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Wednesday, June 3, 2020

Crochet Daisy Tablecloth, American Thread Pattern Promotion

American Thread Company, from the early 1940's through the 1950's, employed a number of pattern promotion techniques.   The pattern promotions were to entice the user to purchase their thread.  Along the lines of  .... love the pattern .... purchase the thread.   Patterns might be advertised as 'mail order' through magazines or newspapers, or handed out at the local 'yarn shop'. 

Here's a great example - American Thread Leaflet No 5701; a delightful Daisy Tablecloth made up of 2-1/2 inch square medallions.  (From my collection of leaflets) shows it was distributed by the Local Sewing Club with a side caption of "As near as your postman", making it an obvious mail order.   Although the leaflet references American Thread, they do not
 I must say, it is a delightful square, that would be lovely in a number of home accessories.

A search of the newspaper database brought another example in this newspaper clipping from early 1948 requesting the reader send a request to receive the pattern by Mail.  

Note the colorful description here -- rather a play on the other syndicated patterns of Alice Brooks, Anne Cabot etc. - "When friends come for tea, your lace tablecloth adds a special welcome.  Here's a lovely cloth of square motifs with daisy centers as white, informal and graceful as a field of daisies.   These lacy pieces make cool summertime needlework for crocheters".

It would be my guess that this pattern was a specific promotion for the Gem Mercerized Crochet Cotton; which American Thread introduced in January of 1948.      

If you'd like to put this one on your hook, it's available in the shop at the link above. 

Thanks for dropping by, 

Monday, May 18, 2020

Angel Crepe Yarn; Bucilla, Bear Brand, Fleishers

Working my way through a lovely Bucilla pattern book - Picturesque Hats - this morning, I decided I'd take a moment to learn about one of the yarns.   In this case, Bucilla Angel Crepe.   Now, as many of you may know, Bucilla, Bear Brand and Fleishers (under the original umbrella of Bernhard Ulman).  This means, all three companies marketed this yarn.  Yep, same yarn, typically the exact same price, just different brands,  
Angel Crepe Yarn:  71%Virgin Wool and 29% Rayon.  
two 2-ply of rayon and wool plied together
Worsted weight yarn
Described as:  A lovely Angel Crepe yarn, a soft French Zephyr with a twist of rayon.   
Uses:  Dresses, blouses, accessories

The yarn was introduced in 1-oz balls in 1934, and ended in 4-oz skeins in 1953

 Bear Brand started the advertising blitz in the form of pattern offerings.   Introduce an highly desired fashion pattern free of charge and you'll buy the yarn to make it.  

Fleishers were following the same practice.   

Several months later - early 1935, the advertisements began displaying the price.   The yarn and it's pricing struggling to maintain an audience through the 1940's.   Remember, this was WWII era with times being financially tough and many women working long hours without time for dress knitting,  

Late 1940's into the 1950's, the Bernhard companies continued marketing their Angel Crepe brand, but primarily through magazines.   They would place an advertisement in the magazine, which would then publish one or two of their patterns to entice the reader to purchase.  This blouse appeared in the 1950 issue of Smart Knitting Magazine, along with a couple dresses.   I've also seen advertisements from Modern Knitting and Modern Needlecraft magazines.

There was also a number of pattern books issued that featured several in each of the Angel Crepe Yarn.  This book, Picturesque Hats in Hand Crochet was published under the Bernhard Ulman name in 1939

Both Bear Brands a Fleishers also went on a newspaper and magazine campaign for kits.  This advertisement for a 'Knit-a-Tie' kit, where you received the yarn and instructions for 'only $1.75'.
In 1953 came this advertising campaign announcing Angel Crepe is back!   Well, it had not been gone, but sales were obviously lacking.  Advertisements listing the price were were down also to the original introduction - at 50 cents for a 4-oz skein versus the 1-oz ball.   We were moving into the era of ready made quick fashions and the years of knitting one's own dress was declining.   

