Thursday, July 31, 2008

Tatting-25 Motif Challenge

A Scalloped Edging, from Weldon's Practical Teneriffe Lace and Irish Tatting. The original is pre-WWI.

I have Ivarose's reproduction of this booklet, and she does nice work. The motif is needle-tatted in vintage Clark's Boilfast Cotton, size 30.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

One Dog Night

(We live in an old house. The air conditioner is never turned on for the simple reason that it does not work).

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Sewing-Pattern for a Swinging 60's Skirt

This flower power-era skirt is from one of the Creative Hands books that I blogged about last winter. Originally published by Fratelli Fabri, Milan, in 1965, after five or so reprintings the series went out of print in 1975. So far as I have been able to discover, no current edition exists.

The pattern for the eight skirt panels and the instructions for drafting and making them are here. I'd gladly publish a photo if any brave, slim soul wants to sew one up!

Monday, July 28, 2008

From Millie

Please visit Millie's photostream on Flickr and take a look at the book of 1950's fashion drawing techniques she's scanned. Peachy.

Vintage Magazines-Woman and Home, 1955

Sunday, July 27, 2008


This little 30's promo cookbook exists only to encourage the use of Clabber Girl Baking Powder (Leaves No Bitter Taste). This particular recipe is listed as Applesauce Cake - 4 Eggs while the recipe below it, rather apologetically, is Apricot Cake - 1 Egg.

Now, applesauce cake was originally developed by some smart woman as a thrifty solution to the problem of leftover applesauce. A four-egg cake, particularly during the Depression, would have been saved for special occasions such as Father Riley stopping by for coffee on Sunday evening. This one has cocoa as an ingredient, either for color, or to temper the sweetness of the applesauce?

Apple Sauce Cake - 4 Eggs

2/3 cup butter
2 cups sugar
4 egg yolks
3/4 cup cold thick unsweetened applesauce
1/2 cup milk
2 1/2 cups cake flour
1 teaspoon grd. cloves
1 teaspoon grd. cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon grd. nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon grd. allspice
4 tablespoons cocoa
1 teaspoon vanilla
2/3 cup raisins
1/2 cup nut meats
4 egg whites

"Cream the butter; add the sugar, beat until well blended; add egg yolks and applesauce and beat until the mixture is smooth; then add the milk alternately with the cake flour, which should be sifted four or five times with the baking powder and spices; add vanilla, raisins and nuts, fold in the beaten egg whites; turn into greased layer cake tins, and bake in a moderate oven (325 degrees-350 degrees F.) about 40 minutes."

There are no suggestions offered on icing; I think caramel would be perfect.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Vintage Needlework Books Online-Handbook of Wool Knitting and Crochet

This little charmer from 1918 is available free at Project Gutenberg.


(Picture courtesy of the LOLCATS).

Friday, July 25, 2008

Quote of the Day

“Man fängt keinen Krieg an, oder man sollte vernünftigerweise keinen anfangen, ohne sich zu sagen, was man mit und was man in demselben erreichen will, das erstere ist der Zweck, das andere das Ziel.” Carl von Clausewitz

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Ya don't see that in New York City or Chicago, by crackey!

As I drove to work this morning, I passed a neighbor out on his front lawn, facing off against a very large, pink, and smug-looking pig.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Bragging Rights

You see before you our dinner. Beans (from our garden), potatoes (from our garden), cucumbers and baby tomatoes (from our garden), with homemade bread.

The butter is store-bought.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

A Dillar, A Dollar

I received an interesting piece of SPAM in my inbox at work today; one of those fly-by-night diploma mills was offering online degrees for a very nominal fee ("we turn no one down! Call 24 hours/day!")

They mis-spelled bachelor's, master's and doctorate.

For the Table-a 20's Embroidered Tea-Cloth

I recently purchased on eBay an envelope of 100-some cuttings from various women's magazines, dating from the teens through WWII. This embroidery pattern was one of many I will be posting over the next several months. It is from the Pictorial Review and judging by the fashions in the ad on the back, dates from 1925-1926.

(Larger copy on my Flickr account, here.)

