Mary Frances needs to learn all kinds of skills. She needs to learn to cook, clean, sew, knit, crochet, garden. Her world is full of learning! Mary Frances stars in an entire series of instruction books, beginning with a cookbook in 1912. In The Mary Frances Knitting and Crocheting Book she learns to knit and crochet. She makes clothes for her doll along the way. Her teachers are the Knitting People, a delightful set of tools that come to life and tell Mary Frances exactly how things should be done.
In the pages of The Mary Frances Knitting and Crocheting Book we meet Knit and Knack the knitting needles, Crow Shay the crochet hook, and Yarn Baby, a yarn doll. These characters, along with their friends, show Mary Frances the ropes of creating with yarn. She makes doll clothes, a baby doll’s set, and a few things for herself. And you can find patterns for all of these in the book. Because The Mary Frances Knitting and Crocheting Book was published in 1918, the last set of patterns is from the Red Cross. A flyer of knitted articles for World War I soldiers gives Mary Frances experience with adult-size clothing.
Note: This is a book of its time. It may contain outdated references or illustrations, like most books from 1900-1930.
One Adventure After Another
By the time Mary Frances graduates to knitting and crocheting, she’s much older than the little girl who started the series with a cookbook. She’s had adventures with the Kitchen People when she learned to cook. The Thimble People taught her to sew. She learned the basics of housekeeping from the Doll People. And in her last adventure before she learns to knit, she meets the Garden People. Her knitting and crocheting book is more advanced than any of the other books. It contains more projects and less chatter. The story line still exists, but it’s not as all-encompassing as the story you find in the Mary Frances Sewing Book.
When the story opens, Mary Frances is accosted by her great aunt Maria, who is, of course, a paragon of the textile arts and cannot believe that Mary Frances doesn’t know how to knit or crochet. She offers to teach her, and Mary Frances says that she’s been wanting to learn for the longest time. Then Mary Frances remembers how Aunt Maria taught her father to knit, and how much he hated it.
She sits down with her knitting bag after her aunt scurries away, and wishes that helpful fairies like the Thimble People could teach her to knit and crochet. Crow Shay the hook begins to talk to her, and she realizes that real help waits for her after all.
Learning from the Pros
She endures one lesson with Aunt Maria before her aunt is whisked away by a family emergency. Mary Frances finds herself alone with her brother, talking knitting needles, and Katie, the household cook.
This gives Mary Frances the freedom she needs to concentrate on the lessons from the knitting needles and crochet hook. With their help she creates a doll’s wardrobe. A little over the first half of the book teaches crochet. Then the chapters switch to knitting instruction. Black and white photographs from 1918 show how to form the stitches.
Illustrations throughout the book show how the finished articles should look. In the original book several color pages show the progress of a sixteen inch doll’s wardrobe. Mary Marie, the doll, received a complete handmade wardrobe in the sewing book, but now she needs coats and hats, shopping bags and mufflers. The book even gives instructions for an aviator doll outfit and a Teddy Bear Suit. The suit looks like a WWI army uniform, but teddy bear suits were actually one-piece sitcot jumpsuits. WWI airplane pilots wore them. So although it’s quite cute with its trousers, jacket, and tam, I’m not sure what it’s supposed to be, or why it’s called a Teddy Bear Suit.
Read It For Yourself
Whether you’ve wanted to learn knitting and crochet like Mary Frances, or you’d like a romp through a century-old instruction book for children, you might enjoy this book. Download The Mary Frances Knitting and Crocheting Book from the Internet Archive or Project Gutenberg. And let the yarn adventures begin.
You’re interested in building a Titanic-era wardrobe. But you have limited funds for costuming, limited space, or both. What to do? First, if you haven’t, read about buiding a very basic 1910s Capsule Wardrobe here. Then come back and we’ll continue building your collection with 1910s wardrobe accessories.
If you’re still in the planning stages, that’s okay. Planning is a lot of the fun. Creating it is the hard part, especially if you sew the set yourself. You might even put the entire ensemble together in your mind and then decide it’s not what you want. That’s okay too. But if you do decide that 1912 is your year, then you’ll need a few pieces to wear. Then you will need some extras.
Adding The Extras
Currently, if you are building an historic capsule wardrobe, you have two skirts, three blouses, and a jacket. That’s enough for a dozen different outfits. But how do you make it a bit more distinctive? The same way the original wearers did. You use accessories of various kinds.
Wear a girdle
One possible accessory lies in the belt or girdle. Made from velvet, fabric or ribbon, and sometimes trimmed with fur, these belts made a statement. A draped belt could be decorated with an eye-catching ribbon rosette. Or perhaps you have a bit of silk and some dark cord. Make the belt from the silk, stiffened and lined to hold its shape, and then use cord or braid to embroider a design like the one in the upper left corner of the illustration at the top of this post.
Your belt can be drapey or tailored. Let it match your outfit and your personal style.