And then, other than secondary markets, this yarn disappeared.   Now, I can't give you exact substitutes as I don't Knit (just research), but should you fall for one of the patterns calling for Angel Crepe, look at the specs given at the top of this post and make a selection to meet the gauge of your particular 

Oh - one last note for some Trivia.   Why didn't other yarn manufacturers also produce Angel Crepe Yarn?   Well, the answer is ... Bernhard Ulman Trademarked it! 

Hope you enjoyed the post.   Thanks for dropping by, 

Saturday, February 22, 2020

Minerva Milady Knitting Yarn

When writing a post for one of the vintage yarns, I always like to start with a picture of the yarn itself, which I can usually locate from one of the Ebay or Etsy sellers.  But, in this case - Minerva Milady Knitting Yarn, not a single picture of the actual yarn has been found.   (I have set up a Google Alert, should one appear).

What I have learned .... 
Lees Minerva introduced the brand early 1933 

This yarn was 100% wool, sold in 4-oz skeins in 40 beautiful colors -- quite a variety of colors for first introduction. 

The yarn apparently proves itself successful, gaining a full 30 cents from the introductory price of 19 cents.    The yarn was touted for suits, coats, dresses, sweaters and afghans.  Lees Minerva published a number of misses clothing / accessory patterns through the 30's, so I'd assume several included patterns calling for this yarn.  

In 1943, Lees Minerva published pattern book - Minerva Afghans - Vol 66 which featured the Milady Yarn in each pattern.  These patterns are in the shop, should you be interested in looking.  

During World War II, sale advertisements dwindled in newspapers, which leads me to assume manufacturing may have been discontinued early 1940's as wool supply to common market became scarce.   

There was a brief marketing sprint at the end of the 1940's, ending in 1951,  which I assume, was final sell-off of the product line.    The pattern featured in this advertisement is Charleston Block - a colorful classic Granny.  

And ... that's all I know.   But, should I come across other books or information about this yarn, I'll update this post.  If you should happen to know more, I'd appreciate your sharing!  


Saturday, February 8, 2020

Crochet Star Medallion Pattern, Mail Order Design

Some time back I created spreadsheets to keep track of my mail order collection.  This step, although a bit time consuming, has been quite an eye opener.   I'll start posting some of these tidbits ... just in case anyone 'out there' should be interested. 

When a Mail Order pattern proved popular, it was published multiple years and/or under multiple numbers.  At each release, the pattern description would change. Lets take the example of the popular Crochet Star Medallion. 

It's an attractive hexagon medallion in star motif that will measure 3-1/2 or 5-1/2" depending upon thread. 

This Design was first released in October of 1940.  "Can't you picture a spread of this lovely crocheted medallion enhancing your bedroom. It's a beginner choice indeed for it's so easy and works up so effectively".  

And then again in March of 1941,  "Beginner's, here's crochet that will win you laurels. The easy medallion repeated makes a variety of accessories large and small, as you wish.Use string, it works up quickly.  

Design 2675, although billed as a Medallion, as portrayed as a bedspread in this picture.  Here, the same design is shown as a tablecloth. 
The pattern was released in July, 1947 - description:  "Star of all medallions! Easy to crochet, quick to memorize.  You'll love it's cobwebby beauty in a spread or cloth. Good pick-up work. The sky is the limit to the lovely accessories you can make".
Again in July, 1948, September 1948 and July 1949 - description:  "Don't wish on a star - just crochet this one instead! The accessories you long for are yours in no time with this easy medallion.  You can win prizes with this crochet at your fair".
And, one more time in 1950 - description: Star this medallion in your home. It rates applause any way you use it.  "You'll memorize it quickly, then it's pure fun to do. This is a wonderfully easy was to grace your home with heirloom luxuries"

Here, the pattern has switched over to be marketed as Alice Brooks versus Laura Wheeler.  Also billed as a tablecloth, the table setting itself changed. 
This Design version was released in June 1956, March 1957 - description: "You'll win prizes with this quick crochet medallion.  It lends itself to both fine cotton and string.  Make small articles or plan a bedspread or tablecloth".
Again in December 1958, February 1959, February 1960 and May 1961 - Description: This prize medallion is especially good for large and small articles: scarves, mats, pillows, bedspreads.  A quick, thrift way to acquire lovely accessories",

Now, I've found one other occurrence of this exact pattern under the name of American Weekly.

