The Creative Corner · Vintage Needlework

Lazy Daisy Stitches Part 2

Illustration of two needles making a flower with lazy daisy stitch variations. The top section looks like a flying saucer and the bottom section, the petals, look like raindrops falling from the flat saucer portion.
Variations of lazy daisy stitch creates a vintage project

In this second installment of Lazy Daisy Stitches, I give you several more variations of the stitch. If you missed the first part, you can find it here. It includes the original stitch, and the introduction to Lessons in Embroidery for Beginners: Lesson Five. You’ll also find several variations that you will need for the upcoming projects.

The original article discussing lazy daisy stitches covered a page and a half of very small type on a large-format magazine page. With eleven examples and much discussion to go with them, it posed much too long for any modern web page. However, taken at one time, it did provide a nice month’s amusement for the needleworker who wanted to master and expand the lazy daisy stitches and variations.

The first time we discussed the actual lazy daisy stitch, leaf sprays, a dedicated leaf stitch, and single spaced daisy stitches. This time you will learn four more variations. However, I don’t know that one of them really counts as a lazy daisy stitch. The original author Ethelyn Guppy thought so, though. We rely on her expertise in 1928.

Covered Open Daisy Stitch

A needle and thread embroiders a zigzag pattern by forming buttonhole stitches over a stationary thread tacked down in a V shape.
Open lazy daisy stitches, or fly stitches, make a zig zag.

I’m not sure what else you would call this. No description appears in the text.

To make this stitch you first complete a row of open lazy-daisy stitches, often called the fly stitch. They are made like the second and successive rows of the leaf stitch. You come out at the left top edge of the stitch and take the needle back into the fabric at the right top edge. The needle goes underneath and catches the loop at the bottom of the stitch, in the middle.

Once your first row is complete, go back over the arms of the stitch with a buttonhole stitch. This can be the same color as the foundation, or a different color. Your call.

Hebedo Stitch

Buttonhole stitches made in groups of two.
Not a lazy daisy stitch.

This is actually a form of a buttonhole stitch. It is not in any way a lazy daisy stitch. However, one of the projects originally featured in this lesson was a hand towel. The article suggested this stitch as a decorative hem. So how do you make it?

If you know how to make a buttonhole stitch from Lesson Four, you can make this easily. Normally you would come up from the bottom of the fabric and lift the top thread as you go back down. The needle passes under the thread top to bottom. Right?

This time, you come out of the fabric from the bottom. You reach behind the top thread and send the needle underneath, back to front. This creates a little twist or loop at the top of the fold. Then you bring the needle from the front and take it back down behind.

In the example above, the stitches are completed in groups of two. This adds strength the the edge as well as a decorative element. Two threads, in this case, are better than one.

Points in Tree Stitch

Three sets of embroidered Tree Stitch, a variation of the lazy daisy stitch.

This is made just like the leaf or tree stitch described in Part 1 of the Lazy Daisy series. Instead of beginning with closed lazy daisy stitches, however, you start with open ones.

Woven Drops

Illustration of woven drop stitch: long narrow lazy daisy stitches that the thread is woven back and forth through the bars. They look somewhat like long pine cones. A set of three: a loop in process, a long finished drop, and a shorter finished drop.

First make a long, narrow lazy daisy stitch. Then bring the thread back up just under the tip and weave back and forth back towards the starting point. These make nice accent pieces.

Next time

The next embroidery installment will be Part 3, two small projects for the lazy daisy stitch. Stay tuned!

The Creative Corner · Vintage Needlework

Embroidering Lazy Daisy Stitches

Stylized Twenties flower in embroidery. A dark stem and eight mirror-image leaves lead to an open flower head. Curlicues in running stitch form a background for the flower.
Make this with variations of the lazy daisy stitch and some running stitches.

Welcome to Lesson Five of Embroidery for Beginners. This installment of the vintage embroidery series focuses on embroidering lazy daisy stitches. Although we may know how to make the stitch, it has lots of variations that you might enjoy using. In fact, this one lesson offers eleven different stitches, plus several project options. Because of this, Lesson Five appears in three articles rather than the usual two. We have a lot of material to cover.

First, if you haven’t done the lazy daisy stitch, you’ve surely seen it in embroidery. It’s that loopy stitch used to make flowers. Sometimes it appears as open leaves below a flower.

The stitch actually had several names. Early on it was called the bird’s eye stitch because workers thought it resembled the eye of a bird. Perhaps they found the stitch useful for making simple eyes for the birds that appeared on so many embroideries at the turn of the century, 1890-1910. It got its common name, lazy daisy stitch, from the way it resembled the daisy petal and its perfect use in representing the flower on fabric. In the Twenties it became known as the loop stitch although you can see that didn’t stick, although it was accurate.

Actually, the lazy daisy stitch is a single chain stitch. We covered the chain stitch in Lesson Two. Even in the Twenties the lazy daisy stitch was maligned. Many designers considered it “too easy” and thus omitted it from pieces. This is unfortunate, because the lazy daisy stitch adds so much to the mountainside and cottage flower gardens which were so popular at the time.

