The Vintage Bookshelf

Saturday Mornings: A Housekeeping Story

Saturday Mornings, a storybook manual from 1906.

The book sat wedged between two other volumes at the used bookstore. With a worn spine that was unreadable, the book looked forgotten and forlorn. That’s when I decided that regardless what its pages contained, Saturday Mornings needed to come home with me. I gently pulled the book from the shelf, opened it, and realized I’d found a treasure. Saturday Mornings was a housekeeping story.

Written by Caroline French Benton in 1906, Saturday Mornings is instructional, but uses a story to get its point across. Like many of its competitors through 1919, the book explains how to complete tasks within the framework of a story. I’ve always loved these books and have several in my collection. This one is actually titled Saturday Mornings: A Little Girl’s Experiments and Discoveries, or How Margaret Learned to Keep House.

I recently found it on my bookshelf again, nestled between a few vintage cookbooks. I decided it was time for an airing, to use an old housekeeping term.

The Book’s Story

Saturday Mornings began as a series of articles in Good Housekeeping magazine in 1905. Titled “Margaret’s Saturday Mornings,” each article became a chapter of the book, with a little more added. The articles were edited a bit before their final form. I found that words changed between the Good Housekeeping article and the printed book. Fun became delightful. A list of bathroom tasks was shortened to clean the grates and other things. Overall, however, the book and the articles remained almost the same.

Margaret’s journey begins at the Christmas Tree, where she finds everything she needs to run a household tied to the branches. In addition, a small red book nestles among the branches. Its title is Saturday Mornings, and it holds everything she needs to begin her adventure in housekeeping.

Throughout subsequent chapters Margaret learns the best way to keep a kitchen fire alive, and set and serve various meals in the dining room. She learns about laundry and linen, bedrooms and bathrooms. The last short chapter takes Margaret through an entire day’s work, where she showcases everything she knows.

Looking over the pages, some housekeeping tasks remain the same over 100 years later. Others, however, changed quite a bit. We no longer clean anything with gasoline, for instance. It was used to cut deep grime and for other tasks, but I couldn’t imagine wetting a cloth with gasoline to clean anything. Of course, in 1906 your choices for cleaners included ammonia, vinegar, cake soap, and other similar chemicals. Since fiberglass tubs and electric clothes washers stood far in the distance, the materials used to clean these items were unheard of as well.

Caroline French Benton wrote many other articles and books on the home and the women’s sphere. Her most well known book is probably A Little Cook Book for a Little Girl in 1905, although she went on to write about women’s clubs, motherhood, and thrifty lifestyles.

Read it Yourself

You can find a copy of Saturday Mornings, a housekeeping story, at Project Gutenberg, and download it in several formats or read it online.

If the history of housekeeping interests you, you will enjoy this book. In fact, you might also like Never Done: A History of American Housework by Susan Strasser. (Amazon link).

And if you enjoy stories of youth from 1905-1915, you might enjoy this post on the Motor Maids School Days, where Billie and her car find friends and solve a mystery.

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 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.

Vintage Entertainment

Stereoscopes and Stereograph Cards

Stereoscope with stereograph card. The double image card depicts a soldier during World War I. A partially visible card lies under the stereoscope.
Taking a break from life with some well-loved stereograph cards. This one is from a series on WWI.

So what do you do when the weather is questionable, the day is quiet and lonely, or you have guests over with nothing planned? Simple! You bring out the stereoscope and your stereograph cards. Guaranteed to bring a smile, this is good entertainment alone or with a small group.

Sounds almost like an advertisement, doesn’t it? Stereoscopes were inexpensive enough that almost every family had one –– I’ve seen advertised prices for the viewers as low as 24 cents. At that price, a family could afford to splurge on a set or two of cards once in a while.

Closeup image of a stereoscope, looking through the eye pieces at a blurry card beyond.
A closeup look through the stereoscope.

Far away places right into your living room

The stereoscope brought far away places into your sitting room or parlor. You could see photos of India, Japan, or Ireland. You also could look at mountains, rivers, or famous architecture. In fact, regardless where you lived, the stereograph card could introduce you to new places and new technologies.

Downtown market day in St. Petersburg, Russia. Circa 1898-1910.
St. Petersburg, Russia.