Patterns branded American Weekly appeared only in the Sunday weekly circular of the same name.  I do not (currently) know the relationship between The American Weekly and Needlecraft Services, but assume advertising space was purchased and the pattern was simply branded.    I (currently) have no way to date the publications of these patterns.  

Are their more occurrences where this pattern was marketed under different numbers and descriptions?  Possible.   These are simple the patterns that I've purchased, processed and am aware of.   Should I discover more, I'll update this post.  

It's obvious this was a popular, and well selling design.  And, for very apparent reasons - it's a quite lovely medallion.    Should you be interested in the pattern, it is available in my shop - links under pattern pictures.  I've been asked, if a pattern is the same, why do I list it multiple times.   That's a very easy answer.   Sometimes one might be searching for a pattern of a specific number.

Well, I imagine, if you've made it to here, you've read enough about this particular pattern and I'll move on to something else!

Sunday, January 26, 2020

Crochet Hot Plate Mats, Asbestos Replacement

I'm processing a Free Download for the shop this afternoon for a crocheted hot plate mat from 1949.

Of course, I've seen the material requirement before, but had never put much thought into it .... 8-1/2 inch Asbestos Mat.   Now, I have a few of these mat patterns in the shop, which have never sold, which made we wonder if these have lost their vintage interest because of these Asbestos Mats.

Asbestos Mats made their appearance back in the 1890's.

These mats were made in two parts - the mat itself being a sturdy cardboard with the top layer being an asbestos layer called Millboard.  Asbestos was fireproof and absorbed heat, making it an asset for cooking.  Remember, cooking in the late 1800's was a quite rustic affair.  

As we moved into the 1920/30's, many homes now had kitchen stoves with burners which allowed these mats to become more decorative.  What woman didn't want a more decorative kitchen!  Initially, decorative covers were made using macrame cords, but then moved towards the influx of colorful crochet cottons.

Patterns for these mats began appearing in newspapers in 1935; first offerings being from the Women's Service Bureau, quickly followed by the Mail Order companies and, of course, the promotional pattern books and leaflets of the thread manufacturers.

Asbestos mats soon evolved to meet many household - heat conducive - needs.  The product was found, not only in mats and table pads, but our appliances, insulation and so much more. 

Asbestos use continued into the 1970's, when it was determined to be a carcinogen and removed from the marketplace. 

Well, let's get me back on focus here .... these vintage hot plate cover patterns that call for the asbestos mats.   You can use the covers without the mat insert; many mats pattern do not call for it.

 Or, if you need a heat buffer to put hot pots on your tables, there's a great substitute in the form of Pellon.  This particular interfacing - Pellon 975 - will function well, as will a number of others interfacing you'll find in your sewing shops.    Just cut the interfacing to your desired size.  The primary different between interfacing substitutes and the obsolete asbestos mats is the sturdy factor.

So, should you be partial to the particular design of a hot plate mat cover, don't discount your creativity over the asbestos mat. 

Okay, I've now killed an hour .... time to get back to work!

Thanks for dropping by.

Monday, April 22, 2019

Dritz Luxury Bellastraw

Working through the 1952 issue of Modern Needlecraft Magazine, I again came across a pattern which calls for Dritz Luxury Belastraw.   And, as usual, I thought  "one of these days I'm going to have to find out some information on this discontinued products".    Well, perhaps this is the day.

This is the pattern I'm referring to.

It is a quite lovely Table Mat that is crocheted in 3/4 inch medallions that will form a finished piece that is 20 inches square.    It calls for an obsolete thread that was called Dritz Luxury Belastraw.   Most of the patterns in magazines also appeared in pattern books and I'm making a guess this one would have appeared in Table Mats & Doilies of Dritz Belastraw - Vol 23 from 1951

 (Picture used with permission from Cheryl12108)

Now, there are quite a number of these discontinued yarns from the late 1940's and early 1950's.  Why so many, well let's attribute part of that to World War II.  During the war there was a shortage of cotton, as majority of the product was designated to uniforms and other material supplies.  A fair amount of alternative materials were substituted.