Carry a handbag
These are illustrations from 1912. Make a purse with a little metal closure. Or choose one that folds over like No. 90 above. Perhaps you’d like to carry a miser’s purse like the ones in the bottom row. They are a bit more difficult to keep hold of, but they are classic and were still in use at the beginning of the Twentieth century. Basically they are made of two pieces that look somewhat like an hourglass or a dumbbell. Rounded at both ends and thinner in the middle. The middle part has an opening, which you can barely see in the photo on the right. Two rings hold everything secure at the top of each larger part so that nothing falls out. You move the rings back and forth to access the items.
Add a Wrap
You may be chilly. Or you might want a knitted or crocheted extra layer for effect. To make your own shawls, sweaters, and crocheted jackets, look no further than the 1915 Beehive Woolcraft book, available from the Antique Pattern Library. This particular illustration, and the instructions, are in PDF number 2, although you will want PDF 1 for basic instructions, yarn sizes, and so on. PDF 3 includes socks and gloves for the 1910-1016 period. Frankly, they’re all great. Get them all.
You might need to do some conversions for sizing or different sized yarn, but these patterns are definitely doable. And you’ll look great in them! (The first illustration, top left, is a man’s vest. Everything else is for women’s sizing of the period.)
Dress Up That Blouse
With a little creativity and some time, you can make collars and jabots to dress up the blouses you make. Add a few of these, and it doesn’t matter how plain your waists. With a little ruffle magic you can transform the everyday suit shirt into a great afternoon ruffly visitation creation.
Special Occasion Magic
Everything listed above is for everyday wear. Add a couple special belts, or that amazing belt and sash combination in the belt photo, and you have some interesting alternatives for your six basic pieces. Then if you continue with changable collars or jabots, a couple purses, and a shawl along with a sweater, you have a gorgeous and complete wardrobe for most occasions.
But what if you do all this, you find that you love it, and you have a special occasion? Although these can’t be actually considered 1910s wardrobe accessories, they are wardrobe extenders. But like masquerade clothing, you should only include them if you have the spare cash for the cost and if you think you will get some use out of them.
Splish splashing away
If you live near the seaside, you might find yourself with an invitation to the beach. These dresses usually consisted of a top, short bloomers, and a skirt over the bloomers. Often everything buttoned into a waistband on the blouse. These were most often made of a light wool. Cotton clings when wet, and a twill gets dangerously heavy. If you’d rather start with a real pattern, look at Folkwear’s Bathing Costume. Folkwear drafted the pattern from an 1890 original, but it will give you somewhere to start along with “current” illustrations.
Here we go a-motoring
These are automobile coats. You don’t mean to say that you’ve been in an automobile without one! The dust! The wind! How did you ever manage?
The automobile coat kept the dust and grime from the road off your clothes. It also kept you a bit warmer in a car that may be a bit drafty. While in no way a necessity, if you plan to go motoring to your next picnic, you might want to consider one of these. It will ensure that you arrive at your destination clean, tidy, and serene.
That special evening
Finally, we get to the clothing that most people think of when they envision the Titanic Era. This is a formal evening gown that exudes drapery and class. Compared with everything else in your wardrobe you can see that this stands out like an ostrich. However, if you need something like this, nothing else you have already will do. So purchase the net or the sheer sparkly fabric and have a ball. You will be gorgeous.
The End, or the Beginning
As you can see, six pieces of clothing are only the beginning to wardrobe prep if you want them to be. You can add all kinds of things to add spice, and even include special occasion clothing to round out your mix. Or you can take your six pieces and add some more utilitarian items to your stash to round out your wardrobe.
An entirely different approach
This is called the Five Dollar Wardrobe. In 1912, with five dollars and knowledge of how to use a sewing machine, you could have a servicable set of clothing like this. The assortment includes one suit with a blouse. The jacket was lined with flannel and a fake silk. The blouse had a kimono shoulder and was made from white silk. Moving left to right, the woman holding the teacup wears a house dress. It uses hand-embroidered eyelets down the front as decoration, and scallops made from piping created out of the dress material. The black and white checked dress that comes next actually cost three times what the house dress cost. The dress trim used cross stitch in black to x out some of the white lines and form a border. The last dress pictured, made from white net, functions as a party dress. It cost less than anything in the room other than the house dress.
You can see that this is a viable option for wardrobe planning. However, you get four outfits instead of twelve with an investment of six pieces. Five outfits if you wore the blouse and skirt without the jacket. Adding an extra blouse would give you two more outfits. These dresses, while lovely, do not mix and match on their own. They’re designed to appear together. Often they are created in one piece.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this look into 1912 clothing planning. Next we’ll take a little jump in years and plan a Twenties Capsule Wardrobe.
Last time, we talked about the concept of the original capsule wardrobe. You can find that post here. If you love the time of the Titanic through the First World War, you can create a stunning 1910s capsule wardrobe. Your collection can be as authentic or as inauthentic as you like.
Fashion changed quite a bit in the middle of the Teens. Before 1915 your 1910s capsule wardrobe will look like the fashions of the Titanic or Downton Abbey. After 1915, however, your wardrobe will look more like a World War I recruitment poster. Make a skirt and blouse from white, with simple lines, and you have a Suffragette costume using either half of the decade.
