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Monday, October 30, 2017

Doreen Knitting Pattern Books by Nell Armstrong

On the back cover of Doreen Curtain Pulls, Volume 98, is this small advertisement referencing 5 of her previous books.

 I have four different books so far and each one are under the Doreen name with, by Nell Armstrong, always referenced, along with the volume number for the specific book.   Below this advertisement was a notation that if your local dealer (remember this was 1949), does not have the books, to write directly to the company - Doreen Knitting Books, Lowell, MA.

So, who was Nell Armstrong of Doreen Knitting Books?     I spent a good hour searching Google, and all I came up with was she copyrighted several books between 1947 and 1952.   The books were copyrighted under her name, Nell Armstrong, not a company name with Doreen being part of the book title.    Searches for the company name itself netted nothing.    I have book 105, and these are in the 90's.    This number series would imply that it started at Number 1, however, I could find no reference in Google to any books before earlier than the 90 series shown above. 

So, who was Nell Armstrong of Doreen Pattern Books?    And how many pattern books did she issue?    I don't know.    Do you know anything about her or her company?  

Thanks for dropping by,

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Stitch in Time Leaflets, Vintage Coats & Clark's

Here we go .... it is Fall, 1953, and Coats and Clark's issue out (what I believe was a yearly) campaign aimed towards school girls ... The Stitch in Time Pamphlet. This pamphlet may have been distributed through Home Ec classes.

This is the Stitch in Time  - Fall 1953 - Volume 24, No 1, Called The New Look in Crochet.
The patterns featured are all beginner designs with a couple personal and home accessories worked in Speed-Cro-Sheen.  The two open page pamphlet that is wrapped in promotional material.

The pattern featured here is the 'Suit Yourself Hat and Bagwhich is a cute half hat and matching drawstring bag.
The receiver gets the patterns and completes an easy survey and mails back to Coats and Clark's.

Can you see yourself, as a young teen, filling out the survey, mailing it in and waiting impatiently for your pattern book to arrive?

Beginners Crochet Placemat Pattern, Brown Tweed
The Tweed Place Mat is an attractive beginners design with a solid contrast border that measures 12 x 18".

Easy Crocheted Placemats Pattern
The leaflet finishes off with another two basic designs - The Candlelight Placemat and Gourmet Potholders.

The back page gives us promotional thread information for the Speed-Cro-Sheen.   It's here, I'm sure, the young girl starts thinking 'what color her hat will be?".

I've several of these 'Stitch In Time' Issues from the 1940's and the format has significantly changed.  The earlier publications were marketed as Spool Cotton Company, and these shows Spool Cotton as the Issuer with Coats & Clark's as the Copyright.   Apparently, 1953 was part of the company transition period.

Hope you enjoyed the pamphlet.
Thanks for dropping by,

National Needlecraft Bureau

I recently came across a packet of old 1940s pattern that were issued by The National Needlecraft Bureau. This lot is mostly craft related, and quite fun.  Such as ....

National Needlecraft E-184, Stocking Dolls Pattern

I took up a search to see what I could learn about National Needlecraft Bureau.   Their patterns were largely mail ordered through newspapers, however, seem independent of the other mail order firms (such as Needlecraft Services).  I find tracks of their activity between the early 1940s to the late 1960s.  An old newspaper article indicated they, in support of the poor economic times (WWII) were putting out a number of craft patterns to be made as childrens presents.   

National Needlecraft in the 1940s and 1950s also were active in the various state fairs, hosting a number of crocheting and sewing competitions.   I have a feeling that many of the award winners at the state fairs may have been the pattern source.  Although, I do not have any facts that specifically state that.  

Crafts were not the only patterns.   I have several other that are of the home decor category. And in old newspaper archives I have found quite a few references to clothing and accessory sewing and crochet patterns.

But the information I could find ends there.  Was National Needlecraft Bureau actually an organization formed to promote the arts during the war era, and continued on?   Their involvement imply far more than a mail order pattern operation, if they were .     There are trails to two different address in New York, but as far as who started it, how did it end, who were the people involved, etc, I've hit a dead end.   

My collection of the National Needlecraft patterns can be seen in my shop, should you care to visit.   

If you know any of the details regarding The National Needlecraft Bureau ..... please share !

Footnote- 10/29/17:   This post was originally issued on my Shop Talk Blog in February 2011.   Since then, well, I've received zero feedback or information about National Needlecraft.   Bummer!   So, in the next month (or so), I'm going to restart the investigation.   

Thanks for dropping by 

Friday, October 27, 2017

Spinnerin Alpine Yarn, A Daring Bold Fashion

Is it possible to be more fun than this ?   Okay, on the one hand, it is just a 1966 Spinnerin advertisement for a knitted coat pattern in their new Alpine Yarn.   But, really, on the other hand,  it's a piece of historical fun.

More than the jacket (which is a quite nice knitting pattern), its the hat with the chin strap, and those wonderfully round, and glaring plastic, sunglasses, and the white gloves (just slightly past their fashion trend).  And, did you notice shoes (first glance, one might think they are socks), and the unusual accessories, the leg ties right over the top of the shoes.

This woman shows us the guts to be who we are.  Wear what we want.   In style or not.  Create our own style.  Say hello to the world and let them think what they want; without a care.  I want this outfit.    But, more than that, I want the ability to wear it well.

Oh .... in case you came in wanting more information about the yarn itself ...  Spinnerin introduced the Alpine Yarn to the market in 1962. 
It's a blend of 90% wool and 10% mohair on 2-oz skeins.
And, according to this 1967 newspaper advertisement, interchangeable with knitting worsted.

