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Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Bernat Mohairspun Yarn

In the late 1950's / early 1960's, Mohair yarns were becoming quite popular with knitters for it's versatile and soft possibilities.   A bit of romantic allure on a skein of yarn.  

Bernat, being right in line with all  new market trends, introduced three Mohair yarns, the most successful being Mohairspun.  

Bernat, being one of the major yarn suppliers, was no exception, entering their Mohairspun to the market at the end of 1960 for a mere $0.79 per 1 ounce skein, without material makeup appearing in most advertisements - 66% (goat) mohair, 17% wool and 17% nylon.  This is a worsted weight yarn; 9 wpi.  

A couple pattern books were issued featuring the mohair line of yarns; Book 118 one of the favorites.  Bernat also ran advertisements in needlework magazines, which also included several patterns (not featured in books)

Another (quite profitable) promotion were kits that contained everything (except the needles) to create a specific item.  Bernat put the kits together, which were delivered to the retail outlets for sale to the consumer.   At times, the kits could also be mail ordered.  

Retail yarn stores were supplied with Bernat patterns to give to customers 'free of charge', with the purchase of the yarn.  

But, sooner or later, all good yarns come to an end, and in mid 1969, Bernat began the process of discontinuing their Mohairspun yarn. 

There are a fair number of patterns calling for Bernat Mohairspun in the shop (should you care to browse), as well as out there in internet land that are well worth your time and expense.  It should not be difficult to find a replacement.   There are a number of current mohair yarns in the market; just match the gauge of your selected pattern.  

Thanks for dropping by, 

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Nomotta Festive Yarn

Nomotta Festive Yarn was rather short-lived, but oh my ... what wonderful patterns were created to for it's use. 
Interestingly enough, this 1950 magazine advertisement, featuring a skein of Festive yarn, does not actually profile this yarn, just the brand itself.    The bits of information known ...

Nomotta, an import from Germany, was introduced to the United States market in 1950.   No pattern books (as was consistent for this time period), were published to promote sales, however, a patterns were offered in magazines where Nomotta promoted their yarn.

"Fine quality crepe twist yarn of 100% virgin wool, 2-ply.  One oz skeins (195 yards) in a choice of twenty colors.  Typical gauge:  8 sts = 1 inch

The first newspaper advertisement (that I've been able to find) from 1955, listed the selling price at $0.65 per skein.

The last advertisement at 3 for a $1.00.   I'd assume this highly discounted price the result of the yarn being discontinued. 

It's hard to say if the lack of success on Festive Yarn due to the quality.  It's just as likely the result of poor promotion on the part of the distributors.   Only Nomotta know!

I have a couple of patterns in the shop that call for Nomotta Festive, if you'd care to browse and have no doubt there will be a few more as I continue working through the old magazines.   If you decide on a pattern that calls for this yarn, I'd suggest any lightweight dress yarn that meets the 8 sts to 1" gauge.

Thanks for dropping by. 

Sunday, March 11, 2018

The Carol Curtis Needlework Service

The Carol Curtis Needlework Corner was the creation of the Peerless Pattern Syndicate.  (Peerless Fashion Service, Inc).  This service, through the 30's and 40's, ran several other pattern columns with an emphasis on sewing patterns.  This advertising column, I'd assume, was their effort at gaining some of the popularity (and sales, of course), being enjoyed by the Readers Mail Syndicate which featured Laura Wheeler, Alice Brooks and Anne Cabot.

The 'by Carol Curtis' service began in 1951 to a very limited market - Northern California only and stopped in April 1952; later resuming.

The pattern advertisement appeared in the paper, and the reader would send their 25 cent payment to purchase the pattern.   In this case, the address goes to a New York P.O. box.   The patterns themselves with oversized - 20 x 16 inches.  When charts were offered, this oversize made them easy to use.

The pattern would be received, typically in two to four weeks, in a brightly colored envelope.