Suppose you want a wardrobe that emphasizes the first half of the decade. All the photos in this post come from 1912 and 1913 Good Housekeeping fashion pages. Unless you have access to a fashion historian on a regular basis, anything you create in the 1912-13 two-year span will work well together.
First The Foundation
For these outfits you will probably need a foundation garment like a 1910s corset. If you don’t, your shape is amazing and I wish I was still built like that. I need a corset.
You can find illustrations of corset patterns and draft them up to your size. I don’t have that kind of patience for fitting a corset, so I bought the 1913-1921 corset from Scroop Patterns. It’s close enough to 1912 for what I need, and it goes through 1920, which is one of my greatest loves in fashion history. So it matches almost everything I’d need in a corset.
Creating Your Capsule
Let’s start with a suit. That was a very 1912 thing to wear, and it provides a great foundation for the rest of your wardrobe. So you select one of the two suits in the top illustration. They are both attractive, flattering, and they have great skirts with them.
Now you have your suit. Skirt and Jacket. Choose a color. Let’s say dark blue. You, of course, can choose any color you like. Depending on the season, black, green, brown, maroon, unbleached linen, and yellow were all popular colors. But we are going to start with a dark conservative blue. For one reason, it’s easy to find fabrics to match or blend with it. We have one jacket, and one skirt.
Next we need to add another skirt to add some variety. It should be in a color to harmonize with the jacket, either another shade of blue or the same shade as before. It can be the same or a different fabric.
The dark skirt pictured here would be perfect. It has an easy construction but looks very different from either of the suit skirts above.
Now that we have two bottoms we need some tops. Any of the blouses pictured in the illustration above would work, but the two white blouses offer more versatility. Both of them would fit under one of the suit jackets. Let’s keep looking.
This illustration offers five different blouses, and four of them would work. You could include the embroidery, or not. The needlework does finish the blouses nicely, but it might make them a bit too memorable for a classic interchangeable wardrobe. The fifth blouse, with the apron held in place by the belt, won’t work with the suit unless the apron detaches from the shoulders somehow. Then you would get two blouses for the work of making one.
Choose three of the six possible tops. Now you have two bottoms, three tops, and a jacket.
With the skirts and blouses alone you have six possible outfits. Add the jacket to each one and that makes twelve. You will have a very respectable Titanic-era wardrobe with just a few pieces.
Finding Your Look
Paging through magazines like Good Housekeeping, Ladies’ Home Journal, Woman’s Home Companion, the Delineator and the like can lead you to all kinds of design ideas for your chosen era. Examples of these magazines live on Google Books and the Internet Archive.
Once you have an idea what you like, put it together with a six piece wardrobe like the one discussed above. You can always add to it later. In fact, that’s the subject of the next post. Stay tuned for 1910s Wardrobe Accessories.
Some of the old recipes are the best. And others are just weird, like the jellied frankfurter-Spaghettios combination from the 1960s that pops up every now and again. Thankfully, this Mocha cake from 1917 fits into the first category. It’s a recipe I make over and over again.
In my last post I talked about the joys of reading A Thousand Ways to Please a Husband… with Bettina’s Best Recipes. If you don’t know about this cookbook, you can read about it here. This recipe for Mocha cake is one of my favorites from that book. However, it’s not my only favorite. Many of the recipes in A Thousand Ways are worth the time they take to make, especially if you cook for a small household of 1-3 people.
This particular cake serves 12. It’s designed for either entertaining (which is where it falls in Bettina’s story), or for storage. I generally pop half the cake into the fridge after using it for dessert. The other half gets sliced and put into the freezer for another day. This, of course, is assuming that you have a family the size of Bettina’s, and not four hungry teenagers who live at your house. If you live with teens, even if one of you is the cook, prepare to say goodbye to this cake in one sitting.
Ways to make it your own
When I make this recipe, I usually cook the layers in my vintage RevereWare 9-inch cake pans. Although the recipe itself doesn’t tell you what size pan to use, I find that partitioning a cake into 12 pieces Is much easier with a 9-inch cake than it is an 8-inch one, even if the layers come out a bit more flat. With the addition of icing, a small piece adds just the right sweet note to end a dinner along with hot tea. You can enjoy it with coffee or milk, too, if you like.
In 1917 the term mocha didn’t mean chocolate-flavored coffee. It meant coffee, period. So this is a coffee-flavored cake. No chocolate. No cocoa. Just coffee. It’s an inexpensive cake to make because it uses the leftover coffee from the morning’s brew, if you make it a pot at a time. The recipe calls for 1 1/4 cups coffee total.
When the original bakers made this Mocha cake from 1917, they had access to plain coffee. If you like flavored coffees, I encourage you to try one in this recipe. This time I made it with Michigan cherry flavored coffee and it was delicious. Even the household’s non-coffee drinker loved it.
Because this Mocha cake from 1917 yields a light coffee taste in both the cake and the icing, you might want to try it with hot tea or another beverage. Trying it alongside a cup of the same type of coffee you put into the batter gives you a cake that tastes sweet, but not particularly coffee-like.
