder if people know what they are giving away.

I love home-made pot holders...could not pass these up! I remember making the same ones with cotton loops and a metal loom. 
The yarn is a single ply Cobweb yarn from Shetland...this is going to become a pair of cuffs....I hope! The yarn was only a dollar.

 This pitcher is for my son...he loves stuff from the 1940's-early 1960's 

Also for my son, this solid wood coffee table at Salvation Army...$20...woo hoo!
As I was looking at it a gentleman was also eying about an instant decision...grabbed the tag and paid for it. 

Also, purchased an outfit for me...linen Capri's, silk tropical shirt and silk tank-top...$1 a piece!   Not bad for a cloudy, gray and windy Friday!


Monday, June 11, 2012

Next Audio Book...

Domestic Manners of the Americans, by Frances Trollope

Friday, June 8, 2012

How to Knit Soldiers’ Stockings

Found this in the Historic Newspapers at the LOC
The Daily Press [Cincinnati, OH] Monday, October 7, 1861
How to Knit Soldiers’ Stockings

            Set up twenty-eight or thirty stitches on a needle; rib two inches; knit plain seven inches before setting the heel; form the heel by knitting twenty-three stitches each side of the seam, taking off the first stitch without knitting; length of heel, before narrowing, three inches; narrow the heel by knitting ten stitches plain; knit two together; knit plain to within three of the seam; knit  two together, one plain, and turn the seam; knit one plain, slip and bend one stitch; knit plain to within twelve of the end of the needle, slip and bind; knit ten plain; knit back plain; knit thus until the narrowings meet; knit back on wrong side to seam; then double together on the wrong side; knit two together and bind off one stitch; take up the loops to the left hand, and knit five stitches off the instep needle on to that one; knit off the instep needle, and take five off the other end, to add to the right side of the heel, and then take up the loops; knit one round all plain; knit three stitches and widen, by taking up a loop between all across, to within seven of the end of the needle; then narrow on the first side, by knitting two together, and knit five off plain; knit instep needle plain; knit five; and narrow on the last needle by slipping and binding one stitch; then widen as before, but only this one round. Now narrow every other round, as before, until you have twenty-four stitches on a needle; knit plain four inches; narrow the toe on the needle to left of instep needle, by knitting one plain slip and bind; then knit plain to within three stitches of the end of the needle; knit two together and one plain; knit thus on each needle; knit three rounds plain, then narrow as before, knitting three plain rounds between each narrowing; then knit two rounds between, to twelve stitches on each needle; narrow every other round to the close.

[bend] a period should be bind. 

Monday, June 4, 2012

Unmarried Ladies

To Unmarried Ladies.
            The following items of advice to ladies remaining in a state of single blessedness are extracted from the manuscript of an old dowager.

            If you have blue eyes, languish.
            If black eyes, affect spirit.
            If you have pretty feet, wear short petticoats.
            If you are the least doubtful as to that point, wear them long
            If you have good teeth, don’t forget to laugh now and then.
            If you have bad ones, you must only simper.
            While you are young sit with your face to the light.
            When you are a little advanced, sit with your back to the window.
            If you have a bad voice, always speak in a low tone.
            If it is acknowledged that you have a fine voice, never speak in a high tone.
            If you dance well, dance seldom.
            If you dance ill, never dance at all.
            If you sing well, make no puerile excuses.
If you sing indifferently, hesitate not a moment when you are asked, for few persons are competent judges of singing, but every one is sensible of the desire to please.
If in conversation you think a person wrong, rather hint a difference of opinion than offer a contradiction.
It is always in your power to make a friend by smiles; what folly to make enemies by frowns.
When you are forced to blame, do it with reluctance.
If you are envious of another woman, never show it but by allowing her every good quality and perfection except these which she really possesses.
If you wish to let the world know you are in love with a particular man, treat him with formality, and every one else with ease and freedom.
If you are disposed to be pettish or insolent, it is better to exercise your ill humor on your dog, or your cat, or your servant, than on your friend.
The Daily Press [Cincinnati, OH] October 7, 1861