Within the first year, a catalog was issued which could be purchased for an additional 25 cents.  The 20 page catalog listed the 'more popular' of the Carol Curtis patterns.   Only one catalog was issued.  This catalog was the only 'customer' reference to the Peerless Fashion Service.

The Carol Curtis Needlework service ran the usual pattern offerings; sewing, embroidery, knit and crochet, along with a couple offerings of hairpin lace.

This was (to my knowledge), the only pattern service that also issued 'How-To' Guides for each of the arts their patterns covered. 

The Peerless syndicate took their advertising approach a step further than the other Mail Order Companies of the time.   A portion of each pattern page was a showing / offering of other current patterns in the same type.  A mini-catalog you might say. 

The pattern service continued until January 1956, and then stopped without a word.  A search of knit and crochet patterns for the time period, 1951 through 1956 found  114 patterns released.  Far more of the patterns were crochet than knit.  The majority of the patterns were easy designs for potholders, mats, doilies.  There are a couple splendid filet crocheted patterns.   This was never a National syndicate; the ads appearing in less than 20 states. 

There are a few of the patterns in the shop, should you care to browse, with a number more waiting to be processed.  Sometime, in the near future, I'll pull the advertising pictures and set-up a Facebook album. 

If you know more about Carol Curtis, or are willing to share patterns that you might have, please let me know.   Thanks for dropping by.

Friday, March 9, 2018

Marian Martin Crochet Patterns, Mail Order Designs

I have three Mail Order Design patterns in my collection that are in the 9000 number series.  Now, I know that Alice Brooks patterns are in the 7000 number series, so assume these three random patterns were, perhaps, typo errors on the part of Readers Mail. 

Well, today, while researching the first of these patterns for entry to the shop, I discovered how incorrect I was.   

This pattern, is a quite nice crocheted jacket  with raglan sleeves, collar, patch pockets and contrast trim.   It is on the 'special side', in that it is sized for the larger woman - from 12-1/2 to 22-1/2.  Design 9079 is available in the shop, should you be interested. 

I then headed over to Google-land, to search for the pattern description and received quite a surprise.

Design pattern 9079 was marketed as a Marian Martin Design.   Now, Marian Martin was part of the Readers Mail family, however, distributed sewing patterns .... all in the 9000 number series.  I pulled out the other two patterns to look for common factors. 

Okay, it appears that crochet patterns were issued under the Marian Martin name when combined with a sewing pattern offer.   In this example, the offer is a sewing pattern for a woman's suit - jacket, shell and skirt, with an added bonus.   A crochet version of the jacket as well.   A combination pattern.  The other two were similar ... a dress and jacket, etc. 

There's still a bit that I've not figured out however is how they came together.  All three hardcopy patterns I have are crochet only; with no reference to crochet.    Whereas the advertisement does not indicate the sewing and crochet pattern are separate items. 

Yet another item to my 'I wonder' list about these mail order patterns.   Perhaps you know more about Marian Martin Crochet Patterns. 

Thanks for dropping by,

Monday, March 5, 2018

National Knitting Contest of 1936

The year is 1936, Franklin Roosevelt is President, the Great Depression is nearing the end (1939), employment is up 16% and the country appreciated those 'little diversions' to get their minds off the troubles.   It was a great time for a 'National Contest"

The advertisements began in newspapers in January 1936.  The sponsor of the event is the Warner Brothers - Motion Picture Movie Classic Magazine.  In the smaller print, you'll see the co-sponsor is Bucilla Yarn.   In later ads, this was expanded to include the co-brands of Fleisher's and Bear Brand.  The ads appeared in major metro areas across the United states, as well as the magazines.   