Make it yourself
This is a great recipe for drop-in guests or teatime with friends. A slice also makes a good midmorning snack or a decadent breakfast treat. It’s relatively quick to make, as cakes go, and it’s pretty sturdy. This means it travels great in a lunch box to the office or schoolroom. It would pack well for a picnic. I love it with a cup of hot tea while I sit at the table pouring over the current month’s vintage magazines.
This cake delivers a mild coffee flavor. It contains no cocoa and no chocolate.
Prep Time30 minutesmins
Cook Time25 minutesmins
Total Time55 minutesmins
Course: Dessert, Tea time
Keyword: cake, coffee, mocha
2 cake pans, 8 or 9-inch diameter or whatever you have
wax paper for bottom of pans
2cupsflour, all purposeI used Bob's gluten free 1 to 1 with good result
4tbspstrong hot coffee
3cupspowdered sugarMay use 2 to 3 cups
Prepare your cake pans by lining them with wax paper. Or, if you prefer, grease and flour your pans. Preheat your oven to 350° F.
Separate the eggs. Set the yolks aside and beat the whites until they are stiff. Pour the whites into a bowl for later.
Cream the butter. Add the sugar, and cream again.
Add the egg yolks and mix well.
Add the coffee, vanilla, flour, and baking powder. Mix until combined and then beat for 2 minutes.
Stir in the stiffly beaten egg whites. Be gentle, you don't want to undo all your hard work.
Pour the mixture into the prepared cake pans. Bake for 25-30 minutes in a 350° oven. Test for doneness by pressing the top center of the cake. If a finger indentation pops back up and disappears, the cake is done. If the indentation stays, it probably needs another ten minutes or so.
Let the cake cool before icing.
Mocha Icing Instructions
Mix the 1 tsp vanilla with the 4 Tbsp coffee.
Add the powdered sugar slowly until the mixture is thick and spreadable. You may need as much as three cups (even though the original 1917 recipe only called for 1 ½ cups).
Spread over one layer and place the other layer on top. Spread the icing on the top. Depending on the size of the cake, you may also have enough for the sides.
If you enjoyed this and would like to try another vintage cake recipe, this Many Layered Jam Cake from the Twenties is addictive and oh-so-sweet.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
When you learn a new craft, you have to start somewhere. Last time we talked about tatting, I gave you several options for learning online. If those worked for you, then you are ready to use a simple pattern or two. These easy vintage tatting patterns will get you started.
Most people start by making tatted edgings. For one thing, you don’t have to spend most of your time tying off rows like you would if you were making a round piece like a doily. And second, the more you do something, the better you get. Especially with muscle memory, which is a lot of the art of tatting. With an edging you make the same movements over and over until they become natural and almost automatic.
Easy tatted edgings can use only a shuttle thread to make rings, or they can use a shuttle thread and a ball thread to make simple rings and chains. The patterns I show here use only a shuttle thread.
All you need is a shuttle
Not only are these easy to make, these edgings are incredibly portable. If you have a full shuttle and a length of lace in your pocket, you always have something you can work on if you find yourself with a spare ten minutes here and there. Some of these laces I’ve carried for years in a metal container in my purse or simply in a pocket of my jacket.
If you need a shuttle or thread you can use for tatting, you can find an amazing selection of both at The Tatting Corner.
Today I’ll tell you how to make all five of these easy vintage tatting patterns. Whether you want to start with the simplest one or everything from the middle point up looks easy-peasy and you’re ready for more challenge, I have an edging for you.
All of these edgings use only one shuttle thread. As you can see from the top photo, you can make these strips as long as you like. One of the nice things about tatting is that you can cut it. If you love making a particular edging, and end up making two yards of it as I did in the very top photo, don’t worry. Some day you’ll find a use for all of it or some of it.
Like I usually do, I’ll give you the instructions in order from easiest to most difficult. That way you can hop in wherever you like. None of these examples are washed, pressed, or starched. They appear just as they will coming off your shuttle. After you drag them out of your pocket or bag a few times they may even have a few wrinkles. That’s okay. Wet them down and lay them out when you’re finished with them. They’ll straighten right up.
The first two patterns came from a 1926 article on simple one-shuttle tatted edgings. They are simple and delightful and you might fall in love with them.
Ring, ring, ring
Edging 1 is the same ring over and over. In a fine thread it makes a beautiful edging for a doll dress or baby outfit. This example appears in a coarser size 10 thread. An edging this size could trim an apron, blouse or shirt, hat, or tea towel.
Make a ring of 6 double stitches (ds), picot, 6 ds, picot, 6 ds, picot, 6 ds, close ring. Leave a good space of 3/8 to 1/2 inch, and begin the next ring. The second ring is 6 ds, join to the last picot of the first ring, 6 ds, picot, 6 ds, picot, 6 ds, close ring.
Here are the same instructions as you might see them in a modern tatting book:
R 6 ds – 6 ds – 6 ds – 6 ds. Cl R. Leave 1/2″. R 6 ds + 6 ds – 6 ds – 6 ds. Cl R.