The point of this lesson was to show that yes, the lazy daisy stitch provides the easiest way to make a daisy. However, its use extends far beyond the simple daisy into some intricate-looking needlework.

The daisy stitch

Illustration showing how to make a lazy daisy stitch in embroidery.
Making the lazy daisy stitch

Here you see the needle making a daisy-style flower. Begin without placing a knot at the end of the thread, as usual. Make two or three tiny running stitches along a line that will be covered by the thread to hold the strands in place.

Bring the needle, with all the working thread, up from below at the base of the petal. Put it down again in nearly the same place, perhaps a couple threads to the right or left. At the same time, hold the thread on the surface under your left thumb as though you were making a buttonhole stitch. Bring the needle out at the tip of the petal, over the thread strand or strands. Draw up the thread gently and evenly to form the petal, and then put the needle through the fabric just outside the loop. This forms a tiny stitch to hold the loop in place.

Bring the needle up at the base of the next petal and repeat.

For large petals, use a rather heavy thread. If you use stranded embroidery floss, use enough strands in the needle to give each petal a full look.

Leaf spray in lazy daisy stitch

Embroidered leaf spray. A line of straight stitches that forms a gentle arc. This is the stem. Four loops on each side of the stem made in lazy daisy stitch, with one loop at the end of the stem. Text: Lazy daisy stitches used as leaves.

Here is a leaf spray made in the same stitch, with a stem made in back stitch. First create the back stitch stem, and then place the leaves onto it. Work the lazy daisy stitches as you come to them, back and forth under the stem, finishing with the loop at the end.

Tree or Leaf Stitch

This variation of the lazy daisy stitch makes beautiful leaves. You begin at the top point of the leaf.

Make a lazy daisy stitch to start, bringing the needle out at the top left of the first stitch and back down at the top right. Then to secure the loop, bring the needle out just a bit to the left of the first stitches, and put it in a bit to the right. As you see, this will make the center holding stitches slant just a little.

For your second stitch bring it out a bit below and to the left of the fist stitch, and back in a little to the right and below the first daisy. Your holding stitch should appear under the first one, also slightly slanted. Continue in this way until the leaf is completed.

Separated lazy daisy stitches

Single line of lazy daisy stitches. The needle has made one, is finishing the second, and has dipped under the fabric and back up again to begin the third. Illustration from 1928.
A line of daisy stitches, all in a row

Sometimes when you are embroidering lazy daisy stitches, you want a different effect. Here the stitches march in a line, creating a loose border. The stitches are made exactly the same as a regular daisy stitch. But instead of returning to the center for the next loop, the needle continues in a straight line.

Next time

Next time I’ll introduce three more variations. In Part 3 we’ll put it all together with a six-inch round medallion and a five and a half inch flowerpot that would make a beautiful scarf decoration. Both are made almost entirely with lazy daisy stitches and variations.

The Vintage Kitchen

1914 Thanksgiving Menu

A photo from 1914. A vase of autumn leaves sits on a table. Next to it sits a round silver tray holding three clear glass cups, a pottery pitcher, and a dish of candies next to it.
Warm mulled cider with ginger, 1914

Every year the magazines tout the best, the simplest, the oldest, the newest holiday recipes. The holiday is irrelevant; they publish recipes for holidays spring, summer, autumn, and winter. You might think this is a relatively new phenomenon. Nope. Today I bring you… a 1914 Thanksgiving Menu.

Just in case you believe that things were easier 100 years ago, I give you this up-to-date 1914 Thanksgiving Menu. Why 1914? Because in many ways 1914 was one of the last years for over the top meals on occasions like this. Menu planning did get simpler in the Twenties, and often the periodicals offered several different menus to match various tastes. Have small children at home? Try this menu. Want something vegetarian? Here’s one for you. Are you strapped for cash this year? Here’s a budget holiday meal.

But in 1914, that sensible attitude towards entertaining was still a few years off. Modern Priscilla, where I found this article, also included very few recipes considering the length of foods on this list.

This 1914 Thanksgiving menu gives you an appetizer, soup, meat dish, fish dish, vegetable sides, salad, and desserts. In short, everything that made a good meal in 1914 appears here. All at one time, course after course. Imagine making all this for say, a dozen guests and family!


Clam Cocktails Brown Bread Sandwiches
Cream of Mushroom Soup Croutons
Deviled Crabmeat on Corn Fritters
Roast Turkey Chestnut Stuffing Giblet Sauce
Escalloped Oysters
Mashed Potatoes Riced Turnips
Smothered Onions Celery
Cranberry Sauce
Cider Frappé
Cabbage Salad Cheese Straws
Indian Pudding Pumpkin Pie
Ice Cream with Maple Walnut Sauce
Fruit Nuts

Mulled Cider in the drawing room for after dinner

Can you imagine? One meal. Twenty four items. I would never survive putting on a spread like this. Of course, this assumes that anyone in 1914 eating meals of this stature had at least two servants in-house. Usually this would be a cook and someone to serve at the table. Otherwise you would spend your entire day cooking the meal, serving the meal, and removing the meal. When would you have time to eat?