Friday, May 25, 2012

Chocolate Zucchini Bread

This isn't about anything 19th century but.....last week my son mentioned making a chocolate zucchini bread and my garden is very productive this spring. I picked a nice zucchini and thought I would give it a try. This is the recipe I used:

Chocolate Zucchini Bread...more like cake :)

3 C. flour
1/4 C cocoa powder
1 C sugar
1 t baking soda
1/2 t baking powder
1 t salt
1 t cinnamon (optional)

2 C zucchini - coarsely grated, drained & squeezed (lightly)
2 eggs
1/2 C vegetable oil
1/2 cup plain or vanilla yogurt (I used a 1/2 cup plain yogurt cheese, its what I had on hand)
1 t vanilla

1/2 C chopped nuts (I used walnuts)
1/2 C chocolate chips and OR Raisins (next time I'll use raisins too!)

Preheat oven 350. Greased and lightly flour (can use cocoa to coat pan instead of white flour) or non-stick cooking spray (which is what I used) either two loaf pans or one tube or bundt cake pan, either will work. I used a large metal tube pan.

Mix wet ingredients. Mix dry ingredients in large bowl. Add the wet ingredients to the dry. Stir with wooden spoon until thoroughly mixed.  
Then add your nuts, chips and/or raisins until just incorporated. (Hint - first coat the nuts/chips/raisins with a little flour, keeps them from sinking to the bottom of cake/bread) Pour/spoon mixture (quite thick) into prepared pan/s. 
Bake about 60 min. give or take 5-10 min. Check cake/bread with long pick, till it comes out clean/dry. Let cool 15 min in pan on rack, the turn out to cool on cake rack.

PS...I'm always telling my son...(who lives in another state) to cut cakes/breads in half or sections and FREEZE. It is always a treat when you crave some and it is already for you.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Shirt Making, July 1, 1861

Ohio  Cultivator, July 1, 1861
The Housekeeper.
For the Ohio Cultivator.
Shirt Making.

            Perhaps some poor little wife who has before her the awful task of making her first pair of shirts for her “liege lord,” is anxiously waiting to hear the advice I promised.
            Take an old shirt, rip it to pieces and cut out the new one by it, baste it together and try it on. Don’t laugh at the idea, I know it is an odd one, for I once heard a young man say he “did not know there was any fit to a shirt,” but trying it on is the only way a shirt can be made to fit, unless you have a scientific pattern, cut by a practical tailor, to go by.
            After you have got it to fit nicely, unbaste it and cut out a pattern, allowing for the seams, and marking all the hems, gathers etc., by notches, so it will be just right to cut your cloth by. So far your trouble is ended. But few ladies are compelled, now, to make bosoms, as they can be bought ready made for a trifle more than the linen would cost, and by the way, young wives, buy cheap bosoms, nice high priced bosoms will not wear outs the shirts and two cheap ones that cost about the same will, and when starched and ironed nicely a twenty cent bosom looks nearly as well as one costing forty or fifty cents. I know this by experience, and I find two cheap bosoms last as long as the shirt, while one nice one is gone, leaving the shirt good. As a general rule I do not approve of cheap goods, but this is an exception.
            Putting the bosom into the shirt is the first thing to be done, after it is cut. Double the front of the shirt in the middle, also double the bosom, and lay it upon the shirt exactly square and even all around, then cut out a piece one inch wider than the bosom, and half an inch shorter. Unfold shirt and bosom commence at the top of each side and sew the bosom in, in place of the piece you cut out. Then lay a plait at the bottom, and upon each side, both plaits of a size, and large enough to make the bosom set smooth; stitch the bottom across, turn the bosom under and hem it down, it being half an inch too long, having been left so for that special purpose, and saves sewing a tape across as some do.
            The object of making a plait in the shirt, at the bottom of the bosom, is, to make the front of the shirt narrow. The back you will at once see needs to be wider than the front, to give freedom to the arms and shoulders; if both side are of a width the bosom will shrug together and set out beyond the vest, in a manner you may have seen bau could not explain.
            Line the front of the shirt the whole length and width from the bosom back to the arm size. Some only face a narrow strip just round the arm size, but the best way by far is to line the whole back from the neck down to the bottom of the arm size and the front as I before said.
            The quickest and easiest way to sew up seams in shirts, and all other under garments, is in this wise: Sew up you garment or sleeve, upon the right or outside, trim the seam very small, turn and sew up again on the wrong side and your seam is quickly and neatly finished, without felling, which is a branch of sewing most ladies dislike very much to do. The first time sewing the seam, the stitches may be long if the cotton is strong, but the second time it must be done tight and well, and you will find the seam strong and soft. Try it, ladies.  
            When the shirt is together, but on the back binding, which be sure is just the right size, and buttoning it, double it in the middle, and taking a piece of linen two inches wide, double, cut it one inch shorter than the neck binding then unfold the linen, put a stip of cotton cloth inside to make the collar stiffer and firmer when starched, sew up the ends which should be cut a little slanting, that is, longer on the top than where it is sewed on to the shirt binding, fold again, stitch neatly all round, sew tightly on the binding by two edges, turn the other under and fell over the seam and your collar is made and fastened to the shirt. No need of pins, buttons, or strings, no losing in washing or trouble in ironing. Perhaps your “liege lord” will growl a little at first, as the shirt so made must be taken off every night, and a night shirt substituted instead, which is by far more healthy than sleeping in the soiled sweaty shirt that has been worn three or four days.
            But your husband will soon learn to like shirts so made as they are much less trouble for him, when he gets used to not sleeping in them. I have heard my husband say he would almost as willingly set up all night, as to attempt to sleep in his day shirt and flannel.
            Make sleeves large, as they wear much longer and also look better. Sew the linen cuff on, without a binding as it is less work, and looks neater, by that I mean gather the sleeve at the wrist, and sew the linen cuff directly on.
            I now flatter myself that some puzzled young wife with no mother to aid her, will know better how to go to work to make a pair of shirts, than she would had I remained silent. If so, I am content.