The – stands for picot, the + means join. R stands for ring, Cl means close.
Edging 2 is a very simple cloverleaf. Three rings made together, then a space. Then three more rings. It may take a few repeats to get your head around how the three lie next to each other to make the clover. At least, it did me.
Make a ring of 6 double stitches (ds), (picot, 6 ds) 3 times, close ring. [So spelled out this is 6 ds, p, 6 ds, p, 6 ds, p, 6 ds.]
Leave a very short space of thread, about 1/8 inch, and make a second ring of 6 ds, join to last p of preceding ring, 6 ds, picot, 6 ds, picot, 6 ds, close ring.
Leaving another very short length of thread, and make a third ring just like the last one.
Leave about 1 1/4 inches of thread, or enough to allow cloverleaves to lie flat. Make a ring of 6 ds, picot, 6 ds, join to middle picot of last ring, 6 ds, picot, 6 ds, close.
Continue with the second cloverleaf, beginning with step 2.
Repeat for the length desired.
In modern notation this would read: R 6ds – 6 ds – 6 ds – 6 ds, cl R. R 6 ds + 6 ds – 6 ds – 6 ds, cl R. R 6 ds + 6 ds – 6 ds – 6 ds, cl R. Then the second cloverleaf instructions would read: R 6 ds – 6 ds + to middle p last R, 6 ds – 6 ds, cl R. R 6 ds + 6 ds – 6 ds – 6 ds, cl R. R 6 ds + 6 ds – 6 ds – 6 ds, cl R.
Use whichever notation makes the most sense to you. They are the same.
This pattern dates from the late 1930s or 40s, and is a bit more difficult to do. It still uses only one thread on a shuttle, though. So if you can do the first two edgings you should be able to do this one too, with a little practice.
Unlike the prior two edgings, this one uses rings of two different sizes. I made the sample in size 10 thread but you can use whatever size you want. Ready?
Make a ring of 5 ds, picot, 2 ds, picot, 1 ds, picot, 1 ds, picot, 1 ds, picot, 1 ds, picot, 2 ds, picot, 5 ds, close ring.
Leave 1/2 inch of thread if you use size 10 thread, a bit less with smaller threads. Ring of 3 ds, join to last picot of previous ring, 3 ds, picot, 3 ds, picot, 3 ds, close ring.
Leave the same amount of thread as before. Ring of 5 ds, join to last p of previous ring, 2 ds, picot, 1 ds, picot, 1 ds, picot, 1 ds, picot, 1 ds, picot, 2 ds, picot, 5 ds, close ring.
Repeat from step 2 to desired length, alternating large rings and small ones as shown.
Edging 4: The edging which must be named… always
I promised I’d give you an edging this time that is so popular that it has its own name. This one is called Hens and Chicks. The hens are the large rings in the middle, and the chicks the smaller rings which attach to each side. Together they make an attractive little scallop.
This edging appears in almost every beginning tatting book from 1900 on. Sometimes the rings are different sizes, but the idea is always the same: a row of rings on the top, with hens and chicks clinging to the bottom. This edging is fun to do. That’s why you see two yards of it in the top photo.
To make this edging you start along the top even edge.
Make a ring of 4 ds, picot, 4 ds, picot, 4 ds, picot, 4 ds, close ring. Another way to say this is to make a ring of 3 picots separated by 4 ds.
Reverse work. (If you haven’t see this before, it means to turn the ring you just completed upside down so that the shuttle thread faces up, ready to make a new ring.) Make a ring of 7 ds, p, 7 ds, close ring.
Reverse work. Now the first ring you made is on top again. Make a ring of 4 ds, join to last picot of previous ring, 4 ds, picot, 4 ds, picot, 4ds, close ring.
Reverse work. Make a ring of 7 ds, join to picot of small ring, 2 ds, picot, 2 ds, picot, 2 ds, picot, 2 ds, picot, 2 ds, picot, 2 ds, picot, 7 ds, close ring.
Reverse work (RW) and make a ring of 4 ds, join to last picot of previous ring, 4 ds, picot, 4 ds, picot, 4 ds, close ring.
RW. Make a ring of 7 ds, join to last picot of large ring, 7 ds, close ring.
Repeat from Step 1, joining the ring to the last ring as before.
Want to see this in modern notation? It looks more like this:
R 4 ds – 4 ds – 4 ds – 4 ds, cl r. RW. R 7 ds – 7 ds, cl r. RW. R 4 ds + 4 ds – 4 ds – 4 ds, cl r. RW. R 7 ds + 2 ds – 2 ds – 2 ds – 2 ds – 2 ds – 2 ds – 7 ds, cl r. RW. R 4 ds + 4 ds – 4 ds – 4 ds, cl r. RW. R 7 ds + 7 ds, cl r. Rep from beg.
Whew! See why the wordiness of step by step instructions gave way to the notation above? It saves space and after a little practice you can almost see the ring before you make it.