When housekeepers started to do more on their own, meals became simpler. Someone finally realized that the average family did not need meat and fish in the same meal. One or the other would do. Soup remained a recommended starter for many years, however. And we still look forward to desserts today, although we usually settle for a prepared dessert or fruit rather than both options at once.

Most of the food options above you will have no trouble finding recipes to make. Indian Pudding is a pudding made from cornmeal and molasses and ginger that takes several hours to make.

If you’d like to offer a dessert other than Ice Cream with Maple Walnut Sauce to go along with the Pumpkin Pie, I suggest this 1917 Mocha Cake for coffee lovers on your guest list. It’s delicious and popular everywhere I take it.

I’ll leave you today with a recipe for Cider Frappé. I would like to give the recipe for Mulled Cider as well, but it contains raw eggs. I cannot imagine raw eggs in warm cider, so I’ll pass.

Cider Frappé for a 1914 Thanksgiving Dinner

Frozen cider to serve alongside roasted turkey or as a separate course, before the desserts.
Prep Time5 minutes
Cook Time25 minutes
Freeze in ice cream freezer2 hours 30 minutes
Total Time3 hours
Course: Dessert, Side Dish
Cuisine: American
Keyword: Frappe, iced
Servings: 8 1/2-cup servings


  • Ice cream freezer


  • 1 quart apple cider
  • ½ cup brown sugar, packed
  • 6 whole cloves
  • 6 whole allspice
  • 3 inch piece cinnamon


  • Boil all ingredients together for fifteen minutes.
  • Strain and cool.
  • Add to ice cream freezer and freeze according to manufacturer's instructions until it reaches a mushy consistency.
  • Remove to the freezer in a covered container to set until needed.


Serve in glass cups with roast turkey or serve as a separate course
The Creative Corner · Vintage Needlework

A Gift of Handkerchiefs

When you think of gifts for friends, you probably don’t think Gee, I could give them a handkerchief! Or maybe you do. I know that every morning I tuck a clean hankie into my pocket before I start my day. They are so handy for a variety of things: wiping a smudge off your computer monitor or cell phone shield; cleaning fingertips after a salty snack; protecting a cracker or two in your pocket as you head toward the sofa with a hot cuppa. And yes, during allergy season they come in handy for their intended use. But a gift of handkerchiefs?

Nothing can be a more pleasing gift at Christmas or at any other “remembering time” than a pretty handkerchief – or more than one.

Needlecraft Magazine, October 1921

Actually, special hankies appeared as part of the annual gift selections throughout the Twenties and Thirties. They were used through the 1960s and beyond by many. If you find yourself in an antique mall, at least one vendor sells vintage handkerchiefs. They appear with hand embroidery, with lace edgings, or both. And many of them were hand made.

What you need to make handkerchiefs

You don’t need much to make a handkerchief for a friend. A square of soft 100% cotton like batiste will do. Or you can use Irish linen or cotton lawn if you want to get fancy. You can crochet, knit, or tat a lace edging for it, or not. Some of the nicest ones I see in the periodicals have beautiful embroidery but no real edging to speak of. Others, in the edging instruction manuals, offer gorgeous edgings but no embroidery.

Cut your fabric into a square. Anything from 10 x 10 inches to 12 x 12 inches will do. One yard of 36 – 42-inch wide fabric will give you 9 handkerchiefs. A quarter of an inch both ways will be used by hems, 1/8 inch per edge in a rolled hem.

If you like you can hem the square by hand, using a rolled hem. This is, frankly, the nicest way to do it, but it takes the most time. Here’s a YouTube video on how to sew a rolled hem by hand. Once you get the hang of it, it can be a relaxing time.

If the square design has one or more colored stripes or geometric figures in the fabric in addition to embroidery, you will want to add the stripes of color before finishing the rolled hem.

Embroidery Designs 1 and 2

The wreath

The first two designs appear together. The top handkerchief is made of white lawn, a light, sheer cotton. The wreath that appears in the corner is about an inch in diameter. Place the largest rose facing the corner, with three roses going up each side from there. The buds at the top of the wreath are French knots. Use green embroidery thread for the leaves. Roses can be satin stitched in a shade of pink, including dark rose, with a darker color center.

The lines on the first handkerchief are made by pulling two threads from the fabric and replacing them with a thread of dark rose embroidery floss. Thread one strand of embroidery floss on a fine needle and weave in and out over the threads from one side of the fabric to the other. Follow the thin line made from the pulled threads. The original cloth had three lines on each side, dividing the handkerchief into sixteen equal squares. Do this before hamming the fabric. You can use one line on each side of the embroidered corner and it will look splendid.

If your fabric looks like the threads are too close together to pull well, simply take a strand of embroidery floss and create a running stitch from one side of the fabric to the other.

When you finish your embroidery and the rolled hem, work a cross stitch border around the square, over the hem. Use the dark rose floss, two strands.

The garland

The bottom handkerchief uses the top embroidery pattern below. Embroider the three roses in shades of pink. The medium circles in the middle are blue forget-me-nots. At each end you can use pink to create rosebuds with French knots. Use green for the leaves and stems.