Perhaps you didn’t attend the latest World’s Exposition in St. Louis, Missouri. Maybe you weren’t even born yet. (It did, after all, occur in 1904.) However, your parents or grandparents might have, and their stack of stereograph cards commemorating the occasion helps you feel like you were almost there yourself.

Stereoscope card image of four women in Japanese kimono standing next to beds filled with chrysanthemums. Probably dates 1904-1910.
Women at a chrysanthemum show in Japan.

In case you missed the experience, here are 161 cards from the Louisiana Purchase Exposition of 1904 that you can view thanks to the Library of Congress. See Theodore Roosevelt’s log cabin. View the Manufacturers Building lit at night with electric lights. Gaze at a gaggle of gondolas as they paddle across the Grand Basin.

Stereoscope card image of a deer standing in the middle of tall grasses. A mountain towers in the background.
Animals figured prominently in the cards as well.

The most popular viewer

While many different versions of the stereoscope viewer exist, one stands out above the rest. You can see a version of it in the photos above. Several inventors tried their hands at the stereoscope viewer, but the one that endures was invented by Oliver Wendell Holmes. You may have heard of him. He was a physician, novelist, poet, essayist, and improver of the stereoscope viewer. He called his version the American Stereoscope, and refused to patent it so that it could be copied freely. And copied freely it was!

If your family attic fails to hold one of these visual wonders, they are plentiful in local antique stores and on eBay. A stereoscope and stereograph cards really are fun as you while away an hour or two looking at the past.

Operating it is simple. You drop the 2-image card into the wire card holder and then look through the viewer. If the image is fuzzy, move the bar towards or away from you a little at a time until it clears. Voilá! A mountainscape. Or a city street. Or maybe even two children feeding their horse.

Two children stand outside a barn and feed a horse through a window opening. A small boy holds a basket filled with hay up to the horse so he can eat. A larger girl stands next to a bale of hay and watches as she holds strands of dried grasses for the next course. Both children are dressed circa 1900.
Some cards were endearing, while others hoped to bring a smile.

Another option is to unearth your childhood possession of the updated stereoscope. They called it the Viewmaster, and you can read my article about it here.

But what about capturing today’s views in the same way? You can definitely make your own stereograph cards with modern photography. If you would like to try your hand at making your own stereoscope or stereograph photos, try this tutorial from Instructables.

The Creative Corner · Vintage Needlework

Two Ring Tatting Part 2

Square of large and small tatted rings in a variegated soft pink and purple thread.
Everyone needs a nice square pattern

Welcome to Part 2 of the short series on two ring tatting design. If you missed it, you can find it here.

Last time we talked about how to make the two individual sized rings. I also gave you patterns for a small edging, a corner, and a scalloped edging. In this post I’ll give you the rest of the patterns. (Unless I decide to design some more. I really like the way these two rings fit together.

This time you get the pattern for the insertion that started this whole two-ring mania. I also give you an octagon that was designed with the set. Unfortunately, handy as they are, the group included no square like you see in the top photo. So I designed one. Look for it at the end of this article.

If you tried any of the patterns in Part 1, you already know the ins and outs of this pattern. That’s useful information before you make these slightly more advanced options. Let’s go directly to the instructions!

Insertion or Very Fluffy Edging

A simple tatted edging with large and small rings alternating, in watermelon green and red thread.
The edging that started this whole adventure.

You can use this as an insertion. It goes between two pieces of fabric to form a lace part of your item. Or you can use this as a very fluffy edging, which is what I plan to do with it.

Like the rest of the patterns in this very short series on two ring tatting, this is made of large and small rings. They are attached the same way that they were before. You start by making a large ring to begin. After that the rhythm is small, small, large, large, small, small, large, large. With each ring you reverse your work. Be sure to leave 1/8 – 1/4 inch thread between each two rings, depending on your thread size.