Monday, July 21, 2008

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Too Pooped to Participate

I have just returned from a three day corporate retreat. I can't remember the last time I laughed so hard, even at my niece's wedding.

I am absolutely wiped out and will not be posting the usual recipe today. I should have realized this would happen and gotten one ready in advance; please accept my apologies.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Friday, July 18, 2008

Quote of the Day

"The problem with defending the purity of the English language is that English is about as pure as a cribhouse whore. We don't just borrow words; on occasion, English has pursued other languages down alleyways to beat them unconscious and rifle their pockets for new vocabulary." James D. Nicoll

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Walking Wounded

Some time last month, a feline or felines unknown sunk a set of very sharp fangs into Reserve Cat’s, um…nether regions. Right where his tail meets his left leg, in fact. I administered first aid and it appeared to be healing on its own as these things do, generally speaking.

Over the weekend I noticed a sticky patch on his fur (if you are eating or drinking something, you might want to stop reading now). I separated the matted hairs on his flank and gave the spot a gentle squeeze, and was rewarded by a spurt of pus and an anguished “mwrrorrrow!”

Luckily, the spousal unit already had an appointment yesterday morning with Dr Tinyvet for the dogs. Dr Tinyvet has a wonderful policy of only charging for a single office call even if you bring in multiple animals, so yesterday he loaded all three of them into the pickup truck and drove to her office. Since we have two dog crates, a cat carrier, and a doggie seatbelt, size XL, I’m confident it was done in an appropriate and safe manner.

I was really hoping she’d clean out the wound, give the darn cat a shot, and send him home to recuperate. Unfortunately she decided to go the oral antibiotics route and we now get to give him half a pill every twelve hours for the next ten days.

Oh, goody.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Knitting-Pattern for a Blouse and Stole, 1954

From Modern Needlecraft, #21, Spring-Summer 1954, "An airy, openwork stole to provide cover for arms bared by the matching sleeveless blouse." Instructions are here.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Vintage Cookbooks Online - Armour's Monthly Magazine, 1913

This little magazine was published monthly by the Armour meat-packing firm of Chicago in the early years of the last century (who knows, possibly as damage control after Upton Sinclair wrote The Jungle). In it were gardening tips, household hints, and plenty of recipes, using Armour products, of course. This one was submitted by Mrs Sadette Harrington, of Elkhorn, Wisconsin. It sounds absolutely ghastly.

JELLIED BOUILLON SALAD. Make a clear bouillon, using one teaspoon of Armour's Extract of Beef to one pint of hot water. Dissolve one spoon of powdered gelatine and stir into the hot liquid. Stir in a few button mushrooms sliced, or some cold veal. Add the pulp of one orange, having it peeled, sliced and torn in sections. When cool turn into cups or molds moistened with cold water. Stir and divide the material about equal in each cup. Set on ice to harden. Slice firm tomatoes and lay one each on lettuce leaf. Turn the bouillon molds onto these and place a large spoon of dressing over each.

The cookbook may be downloaded from Project Gutenberg.

Saturday, July 12, 2008


(photo courtesy of the LOLcats)

Friday, July 11, 2008

Quote of the Day

“She dressed as if she had looted a milliner's shop.” Michael, by EF Benson.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Notes on a business trip

The mugginess of the Gulf Coast in July is something that I already knew about; but a mental acceptance is one thing and the hot, wet reality that slaps you in the face when you walk out of the Houston airport is something else.

The Deer Park Comfort Inn has not only a Texas-shaped hot tub but also a Texas-shaped waffle iron.

They serve something down here that is casually referred to as "green sauce" that contains lime, avocado, chiles, cilantro and...sour cream? I'm not sure. But we were eating it by the spoonful. Our waiter finally brought out a jug and filled up a bowl for each of us. If anyone from Texas is reading this blog, I'd really, really love the recipe.

And, speaking of food, when did Poland annex south-east Texas, or is there some other explanation for the local infatuation with kolaches?

Live oaks are amazing. I tried to sketch one and gave up.

There is a primary school just outside Dayton that is the jolliest place I've ever visited. If I were a little kid I would think it was just...spiffy. There's a bright-red 1945 Ford truck parked in the middle of the school library. The students call him Dewey and they get to sit in the back and read.