Now, about the squares. The handkerchief will look good without them, but if you want to include them, this is how to do it. Inside the 1/8-inch border set aside for your rolled hem, draw two 1-inch lines that sit 1 inch from the corner. You’ll have a one inch square that sits inside the hem allowance.

Now measure down from the point you just drew, on the left arm of the square, 3/8 inch. Draw a line 3/8 inch into the square, and then 2 1/4 inches to the left. That gives you the long line.

Starting at the end of the line you just made, go up 3/4 inch. Turn, and go 3/8 inch back toward the corner, and then turn again. Go down towards the hem 1 3/8 inch.

You’re almost finished. Now return to the long line you made, and measure 3/8 inch towards the corner. Go up 3/8 inch and then over 3/4 inch. You have just completed one half the corner with three stacked blocks. Repeat for the other side. All the squares are 3/8 inch.

Once you have all this drawn in you can embroider it with running stitch, back stitch, or you can attempt to withdraw threads and replace them with the blue you use for the forget-me-nots.

Finish the rolled hem, and using 1 strand of blue, cross stitch through the rolled hem.

Here are the embroidery patterns for Handkerchiefs 1 and 2:

Embroidery design 3

These two designs are perfect for your Twenties costume party. The top corner that appears in the illustration is nothing more than the wreath above, with a small circle of black fabric appliquéd to the handkerchief and then the wreath is embroidered over the join. Embroider the roses in pinks, blues, or whatever shade harmonizes well with your background fabric (in the photo the fabric was terra cotta colored) and the black circle.

The second example here is Very Twenties. One might even say Perfectly Twenties. The fabric is white.

Two and a quarter inches from the corner, draw a stem line 1 1/4 inches long. Leave 1/2 inch space, and draw the second stem line 1 5/8 inches. Leave another 1/2 inch space, and draw the third line 1 1/4 inches long again.

You can pull threads from the fabric for the stem and weave in embroidery floss, or you can use an embroidery stitch like backstitch, running stitch, etc. to create the stem.

The stems are dark blue. The centers of the flowers are brown. Make the centers with French knots or short, straight stitches going in a variety of directions (sometimes called seed stitch). The outside of the flowers are made with bullion stitch. The first and third flowers use orange bullion stitch, and the middle flower’s bullion stitches are in yellow.

Use the same blue as the stems for the sepals, those little petals at the base of the flower heads. The rolled hem is covered in dark blue cross stitch.

Refresh yourself

If you need an embroidery refresher, my series of vintage embroidery lessons start here.

History · The Creative Corner · Vintage Needlework

Vintage Embroidery Threads: A Thread for Every Use

Various embroidery threads arranged on a table. Colors include red, pink green, and several shades of blue.
Left to right: DMC six strand embroidery floss; Anchor six strand embroidery floss; DMC coton a broder; YLI pure silk embroidery floss on top, DMC pearl cotton size 8 on bottom; vintage Wonder Art Perlene pearl cotton.

When I opened my grandmother-in-law’s stash of threads, I was amazed. Colors and types of vintage embroidery threads spilled out of the bags and boxes, left over from seventy years of embroidery. The vintage workbasket held more possibilities than you find in today’s 400 skeins of DMC floss, and Grandmother’s was no exception. In the early to mid twentieth century, needleworker had several companies from which to choose. Need six-strand embroidery floss? You could use DMC, or Bucilla, or Royal Society. What if you didn’t want to use six strand cotton embroidery floss? What then?

Half a black and white catalog page from the 1930s. Various types of embroidery and crochet threads are described with prices.
Early 1930s Frederick Herrschner catalog advertising various embroidery, crochet, and tatting threads.

Then you chose from many different thread types and a host of manufacturers. Silk embroidery floss. Imitation art silk floss, made from rayon. Pearl (perl) cotton. Wool three-strand embroidery yarns. Coton a broder, also known as broder cotton. This was a single strand of thread, available in several sizes and many colors up to about 2010. Size 16 was equivalent to two strands of embroidery floss.

Art embroidery

A bevy of bluebirds decorate household linens from 1915. Table runner, whisk broom holder, laundry bag, pillow cover, and more all feature  embroidered bluebirds.
Bluebirds in art embroidery

Embroidery used to be called Art Needlework when it was created for beauty’s sake. The person who made the family clothing always used a sewing needle. But when that needle worker used colored silks or cottons, and used the needle like a paintbrush, the work turned into art. Bluebirds sailed across household linens. Pine trees stood lonely and alone on hillsides. Flowers bloomed on everything from under linens to table runners. The vintage embroidery threads brought them to life.

Once needleworkers began to work with colors in embroidery they seldom looked back. You can see that by the current selection of modern cross stitch patterns.

The companies that released the threads also created patterns to work with them. After all, what good is a brilliant blue thread if you have nothing do use it for? Readers purchased patterns through the newspaper and monthly housekeeping or needlework magazines. They also found projects and threads from their friendly Frederick Herrschner mail order catalog, or through a flyer from their local dime store. By the 1930s it seemed that everyone was into the pattern or project by mail scheme, and needleworkers bought kits and supplies in droves.