Here are the instructions written out:

  1. Make a large ring of 2 ds, picot, (1 1/2 ds, picot) 11 times, ending with 2 ds. Close ring.
  2. Reverse work. Leave a small length of thread.
  3. Make a small ring of (3 ds, picot) 3x, 3 ds, close ring.
  4. Reverse work. Leave a small length of thread.
  5. Make a small ring of 3 ds, join to 11th picot of the large ring, 3 ds, picot, 3 ds, picot, 3 ds, close ring.
  6. Large ring of 2 ds, picot, 1 1/2 ds, join to the last picot of the first small ring, (1 1/2 ds, picot) ten times, 2 ds, close ring.
  7. Reverse work. Leave a small length of thread.
  8. Large ring of 2 ds, picot, 1 1/2 ds, join to the last picot of the small ring, (1 1/2 ds, picot) ten times, 2 ds, close ring.
  9. Reverse work, leave a small length of thread.
  10. Make a small ring of 3 ds, join to 11th picot of the large ring, 3 ds, picot, 3 ds, picot, 3 ds, close ring.
  11. Repeat from Step 4.

This uses a lot of thread, but it’s awfully cute when it’s done.

The Versatile Octagon

Small tatted octagon to show two ring tatting patterns. Text: two rings + one shuttle = one octagon
Gather this like a flower or join several of them together to make a placemat, table mat, whatever you want.

This is the most intricate of all the patterns in this collection. I actually altered the pattern a little to make it more balanced. At he same time, however, it made it a bit more complicated.

You can see that four large rings circle around a small center ring. The original instructions said to join “the middle picot” of the large ring to the center ring. Well, as I count it, a 12-picot ring doesn’t have a middle picot. So I gave those middle large rings 13 picots. Now the count it 6 picots or joins, join at the center, 6 picots, close. If you don’t like my addition, omit it and use a 12-picot large ring. In the original 1919 illustration two of the center rings had 12 picots and two of them had 13. Even the author altered the pattern a bit to make it more understandable.

Here’s how to tat it:

  1. Begin by making a modified center small ring of 2 ds, picot, (3 ds, picot) three times, 1 ds, close ring. You now have a ring of 4 picots completely separated by 3 ds. Close ring and pull tight. Cut the thread and tie. You’ll work the ends in with a needle later.
  2. Make a large ring of 2 ds, picot, (1 1/2 ds, picot) five times, 1 1/2 ds, join to one picot of the small ring, (1 1/2 ds, picot) six times, 2 ds, close ring. You have a large ring with 13 picots, joined at the center.
  3. Reverse work, leave a space of thread, make a large ring of 12 picots.
  4. Reverse work, leave a space of thread. Make a small ring of 3 ds, join to 11th picot of first large ring, 3 ds, picot, 3 ds, picot, 3 ds, close ring.
  5. Reverse work, make a small ring of 3 ds, join to 11th picot of 2nd large ring, 3 ds, picot, 3 ds, picot, 3 ds, close ring.
  6. Leave a small space of thread but do not reverse your work. Make a large ring of 2 ds, picot, 1 1/2 ds, join to last picot of preceding small ring, (1 1/2 ds, picot) ten times, close ring.
  7. Reverse work, make a small ring of 3 ds, picot, 3 ds, join to middle picot of second small ring, 3 ds, picot, 3 ds, close ring.
  8. Reverse work, make a small ring of 3 ds, join to 11th picot of preceding large ring, 3 ds, picot, 3 ds, picot, 3 ds, close ring.
  9. Reverse work, make a large ring of 2 ds, picot, 1 1/2 ds, join to last picot of third small ring, (1 1/2 ds, picot) four times, 1 1/2 ds, join to the next picot of the center 4-picot ring.
  10. Repeat from Step 3 around, joining a large 13-picot ring to each picot of the center ring, and the last two small rings also to the first two large rings when you get there. Once you reach the beginning again, tie your threads, cut, and weave in with the needle.

You can make something that uses several of these. You will join two of the large rings on one flat side to picots 6 and 7 on the previous octagon. That will make a nice, stable 4-picot join per side.

The Elusive Square

 Tatted square made completely of large and small rings. Text: Two rings + one shuttle = one square
A square motif you can use for all your square needs.

Every set of patterns like this needs a square. Why one wasn’t originally included, I have no idea.

So I designed one.

This follows the same format as all the preceding patterns. The corner joins are a little more involved –– actually, they are the same joins as the corner pattern in the earlier post. All the rings follow the same small ring, large ring stitch count that you’ve seen before. This square contains no surprises.

I eliminated the central circle that the octagon used because it seemed like an extra step. Not to mention that it gives you two more threads to work in later, which you don’t really need.