Contest details were slowly released ... building excitement and momentum.  This early February ad let's the potential participants know they had to buy a copy of Motion Picture - Move Classic Knitting Book for 25 cents.   (Unfortunately, I've not been able to locate a photo of the book)

(From other newspapers articles): 

  • The National Knitting Contest may be entered by anyone who will choose a pattern from the Motion Picture - Movie Classic Knitting Book, which sold for 25 cents on newsstands.  
  • Yarns of the Fleishers Trademark must be used. 
  • There will be 6 judges, which include Mrs. James Roosevelt - the President' mother.  
  • First Prize, an all expense paid trip to Hollywood ... and lots of other things.  

The excitement continues to mount in the various newspaper ads.  Realize the dream of a lifetime!  Knit (and wear) the smart fashions of Hollywood actresses.  The newspapers ads are published by the yarn shops selling the yarn, of course. 

Various columns were published showing the possible outfits.   In this case, the knitter could obtain the pattern for free by mailing to publisher .... however, that was not entry to the contest. 

This late March advertisement reminded "Don't wait another minute".  Through the month of April, small ads continued reminding knitters .... only 2 weeks left, one 3 days left, etc.   The contest ended on April 30th. 

Now, I've not seen much information on how the participants submitted their items for judging (perhaps one day), just they had to enter in advance and supply labels for the materials used.  The contest ended on April 30th, and the judging took place on May 1st in New York City. 
Now, interestingly enough, I've not located a single newspaper that printed out the winners as a whole.  Perhaps this is because the individual shops paid for the advertisements, and they had no need to spend the money.   I did, however, find a couple articles in regional patterns about a couple winners. 

First Prize:  Mrs. C.R. Goudie of Great Falls, MT.  All all expense trip for a week in Hollywood.

Mrs. Elizabeth Taylor wins third place and receives a Mendoza Fur Coat  

And that was that.   Bucilla/Fleishers no doubt experienced a large surge in shop orders, as well as an opportunity to introduce new yarns to the market.  The individual shops sold more than the norm in yarn.  The Movie Magazines experienced a large increase, albeit temporary, in sales, and who knows, perhaps gained a few new subscribers. 

The contest promotion was not repeated in 1937.   I've placed a couple Google alerts and hope, one day, to be able to come back and post the pattern booklet. 

Thanks for dropping by. 

Saturday, March 3, 2018

Bucilla Nubby Knit Yarn

I'm currently working my through Bernhard Ulman's Vol 103 pattern book, Fashion Pet which has a several yarns that I'm not familiar. 

Bucilla Nubby Knit - "Rich, luxurious yarn which is a clever combination of soft cotton with shimmering strands of rayon running through it with a profusion of nubs scattered over its surface.  This promotional advertisement appeared in Vol 108, Fashions Pet, as a nibbler. 

Nubby Knit Yarn made it's 'fashion debut' in January, 1936.  The 2-oz skeins sold for $0.50 each.   This new yarn has a touted use for dresses, blouses and sweaters.

In addition to the Fashion Pets Book (Vol 108), Bucilla also published Vol 107 - New Trends in Hand Knits between 1936 and 1937. 

Nubby Knit Yarn promotions virtually ended in 1939, which I would suggest was due to the majority of cotton availability being allocated to WWII. 

It made a short term return in 1948, and was boosted with a new pattern book - Vol.158, Cool Hand Knits in 1955.  And then, it was discontinued for, what I'm sure, was a more applicable yarn for the current times and technology. 

Now, there are an assortment of attractive vintage designs out there from these three books, as well as Magazine promotions that deserve a glance.   There are, of course, one or two in the shop.  should you care to browse.    But what yarn do you use ... ???

Photos courtesy of Ebay seller Lacybearshop

I really don't know.  Nubby Knit, Art 3371, was a Cotton/Rayon Blend, but percentages were not stated in advertisements or labeling.  Skeins were 2-oz - 225 yards each.    I can only suggest a lightweight dress yarn (nubby or not), that meets the gauge of the pattern you have selected. 

If you create one of these pattern designs, I'd love to have you share what yarn you used and perhaps a picture !!!