West Amesbury, Mass. June 1861
            NOTE—Now Sarah dear, let me tell you something we have found out about shirt bosoms: Last winter wife Mollie made us a lot of shirts and did not cut out the body cloth at all form the bosom, but put the linen bosom right over the cotton. The effect is to make the bosoms “fit” better than they can do where the body is cut out, and also so to strengthen this most exposed part of the shirt, that even light linen will wear as long as the rest of the garment. We think this is a great improvement.
--ED. Field Notes.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

October 1, 1861

The Library Of Congress (LOC) updated the Historic Newspaper section recently (it pays to keep checking back). I found another article for knitting socks. This is the earliest I've found so far...and I keep on looking for directions both Union and Confederate.

The Philadelphia Inquirer [PA] October 1, 1861
            WOOLEN SOCKS FOR THE ARMY.—the following directions, which have been furnished by a lady of much experience, may prove useful to those who will engage in knitting woolen socks for the army. The yarn should be bluish gray, No. 22, and the needles, No. 14 or No. 15.
            Set up twenty-seven stitches on each needle; knit two plain and two seam rows alternately, until the ribbing is three inches long; then knit plain seven inches for the leg, remembering to seam one stitch at the end of one needle. To form the heel, put twenty stitches on two of the needles, and forty-one on the other—the seam stitch being in the middle. Knit the first row plain, the next row seam, and so alternately until the heel is three inches long; then narrow on the plain row each side of the seam stitch for five plain rows, which will leave thirty-one stitches. To close the heel, knit the last seam row to the middle of the needle, knit the seam stitch plain, then fold the two needles together, and with another needle take off the seam stitch. Then knit a stitch from both needles at once, and bind the seam stitch over it. Continue knitting in this manner until but one is left and the heel closed. Take up as many stitches as there are rows around the heel; knit one round plain; then widen every fifth stitch on the heel needles. Narrow once on every round at each side of the foot until there are twenty-seven stitches on each needle; knit plain six inches, narrow at the beginning and end of each needle on every third round, till you have seventeen stitches on each; then narrow every second round till you have seven—then every round until the foot is closed. One pound of yarn, costing from seventy-five cents to one dollar, will furnish four pairs of socks.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Historic knitting - Knitted Braces

I’m working on a pair of 1861 knitted braces (suspenders worn by men). The directions are in a Godey’s Lady’s Book. The braces consist of two stitches, garter and brioche. Brioche is ribbed. 