Here’s how to tat it:

  1. Make a large ring of 2 ds, picot, (1 1/2 ds, picot) 11 times, 2 ds, close ring.
  2. Reverse work, leaving about 1/8 inch thread between rings.
  3. Make a small ring of (3 ds, picot) three times, 3 ds, close ring.
  4. Reverse work, leave a space of thread, and make a small ring of 3 ds, join to 11th picot of large ring, (3 ds, picot) twice, 3 ds, close ring.
  5. Reverse work, leave a space, and make a large ring of 2 ds, picot, 1 1/2 ds, join to last picot of first small ring, (1 1/2 ds, picot) 10 times, 2 ds, close ring.
  6. Reverse work, leave space, and make a small ring of 3 ds, join to last small ring, 3 ds, picot, 3 ds, picot, 3 ds, close ring.
  7. Reverse work, leave space, and make a small ring of 3 ds, join to 11th picot of last large ring, (3 ds, picot) twice, 3 ds, close ring.
  8. Reverse work, leave space, and make a large ring of 2 ds, picot, 1 1/2 ds, join to last picot of last small ring, (1 1/2 ds, picot) 10 times, 2 ds, close ring.
  9. Do not reverse work. Do not leave much space between the rings. Make a large ring of 2 ds, join to 12th picot of last ring, 1 1/2 ds, join to 11th picot of last ring, (1 1/2 ds, picot) ten times, 2 ds, close ring.
  10. Reverse work, leave space, and make a small ring of 3 ds, picot, 3 ds, join to middle picot of last small ring, 3 ds, picot, 3 ds, close ring.
  11. Reverse work, leave space, and make a small ring of 3 ds, join to 11th picot of last large ring, (3 ds, picot) twice, 3 ds, close ring.
  12. Reverse work, leave space, and make a large ring of 2 ds, picot, 1 1/2 ds, join to last picot of small ring, 1 1/2 ds, picot, 1 1/2 ds, join to 9th picot of last center large ring, 1 1/2 ds, join to 8th picot of last center large ring, (1 1/2 ds, picot) seven times, 2 ds, close ring.
  13. You are now nearly halfway around the square. Pick up at Step 6 and continue working around. When you reach the beginning of the square, the last small ring should join its first picot to the 11th picot of the last large ring, and its second picot to the middle picot of the small ring opposite it. Then the last large ring, which completes the fourth corner, should join its second picot to the last picot of the small ring next to it, and its 11th and 12th picots to picots 1 and 2 of the very first large ring.

You did it! Congratulations.

To join these squares together you will attach picots 6 and 7 of the outside large rings on one side of the square to the large rings on one side of the new square.

Did you try them?

If you make any of these designs, drop me a note in the comments. I’d love to see your tatting. And let me know… were these too easy? Too difficult? Tell me what you think.

The Creative Corner · Vintage Needlework

Tatting: Design with Two Rings

Two large tatted rings lying next to each other on a knitted doily.
Take one shuttle and two different size rings. Look what you can make!

Over the next two posts I’m going to talk about tatting design with two rings. Earlier this year I was browsing through some old magazines and my eyes fell on an intriguing set of one-shuttle patterns. I really liked one of them and I was heading out for the evening, so I snapped a photo of the instructions and the illustration and grabbed a shuttle I’d just filled with a watermelon variegated thread. You can see it in the next post. The color combination might be enough to awaken you without the benefit of coffee.

With everything I needed, I left for the evening. When I got to my destination (I was the designated kid driver for the night) I pulled out my shuttle, glanced at my phone, and started scrolling. The instructions in front of me said something like “Start with a small ring and then a large ring.” What small ring? What large ring? Aargh. There I was, stuck at a meeting with nothing to do because my instructions were insufficient.

Small ring + large ring = pattern

In the photo at the top you can see the small ring and the large ring. Although I realized all the patterns on this page looked similar, I neglected to notice that they were identical in construction. Every single pattern uses a combination of the small ring and the large ring. And one shuttle thread.

I love one-shuttle patterns because of their portability. It’s amazing how creative you can be with one string and very little else. (In the case of these patterns, if your shuttle doesn’t have a nice hook or sharp pick on the end you may need a crochet hook to pull the thread through the picots.)