This is not exactly a beginner’s edging. However, I found it in a 1919 magazine so it is very vintage. We might even call it antique. I tatted this sample in size 20 Lizbeth thread instead of the size 10 threads I used for all the other samples.
However, this example is also made with only one shuttle and one thread. It’s not as complicated as it looks. The progression goes like this: large ring, small ring, small ring, large ring, large ring, small ring, small ring… and so on. After one big one it’s two small and then two big, and then back to two small.
Make a large ring of 2 ds, picot, (1 1/2 ds, picot) 11 times, 2 ds, close ring. You will have 12 picots total. Note: To make a 1 1/2 ds, make the first half of the ds stitch as you make the picot and then follow it with a full double stitch. For the last picot, make it with a full ds and then a second full ds to make your 2-ds count at the end of the ring. Or play around with it until you find a rhythm that works for you: you need a full ds and either the first half or second half of the stitch between each picot. How you do it is really up to you.
Reverse work (RW). Leave a space of thread about 1/8 inch, and then make a ring of 3 ds, picot, 3 ds, picot, 3 ds, picot, 3 ds, close ring.
RW. Leave a short space. Ring of 3 ds, join to 11th picot of large ring, 3 ds, picot, 3 ds, picot, 3 ds, close ring.
RW. Leave a short space. Ring of 2 ds, picot, 1 1/2 ds, join to last picot of 3-picot ring, (1 1/2 ds, picot) 10 times, 2 ds, close ring.
RW. Leave a short space. Ring of 2 ds, picot, 1 1/2 ds, join to last picot of 3-picot ring, (1 1/2 ds, picot) 10 times, 2 ds, close ring.
Repeat from Step 2, continuing to join to the last picot of the small rings and the 11th picot of the large rings.
Find your favorite
I hope that this small selection of one-shuttle edgings gives you at least one that you love and can turn to again and again when you want to trim something special or you simply want to keep your hands moving.
Play with these. Change the sizes of the rings. Add picots to make them more lacy. Try various sizes of threads. This photo shows what the rings look like when the stitch count changes.
You can see what a difference it makes to change from 3 ds between picots to 6 ds between picots. Don’t be afraid to try something new. It’s only thread. It won’t care if you cut off a length and toss it because you didn’t like the effect or you got a stitch count wrong after you closed a ring. You are still creating. And with these easy vintage tatting patterns that use only one shuttle, that’s what counts.
If you missed the intro to tatting post, you can find it here. Next time I’ll show you some simple edgings that use both rings and chains, drawn from vintage sources.
David Langston is known by many names. His best friend, surgeon Dr. Carey, calls him “David.” To others in the area he’s known as Medicine Man, Harvester, and even That Lazy One. The other farmers call him lazy because he raises no large crops on his land. Instead, he tends to the herbs that made medicines in 1900. He grows them, harvests them, and sells them to Chicago for a nice profit. You have just discovered The Harvester, a 1911 book by Gene Stratton-Porter.
Twenty-six year old Langston enjoys a good life. His bank account is sufficient for his needs, and his needs are few. David takes his job and his life seriously. Each spring he re-evaluates his life and work at the arrival of the first bluebird of Spring. He lets his trusted dog Balshazzar decide for him, and this year brings a surprise. Then he experiences a dream –– or was it a vision? –– that changes everything. He immediately sets about the business of updating his little cabin so it will be fit for two.
But who is she, this Dream Girl? And where can he find her? While he searches he tends to his acres of plants, harvesting one to cure this ailment and another to cure that one. As the reader, you walk with him through the paths. You hear the birds call, see the calm of the pond, and hear the babble of the creek.
Gene Stratton-Porter, naturalist
Part of the charm of The Harvester is that it was written by a naturalist. Gene Stratton Porter was a regional writer who told stories about the Limberlost Swamp area of northern Indiana. She also documented its native moths, plants, and birds in various nature studies.
Long one of my favorite books, reading The Harvester again was a joy. Although the story takes place through all the seasons over a year’s span, I always think of The Harvester as a spring/summer book. Perhaps it’s because the action opens with the arrival of the first bluebird of spring and follows from there.
Is The Harvester high literature? No; very little published in 1910-1912 was. However, many of these books provided good reading. The Harvester remains a charming read more than 100 years after its writing. If you want a book to curl up with, whether your companion is a glass of iced tea under a tree or a mug of hot cocoa by the fire, The Harvester by Gene Stratton-Porter is one of the best companions I know.
A book of its time
Like many of the books I write about each month, Gene Stratton-Porter’s The Harvester is a book of its time. For one thing, you may find some of the word spellings odd. You’ll know them when you see them. I don’t know whether this was regional spelling, the time period. or something else that made Stratton-Porter attach strange endings to some of her words.
You may find controlling characters, small-minded characters, and fearful women. Or you may not. One thing you will find: an author who believed that she and the women around her had something to offer her world. She wrote about it, and she lived it through her books, nature studies, short stories, articles, and photography. If you haven’t discovered Gene Stratton-Porter before now, you are in for a woodsy treat.