Thursday, March 1, 2018

Bucilla Petite Wondersheen, Crochet and Knitting Cotton

Right in the middle of the great Depression, Bucilla delivered their newest product to the market .... (drum roll, please) ... Bucilla Wondersheen; a Crochet and Knitting Cotton.

The year was 1935 and Bucilla startyed with a relatively small introduction to major metropolitan areas.  An interesting (or maybe not), note is the price per 700 yard skein varied depending upon the location.   (In later years, the yardage was also available in 400 and 500 yard skeins)

In 1938, Bucilla brought an accompanying thread to market -- Petite Wondersheen.  "Is the exact same fine quality, only spun in a finer size to achieve lacier effects.

Advertising remained constant, albeit light, until the end of WWII.  At that time, Bucilla began full page advertisements in needlecraft magazine as well publishing a growing number of pattern books featuring their Wondersheen product. 

And, sales and promotions plugged right along until 1949.  Then, the product started the discontinuation phase and had disappeared from the market by 1952.

Now, there are MANY vintage crochet and knitting patterns calling for Wondersheen from pattern books and magazines.   I have a fair number in the shop as well, if you care to browse.  But, you may ask, what do I use as a substitute.    Well .. 

Bucilla Wondersheen -  Substitute Size 10 Crochet Cotton,
Bucilla Petite Wondersheen - Substitute Size 20 Crochet Cotton

I hope, in some manner, this is insightful.    Thanks for dropping by,

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

The Lincoln Doily, Mail Order Patterns

Some of my blog happen over time.   I come across something that interests me, and start a draft post that will pend as I learn more ... or sometimes, I'll publish a blog post that is a 'Work in Progress", such as this one.

In my collection is Alice Books 7227.   The majority of Alice Brooks doily patterns simple read "Crocheted Doilies", which made this "Lincoln Doily" stand-out.  As in ... there must be a story here.

The Lincoln doily design was offered as Alice Brooks 7227, as well as Anne Cabot 5307; the advertisements appeared in newspapers on February 11, 1942 with very similar descriptions.   From Alice Brooks - "Lincoln, one of the most beloved presidents, loved the simple handmade things we today still use.  Crochet this Lincoln doily, an exact reproduction of one used on his favorite chair in his Springfield home.  The original is in a Chicago museum".  The advertised offer appeared several times a year (for both), between 1942 and 1944. 

Note:  The pattern Alice Brooks 7227 is listed in the shop.   I do not (yet) have Anne Cabot 5307.

And, here, my questions started to mount .... particular who and how.  I contacted the Lincoln Financial Foundation Collection, where I learned the doily (replica) was donated to the foundation by T.J. (Ted) Boruki.  (I would suggest in the time period between 1939 and 1941).  Thank you ladies!

Mr. Boruki, in the 1930's, was a collector of Lincoln Pennies.  Through this collection, and search for other artifacts, he was introduced to the Abraham Lincoln Book Shop.  The book shop was a meeting point for "Lincolniana" collectors from coast to coast, with memorabilia being traded and sold.  (He later became involved with the Lincoln Savings and Loan, where he raised the flag every morning.

"Mrs. Boruki pursues the Lincoln interest in her own way.  The doily on Lincoln's chair in the Chicago Historical Society is the result of her handiwork"  (from 1965 newspaper article on their 60th anniversary.

Now, this is presumption on my part ... Mrs. Boruki frequented the Book Shop with her husband and became in possession of the original Lincoln doily.  Using her apparent crochet skills, she duplicated the design, making a pattern for the 'official Lincoln doily'.

And that is the front end of this story.  But, I have (of course) a few more questions.

  • Does the original Lincoln Doily still exist?  
  • How did the Alice Brooks and Anne Cabot organizations get involved.  Did Mrs. Boruki contact them, or did they learn through the Museum?  
  • Is there an association between Anne Cabot and Alice Brooks patterns?
  • Was Mrs. Boruki paid for the pattern reproduction?

