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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,

Saturday, February 10, 2018

Knit-Cro-Sheen Mercerized Cotton

This newspaper clipping was among the first in newspapers and it's quite a delight.  "After your first sweater has been a success and your dress and suit a real triumph, then attack a bathing suit for summer.  There are many new styles easy to make and such a job to wear!  We warn you, a capable instructress, a pair of knitting needles and some beautiful yarns and there'll be no stopping you!.

Oh, and ... J and P Coats Knit Cro-Sheen entered the market in 1935 at 25 center per ball.

J & P Coats Knit-Cro-Sheen - 4 ply 100% Mercerized Crochet Cotton, Size 10 
Balls sold in different yardage - 150, 170, 210
The thread was available in many colors, as well as multi-colors and metallic.  

You just might recall this 1947 phto ... it appeared in magazine ads as well as newspapers.   The thread continues in it's popularity and has increased a mere 6 pennies to 30 cents.


During the 1940's and 1950's, Spool Cotton (The Coats & Clark Distribution Branch) issued a number of pattern books that featured Knit-Cro-Sheen, as well as their other Mercerized Crochet Cottons.


Spool Cotton also promoted their threads by listing patterns in newspapers in the form of newspaper columns.   In the case of this mats pattern, the offering actually comes from National Needlecraft Bureau in The Needlecraft Corner section of your local newspaper.

Should you be interested, this pattern is available in the shop as a FREE DOWNLOAD. 


And sales continued on .... pattern books, magazines, newspapers, etc. etc. until 1999 .... when all went quiet on the Knit-Cro-Sheen product line ... no more advertisements.   That's a 64 year run for the product .... now, that's quite a success. 


But wait .... if you go to the Coats Red Heart site, you'll see they have a place holder for the product.  But, alas, there is no link to purchase. 

So, if you have a pattern that calls for Knit Cro Sheen, select a size 10 Mererized Crochet Cotton, 4-ply.   If you are looking for vintage patterns that call for this thread, I have quite a few in the shop. 

Thanks for dropping by,

Thursday, February 8, 2018

Speed-Cro-Sheen by Coats & Clark's

In September, 1953, Coats and Clark's introduced their Speed-Cro-Sheen thread to the market.   This thread, a follow-up to their Knit-Cro-Sheen was a heavier weight and designed for crochet 


Full page advertisements were placed in magazines, and two separate pattern books were introduced with home goods patterns, bedspreads, rugs, mats, etc.  

"The new cotton crochet spread, Speed-Cro-Sheen, makes it fun to experiment with contemporary design"   In addition to the standard white and ecru (that was typical for the time period) this thread was available in an array of bright colors, as well as multi-colored.  


100% Mercerized Cotton, Size 3 - an 8-ply firmly twisted thread in 100 yard balls


Speed-Cro-Sheen was frequently advertised in newspapers -- the typical sales promotions.  This ad was from the 1953 introduction of the thread.   It entered the market with a selling price of 25 cents. 

Full scale advertisements, in the form of newspaper articles (as in this 1960 example) also appeared, most likely coordinated and paid for by The Spool Cotton branch.  "The instructions leaflet for rug and bedspread also includes instructions for crocheting a vanity cushion bench cover.  For the leaflet, send a stamped SASE ....."   The Mail Order Pattern Number - PC-9117.


Here's another (1968) Speed-Cro-Sheen newspaper promotion.   In this case, the offering is being made by The National Needlecraft Bureau.   (I've not figured out the relationship between Spool Cotton and NNB.  Whether NNB paid a fee to use the patterns, or if the organizations were tied together.   Give me time!).


Speed-Cro-Sheen even made it's appearance in a number of Anne Cabot's Mail Order patterns.  (Typically, mail order designs did not specify any specific brand).  This pattern set, 5791 and 5901 are from 1982.


By 1986, the price has climbed to 89 cents a ball.   A big jump in price from the 1953 introduction?  Not really.

Advertisements and promotions began to decline in the late 1980's and completely disappeared in 1994.  Coats & Clark's Speed-Cro-Sheen enjoyed a 41 year life span ... And, that's pretty good. 

There are a fair number of patterns in the shop that call for Speed Cro Sheen, should you be interested in browsing. 

Thanks for dropping by. 

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Laura Wheeler, Pineapple Doilies, on Broadway

Laura Wheeler Pineapple Doilies on Broadway .... well yes. 

It happened back in 1942.   Junior Miss is a quite popular play on Broadway.   A comedy piece staring three young teenagers with frustrated parents learning to deal with them.



 It was a quite popular play, a bit of whimsy in rather bleak WWII times, staring 16 year old Patricia Peardon.    But, what does this have to do with Laura Wheeler Design patterns?   Well . . .
"Three little maids from Broadway they are!  Being Patricia Peardon, Joan Newton and Lenore Lonergan, who currently appear in Junior Miss, the seasons outstanding comedy hit about teenage girls and their baffled parents.  The camera caught this youthful trio on stage just before curtain time admiring a set of lacy doilies.  Patricia, who received considerable praise for her portrayal of 13 year old Judy Graves, hold up two of the prize winning pieces for the other girls to view.   The doilies were made from Pattern 230, a design by Laura Wheeler, whose exclusive with us pattern feature is followed by our many Junior Miss needlework fans as well as their elders. 


And, that how Laura Wheeler made it to Broadway!

Oh ... and if you'd like just a bit more trivia .... the rumor has it the Junior Mints were also based on the Junior Miss series ... but in this case, the follow-up movie, not the play. 

Okay, I'm back to work now.    Thanks for dropping by. 

Saturday, February 3, 2018

Style Smiles by Gretchen, A Daily Fashion Column

Style Smiles by Gretchen first appeared in Newspaper columns in the Northeast (United States) at the end of the year -- December, 1936. 

A Daily Cartoon--Caper .... dressed up in a Paris Model!  
"Truly an amazing array of feminine fripperies mark with distinction this humorous highlight for the ladies.  Gorgeous creatures in gorgeous creations clown around for Gretchen, sensational humorist, remarkable artist and inspired creator of tomorrows styles!   This engrossing fun daily feature -- dressed up in a Paris model -- is but one of the brilliant features brought you daily in your Pittsburgh Post Gazette".      

And then .. on January 1st, the syndicated column began. ( It's was the first column for Esquire Features, Inc. who later expanded with other cartoon related cartoons and then merged with another syndication a couple years later).  

I came across Style Smiles while searching down a particular crochet phrase in the newspapers and was immediately enchanted.  So enchanted, in fact, that I'm not even sure where that original catch was, as I was then reading about Style Smiles.    This is exactly how I get sidetracked and, some days, get so little done!

It was the end of December, so I decided, for fun, I'd reprint the columns to coordinate with the date (day and month) of their original release.   The column appeared most days, however, I've found a couple gaps.   I've no way of knowing if these gaps represents date of no publication, or simply dates the newspaper did not get scanned into directories.   


Each cartoon has an endearing caption with a generous description of the fashions of the day.

I'm posting the cartoons on my Facebook page and then filing into a Style Smiles by Gretchen Photo Album if you'd care to follow along. 

Thanks for dropping by.