The Creative Corner · Vintage Ways

Make Yourself a Rainy-Day Box

Sometimes I come across vintage advice that is so good that it stops me cold. It doesn’t have to be huge, or timeless. It just has to be useful. Like the suggestion to iron a circular tablecloth from the center out to keep it straight and even, and then to roll it on a curtain rod to keep it that way instead of folding it. Who figured that out? And more importantly, how did information like this ever fall into the black hole of forgetfulness? Today’s advice: Make yourself a Rainy-Day Box.

A lined basked filled with a ball of yarn and sock knitting needles. Next to it sit four spools of silk thread in green, pink, red, and blue.
My Rainy-Day Box filled with socks to knit and silk thread for lacemaking.

A vintage idea that still stands strong

Rainy days can be dreary. A truth no less accurate today than it was 100 years ago. The air carries a chill, rain pelts on the windows, and the skies look gray and foreboding. This is not exactly the type of weather that makes us want to grab a filled picnic basket and head for the nearest park. So what do you do if rain falls and cancels your plans? Open your Rainy-Day Box!

I used to dislike rainy days. The patter of the big drops on the roof was a signal for the entrance of the gloom family, in droves.

Clara M. Neville, contributor to Needlecraft Magazine, 1921.

This idea appeared in a small article in an 1920s magazine. The suggester wrote “I used to dislike rainy days. The patter of the big drops on the roof was a signal for the entrance of the gloom family, in droves. … I doubtless succeeded in making other folks as miserable as I was myself by my low spirits.” This struck me, for sometimes I feel gloomy on rainy days as well.

So I followed her advice. I found a small box to serve as my Rainy-Day Box, and then I sat for a while, thinking. The little empty sewing box sat in front of me as inspiration. What did I really want to do but never seemed to find the time? What did I want to finish but always found myself pulled in seventy different directions as soon as I sat down to work on it?

A box of opportunities

As I looked around my work room, the answer became clear quickly. I love working with silk thread and yarn. It doesn’t have to be shiny and slick; it can be nubby and matte. Over time I’d amassed a small collection of G├╝termann silk threads. Because I wanted use it for lacemaking instead of sewing, I specifically bought the flower and leaf colors. These would find their way into my Rainy-Day Box for making Oya/Armenian needle lace.

So I gathered a few things that you can see in the photo. These launched my own Rainy-Day Box, and now I too look forward to inclement weather. It’s filled with colors I love, threads I long to use, and projects that once upon a time filled my someday list. When I finish one project I will slip another one into the box for the next rainy day.

Put your box together

What kinds of things can you put into your own Rainy-Day Box? Here are some ideas:

  • Drop into your box that book you’ve been dying to read but never seem to find the hours to make it happen.
  • Do you relax by cooking? Slip that recipe you long to make into your box. If it requires non-perishable ingredients such as raisins or currants, purchase those and put them in your pantry with a big inked X on the front so you don’t use it for anything else.
  • If you want to learn a new skill such as tatting, place a shuttle and small ball of thread into your box and spend the day learning. (Try size 10 thread for learning. It’s bigger and easier to see the stitches.)
  • Interested in spending time watching a movie you can’t fit in any other way? Put a DVD in your Rainy-Day Box. If you use streaming services, write yourself a note with the title and the service and drop it into your box so you can find the information when you need it.
  • Would you like to immerse yourself in a project like knitting socks or crocheting a vintage yoke for a camisole? Place your goodies into your box and await the next day filled with wet skies.

As you can see, it doesn’t matter what you are into. If it fits in your Rainy-Day Box and it brings you joy, it works. And if it doesn’t fit, find yourself a bigger box. It doesn’t matter what you put into it as long as it makes you happy.

If you need ideas for projects to fit into your Rainy-Day Box, check out these posts I wrote on learning to make tatted lace with a shuttle, five great vintage crocheted edgings, or this turn-of-the-century travelogue about England.