I have no doubt that I'll learn more about the Lincoln doily as I continue to research the Mail Order Pattern business.   And ... when that happens, I'll come back and update this post.

Perhaps you know something more?

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Dawn Knitting Worsted Yarn, American Thread

American Thread Co., past and present, brought us many fine yarns for our creative pursuits.   One, being Dawn Knitting Worsted.

Dawn Knitting Worsted appeared in the market place in December of 1934.  Note here that 'Famous' is simple what you call it.   At introduction, the yarn certainly not yet Famous .... but, by the end, it just may have gained that status.

Dawn Knitting Worsted Article W43, 100% Virgin Wool, 4-ply yarn.  It was sold in a variety of skein weights - 1.25, 1.34, 2, 3.5 and 4.

Another proclamation in this 1934 newspaper advertisement -- 'one of the most popular knitting yarns'.   At this stage, the yarn had been in the market less than 6 months.  These same advertisements appeared in newspapers across the country, obviously issued by American Thread to the individual 'selling stores'.  (I'd love to know if American Thread carried a portion of the advertising costs.)

This 1943 ad reads 'especially adapted .... for Men in the Service'.   During WWII, wool became a scarce commodity, making wool yarns hard to come by in the general market place.  It would be interesting to know if 'especially adapted' meant a temporary change to the fiber make-up of the Knitting Worsted.

And, consistent with their name, American Thread, all the knitting worsted were produced in the USA at their Willimantic, CT plant.

American Thread, as was typical, in had a fair number of promotions in the Needlecraft magazines.   This particular 1962 advertisement, in a subtle manner, brings home the point that the ever-popular afghan yarn is also a great option of garments. 

Through the 1960's promotions of Dawn Knitting Worsted remained strong.  Another (possible interesting) note about American Thread is they don't publish their name as part of there advertisements.   Most brands lead the way, their name first, followed by the type/brand of the yarn.   Do you suppose that American Thread knew that their brand speaks for itself?

AND THEN, Spring of 1972, it was all over.   American Thread discontinued their Dawn Knitting Worsted, and (I assume) dedicated their equipment to another 'fabulous' yarn.

There were, at least, a  dozen American Thread pattern books and leaflets that featured Dawn Knitting Worsted.   They also published a fair number of patterns in magazines, such as McCalls Needlecraft and Modern Knitting.   There are, of course, quite a few of these patterns in my shop, should you be interested in browsing.   As for a substitute yarn, well, any 4-ply knitting worsted weight yarn should do the trick. 

Thanks for dropping by.

Friday, February 16, 2018

Alice Brooks Designs Catalogs

Household Arts by Alice Brooks, mail order patterns, first appeared in newspapers in November, 1933.

The syndicated series was first published in Rochester, New York and slowly spread over the next 13 years to appear in most major newspapers around the United States.    Pattern advertisements appeared several times a week.

I was not, however, until summer of 1944, that catalog offers began appearing at the bottom of every pattern advertisement.   The concept here being, when you ordered the pattern, you would send an extra amount to receive the catalog.   As an added promotion, each catalog typically featured several free patterns as well.

The first issue (as dated by some newspaper ads) was 1945. This is the catalog offered from summer of 1944 on, and remained the only catalog until November of 1945, when the 1946 issue was released. 

The catalogs were filled with many of 'the most popular' patterns of the previous time period, along with a brief description.   One could select the desired patterns, and then send their order to their local newspaper who ran the daily ads.

A catalog was issued for each consecutive year until 1965.   (There may be more catalogs issued under the name of Needlecraft Services after this date.   I've not yet delved in that time period).

I collect these books and, once scanned and photo processed, place them in Facebook albums for your general viewing pleasure and reference points.  The catalogs are great fun, giving us a snapshot of fashions for the time. The catalogs currently available are :

1945194719521953, 19541956

I have a couple more that I'll be adding soon.   AND, should you have any of these catalogs that you are willing to share online, I'd love to hear from you.

 Thanks for dropping by,