Getting ready to begin

If the design didn’t come already stamped on fabric, the worker needed to transfer it. Then came thread selection time. Unless you planned to reproduce a lifelike flower in embroidery silks, or you worked from a prepackaged kit, colors remained up to the worker. Usually a pattern offered suggestions like brown, light blue, or dark pink. Which shades you pulled and how you incorporated the colors together was your choice. Between four or five cotton embroidery thread companies you might have ten or more shades of dark pink. This gave the worker a lot of leeway in color choice.

Often the project featured whatever threads I have on hand. An avid needleworker might have a small box of silk threads, a larger bag of cottons (or several bags of cottons), and some pearl cotton. These could be mixed into a work to create contrast, texture, and shine.

Bye bye threads

A red hank of embroidery thread, a green spool of thread, a red spool of thread, and a green hank of embroidery thread clustered together on a table.
Coton a Broder vs. Sulky Cotton Petites

Most of these vintage embroidery threads exist no longer. Some, like Corticelli and Richardson silks, are simply gone. Corticelli silks and Richardson silk mills both ceased operation in 1932. By this time companies like Bucilla introduced their synthetic art silk, often made from rayon. These threads didn’t really feel like silk, but they were shiny and inexpensive for embroidering. They too are gone, although Bucilla remains as a subsidiary of Plaid Enterprises, and embroidery kits continue to appear under the Bucilla name.

As I mentioned before, most of the coton a broder threads were discontinued in the 2010’s, at least in the U.S. It looks like this thread (also called broder special or brilliant cutwork and embroidery thread) is still being produced in limited colors by both DMC and Anchor. However, getting any of this to the U.S. can be a difficult matter. You may have to special order it from Europe if you want some. This is NOT the same as the thread called Floche. Floche is far more expensive and not as sturdy.

Good news

All is not dreary news, however. Some threads, like cotton embroidery floss and pearl cotton, still exist. You can find substitutes for many others, even though you may not find them at your local craft store. You might need to poke around a bit on the Internet to find them.

Here are some options:

  • Six strand embroidery floss: DMC, Anchor, Sullivan’s, Madeira.
  • Coton a broder/ broder special: You may be able to locate white, ecru, black in the U.S. As a substitute look at Sulky Petites, size 12. It’s thinner than the size 16 coton a broder, but it will give you the same experience of one strand that equals two strands of embroidery floss.
  • Pearl cotton: still exists. Look for DMC. Some chains have house brands in limited colors.
  • Silks: Shiny silks in the U.S. have largely been replaced by threads like DMC’s shiny satin, which is 100% rayon. For a traditional embroidery silk from France, look for Au Ver a Soie’s Alger thread.
  • Silks: Although they are not all shiny, companies have produced 100% silk embroidery threads within the past 20 years or so. Some options: Treenway Silks, Caron Waterlilies (silk variegated), Kreinik Silk Mori, Rainbow Gallery’s Splendor.
  • Stranded wools: Appleton wools have existed since 1835 in the UK and they still provide wool yarns to the needlepoint market. These work wonderfully for embroidery. Once I came across some instructions from the 1850s calling for “5 shades of apple green wool.” Who makes five shades of apple green? Appleton wools does. Their leaf green selections fit my project perfectly.

Be creative… have fun!

Regardless what threads you use, I hope you enjoy the process. Picking out various threads, choosing or drawing a pattern, beginning a project… these are exciting times. Incorporate one or two of these old-time threads into your next project, and see how you like it. You never know. You may be hooked.

History · The Magazine Rack

Ivy for Gold Star Mothers: a WWI Memorial

WWI photo of five service men clustered around an upright piano. The pianist plays a popular war tune while the there sing. One stands back, leaning on the piano, smiling.
Armistice Day: Remembering the boys who didn’t come home.

In the July 1920 issue of Woman’s Home Companion, a curious editorial snippet offered ivy to Gold Star mothers. The little article was so unusual that it caught my eye. Gold Star mothers lost their sons during World War I. The gold star established that this mother’s son enlisted, and this mother’s son died. The editorial said:

“Shortly after the declaration of the Armistice, in November, 1918, an American woman went over the Argonne battlefield with her husband. The sky was serene and the cannon had ceased to roar; but over and under and through everything was the ruin of war––the shattered, blasted trees, shallow ditches where men had taken hasty refuge, pits made by bursting shells, and mounds that still sheltered the dead where they had fallen.

The ivy

“But along with the gray desolation there was the hushed beauty and serenity of the ‘big timber’ forest itself. On the very top of one of the great hills the woman found some ivy growing. The broken branches of the trees around it were shriveled with the gases from the shells and blackened with fire; but the ivy was growing out again, a sign and symbol of life pushing forth anew in the midst of death.

He seemed so young to me, not yet nineteen, killed in action October, 1918.

a bereaved mother

“The woman dug up the ivy and carried it in a paper package on the five days’ motor trip back. In Paris, the French gardener at her friend’s house revived it. When it was time to sail for America, the ivy was at least alive. In her stateroom, homeward bound, she placed it near the air, and it suddenly began to grow. It has continued to grow ever since.