Dritz Belastraw was a 100% Viscose Process Rayon thread, 5 ply, that was distributed by John Dritz & Sons (now Prym-Dritz Corp).   The thread is reported to be a bit like a soft nylon straw and was fashioned for making of bags and hats.  It's was a strong thread that was worked tightly.  The fibers were prone to stretching when wet, and dry cleaning was sometimes recommended in the pattern books.  There was also a sparkle option.

 And, other than a couple of newspaper sale clippings, that's all I've been able to find.   This one from 1951 . . .

Now, back to the pattern.  In looking at it, I'd say it's an easy medallion design that would be quite delightful in a number of heavier threads.    I've listed it in the shop as a Free Download, should you be interested in giving it a try.   (If so, I'd really appreciate your reporting back as to which threads you used !).

Okay, back to work.
Thanks for dropping by,

Sunday, March 24, 2019

Crochet Baby Dress Pattern, Mail Order 846

Some of the Mail Order Patterns were marketed using different pattern pictures and descriptions to catch different audiences.   Sometimes they were also identified under different brand names, or no name at all.   A good example of this is the little girls dress, which was marketed under number 846.

My copy of Mail Order 846 shows this sweet toddler.   I've no doubt this image appeared in newspaper print, however, I've not yet found it.  It portrays the younger child size of the pattern - Age 2.

Here, in this February 14, 1948 advertisement from the Los Angeles Times, we find the picture promotion being aimed towards the order girl - Aged 6.

Again in the Los Angeles Times, May 12th, 1948, the photo portrays the mid range size of the pattern - Age 4.   Released again, with same picture in 1950.   February 15th, released in the Chicago Tribune as E-846 - also Needlework Bureau.   The pattern was released in New York in the same date spans - 1948 to 1952 under the name of Ellen Bruce, which was also the Needlework Bureau Brand.

Many of the Needlework Bureau patterns were also re-released under the Martha Madison Brand name in the 1960's.  Same pattern with one addition -- it has a size option between 6 and 18 months.
I've not yet found the relationship between Needlework Bureau ad Martha Madison, but have no doubt one day I will.

This pattern is available in the shop in the 6 to 18 month size), should you be interested in creating it for your own 'Special Miss".

Okay, on to the next pattern!    Thanks for dropping by!

Sunday, March 17, 2019

Bear Brand Lanadown Yarn

I came across a second pattern today calling for Bear Brand (Bucilla) Lanadown Yarn.   As I know nothing of this yarn, thought I'd take a little bit of time to see what I could learn.   Periodically I get asked for substitute information. 

Now, this is a bit of an obscure yarn; evidenced by it not being referenced over at Ravelry!  A Google search rendered nothing, but did find a few tidbits in the old newspapers. 

 Bear Brand Lanadown Yarn made it's appearance in a limited market early 1948.  As usual, the introduction referenced the product 'on sale'.

This advertisement, mid 1950, tells us the yarn was a 3-ply Fingering yarn.  The two patterns I've found indicate the yarn was also sold under the Bucilla name, but I've found no such tracks.  

And, after a very short run, the last couple advertisements show it as closeout (discontinued) pricing in early 1953. 

Picture from Ebay seller CaliforniaGold

So, what did we learn?   Lanadown Yarn was marketed under the Bear Brand (Bucilla) labels between 1948 and 1953.      It was a 3-ply Fingering Yarn, 100% Virgin Wool, in 2-oz skeins.   

I have only two patterns, at this time, in the shop that call for Lanadown yarn.   They both come from magazines.   I don't know if any of the Bear Brand pattern booklets promoted the yarn, but have many in reserves waiting on me .... who knows!