            Upon knitting a sample using four ply cotton twine, a pair of 00 knitting needles and the number of stitches in the directions I found the braces would be way too large. They did not look correct based on the measurements of other types of braces/suspenders.
The directions stated to cast on 20 stitches and for the second section to increase 10 more stitches for a total of 30 stitches. The result was 2” wide in the garter stitch and 2 1/2” wide in Brioche stitch. At first I thought it was the cotton I was using as to why my piece was so wide. The brioche sample had 10 ribs.

            I looked closely at the illustration and saw only 8 ribs. This suggested to me the original cast on stitches was incorrect. The illustration was detailed. The illustrator had the actual piece of knitting in front of them when creating the illustration. Period knitting directions are a challenge to our 21st century knitters! So I believe the illustrations are a valid source in supplementing or correcting period directions…or the lack there of.

My next try…using the same twine, needles and only casting on 16 stitches and adding an additional 8 gave me the result I expected the garter stitch is 1 1/2 “ wide and the brioche is 2 1/8” wide. 

I also printed off the illustration, (Thank you Google Books and University of Michigan)  and compared my knitting with the illustration. I was surprised and pleased to see how closely they match….woo hoo!
[IMO....illustrations show details that may or may not contradict written directions. This particular illustration appeared as if to scale for the actual knitted piece. Most illustrations are not to scale.]

 I also compared the printed page with one of my own books so the pages are of the same size and not distorted.
Got a whole lot more knitting to do to complete this pair of braces.

BTW…the twine I’m using is unmercerized butchers twine purchase at Rowes IGA (grocery store), comparable to fingering weight yarn.


UPDATE 5/15/2012
 Here is one completed brace, it measures 29 3/4" long. I need to get the buckle and leather to complete the piece.

UPDATE May 22, 2012
Finished the pair and ordered the end pieces. Now waiting...waiting...waiting...waiting for them to arrive by mail...sometime next week...maybe.

Update 8/27/2012
Braces with ends.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Bonnets, "red white red"

Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Newspaper [NY, NY] Saturday, May 18, 1861
War News from the South
From the Richmond Whig.

            A HINT FOR OUR LADIES—As intercourse with the North has been cut off, and the milliners of Richmond are prevented from making their usual trip to the American Babylon in Quest of new styles, the ladies of our city will have to look elsewhere for the “Spring fashions” The Southern Confederacy of Atlanta, Ga., speaks of a novelty in ladies’ apparel, recently introduced in that city. It says:
            “We were pleased to observe yesterday, promenading on Whitehall street, four beautiful young ladies from our neighboring suburban village, wearing Quakers beautifully trimmed with the Confederate flag, thus—the crown was covered with solid blue, studded with eight bright stars, and the skirt was alternately white and red. The whole was a complete counterpart of our country’s flag. From the modest [m?] grace and beauty of the wearers, we predict ‘four’ more stars will be captured, ere long, by some of our brave soldier boys. Mrs. Boring Mrs. Durand must look sharp for their laurels, or Decatur will secure the paten right of the new style of Quaker. 

The Philadelphia Inquirer [PA] September 18, 1862
Rather Downcast.
            The sympathizers with Secesh, who have been jubilant of late, and some of whom have uttered threats of what they intended to do with Union neighbors, are to-day rather downcast. One can walk the Avenue, from the Capitol to Georgetown, without hearing any one whistle “Maryland, my Maryland,” and the ladies who have sported “red, white and red” rosettes in their bonnets have taken them out or they remain at home.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Political bias.

Boston Daily Advertiser [MA] Thursday, July 25, 1861
New Hampshire Statesman, Saturday August 3, 1861

            It is quite amusing to see the different ways in which the ladies of Baltimore show their political bias. There are many who espouse the causes of Jeff. Davis, and show it by wearing aprons, collars, &c., with red, white and red stripes, and when passing a lady wearing articles of dress of red, white and blue, a mutual turn up of noses takes place.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

The Woman in White

I enjoy listening to the free audio books on The current book I'm listening to is The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins.