The more I looked at these patterns the more entranced I was that the designer, in 1919 (whose name was Orene Clarkson), made all this with two rings. This set consists of a straight edging, a scalloped edging, an insertion or a double edging, and an octagon.

However, I noticed that a couple pieces were missing. There was no corner pattern, so I designed one. The set also contained no square, so I designed one of those, too.

You will need

In order to complete these edgings you will need a knowledge of how to make rings. You will also need

  • One tatting shuttle with a hook or pick on the end
  • One small crochet hook (size 8 or smaller) if your shuttle has no hook
  • Thread. I used size 20 Lizbeth thread for all these samples.
  • A needle for working in thread ends, with an eye large enough for your thread.

Making the Large Ring

To make the large ring, you will tat a ring that includes 1 1/2 stitches between picots. The easiest way to do it is to make one ds (double stitch), make the first half of a double stitch, leave the space for your picot, and follow it with a full ds. Then make another first half ds before making your next picot. Without those extra half stitches the ring is too small and too tight.

Large ring:

  • Make a ring of 2 ds, picot, (1 1/2 ds, picot) 11 times, ending with 2 ds. Close ring. You should have 12 picots. Between each picot is 1 1/2 double stitches, with 2 ds at the beginning and the end of the ring.

Making the Small Ring

This one is easy. If you tat you’ve done it hundreds of times already.

Small ring:

  • Make a ring of 3 ds, picot, 3 ds, picot, 3 ds, picot, 3 ds, close ring. You should have 3 picots, each separated by three double stitches.

The Small Edging

A simple tatted edging made of alternating large and small rings. Text: A simple one-shuttle edging in tatting. Vintage Living, Modern Life.
A large ring and a small one alternate in this simple edging.

This is easy, portable, and versatile. You can use it for almost anything.

  1. Make a ring of 2 ds, picot, (1 1/2 ds, picot) 11 times, and then 2 ds. Close ring.
  2. Leave a space of 3/8 inch between rings.
  3. Make a small ring of 3 ds, join to 11th picot of large ring, 3 ds, picot, 3 ds, picot, 3 ds. Close ring.
  4. Leave a space as before.
  5. A large ring of 2 ds, picot, 1 1/2 ds, join to the last picot of the small ring, (1 1/2 ds, picot) ten times, 2 ds, close ring.
  6. Repeat from Step 2 for the length of the edging, alternating large and small rings.

But wait… what about the corner?

Sometimes when you make a tatted edging you need a corner. This article didn’t include any. So I designed a simple corner for this first edging.

Simple large ring, small ring alternating edging with a corner. Two large rings come together to form the corner.
Sometimes an edging needs a corner of its own.

Here’s how you do it:

  1. Make the edging as usual, ending with a large ring.
  2. When you get to the point that you want a corner, do not make the next small ring.
  3. Instead, make another large ring. Join the picots 1 and 2 of the new ring to picots 11 and 12 of the old ring. So in tatting notation, the new ring instructions would look like this: 2 ds + 1 1/2 ds + (1 1/2 ds – ) 10x, 2 ds, Cl R. [+ means join and – means picot here.)

The Scalloped Edging

Simple tatted edging where rings are arranged into a small scallop pattern. Made with one shuttle.
This scalloped edging is easy and good practice.

Once I started to make a length of this edging, it really grew on me. When I have some free time I’d like to design a corner for this pattern next.

To make this edging you are using the exact same rings you used before. You are even joining them in the same way. The only difference is that after almost every ring you are turning your work upside down so half the rings look right side up and the other half look upside down. It’s called reversing your work.

  1. Start with a small ring of (3 ds, picot) 3 times, then 3ds, close ring.
  2. Leave about 1/8 inch of thread and reverse your work (so the ring you just made is facing down in your hand instead of facing up.)
  3. Make another small ring same as before. Reverse work again and leave another short length of thread.
  4. Make a large ring of 2 ds, picot, 1 1/2 ds, join to the last picot of the first small ring you made, (1 1/2 ds, picot) ten times, 2 ds, close ring.
  5. Reverse work and leave another space of thread. You’ll leave a short space of thread between each ring you make.
  6. Make another large ring of 2 ds, picot, 1 1/2 ds, join to the last picot of the second small ring you made, (1 1/2 ds, picot) ten times, 2 ds, close ring.
  7. Reverse work, make another small ring, joining the first picot to the 11th picot of the first large ring.
  8. Reverse work, make another small ring, joining the first picot to the 11th picot of the first large ring.
  9. Do not reverse your work this time. Make a large ring, joining the second picot of the large ring to the third picot of the last small ring you made.
  10. Leave a space of thread, reverse work, and make another small ring. Do not join it to anything.
  11. Repeat from Step 3.