“Now there are hundreds of little ivy plants from that one shoot, and more are coming all the time.

The offer

“Any American mother whose son was lost in the war, and who would like to have one of these plants as a sign of green remembrance––and as a token from another American mother whose own sons are far too young to have been in the great war––is asked to write to Mrs. Frank Vanderlip, Scarborough-on-Hudson, New York. In writing, please give the boy’s name, regiment and number, and the mothers’ full name and address.”

The response

As I read the short editorial I felt my eyes burn with tears. And I wondered… what was the response? Did anyone take this lady’s offer and send for a plant?

Well, reading on, it seems that they did. The October 1920 editorial page contained an update on the ivy and the mothers who requested it. I’ll reproduce this part in full as well, because I think it brings us back to the real meaning of Armistice Day, and what it cost. It reads:

“Up to August 1st more than 400 mothers had asked fo these little plants, and been supplied. There were letters from every state in the Union.

With the hope that it will climb up to the window of the little room where my baby slept so few years ago. He was seventeen when he enlisted.

A bereaved mother

“A reading of these letters has been a most touching experience, and has brought a realization of the consequences of war which the dispatches from the front never did. Just what to call the little ivies seemed often puzzling, and the request might be for a spring, plant, cutting, slip, bud, seed, sprout, start, root, or shoot. But what matter? It was to ‘Plant on my dear boy’s grave’ or ‘With the hope that it will climb up to the window of the little room where my baby slept so few years ago. He was seventeen when he enlisted.’

They were so young

“Perhaps there is no thing in the letters more noticeable than the youth of those who have gone. ‘My boy was eighteen,’ the mother writes, or ‘twenty,’ or ‘twenty-two.’ There can be no quarrel with the use of the word boy. There is another term often used which tells this even more simply: my child. ‘He was our only child.’ ‘He seemed so young to me, not yet nineteen, killed in action October, 1918.’ And the brave attempt, old as sorrow itself –– which is the oldest thing in the world –– somehow to connect everything with the one one who is gone. ‘I think this piece, perhaps, may have come from the vine my boy may have seen there in the Argonne the morning he was killed.’

“The young ivy plants seemed to be good travelers. ‘It was hardly wilted’ came from as far away as Mississippi. ‘The sprout seems to be doing fine,’ writes another. And this, breathing enthusiasm and true optimism: ‘It is growing nicely. Had another leaf before a week.’ ‘I’m sure it will respond to affection. Flowers and plants know the touch of love quite as well as humans.’

“A pleasant thought cropping out in many letters is expressed by one mother when she says, ‘And when the ivy grows I will give slips to other Gold Star mothers, the same as you have done.’ In the meantime, Mrs. Vanderlip, whose ‘thoughtfulness, sweetness, and kindness’ is mentioned in almost every letter, has more baby ivy plants and she will gladly send them to those mothers who ask.”

Passing it on

Hopefully, those plants did thrive. And maybe some of the ivy for Gold Star mothers survived well enough to send cuttings to other Gold Star mothers, who treasured their little memory of green from France. Today many wear red poppies on Armistice Day to never forget. Hopefully the healthy green ivy helped these families to remember those lives cut so short by war.

Something a bit different

If the 1916-1920 time period intrigues you, you might enjoy Cinderella’s Confession. This dates from the same time period, and is an advertisement from 1919 changed the course of advertising history.

The Creative Corner · Vintage Needlework

Two-tone tatting patterns

Leaf and flower tatted in two colors. Bright pink and bright blue give contrast to the design of the lace.
Imagine this leaf and flower decorating a Twenties costume

Recently I wrote about two color tatting. You can find that post here. This time I will give the patterns for the flower and the leaf above. These two-tone tatting patterns were designed with color in mind.

Compared to the other two patterns these are much more difficult. You tat both of them in one round. In one way that’s nice because you don’t have to worry about a Round 2. On the other, however, you can see this means lots of twisting and turning in completing that round. This is not a pattern to complete in front of the television set, especially the leaf. The flower tats relatively repetitively once you get started.

As I mentioned last time, this pattern dates from September, 1927. I can’t imagine trying to complete this while chatting with a front porch friend. Actually, I don’t have to imagine it –– I attempted to begin the flower while chatting with another tatter and it took everything I had to follow the pattern and the conversation at the same time.

You may notice that the lines from the hexagon center seem wiggly. That’s because they are. In order to get this to lay flat you are either going to have to pull those center chains really tight, or remove 1 ds from both sides of each spoke. Or maybe both. I ended up with a cupped flower, which suits my needs exactly. I want to use this to decorate a Twenties style hat.

Without further ado, the patterns:

Hexagon/Flower two-tone tatting pattern

Fill two shuttles with two separate colors. Your rings will be one color and the chains another: thus, two-tone tatting patterns.