The story was written in 1859 as a serial and made into a book in 1860. It is a mystery and takes place in England. There are 38 chapters in this book...its a long one. I'll be working on knitting another Norwegian Morning or Bonnet Cap while listening to the book.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Women's work is never done!

Freedom’s Champion [Atchison, Kansas] Saturday, March 15, 1862

          KITCHEN MEMORANDA.—Potatoes to be washed—meat to be put to soak—lamps to fill—knives to scour—furniture to be dusted—silver to be polished—front entry to be washed—beds to be made—apples to pare—flour to sift—shirts to be ironed—dishes to be washed—beets to be cleaned—carpets to be swept—fires to be tended—dinner to get—pig to be fed—pudding to be made—a runt to the store—front door to tend—children to be waited on—baby’s frock to be washed—stockings to be darned—buttons to be sewed on the shirts—shirts to be done up—tea to get—griddle cakes—dough nuts—custards—ginger-bread—preserves—dishes to clear away—company—evening meetings—bed time.
         What merchant, politician, or president has a longer list of daily avocations than the good wife; and yet how little they are considered. The hard and constant fatigue of the mother should elicit a deeper sympathy and a more strenuous effort to lessen her burden. 

Daily Evening Bulletin [San Francisco, CA] Friday, May 8, 1863

RULES OF HEALTH FOR MARRIED LADIES.—Here is some advice which married ladies can bet high on:

            Get up at three o’clock in the morning, clean out the stoves, take up the ashes, sweep the front sidewalk, and scrub the front steps, nurse the baby, put things to warm, see the shirt aired, broil the mackerel, settle the coffee, set the table, rouse the house, carry up some hot water for shaving to that brute of a lazy husband, and dry the morning paper. By this time you will have an appetite for breakfast. Hold the baby during the meal, as you like your breakfast cold. 

            After breakfast, wash the dishes, nurse the baby, dust everything, wash the windows, wash and dress the baby—(that pantry wants cleaning out and scrubbing)—nurse the baby, draw the baby in his wagon five or six miles for the benefit of his health: nurse him when you return;  put on the potatoes and the cabbage (nurse the baby) sweep everything; take up the dinner, set the table, fill the castors, change the table cloth, (there’s that baby wants nursing.) Eat your dinner cold again, and—nurse the baby.

            After dinner, wash the dishes, gather up all the dirty clothes and put them to soak, nurse baby every half hour; receive a dozen calls, interspersed with nursing the baby; drag the baby a mile or two; hurry home; make biscuits, pick up some codfish, cut some dried beef, Catnip tea for baby’s internal disarrangements: hold the baby and hour or two to quiet him; put some alcohol in the meter; baby a specimen of perpetual motion: tea ready; take your cold, as usual. 

            After tea, wash up the dishes; put some fish to soak; chop some hash; send for more sugar, (gracious how the sugar does go—and 20 cents a pound,) get down the stockings and darn them: (keep on nursing the baby;) wait up till 12 o’clock nursing the baby, till husband comes with a double shuffle on the front steps, a decided difficulty in finding the stairway, and determination to sleep in the backyard. Drag him up stairs to bed: then nurse the baby and go to sleep.

            Women in delicate health will find that the above practice will either kill or cure them.

1861 Woolen Socks for the Army

During the war both sides printed in newspapers the same or very similar directions  on knitting socks for the soldiers/army. It is interesting the slight variations between the previous post from 1864 Georgia and these earlier directions from Ohio.

The Daily Cleveland Herald, [Cleveland, Ohio] Tuesday, October 22, 1861

            The army of sock knitters of course embarrass some new recruits in the ranks, as the girls of this age have not been brought up to “knit and visit” quite as industriously as their grandmothers. The following directions in regard to knitting woolen socks for the soldiers have been furnished the press by a lady of much experience, and may prove useful to many beside new recruits. The directions have passed muster with other veterans in the knitting service, and are worth preserving and giving heed to:

            The yarn should be bluish gray, No. 22, and the needles No. 14 or 15. Set twenty seven stitches on each needle; knit two plain and two seam rows alternately until the ribbing is three inches long; then knit plain seven inches for the leg, remembering to seam or stitch at the end of one needle. To form the heel, put twenty stitches on two of the needles, and forty-one on the other—the seam stitch being in the middle. Knit the first row plain, the next row seam, and so alternately until the heel is three inches long; then narrow on the plain row each side of the seam stitch for five plain rows, which will leave thirty one stitches. To close the heel, knit the last seam row to the middle of the needle, knit the seam stitch plain, then fold the two needles together, and with another needle take off the seam stitch. Then knit a stitch from both needles at once, and bind the seam stitch over it. Continue knitting in this manner until but one is left and the heel closed. Take up as many stitches as there are rows around the heel; knit one row plain; then widen every fifth stitch on the heel needles. Narrow once on every round at each side of the foot until there are twenty-seven stitches on each needle; knit plain six inches, narrow at the beginning and end of each needle on every third round, till you have seventeen stitches on each; then narrow every second round till you have seven—then every round until the foot is closed. One pound of yarn, costing from seventy five cents to one dollar, will furnish four pairs of socks.

            The proper quality and price of the woolen yarn, individual knitters and societies that purchase should look to. The Cleveland Worsted Company are engaged in manufacturing yarns on Bank street in this city. This company have very kindly offered to sell woolen yarn to those wishing to knit for soldiers at wholesale prices and are furnishing for that purpose good and durable yarn at 75 cents a pound. They keep the number of woolen yarn mentioned in the above directions, and which the Soldiers’ Aid Society in this city purchase for socks and give out to knit to such women as are anxious to do something for the good cause, but are not able to furnish the yarn. In this way many willing fingers are employed, and rich payment is received in the thankful soldier’s blessings. That the quality of the yarn is good and the price reasonable, is evidenced by the frequent purchases made by Cleveland Aid Society, which studies economy and utility in all its benevolent labor. Would not auxiliary Societies in the vicinity do well to get their supplies of yarn directly from the manufactory on Bank street, and but a few doors South of the Aid Society’s depot in this city?

            We are assured by the Cleveland Worsted Company, that no cotton or rags have ever been made into stocking yarn at their manufactory. Rags are worked up for carpet filling when ordered. We think the Company are deserving public patronage from the fact that their goods may be relied on and are sold at fair prices, and that they are the pioneers in Woolen Manufacturing in this city, a branch of business we hope to see liberally encouraged.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Hint to the Ladies...the socks...are too small

Thanks to the internet, data bases and search engines, finding primary sources today is quicker and efficient. I love finding and putting together information from the past.  

The Macon Daily Telegraph [Georgia] February, 17, 1864

Hint to the Ladies.—As a general thing a large proportion of the socks that have been sent to this office and forwarded to the soldiers, are too small. We published, some days ago, instructions from a lady on the art of knitting, and our lady friends would do well to observe them. A tight fitting sock affords not half the comfort of a loose one and will wear out in one third the time.

Macon Daily Telegraph [Georgia] January 26, 1864

DIRECTIONS FOR KNITTING SOCKS FOR THE ARMY.—The following directions, which have been furnished by a lady of much experience, may prove useful to those who will engage in knitting woolen socks for the army. The yarn should be bluish grey, No. twenty-two, and the needles No. fourteen to fifteen:
            Set twenty-seven stitches on each needle; knit the plain and two seam rows alternately until the ribbing is three inches long; then knit plain seven inches for the leg, remembering to seam one stitch at the end of one needle.
To form the heel, put twenty stitches on two of the needles, and forty on the other—the seam stitch being in the middle. Knit the first row plain, the next row seam, and so alternately until the heel is three inches long, then narrow on the plain row each side of the seam stitch for five plain rows, which will leave thirty-one stitches. To close the heel, knit the last seam row to the middle of the needle, knit the seam stitch plain, then fold the two needles together, and with another needle take off the seam stitch. Then knit a stitch from both needles at once and bind the seam stitch over it. Continue knitting in this manner until but one is left and the heel closed. Take up as many stitches as there are rows around the heel; knit one row plain; then widen every fifth stitch on the heel needles. Narrow once on every round at each side of the foot until there are twenty-seven stitches on each needle, knit plain six inches; narrow at the beginning and end of each needle on every third round till you have seventeen stitches on each side; then narrow every second till you have seven; then every round until the foot is closed. One pound of yarn, costing from seventy five cents to one dollar, will furnish
furnish four pair of socks.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Life in a Stocking