Grown, adult, experienced travelers should know better than to eat crab cakes and onion rings for dinner the night before a 0530 flight. I mean, really.

And finally, why is the Atlanta airport always full of sailors?

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

25 Motif Challenge - Mrs Beeton's Rosette

This rosette is from Mrs. Beeton's Book of Needlework. The pattern is Rosette #9 and was done in #8 DMC on a fine needle.

I thought I might try a few variations.

I left out the center ring and tatted only six repeats. This was done in some kind of glittery floss that I had in the craft box, also on a fine needle. It's a bear to tat and I'm not sure I'll do it again. The idea was that it would make a nice snowflake, but it's kind of blah.

This was done in #20 DMC on an extra-fine needle. I left out the center ring again, and did eight repeats. It's just over 1 inch in diameter. Hmmm...eight more of these and I'll have a coaster.

(Eight thousand and sixty three more, and I'll have a bedspread, but that way madness lies).

I like the original version the best and plan on making it in #10 red crochet cotton with gold beads at the center, as a Christmas pointsettia.

(By the way, there's a woman who is offering a download of Mrs. Beeton's book for $37 at If you go to Project Gutenberg, it's free. Normally I tried to avoid breaking other people's rice bowls, but this individual has incurred the wrath of the entire online tatting community by taking original patterns from other websites and offering them on hers without attribution. Her tatting gallery is currently under maintenance, which is bound to happen when you get furious emails from several thousand people about it).

Monday, July 7, 2008

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Nature Red in Tooth and Claw

No German Shepherds were harmed in the making of this movie (despite the sound effects. What sounds like gunfire in the background are firecrackers, this was shot on Friday).

Sweet Economy

This attractive little volume is about the size of a pack of cards, and only sixty very closely printed pages. It was published by the Woman's Institute of Domestic Arts and Sciences (a mail-order dressmaking and cookery school that flourished from the First World War up to sometime during the Second) and appeals to the sense of frugality that was supposed to be one of the hallmarks of a good housekeeper.

This is a recurring motif in American cookbooks; you can find a similar appeal in Lydia Child's The Frugal Housewife, and later Marion Harland's Common Sense in the Household.

Interestingly enough, given the traditional conviction in the US of the frivolousness and depravity of the French, the writer of this cookbook (and numerous other American writers on domestic affairs) cites the belief that the average Frenchwoman can put together delectable and interesting meals with what the average American woman throws into the scrap pail.

I don't know how if there is a French equivalent for this dish (I checked my Cuisine Familiale and it's not there, but unfortunately Pellaprat, Marcel Boulestin and Julia Child are the only French cookbooks I own), but when I was growing up this could sometimes be found on the table, on those rare occasions when we had dessert.

It was cheap and good. I do not make this dish, not because I'm a decadent spendthrift, but because we rarely have bread stay in the house long enough to get stale.

Brown Betty

2 c. bread crumbs
3 c. chopped apples
1/2 c. sugar
1/4 t. cinnamon
1/4 t. nutmeg
1/2 lemon, juice and rind
2 T. butter
1/4 c. water

"Arrange one-half of the breadcrumbs in the bottom of a baking dish. Cover with one-half the apples, the sugar, the spices, the lemon juice, and the butter. Then, add one-quarter of the bread crumbs and the remainder of the apples, sugar, spices, lemon, and butter. Pour the water over all. Cover with the remaining bread crumbs and bake in a moderate oven until the apples are tender and the bread crumbs on top are well browned. Sliced rhubarb and raisings may be substituted for the apples if desired."

Personally, I'd be a little more generous with the cinnamon and throw in a quarter teaspoon of cardamom, as well. Cardamom, that lovely hot-country spice, complements cold-country fruits such as apples and peaches beautifully.

(If you would like to wile away a pleasant evening wandering among the cookbooks of the past, Feeding America and Project Gutenberg will offer you downloadable copies of several dozen pre-WWI cookbooks from Britain and the US. The next time I sigh about having to run the vacuum cleaner, I think I will re-read Miss Beecher's table of contents. It's enough to make you need a nap).