Although this looks complicated, it has its own rhythm: small, small, large, large, small, small, large. Then you start over. If you take your finger you can trace the progression over the photo so you can see the rhythm of this pattern in action.

Next up

In the next post I’ll give you the patterns for an insertion, an octagon, and a square to match the pieces above.

The Vintage Bookshelf · Vintage Entertainment

Mrs. Wiggs of the Cabbage Patch

Illustration from 1901 book Mrs. Wiggs of the Cabbage Patch. A woman and teenage boy stand by a window. She has her arm around him. They look out the window together.
Original illustration from Mrs. Wiggs of the Cabbage Patch, 1901.

Mrs. Wiggs of the Cabbage Patch is a cheerful body who gives her daughters geography names like Asia, Australia, and Europena. She lives in the Cabbage Patch, a run-down neighborhood near a railroad track in Louisville. Mrs. Wiggs lives with her five children in a house that’s the pride of the neighborhood because it has a real tin roof. Of course, one of the boys made it from flat tin cans, but it sure sounds nice when it rains!

The story of Mrs. Wiggs is a story of hope in the face of abject poverty. She is ever hopeful and most things turn out all right. She tends to see the world a bit through rose-colored glasses, however. Her memories of her deceased husband, for example, differ quite sharply from both her children’s memories and from reality.

It’s also a story of the progressive social movement of the late Nineteenth century. Mrs. Wiggs is befriended by a wealthy young woman who spends much of her time in the Cabbage Patch. Besides delivering food baskets, this young reformer gives encouragement and comfort at the same time that she learns a few things about herself.

Mrs. Wiggs is a story of class distinction –– if you read this book, expect to see outdated and offensive terminology more than twice. I think the story could stand as well without it, but I wasn’t writing the book through the lens of 1901. I’m looking at it more than 100 years later. And time changes things.

Upon its publication Mrs. Wiggs of the Cabbage Patch was very popular. In fact, even though it was published in 1901, new copies were still being sold in 1926. The book was later republished in 1961 and sold as a children’s book by Whitman. What made Whitman think this was a children’s book, I have no idea. I first read Mrs. Wiggs of the Cabbage Patch as a ten year old when someone gave me a used copy of that Whitman printing.

Read it for yourself

This book is more a novella than a novel. It takes only a couple hours to read. In fact, it was such a quick read that I sought out two separate copies to make sure they were complete. They are. You can read or download it at Project Gutenberg or you can download the book in PDF, text, or epub formats from the Library of Congress. Or, if you like, you can purchase a reprint from your favorite bookseller.

Mrs. Wiggs of the Cabbage Patch was written by a regional author, Alice Caldwell Hegen Rice. Born in Kentucky, she visited an area in Louisville that revealed to her the life of the underprivileged. That trip became the basis for her book.

Rice went on to publish several books. You can find ten of her works on Project Gutenberg if they interest you.

Mrs. Wiggs of the Cabbage Patch was made into four different movies as well as a stage play. Here’s a link to the 1919 silent version on Youtube. Normally a movie like this would have music with it. Perhaps a solo piano player or even a small group of musicians. However, this one is truly silent.

If Mrs. Wiggs of the Cabbage Patch isn’t your thing, you might like The Harvester or Motor Maids School Days. All three take place in the same ten-year span or so, and they are all very different reads.

The Vintage Bookshelf · Vintage Entertainment

Among English Hedgerows Travelogue

A boy with a basket stands in the middle of the street in an English village. Next to him is a full cart of groceries and bags. Circa 1900, photo by Clifton Johnson.
A grocery boy stands with his cart, circa 1900.

This month I took a break from fiction and decided to dive into a book I’d heard about but never read. Among English Hedgerows, by Clifton Johnson, is a turn-of-the-century travelogue of the British byways. When I say turn of the century, I mean 1900. This book first saw publication in 1899, but it was republished through 1925 and perhaps beyond.