I am currently reading articles in 19th century newspapers as I research knitting and stockings/socks.
The Pittsfield Sun [Massachusetts] June 30, 1859

Life in a Stocking
            Life has been likened to almost everything, and has been looked upon in as many different ways as it could be turned by Fancy’s shuttle in the rattling loom or busy brain. But in all the different ways life has been presented to you, have you ever see it compared to a stocking? If not pause a moment and listen.
At first the stocking is not a stocking, not the life a life, but each a skein of yarn, pure, clean and waiting to be reeled off. Sometimes, to be sure, the yarn is clouded, mixed and even grey, but with care it will all knit in and nicely blend together. There are no breaks, no tangles in it now as you look at it ere it starts upon its course, but thread is frail, the needles may bend or break, and a steady hand, must watch them now their life-work is begun.

            Look at the stocking and look at the life—stitch by stitch do they progress, and how nicely are those stitches all linked together, held by a single thread—the thread of the stocking and thread of life—and yet so long as the thread is unbroken so long will the stitches hold together.

            But see!—there is a stitch dropped, the thread broken and tied again, and it leaves an ugly scar—a knot—a mended life. The stitch dropped may be smoothed over, the broken thread mended, but the stockings, the life are marred; the first miss-stitch is made, the first warning given.

            There is magic music in the click of the knitting needles plied with nimble fingers, and there is music too in the click of Time’s knitting needles as he knit away at the young life, now laughing a merry strain, and again, one mournful as a dirge.

            Sometimes the knitting needles grow rusty and the half knit stocking is laid away; but the hands that held the needles first grew tired, were folded over the still breast, and laid to rest when the stocking and the life were nearly half done.

            There is a great deal of seaming in the stocking, and so there is in the life; more seeming than doing, the best foot put forward, the bright side out, and the seam stitches uppermost.

            There is the widening, too—the stocking grows, the life expands, the purposes grow stong, the hands qrasp for more—and then comes the narrowing. The thread has been held so loosely, so many stitches have been dropped along the life-road, the thread of hope broken so many times, that we begin to narrow in the life-stocking, to draw more closely within ourselves, and guide the needles with a more careful hand. Then comes the footing—there is a good deal of footing in life, a good deal of trudging—the foot-path is well beaten—the feet are grown weary and sometimes they refuse to go further—the life tramp ceases and for a while we rest.

            All along the stocking and the life there are black, red and white threads—those are the way marks.

            When you were knitting the stocking your mother put those threads in that she might know when your stent was completed, you “ten times round” knit, and you could easily pull them out again; but in the woof of life they are firmly woven, and if you brush the dust away they are as plain as ever; you pull them out, but in vain.

            In the stocking those way marks are only threads, but in the life they are great joys, and grief’s; graves which draw you down to earth where hopes and hearts are buried, and jewels that draw you up to heaven—yea, even jewels in our Father’s casket.

            As you glance back to the way you have come even to the casting on of those first life-stitches, you see a great many knots mended but not hidden, a great many stitches dropped, the thread held loosely till kinked and tangled, many needles rusted and broken, and a great many way marks you would brush with the dust away.

            The knitting goes on, the ball of yarn grows smaller, the life dwindles away, the stocking is almost done—then comes the toeing off, the last stitch is bound off, the thread drawn through and broken, and the stocking and the life are done!

Monday, April 16, 2012

The Moral of a Pair of Stockings. 1851

The Pittsfield Sun [Massachusetts] June 12, 1851
The Moral of a Pair of Stockings.
            The following letter was written by a distinguished literary lady, Mrs. W., of Troy, N.Y., and sent to a learned judge of New Haven, on the eve of his marriage.

            “Dear Cousin: Herewith you will receive a present of a pair of woolen stockings, knit by my own hands; and be assured, dear coz., that my friendship for you is warm as the maternal, active as the finger-work, and generous as the donation.