Jerusha Abbott has a problem. She is about to age out of the orphanage where she’s spent her entire life. As far as she knows she’s never been anywhere else. The orphan home’s director even gave her name to her: Jerusha was out of the Bible, and Abbott from the telephone directory.
Thus begins the story of Jerusha “Judy” Abbott. She learns that her college board and tuition will be covered by one of the orphan home Trustees. Her main requirements are to work hard and to send her benefactor a letter every month. There’s only one problem. She doesn’t know his name.
The orphanage director tells Jerusha to address her letters to Mr. John Smith. Jerusha saw the man’s shadow in passing on Trustee Visiting Day, so she knows he is tall. She names her new friend Daddy-Long-Legs.
A commentary in the novel
This month I’m reading Daddy-Long-Legs, by Jean Webster. She was Mark Twain’s grand-niece. This book is an epistolary novel, meaning that its action unfolds one letter after another. An enduring favorite, this is my fourth time reading it. One of the things I love about Daddy-Long-Legs is that it is a sweet novel, but also a commentary on the world it portrays.
Daddy-Long-Legs tells the story of Jerusha growing up and experiencing the world. We see her world only through her letters to her benefactor. But the book also tells much more. Beyond the mysterious millionaire and his protégé, the book speaks of the frustrations and culture of its time. Jerusha reaches adulthood, but she cannot vote. The book’s publication date is 1912, and women didn’t vote until the presidential election of 1920. That’s eight years away from the world of Jean Webster.
Jerusha marvels at her roommates who grew up in luxury. Then she contrasts it to her own upbringing, and the differences become apparent. She muses on the social class differences in her world, and gives us a look at the very poor. She has a dream of social progress and of making her own way, but to see if she succeeds at either you will have to read the book.
Webster uses Daddy-Long-Legs to discuss the current (1912) place of women in society and life. In this, Daddy-Long-Legs is both novel and social commentary. Because the subjects come from Jerusha as she discovers life, the topics seem natural and not preachy. For that reason alone the book is worth the time to read it. Webster wrote other books, including a sequel to Daddy-Long-Legs, but this is her best known.
Because the book dates from 1912, it contains conventions and ideas of its time. However, I was surprised at how forward-thinking it was in several areas. You can enjoy Daddy-Long-Legs as a novel, as social commentary, or as both.
Experience it yourself
Daddy-Long-Legs saw several movie adaptations, beginning with the 1919 Mary Pickford version you can watch on YouTube here. In 1955 Fred Astaire starred in Daddy-Long-Legs, but the Astaire version differs considerably from the book. If you are an Astaire fan, read the book first. It will only a take a few hours.
If you love oatmeal in a bowl but don’t have the time or inclination to make it every morning, these oatmeal gem muffins might be the perfect solution. Only slightly sweet, these muffins taste like you’re eating prepared oatmeal from the palm of your hand. Best of all, you start them overnight. Then you only need to stir in a few ingredients in the morning and bake them.
Published in 1919, this recipe was called Oatmeal Gems. Gems are muffins baked in cast-iron gem pans. A gem pan could look like a muffin pan, or it could turn out half rounds of bread. Usually, a gem pan contained some kind of open area to allow air and heat flow around the individual muffin cups. If this concept fascinates you, The Cast Iron Collector web site gives more information on gem pans than you will ever need for a vintage home kitchen. After all, the well-equipped home kitchen contained one gem pan. Just one. The vintage kitchen provided no room for storing extra, unneeded utensils and pans. (Thankfully, I have a garage that I use to do just that.)
Muffins in the vintage kitchen
In the vintage home, muffins accompanied a meal, or they provided part of a teatime heavy snack. Today we eat muffins as a standalone meal replacement and although that may be a vintage reality, it was never touted as the ideal. When I made these I grabbed a couple and ate them with a fresh cup of coffee. That was breakfast.
Eaten hot from the oven, these muffins provided the cereal part of a good breakfast along with fruit, coffee or hot cocoa, and perhaps eggs. Later in the day, served at room temperature or re-warmed in the oven still hot from cooking dinner, they saved the household cook from making a second type of bread on a non-baking day. Since they aren’t very sweet they would go well with a dinner menu.
These muffins taste sweeter at room temperature, although they also go down well with a smear of butter. They are chewy, dense quick breads.
The recipe basics
The recipe starts with sour milk. You can easily make sour milk yourself by adding a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar to a cup of milk. Since the recipe calls for a cup and a half of milk you would add a tablespoon and a half of vinegar. Regular white vinegar will work, too, if you don’t have any apple cider vinegar. However, apple cider vinegar seems to produce a slightly thicker product.
The next morning you mix in some baking soda, an egg, salt, flour, and sugar. Then you bake them. I used a mini muffin pan, which helps them cook all the way through. Since this is an older recipe it offered no oven temperature outside of “hot.” I baked these minis for 15 minutes at 375º to give them a bit of brown on top. I was using gluten free flour. If you use regular flour, baking them for 13 minutes might be enough.
Whether you eat them with your morning coffee or tea like I did, or incorporate them into a proper vintage meal, these oatmeal gem muffins are good to have in your repertoire. They mix up easily, cook quickly, and need only a few everyday ingredients.