So, should you come across a pattern calling for this yarn, hope this will help you finding a substitute .... any 3-ply fingering weight yarn should do you.  

Thanks for dropping by, 

Monday, July 9, 2018

Supra Mohair Yarn, Bear Brand, Fleishers, Bucilla

1960 -- It was a grand year in the yarn market; another mohair was introduced -- Supra Mohair.  -

Lovely Supra Mohair, an exquisite, soft brushed yarn imported from Italy in a beautiful range of colors.  For dress sweaters and jackets in 19 hues.   The imported yarn was branded by Bernard Ullman under all three of the associated brands - Bear Brand, Botany and Fleishers.

1-3/8 oz skeins (100% Goat Mohair in 80 yard balls)
Needle Sizes 8 to 10-1/2
Bulky, 12 ply
This is a great comparison photo, which I should be helpful in searching out replacement yarn.  

The yarn was introduced at $1.79 per ball.  As was typical however, it was available 'on sale' at most independent yarn shops.

In the typical fashion of Bernhard Ullman, free pattern promotions were splashed across the country.  This concept was, of course, a dual win for both the brand, as well as the local shops who supplied the materials to interested knitters.  Numerous ads appeared for each of the represented brands - Botany, Bear Brand and Fleishers.  Each with a separate pattern selections.

Here's another under the Fleishers name.   The hat, on the left, was also published in Bernhard Pattern Book 92 -- Hats, Hats, Hats.

In the Northwestern markets, Supra Mohair Yarn was also marketed under the Bucilla label.  (Bucilla being the alternate company name of Bernhard Ullman).

Although Bernhard Ullman did not issue a pattern book solely devoted to the Supra Mohair yarn, it did make an appearance in several of their issues.    Patterns were also featured in a couple of the Needlework magazines.  When I come across them again, I'll update this post.  (I always love the old magazine ads).

And on it continued ... sales announcements from individual shop owners coupled with newspaper pattern promotions .... until 1970, when the big slash sales took place to reduce the final inventory levels. 

A good yarn .. yep.  A supply of good vintage patterns out there ... yep.  There are, of course, a few in the shop, should you care to browse.    For a replacement yarn, with the above specs, try Google-ing something like 12-ply mohair yarn, and select one that meets the gauge of your pattern. 

Thanks for dropping by,

Friday, July 6, 2018

Casa-Laine Yarn, Fleishers and Bear Brand

The Casa-Laine Yarn takes us way back to 1943 .... it was from the Silent Generation, you might say.  The yarn was introduced in early 1943 to a fairly large market across the United States.

Casa-Laine was marketed under both the Bear Brand and Fleishers label.   Now one could ask why same yarn under two names?   I, of course, do not know, but would guess this would be to catch preference buyers ... some might have allegiance to Fleishers or Bear Brand?  Note:  Some patterns also indicate that the yarn was marketed under the Bucilla Brand name as well.

100% All-Virgin Wool Sports Yarn -- 250 yards in 2-oz skeins -- 4 ply

By 1950, Casa-Laine now 'proudly' bears the coveted Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval.  As one would expect, the price is slowly inching up.

Photo from VintageYarnWiki
The yarn was also featured in full-page advertisements in a number of needlework magazines into the early 1960's. (I'm sure  I'll find more when I  start working my way through the magazine collection and will add them).  This yarn, no-doubt, was also featured in a number of pattern books by both Fleishers and Bear Brand.

And, sales and the newspaper promotions continued on into 1968.   And then, it was all over; for the next two years the only  references to  Casa-Laine are discounted and clearance sales to deplete the remaining shop inventories and completely disappeared by 1970.

The Casa-Laine brand had a good and long life ... 1949 to 1968.   It was a good solid product and I'm sure there are many interesting  patterns out there, there are deserving of a knit .... There are, of course, several in the shop, should you care to browse

For a substitute, a nice 4-ply Sports Yarn that meets the gauge of your pattern should do it ... you might  want to consider a fingering or sweater and sock yarn, as well. 

Ok, back to work.   Thanks for dropping by.