            But I consider this present as peculiarly appropriate on the occasion of your marriage.—
You will remark, in the first place, that there are two individuals united into one pair, who are to walk side by side, guarding against coldness, and giving comfort as long as they last. The thread of their texture is mixed; and so, alas! is the tread of life. In these, however, the white is made to predominate, expressing my desire and confidence that thus it will be with the color of your existence.—
No black is used, for I believe your lives will be wholly free from the black passions of wrath and jealousy. The darkest color here is blue, which is excellent, when we do not make it too blue.
            Other appropriate thoughts rise in my mind in regarding these stockings. The most indifferent subjects, when viewed by the mind in a suitable frame, may furnish instructive inferences, as saith the poet:

                        “The iron dogs, the fuel and tongs,
                        The bellows that have leathern lungs;
                        The firewood, ashes, and the smoke,
                        Do all to righteousness provoke.”

            But to the subject. You will perceive that the tops of these stocking (by which I suppose courtship to be represented) are seamed, and by means of seaming are drawn into a snarl; but afterwards comes a time when the whole is made plain and continues so to the end and final toeing off. By this I wish to take occasion to congratulate your self that you are now through with seeming, and have come to plain reality. Again, as the whole of these comely stockings was not made at once, but by the addition of one little stitch after another, put in with skill and discretion, until the whole presents the fair and equal piece of work which you see, so life does not consist of one great action; but millions of little ones combined; and so may it be with your lives. No stitch dropped when duties are to be performed; no widening made where but principles are to be reproved, or economy is to be preserved; neither seeming nor narrowing where truth and generosity are in question.
            Thus every stitch of life made right and set in the right place: none either too large or too small, to tight or too loose; thus you may keep on your smooth and even course—making existence one fair and consistent piece—until together, having passed the heel, you come to the very toe of life; and here, in the final narrowing off and dropping off the coil of this emblematical pair of companions and comforting associates, nothing appears but white, the token of innocence and peace, of purity and light. May you, like these stocking, the final stitch being dropped, and the work completed, go together from the place where you were formed to a happier state of existence, a present from Earth to Heaven.—
Hoping that these stockings and admonitions may meet a civil reception, I remain in the true-blue friendship, seemly, yet without seeming, Yours, from top to toe.  

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Alpaca Hose

Found some advertisements for Alpaca Hose...This ones for you my friend Deborah :)

The Arkansas Whig [Little Rock, Arkansas] May 25, 1854
Bargains! Bargains!
Dry Goods and Clothing Selling off at Cost.
…black, white and mixed Cotton Hose, black Alpaca Hose,…

Richmond Enquirer [Virginia] October 1, 1850
Ladies’ black and white, plain and embroidered silk Hose and half Hose
Ladies’ spun Silk, Moravian and cotton Hosiery
Misses’ and boys mixed black and white Hose and half Hose
Ladies’ Lamb’s Wool, Cashmere and Alpaca Hose
Heavy woolen and cotton Hose for servants, all sizes

The Constitution [Middletown Connecticut] February 24, 1847
Gloves and Hosiery.
Gents,…English, French and spun silk hose, Alpaca Hose, Merion, Cashmere, worsted and woolen House, Ladies cotton Hose of every color and quality; Misses Merion, lambs wool and cotton Hosiery, all kinds.

Boon’s Lick Times [Fayette, MO] October 10, 1846
For the Ladies.
We are now offering a desirable lot of the following styles of Goods, which we invite your attention to—
Lambs wool Cashmere and Alpaca hose,
Lamb’s wool and cotton                       do.

Telegraph and Texas Register [Texas] April 23, 1845
Magazine Street, corner of Common,
…mixed English half hose; brown and mixed German do; mixed French do; blue cotton do; gray cotton hose (for servants;) ladies’ brown mixed and black cotton holes; children’s white do do; Ladies’ black cashmere hose; do worsted; do Alpaca do; do mode color do; do white cotton do; do blue do do; woolen socks,…

The Jeffersonian [New Orleans, Louisiana] December 16, 1845
Marshall & James, Wholesale Dry Goods Dealers, No. 18 Chartres street, are now in receipt of their fall and winter stock of DRY GOODS, which they are selling very low for cash or approved credit, their stock in part consists of—
500 dozen Cotton, Silk, Merino, Cashmere and Alpaca Hose;