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Sunday, October 15, 2017

Vintage Big Spice Yarn for Big Needle Knitting

A New Yarn Sensation .. It's bigger, bulkier, and you can knit it faster on giant size No. 15 needles.   Big Spice is 100% Virgin Wool, soft, color radiant, and resilient.   

 So, says this 1964 magazine advertisement that was published in Modern Knitting Magazine. 

This advertisement comes to us from the 12/26/1964 Wausau Herald Newspaper (Wausau, WI).   A couple points .... First,  I like the concept of this sale ... Pre-Inventory!   Just what is that supposed to mean?  (Before the inventory arrives, or?).    Secondly, this ad shows us that you'd want to purchase Botany Big Spice when the Botany Colossal just isn't bulky enough. 

The yarn makes perfect sense for this time period.   The early 1960's were popping with a number of 'Big Needle Patterns', mostly knit, but some crochet as well. 

And, here's what the Big Spice Yarn looks like.   (compliments of Ebay seller gretel3042)
Note that the label is Bear Brand, not Botany.  Well, as you probably know, Bernhard Ulmann was the manufacturer/marketer here of both brands (Fleishers as well), and frequently branded the same yarn under the different names.   One point of interest is, by doing so, they were competing with themselves.  But, on the reverse side, if a fiber artist had an allegiance to a particular brand, they got the sale.  
And here's a picture of the ad we started this article with ... The Big Hits in Bulky Knits (from Amazon seller) ... was issued in 1963.   Notice here, again, all three yarn brands are referenced.   

Apparently the book was not a big seller for the times as there are very references to it out there in Google-land.   I'm also assuming the yarn was not a big hit either, as it lasted in the market only three years before being discontinued.   

I do not have (yet), any patterns in the shop calling for this yarn, but there are a fair number of big needle designs that would be suitable should you have some of this in your stash.   

Okay, time to get back to work.    Thanks for dropping by,

Friday, October 13, 2017

Ursula duBois Knitting Patterns

I came across the name Ursula du-bois in a 1966 issue of The Toledo Blade, and, picking up a new name, was driven to investigate further.   (I love going through these old newspapers and can spend hours at a time. Thus the reason I get so little done, some days).

A number of knitting patterns were issued under the Ursula duBois name between 1964 and 1969.  Interestingly enough, these patterns were 15 - 75 cents higher in price than the norm for this time period.  Frequently, the pictures were low quality, making it difficult to see the merits of the garments.   Many of them, however, were modeled by actresses; in this case, Pat Woodell.    To a smaller extent, the patterns were syndicated across various newspapers.   I've found evidence of 5.

In addition to the patterns, several columns, in different cities, were written under the Ursula duBois name, and typically appeared along side, or underneath the pattern advertisement.  These columns were 'Let's Knit', 'Now Knit This', and Knit Clinic.  Both columns gave suggestions and advice, as well as answered readers questions.

There is two hints out there that Ursula duBois may have been an actual person, not a syndication name.  The first hint is that her name was updated to Ursula deBois Lewis in mid 1968, implying a marriage.  The second is business license was obtained under the name (whereas we do not see this with syndicated names).

And that's it.   I was not able to find nothing else.   Which, if Ursula duBois was an actual person, I would expect to find tracks like birth or death certificates, events, designer references.   But nope.   Nothing.  I did set up a couple Google alerts on her name/address and if something should pop up, I'll fill you in.

In the meantime, I copied off all the patterns/columns I found and my putting them out here and there in my daily stream over at Facebook.   They are set up in their own Album - Ursula duBois, should you like to take a look.

Thanks for dropping by,

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Mail Order Designs The Old Fashioned Girl

To go with the mail order knit and crochet patterns that I collect, the accompanying mail order catalogs have become a must-have item.   I watch for these catalogs online, and combine them in at a reasonable pace.
This Mail Order Design Catalog, Vintage 1940s, is from Laura Wheeler

Recently I added another Laura Wheeler Designs catalog to my collection.   I saw it on Ebay  listed as Rare with a Buy It Now price of $49.99, or best offer.   Now, I haven't seen this particular cover before, but Rare, ... doubtful.  So, after a couple exchanges over the next two weeks, we settled on $8.25.  Fair enough.   

As with this one, these catalogs are seldom dated; you have to employ some sleuth work using patterns in my collection, and of course, Google News (a real gold mine).  The majority of patterns in this book are 1947, 1948 and a couple 1949, so, I'd place this catalog at 1949.   

Now, these catalogs represent the more popular mail order patterns of the specific time.   So, what was the standout designs of 1949 in the Needle Craft market?   Hands down ... it would have to be the Old Fashioned Girl.  
Crocheted Chair sets from Laura Wheeler Design Catalog
 Design 646- Here he is in a chair set, facing right.

Old Fashioned Girl Chair Set Crochet Pattern Marketed as Laura Wheeler 785
Design 785 has her facing left, and 927 has her doubled and exchanging floral bouquets.

Crocheted Old Fashioned Girls Chair Set patterns from Laura Wheeler Design Catalog
Here we have Designs 505 and 887 which gives us The Old Fashioned Girl in a combination of crochet and embroidery. 

Yes indeed, she was quite a popular girl, and from other patterns in my collection, she appears to have remained popular into the early 1960s.   Perhaps her popularity started waning with the decrease in usage of chair sets?   I don't know. 