1. Mix the apple cider vinegar and the milk. Let stand ten minutes to sour.
2. Place the oatmeal in a medium bowl and add the milk. Stir, cover, and set in the refrigerator overnight.
3. In the morning, preheat oven to 375º F.
3. Add baking soda, egg, flour, salt, and sugar to the oatmeal mixture. Mix well, and fill the wells in the mini muffin pan.
4. Bake mini muffins for 13 – 15 minutes. When they are done, the tops should pop back when pressed lightly. Or use the tried and true toothpick method to check.
This recipe was tested with Bob’s Red Mill 1 to 1 Gluten Free Baking Flour. Use gluten free oats if you need them.
If you try these, please leave a comment to let me know how you like them. When I make them again I may sprinkle a little sugar on the tops before baking, or I might stir some mini chocolate chips into the batter. This is a variation unknown in 1919, since chocolate chips weren’t invented until 1937.
Bille Campbell is an individual. The year is 1911 and in Motor Maids School Days she decides to attend school for the year in West Haven, since her father will be working in Russia for the year and she is motherless. She stays with an elder cousin, Helen Campbell. Spinster Helen acts as both chaperone and guide to Billie. West Haven is a seaside town, filled with seaports, strange people, and high school hijinks. Fifteen year old Billie drives up to the school in her own bright red motorcar, which becomes the centerpiece for many adventures to come.
This book is the first in the very short Motor Maids series for teen girls. My copy belonged to my grandmother, and she loved it enough after receiving it sometime around age fourteen to keep it for the next 65 years.
Turn of the Century Culture
And there’s a lot to love with this book. To begin with, it starts off a six-book series which leads the Motor Maids far away from the sleepy seaport town of West Haven. Motor Maids School Days is a look into the culture of the early 1900s. Yes, it’s fiction. But it also tackles topics that most of us only read about in passing. Or those cultural artifacts we see in an old photo and wonder what happened.
For one thing, the book explains high school girls’ clubs. The high school sophomore class of girls at West Haven High School is divided into two groups: The Mystic Seven and the Blue Birds. The Blue Birds consists of all the girls not in the Mystic Seven. Seventeen of the girls join the Blue Birds. Reading carefully shows the ebb and flow of interaction between the two clubs, as the book talks about get-togethers, outings, and overnights.
School Days also talks a lot about the class system of 1900 – 1915. Some families are in, and others are out – merely based on their financial position within the town. It contains characters who are “haves” as well as those who are “have nots,” and weaves them nicely through the pages of the novel. Sometimes you feel like you get to know supporting characters better than you do the protagonist Billie. Elinor Butler introduces us to her seafaring family, and Mary Price shows us life with her mother’s tearoom.
You also read about vintage fashion and how it reflected social status. For someone fascinated by the fashions of 1910-1915, this could be worth reading the book on its own. Ulsters, veils, wraps, and dresses all take their place as part of the story.
Wrapped up in all this vintage detail you discover a mystery. Billie and her friends find themselves involved in a bizarre cat and mouse game, avoiding people whose names they don’t know as they attempt to unravel the threads that lead to an answer.
Signs of the Times
Because the book appeared in 1911, it contains outdated terms and ideas. One of the girls in the story is overweight, and although she appears in several of the stories and is a general favorite of everyone, they still tease her. Even though West Haven sits as a port town, with ships arriving with cargo from everywhere, some of the visiting characters have unflattering descriptions. These serve to increase suspense in the novel, and perhaps that is how they were intended, but at times they seem odd, especially on this fourth or fifth reading of the novel. And of course, because of the time period, servants are sometimes identified by race.
Who was Katherine Stokes?
Also a sign of the times, a lengthy search turned up nothing about the author. The book’s publisher, Hurst & Company, specialized in series books by the time the Motor Maids books released, and the company folded in 1919. If Hurst managed to stay in business, we might have even more Motor Maids books to read. Katherine Stokes, the author, appears nowhere. Only six books carry her name in any search and these are the Motor Maids books. Katherine may have been a pen name for an author or committee that churned out series books.
With absolutely no evidence to support this, I also suggest that she may have been a real person. Katherine Stokes might have taught seventh grade in Hartford, Connecticut. A Katherine Stokes appears in the Hartford school listings for the years before and after the Motor Maids books were published. A seventh grade teacher stood in a perfect position to write a series about independent teenagers. This Katherine was single, and she rented rooms and houses through this entire period, so she probably had the time to devote to constructing six books. This, however, is complete conjecture. If anyone has information on Katherine Stokes the author, I would love to know her story.
Get Your Copy
You too can read Motor Maids School Days. One of the great things about these older books is that they are freely available. This bodes well for readers who love turn of the century fiction. You can download a copy from the Internet Archive here, or you can download it or read it online at Project Gutenberg, here. Download a free Kindle version from Amazon. Amazon also sells reprints. If you want an original 1911 copy, and your grandmother or great-grandmother doesn’t have one, try eBay.