Spinnerin published their pattern book No 177, to promote their Spinnerin Alpine Yarn.  I do not have this book in inventory .... but, perhaps one day.   There are, of course, a couple other patterns calling for this yarn in the shop, should you care to drop by. 

Spinnerin Alpine yarn remained active in the market into early 1971.   And, that's all I know.

Thanks for dropping by,

Thursday, October 26, 2017

American Thread Crochet Pattern Leaflets AM & AASQ

I learn a little more each week as I work my way through these vintage pattern.  When working through a McCalls Needlework and Crafts Magazine (1962), I came across this American Thread Advertisement. 
I have quite a number of American Thread Leaflets in my collection.  Typically the pattern leaflets are an excerpt of a pattern from one of the American Thread' books, presumably issued as a book promotion.  But, in looking at this advertisement, I see that there is no pattern book referenced; just two separate leaflets that are mail away offers.

Leaflets AASQ for cardigans and a skirt, and AM for three block motif skirts.

One just had to clip out the pattern offer and mail away with 15 cents (apiece).  Now, this was still an American Thread promotion in part ... a promotion for their Dawn Knitting Worsted.

Thanks for dropping by,

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Reynolds Jumbo Jets Knitting Needles

I've come across a number of patterns of the last few months that call for Reynolds Jumbo Jet Knitting Needles or Reynolds Junior Jumbo Jet Needles  These are apparently H U G E (as in extremely large) needles that produce a stitch so large that you can literally knit an entire dress or sweater in the matter of a couple hours.   Since I knew that sooner or later someone was going to ask me "WHAT SIZE ARE JUMBO JET NEEDLES?, I thought I'd be proactive and have an answer ready. 

I started the search in the newspapers ...

The concept for these needles were the brainchild of designer Jeanne Damon, who, as they story goes, experimented with whittled down broomsticks.  Ultimately, Reynolds Yarn Co. manufactured a lightweight aluminum version and Jumbo Jets became a 1960's rage.

Jeanne Damon went forward and designed a number of patterns for the Jumbo Jet's, which were published in "The official Knit-A-Dress-A-Day Knitting Book.  In addition to dresses, the book also contained a number of designs for children and men as well.   A number of these patterns are listed in the shop.

The advertising for the product, as well as the patterns were a bit out of the norm.  The advertisements were written as newspaper articles, typically including a promotion for an individual pattern within the book and a retelling of the Jumbo Jets story.  This continued between late 1966 and 1968.  Then, the scene went quite.

I've not (yet) researched Reynolds Yarn Co. (as to whether they actually had a mill, or were a rebrander), but they went out of business and  their copyrights expired in the late 1970's, which brought on a whole 'other' line of Big Needles from other suppliers.

Oh ... to go back to where I started:  The needles came in two sizes, and there was a jumbo crochet hook as well -- for finishing the edges of your garments.

Jumbo Jets Equivalent is a size 50 knitting needle.   

Reynolds billed them as:  "The worlds widest needle have a 1 inch span and are fueled by up to six skeins of yarn".    Both Susan Bates and Lion make needles in this size.  I'd imagine there are a number of others as well.   

Here's a fun read with tidbits of history, should you have a few minutes to read. 

Hope you enjoyed the snapshot of history.
Thanks for dropping by.

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. 

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Stitch in Time, Volume 10, Crochet Contest

One of the things I keep a constant eye open (typically Ebay) are lots of loose pattern leaflets.  As they are typically just stacks of paper, I never know what I'm actually going to get.   It's kind of like buying a mystery box.   It's also a gamble, the leaflets may, or may not, be public domain documents that I can use.   But, there are almost always grand surprises.    Like this one .....

School Crochet Contest from Spool Cotton Company

Apparently, Spool Cotton Company hosted contests for teen girls in Home Ec classes.   The teacher would send for the packets and incorporate into their class instruction.  

Crochet Hat Collar Patterns from Spool Cotton Company
The packet would include directions for a number of easy crochet items from which the students could choose.  

Crochet Contest Prizes
The teacher would choose the 1st, 2nd and 3rd place winners for each class and send the items to Spool Cotton Co.   There they would be judged against other participating classes across the country and decisions made at to National, State and Class Winners.

This particular leaflet is titled Stitch in Time, Monthly News Bulletin, March 1940, It is Volume 10, No. 6.    I have more of these Stitch in Time Newsletters in my 'pending' stack.   They cover a wide variety of topics, however, and are not just contests.

You'll find these patterns in the Crochet Collars or Crochet Hats Section of the shop.

Thanks for dropping by,

Sunday, October 1, 2017

Feltella Yarn, by Unger, Part Two

So, a couple days ago I spent a couple hours researching Feltella Yarn for a blog post.   That post arrived at the conclusion that Feltella Yarn was a 60/40% wool and cotton blend; narrow stips of felt.   It left unanswered, who made this particular yarn. 

Well, I searched all around the web, but didn't go to the back of the magazine, where this advertisement contained the answer.

In case, you can't read the small print in this photo ....  "  FELTELLA is the easy-to-crochet felt stripping that comes in 18 lovely shades and works up quick as a flash! You'll love its rich, velvety texture, its expensive look. The stripping is 1/8-inch wide and is 60% virgin wool and 40% cotton. Tens of thousands of crochet fans have approved it since its introduction in McCall Needlework; now it's a favorite for every kind of smart "make-it-yourself" accessory. ".

Mystery solved. 

Thanks for dropping by,