Clifton Johnson – Photographer, Writer, Artist

Cover of Among English Hedgerows, a travelogue by Clifton Johnson. Book is a faded green with red text and a simple red border.
Clifton Johnson wrote and provided the photography for Among English Hedgerows.

Its author, Clifton Johnson, was a photographer, writer, and illustrator. He wrote, edited, or illustrated more than 125 books in his lifetime, covering everything from children’s stories and folk tales to travel. Johnson was interested in people and their stories, and this is what shines through in the travelogue Among English Hedgerows. You meet the people he met along the way, and hear their stories.

To enhance the text, Johnson provides his own photography or illustrations. Among English Hedgerows includes only photographs scattered among his stories, but sometimes he included illustrations as well. Many of the chapters stand alone because they were first published in magazines like The New England Magazine, The Congregationalist, and The Outlook.

An old man sits reading the newspaper in an English cottage, next to a window with flowers growing in pots on the windowsill. Photo circa 1900 by Clifton Johnson.
A pensioner that Johnson met on his travels. This old guy was quite a character. Photo circa 1900.

Johnson takes us on a tour of England as it was, and he lets the people tell their own stories. How does a small town pensioner spend his days when he has nothing else to do? What does the daily schedule of a farmhand look like? What birds sing in the wood? He speaks of cricket and hotel visits, market days and mansions.

As both a photographer and a writer, Johnson brings to life the small village and the town inn (or pub). In describing traveling show caravans with their steam-powered merry-go-rounds and game booths, you want to see them yourself. He explores castles and manors, Stonehenge and churches.

Explore England with the Author

As we read his book from over 100 years on, a reader might find some of his observations intriguing. He writes of the change from oxen-drawn plows to horse-drawn plows. Then he mentions the noise created by the newfangled steam powered farm machinery. He also talks about the manpower necessary to make it go. “They are formidable affairs, and it takes five men to make a working crew.” (p.76).

Once in a while you may stumble across a passage or even a chapter that you find offensive or strange. For instance, Johnson spends an entire short chapter discussing his observations of “Gypsies.” For part of his description he relates what he has heard, but it seems that this colors his description of what he sees soon after. However, the chapter ends well. He follows a family for a bit and watches the children at play as they ride in the wagon or scamper along beside.

In a later chapter, however, Johnson provides an almost glowing description of a Traveler family who appear at a market day and sell rides to the local children. He even refers to their conveyance as a “travelling caravan.” Earlier he mentions that caravans often transport families who perform at fairs, which would make them Showman Travellers.

It’s worth noting, however, that Johnson repeats what he hears. His goal is to write down an oral history of a place, whether it is correct or not. At one point he talks to hand mowers –– men who cut hay with a scythe –– and they tell him that the day of machine grass cutters is over; more and more the hay will be cut by hand. A quick YouTube search will show you that such did not prove to be true.

Delights of the Village Fair

At one point Johnson finds himself at a festival. He says:

“But the great feature of the fair was the roundabouts or merry-go-rounds. About a dozen of them were in operation that day in Lincoln pleasure fair, and they were all as gaudy with red and gold as it was possible to make them. They ran by steam power, and the engine inside each roundabout had a steam organ attached, and every organ was piping away at a furious rate on a tune that was distressingly unlike the tunes of any of its rivals.”

Among English Hedgerows, Chapter XI.

By the time Johnson attended the fair in about 1900, steam-powered merry-go-rounds had been delighting English fair-goers for close to 40 years. However, reading it today, I was taken by this description. Imagine the noise! Between the sound of the steam engines, plus the various tunes played at once, and adding the crowd, this must have presented quite the scene.

Among English Hedgerows is a travelogue that leads you up and down the narrow lanes of English villages. It brings you into country kitchens and alongside farmers. Johnson reveals both the charm of their inhabitants as well as their sometimes narrow views.

Note: I did find mention of a suicide as I read the book. If this bothers you, skip the bottom of page 34 through page 38, and resume reading on page 39.

To read Among English Hedgerows for yourself, click here, which takes you to a Google Books version you can read or download.

If you prefer something quick and easy and fictional, take a look at this post I wrote about The Motor Maids School Days, one of my favorite vintage juvenile fiction reads ever.