  1. Make a ring of (3 ds, picot) three times, 3 ds, close. The middle picot should be a bit longer than the others. Reverse work.
  2. Chain of (2 ds, picot) nine times, 2 ds. Reverse work.
  3. Ring of 3 ds, join to last picot of previous ring, 3 ds, join to center picot of previous ring, 3 ds, picot, 3 ds, close ring. Reverse work.
  4. Chain of (2 ds, picot) seven times, 2 ds. Reverse work.
  5. Repeat Step 3.
  6. Another chain like Step 2.
  7. Ring of 3 ds, join to last picot of previous ring, 3 ds, join to center picot, 3 ds, join to first picot of first ring, 3 ds, close ring. This completes one compact group of four rings along the outside. Reverse work.
  8. Chain of 5 ds, picot, 2 ds, picot, 9 ds. Reverse work.
  9. Ring of 3 ds, picot, 3 ds, long picot (you will be attaching five more rings here), 3 ds, picot, 3 ds close ring. Reverse work.
  10. Chain of 9 ds, join to last picot of long chain just made, 2 ds, join to next picot, 5 ds.
  11. Ring like Step 1.
  12. Chain of 2 ds, p, 2 ds, join to 8th picot of third long chain in preceding scallop, (2 ds, p) seven times, 2 ds.
  13. Repeat from Step 3 around. When you get to the last long chain of the sixth scallop, join the 2nd picot to the 8th picot of the previous scallop as before. Also join the 8th picot to the 2nd picot of the first long chain to make a hexagon. In addition, join the last picot of the sixth center ring to the first picot of the first ring. Tie securely and hide ends.

This hexagon can be used for doilies, borders, or used as a single motif.

The Leaf

Everyone needs a good tatted leaf motif. Right? Especially if you are reconstructing vintage clothing or articles.

Two shuttles filled with two colors, as before. I knotted the ends to begin and then worked all the ends in later. This pattern begins with the top of the two rings on the far side.

  1. Make a ring of 5 ds, (picot, 2 ds, picot, 7 ds) twice, picot, 2 ds, picot 5 ds, close. Reverse work.
  2. Chain of 3 ds, picot, 2 ds, picot, 5 ds. Reverse work.
  3. Ring of 4 ds, join to last picot of previous ring, 2 ds, join, (5 ds, picot, 2 ds, picot) twice, 4 ds, close ring. Do not reverse work.
  4. Chain of 3 ds, picot, 2 ds, picot, 3 ds. Reverse work.
  5. Ring of 5 ds, join to first picot of first chain made, 2 ds, join, (5 ds, picot) twice, 2 ds, picot, 5 ds, close ring. Reverse work.
  6. Chain of 3 ds. Reverse work.
  7. Ring of 5 ds, join to picot of second chain made, 2 ds, join to chain, (5 ds, picot, 2 ds, picot) twice, 5 ds close. Reverse work.
  8. Chain of 3 ds. Reverse work.
  9. Ring of 5 ds, join to last picot on ring to the side, 2 ds, join to next picot, (5 ds, picot, 2 ds, picot) twice, 5 ds, close, Reverse work.
  10. Repeat Steps 8 and 9 until you have two more rings on each side. Do not reverse work.
  11. After the last ring make a chain of 3 ds, (picot, 2 ds) three times. Reverse work.
  12. Make a tiny ring of 3 ds, join to the side of the ring at the left, 3 ds, close. Reverse work.
  13. Chain of 1 ds, picot, (2 ds, picot) 4 times, 1 ds. Reverse work.
  14. Tiny ring of 3 ds, join to top of same ring, 3 ds, close ring. Reverse work.
  15. Chain like Step 13 with 5 picots. Reverse work.
  16. Tiny ring like Step 14 joining to next ring. Reverse work.
  17. Repeat Steps 15 and 16 twice. (You should have 5 tiny rings total at this point.)
  18. Chain of ds, picot, (2ds, picot) three times, 1 ds. Reverse work.
  19. Tiny ring as before, joined to top of same ring as last ring. Reverse work.
  20. Chain of 5 picots like Step 13. Reverse work.
  21. Tiny ring joining to top of next ring. Reverse work.
  22. Chain of 5 picots like Step 13. Reverse work.
  23. Tiny ring joining to side of current ring. Reverse work.
  24. Chain of 6 picots as before (add one more 2 ds, picot to make 6). Join to the top of the third ring you made (next in line as you progress around the leaf). Do NOT make a tiny ring to join. Then chain ds, picot, (2 ds, picot) twice, ds. Reverse work.
  25. Tiny ring as before (3 ds, join, 3 ds) joining to the top of the next ring. Reverse work.
  26. Chain of ds, picot, (2 ds, picot) twice, ds. Reverse work.
  27. Tiny ring joining to top of next ring. Reverse work.
  28. Chain of 6 picots. Reverse work.
  29. Tiny ring joining to top of next ring. Reverse work.
  30. Chain of ds, picot, (2 ds, picot) twice, ds. Reverse work.
  31. Tiny ring joined to side of current ring.
  32. Chain of 4 ds, join to 2nd picot of chain with which you started. Then for the leaf stem chain 6 ds, picot, 2 ds, picot, 12 ds, join to last picot made, 2 ds, join to next picot, 6 ds, join to picot where stem started, and fasten off.