There are, of course, many other pattern designs in the catalog.   It's heavy on the crochet and embroidery, with knitting being relegated to just a couple clothing selections.   Regardless, I'm happy to have it added to my collection.    

Thanks for dropping by, 

Monday, October 9, 2017

Wool Kare Cold Water Soap by Columbia Minerva

On the inside back cover of Columbia Minerva 732, published (I believe) in 1960 is this full page advertisement. 

Well, I didn't know that Columbia Minerva, in addition to their yarns and threads, also produced a washing detergent.   Of course, it's a good fit .... knit the sweater with Columbia Minerva Yarn, and then care for the garment with Wool-Kare. 

I found a footnote in a Google book excerpt indicating the product brand was purchased from another company, but other than than, I've found no other references to it's history, other than a few newspaper ads. 

1956 -- "is mat and shrink resistant, comes in powder or liquid form.  Softens water, makes whites whiter, colors brighter.  Just immerse, squeeze, rinse". 

1957 --  "There's a secret ingredient, V-99 ... No blocking is needed because the bath protects the the original shape"

A variety of Art Needlework Departments regularly placed the product on sales promotion, such as this one.

And then, in 1964, the ads stopped.    I assume Wool-Kare was a re-branded product (made by some other company, who applied the Columbia Minerva label).    Perhaps it didn't turn out to be a profit maker and they called it quits in the Cold Water Soap Market. 

And that, I admit not much, is all I know.   Perhaps you know more and would be willing to share?

Thanks for dropping by,

Little Catalog of Just Doilies, Spinning Wheel Patterns

Spinning Wheel was another syndicated player in the Mail Order Pattern business.   They were on a much smaller scale, selling (at least) through the Chicago Tribune Newspaper during the 1950's and early 1960's.   Their patterns were rebranded Anne Cabot designs.   As was typical in the mail order businesses, they did not print the their brand name on the patterns, but used a symbol --- A Spinning Wheel.  Just like the other designers, when one purchased a pattern, they could also purchase a catalog.    Their catalogs were much smaller and also contained a pattern.   This is one of their catalogs, which I'd like to share with you.

 The Little Catalog of Just Doilies 
On the cover is Pattern 1101 - Gem Doily.   This pattern was included in the booklet. 

 And, on the inside cover, the typical diagrams of pattern stitches.   Also here is the Spinning Wheel Logo.  

 Page 6 and 7 

 Page 8 and 9

 Page 10 and 11

Page 12 and 13

And, on the back cover, an enlarged view of the Pineapple Doily, Pattern 1101.

I've seen these Spinning Wheel patterns, and know there are a number of them in my collection.   I just learned, for a helpful member of Ravelry, what name the Logo applied.   One day, should I ever run out of patterns to process (ya right), I'll have to go back through them and identify the others that are Spinning Wheel.  

Hope you enjoyed the Little Book of Just Doilies. 

Thanks for dropping by, 

10/09/2017 -- P.s.  This post originally appeared in the Shop Talk Blog in Feburary 2015.  I've just moved to the Bits of History, as that's what it's about ... a Bit of History.   

Woolco Brand Carpet Warp by January Woods Co.

I'll pick up a pattern for processing and a question will come to mind and then ... off I go ... sidetracked.  Like this.
Woolco Carpet Warp for Rug Pattern Leaflet 2231

This is Leaflet No 2231 from Woolco.  I'd say early 1950's.   The pattern gives directions for the pictured rug worked in Carpet Warp.   And, there's the thought.   What is a comparable carpet warp to refer to?    

Let the Google searches begin!.   Now, I learned that January & Wood Company, now defunct, but previously makers of Maysville Carpet Warp, also produced for carpet warp under the brands of Southern States, Ace Hardware, Kroger, K-Mart, Coats and Clarks, and ... you guessed it ... Woolco. 

Which, now knowing the equivalent brand is Maysville (named for the town of the January Woods factory ... which you'll probably recognize as Kentucky Yarn Co), I headed over to Ravelry for additional specifications on the yarn.   

I hope this is enough information to get one started, because I need to get back to work now!.   Oh, I've listed the Woolco Rug pattern as a Free Download, should you like to give it a try.  

Thanks for dropping by, 

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Bernat Merlaine Yarn for Dressmaking

In my reserve of magazine advertisements is this vivid full-color display from a 1950 issue of McCall Needlecraft magazine.

Here we have a promotion of Bernat's Merlaine Yarn, as well as Bernat Handicrafter No 23 pattern book, that featured the yarn. 

A gander at shows the Merlaine Yarn was introduced to the market in late 1949. - this advertisement from December. 

And the final ad appeared in mid 1951.  Here, the yarn is specifically billed for dress making, and due to it's short life span, I'd suggest it was not that popular.     

According to Ravelry (the knowers of most everything knit and crochet) this was a 100% wool yarn. 

(Photo clip from Pinterest) 
According to Ravelry (the knowers of most everything knit and crochet) this was a 100% wool yarn.  
I'm surprised I do not (yet) have any patterns calling for this yarn.  Typically, when an advertisement appears in the magazine, there are several patterns that correspond.  

I did find a couple references out there in Internet Land, such as this lovely three piece dress combination over at the Cosedilia site.    (If you need gauge information, it's referenced).

I'll keep my eyes open; it's highly possible there are more ads out there.    If anyone happens to have any of this vintage Merlaine Yarn in their stash, I'd love to have a picture of the label ... for the rest of the yarn details ...  hint, hint, hint.  

Thanks for dropping by.