Saturday, July 5, 2008


(image courtesy of the LOLcats).

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Quote of the Day

“I confidently trust that the American people will prove themselves … too wise not to detect the false pride or the dangerous ambitions or the selfish schemes which so often hide themselves under that deceptive cry of mock patriotism: ‘Our country, right or wrong!’ They will not fail to recognize that our dignity, our free institutions and the peace and welfare of this and coming generations of Americans will be secure only as we cling to the watchword of true patriotism: ‘Our country—when right to be kept right; when wrong to be put right.’” Senator Carl Schurz

Recommended Reading

The Blue Cat of Castle Town, if only for the illustrations.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Notes on a Wedding

--It is absolutely true that weddings and funerals bring out both the best and the worst in families.

--While we were getting dressed in the hotel, the spousal unit sliced his finger open on his safety razor (so-called). I remarked as I was bandaging him that since all four of his brothers were going to be at the wedding, I anticipated bloodshed, just not this soon.

--The wedding was held in the meadow behind the bride’s parents’ house. Fortunately their property backs up against several acres owned by a professional landscaper. Even more fortunately, he’s a good friend of the family. The setting was idyllic for an open-air ceremony, followed by eating, drinking and dancing under a marquee tent.

--I am not a fan of middle-class WASP weddings (why can't everyone be Ukrainian or Greek?) but this one was full of sweet, homey touches. The dinner was prepared by a neighbor and included the bride and groom’s favorite dishes; macaroni and cheese, pulled pork, and green-bean casserole. Instead of a fancy wedding cake there was cheesecake and chocolate chip cookies.

--There were only three bridesmaids and their dresses were, mirabile dictu, pretty and wearable.

--The bride’s dress was beautiful and wrong. She is pocket dynamite, a curvy little redhead…a very curvy little redhead, the only thing that saves her from pin-up status is a healthy crop of freckles and an irrepressible chuckle. The dress would have been stunning on a taller, darker, bride, but it made her look like an upside-down ice cream cone.

--The weather cooperated, for the most part. During the reception, the sky suddenly darkened and the heavens opened in a brief, violent cloudburst. Then just as suddenly, the skies cleared, the sun came out, and we stepped out of the tent to see an improbably wide and beautiful rainbow painting itself across the sky at the far end of the meadow.

--A lady of mature years whose relationship to the groom we never did decipher (great-aunt? grandma’s best friend? third-grade teacher?) danced every single dance, running partners one-third her age into the ground. Her performance of “Whip It” with one of the groomsmen was impressive.

--The bouquet tossing featured the usual baker’s dozen of reluctant young women bullied into lining up on the dance floor. The bride threw the bouquet in a perfect arc back over her shoulder (she was a phys-ed major) and it landed on the floor directly in front of the assembled spinsters with a loud thump. Not one of them made an attempt to pick it up, let alone catch it (Holy matrimony is evidently no longer a goal for Michigan maidens, and I am sure someone will figure out a way to blame this on activist judges, gay marriage, and the forces of godless communism).

--The wedding ended as it had begun, with bloodshed. Just before sunset, the bride’s twin brother drove a John Deere Gator up to the tent, jumped out, seized her and tossed her in the back, and roared off.

While wearing a gorilla costume.

She realized who it was when they were halfway across the field and screamed his name in tones of such outrage that were I he, I'd be contemplating a run for the border about the time she gets back from the honeymoon. He's a head taller but she's got the family temper.

The groom eventually got her back but not before she gashed her foot on the back of the John Deere. I hope her tetanus shot is current.

Knitting-Pattern for a 1953 Angora Bolero

An interesting combination of Angora and metallic yarn. For some reason the model's hairdo looks more 30's than 50's to me. The instructions are on the same page as yesterday's hat and bag but a slightly larger scan is here.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Crochet-Pattern for a Hat and Bag, 1953

This sailor hat and matching bag are from Smart Knitting, 1953. Instructions can be downloaded here.

The original pattern called for Dritz Luxury Belastraw. I have no idea what the modern equivalent might be, but perhaps some experienced crochet-hands out there can help?