As you can see this is a rather long set of instructions. Once you begin and get the rhythm you will be able to check every now and then to ensure you’re on the right track, stopping to count every couple rings or chains to make sure you’re in the right place.

How will you use them?

What uses can you imagine for these two pieces? Do you prefer them in two colors, or one?

The Vintage Bookshelf

The Trail of the Lonesome Pine

An image of the sheet music for Trail of the Lonesome Pines, 1913
Sheet music for the song derived from the novel. Date: 1913. Image: Wikimedia Commons

This month I’m reading a bestseller about a civil engineer and a mountain girl. The Trail of the Lonesome Pine, by John Fox Jr., is a tale of the Appalachian mountains of the Virginia/Kentucky border before the coal mines and before the railroad. Published in 1908, it became a bestselling novel. In 1912 The Trail of the Lonesome Pine was adapted into a Broadway play and the book was republished. Project Gutenberg offers the 1912 version for free reading.

I was completely unaware of this book before I started to research needlework patterns. However, the Lonesome Pine motif appears quite often in crochet and embroidery through the 1920s. It even became the subject of a song. You can see the sheet music in the illustration. Wondering about this flurry of interest, I began a search and ended up at this title. If The Trail of the Lonesome Pine caught the imagination of the United States through the Twenties, I wanted to know why. So I read it.

This is a tale of an engineer who has big dreams of progress and advancement. He came from the north, hoping to build up a town and make his fortune from coal mining in the region. While looking at the lay of the land, he meets a girl named June. June is sturdy and unschooled, but wise in mountain culture. Although the book repeatedly calls her “little girl,” the narrator also comments that many mountain girls would be married by her age. So she begins the book a teenager and comes to maturity throughout the tale.

Whirling around this story is a longstanding feud between the Tollivers and the Falins, supposedly started over a child’s jeers during a game of marbles. But no one really seems to know. All they remember is the clan hatred. June is a Tolliver, and her relationship with Jack the engineer complicates things.

At the same time that the book describes the possibilities for coal mining, metal refining, and railroads, it extols the beauty of the land. Jack names the local flora for June as they walk through the hills. The paragraphs describing native flowers and birds appeal to the senses much like Gene Stratton Porter’s descriptions in The Harvester. Amongst the wildness of nature stands the Lonesome Pine, the only one of its kind in the area. It sees Jack and June’s first meeting, and it witnesses their relationship as it changes.

The Trail of the Lonesome Pine appears often on Appalachian literature reading lists. John Fox Jr., who lived in the Kentucky area he writes about, actually wrote many more short stories and novels about Appalachian life and culture between 1895 and 1920. If you love Trail, you might enjoy others as well.

Poems from the Pages · The Magazine Rack

Poem: Autumn from 1922

Drawing of the top half of a Twenties model in a brown coat and hat with a large blue feather. She is looking at a tree branch next to her that is filled with brown leaves.

This month’s poem is Autumn, from 1922, by Laila Mitchell. Not much information exists about Laila. She seemed to be widely published as a poet. Newspapers, Ladie’s Home Journal, the American Agriculturalist, New Ideal Magazine, and more carried her poetry. I found her published in one book, from 1917: The Best Christmas Book: Recitations, Dialogues, Exercises, Plays… etc., edited by Joseph Sindelar. Definitely one to look at if you like vintage poetry and activities with young folks involved.

Although I’ve titled this poem Autumn from 1922, I have no idea when it was really written. Most of the poetry I found from Laila was printed between 1905 and 1938, and often they listed the periodical where the poem was published first. For instance, a poem about Christmas might be titled Christmasas seen in New Ideal Magazine. Whether this information was provided by Laila or the newspaper itself I have no idea.

So, in the hopes that Laila’s work will not pass from the earth, I give you her Fall poem.


by Laila Mitchell

When maple-leaves begin to show
A tint of crimson at their tips;
When clover-meadows umber grow,
And somber-hued the pheasant slips
Through copse and hedge, the truth is
We near the end of summers reign.

When chestnut-burrs have prickly grown,
And apples ripen on the trees,
When locusts hum their monotone,
And heavy-winged the laggard bees
Fly hiveward, then we’re sure at last
The golden summer-time is past.

When wild-grapes redden in the sun,
And milkweeds spill their snowy down,
When field-mice through the stubble run,
And sumacs don their crimson gown,
When birds in flocks at even meet,
Then autumn comes on flying feet.

And when we wanderers homeward turn,
Tired with the search for happier things,
When on the hearth the home-fires burn,
And in his nook the cricket sings,
We know the crown of all the year,
The gladdest, sweetest days are here.

Do you know Laila?

If you know anything about Laila or her history, or if she published her poetry in one place somewhere, I’d love to know. It seems that she started signing her poetry Laila Mitchell Thornton sometime in the late Twenties/early Thirties, but I was unable to find anything more than the few newspapers who listed her poetry with her added last name.

Laila wrote often about the seasons, the holidays, and nature. If you enjoy this type of nature poetry, you might enjoy this post about A Song of June.