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Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Aunt Lydia's Star Spun Yarn, American Thread

I've not been able to find much on this American Thread yarn -- Star Spun -- however, I'll share here what I know and/or guess, since it a) existed and two, I have at several patterns calling for it in the shop.   

This photo appeared in American Thread Star Book No 134 - Crocheted Rugs.  

Photo from Amazon seller 

According to the label, Star Spun is a blended yarn, 69% Rayon, 23% cotton and 8% Metallic Thread. There were 60 yards per skein.

From appearance, I'm going to suggest that this is a variation of Aunt Lydia's Heavy Rug Yarn.   In 1955, when Star Rug Book No 134 was issued, the blend on Aunt Lydia's Heavy Rug Yarn was 75% Nylon and 25% Cotton, a 4-ply yarn.   The design variations where I've seen this yarn used in patterns is the contrast color and the bit of sparkle added by the metallic thread.

So, I would say that should you wish to make a design (probably rug) that calls for this product, that any heavy rug yarn that meets the gauge will work.   You might even be able to find one with the sparkle.

Aunt Lydia's Heavy Rug Yarn, American Thread

Aunt Lydia's Heavy Rug Yarn was a favorite yarn of many.   It's primary use, of course, was rugs, but some used it for placemats, scrub cloths, bathroom sets and hats.   A few patterns were presented promoting the yarn sweaters, however, the yarn did not hold it's shape well enough for essential clothing.

 It was initially sold in 70 yard skeins.  It was a 50% Rayon, 50% Cotton, 4-ply blend.

American Thread brought the yarn to market in 1949 at the average price (for that time period), of 25 center per skein.

In the mid 1950's the fiber blend was changed to 75% Nylon and 50% Cotton

In 1978 another fiber change was made to the product; it is now 100% Kodel Polyster and is now referenced as a 3-ply yarn.   Shortly after, skeins sizes also expanded to include 60 and 180 yards. 

Over this long life-span, American Thread issued several pattern books, all termed "Star Rug Book", followed by the actual book numbers.   These books largely contain rug patterns .... a rather great assortment, I must say.  

And, of course, advertised in many of the needlecraft magazines.

Photo from Ebay Seller ksn3229.

Sales of this plugged along until it was discontinued on 1979.   It had, indeed, a long and successful life.

Now, if you have one of the patterns and are looking for a substitute, I'd suggest that about any brand of Heavy Rug Yarn, 3 or 4 ply, that meets the stated gauge, is going to do.    Or, should you be looking for a pattern, I have quite a few in the shop.

Thanks for dropping by,

Sunday, January 28, 2018

Bernat Nylo Germantown Yarn

Bernat introduced their Nylo Germantown Yarn back in 1953.

Photo from Ebay Seller bemak1951
50% Virgin Wool; 50% Crimp Set Nylon  - Washable Color, Anti-Shrink - in 2-oz skeins.
The label changed at least three times over the life span of the yarn.

Initially their marketing blitz was in the form of packaged sweater kits.  The bulky big-needle sweaters were becoming popular, for which Nylo Germantown was perfectly designed.

With this soft bulky yarn, afghans and rugs were also a popular choice.  

And, as usual, Bernat issued pattern books dedicated to the promotion of this specific yarn.  

The yarn proved popular.  It remained active in the marketplace until 1968, when newspapers sales promotions started to slow, and then had completely stopped by 1971.     And, that's all I know!

I do, of course, have a fair number of vintage patterns calling for Bernat Nylo Germantown in the shop that came from several pattern books as well as 1950 Needlecraft magazines.  

Thanks for dropping by.

Friday, January 26, 2018

National Sweater Week

As this story goes, I'm browsing through a 1932 newspaper looking for information on a vintage yarn, when from another column the words 'National Sweater Week' catch my attention.  And that was it .... I call it side tracked.   My search string was changed to 'National Sweater Week' and I was off on an hour or so journey.

It appears this 'special' week started back in 1926, but didn't really get into the swing of it until 1927, with the dates being September 24th to October 1st.  

In 1927, a variety of ads were displayed and the marketing increased to even more markets.


The promotion just barely continued into 1928, with just one set of advertisements.

And then, it stopped.  I'm going to suggest the result of The Great Depression that was suffered through between 1929 and 1939.   And then, this was back-to-back with World War 2 that started in September 1939 and lasted until 1945.     Through these events, many people did not have the money or frivolity for events like ... National Sweater Week.

In 1946, National Sweater Week returns across the major markets.   The script is the same, but the promotion pictures vary by store.  (Obviously the individual stores were given license here).  Another note for 1946, the dates have changed to September 9th to the 14th. 

Other players took some advertising promotions to cap in on National Sweater Week as well.  In this 1949 case, the cleaners want to clean those sweaters you wore last week and encourage you to turn them over to 'your driver' and the one who collects the most wins $109.

In 1953, we were introduced to the concept of the Sweater Sweetheart with a bit of Hollywood flavor with the ever rising popularity of movies.  

Then, there were yearly window sweater display contests sponsored by the Lewel Mfg Co.  (Makers of fine sweaters, of course).  Mr Otto Swadner, of Schachnes won in 1961.  

By 1965, even the big name players were getting involved -- National Sweater week at Sear!.   Apparently cables were the rage in 1965.  

And this little clip tells us what "I'm sure" we've all figured out by now.  National Sweater week is a promotion to publicize sweaters and knitwear, sponsored by the Knitted Outerwear Foundation.   Of course, there may have been earlier sponsors as well.  

And National Sweater week dribbled on.   I say dribbled in that by 1972, the ads had almost stopped.  There were still a couple each year, but hardly any.   By 1979 it was all over ..... cutoff without a single advertisement going forward.

 Since the scripts were essentially the same particularly in the earlier years, I'd assume there was sponsor was kicking in some form of revenue.   I'd guess in the realm of advertising dollars, but really, I have no inside knowledge. 

Okay, back to work.   Thanks for dropping by. 

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Martha Madison Needlework, Daily Press, Newport News

As we know, Martha Madison patterns were a Mail Order syndicated service that ran between 1956 and 1971 in newspapers columns across the country.   The format was basically the same.   The pattern offerings were in single column format with the picture at the top, followed by the pattern description and the mail-away directions on how to obtain the pattern.    In 1961, the Martha Madison syndicate (General Features Corp) began offering catalogs with a selection of their most popular patterns, which could be obtained for an additional charge.  The same format was followed across the country, with one exception ....

The Daily Press, Newport News, VA  

It appears the Daily Press joined the Martha Madison syndicate in March, 1963.  Instead of running the single column format, they ran a multi-column advertisement, offering a pattern selection.  

March 24, 1963.   These ads appeared on a monthly basis through the year.  

April 26, 1954 - the offering has expanded to 5 or more patterns.  In this particular ad we are also shown the cover of the Needlework mail-away catalog.  

May 2, 1965 - The number of patterns being offered per ad continues to grow. 

January 9, 1966 - Now a full page advertisement.  

In August, 1966 the expanded ads stop.  Now, there were still the single column pattern offerings here and there, but not in the typical scale offered through other newspapers.  In 1972, the syndication closed and the ads, of course, stopped.

I've placed all the ads in one of my Facebook albums, should you care to browse.    There are also a number of Martha Madison patterns in the shop.  

Why the upscaled ads at this one newspaper only?   I have absolutely no idea.  I wish I did as I've always been one of those 'wonder why' people.   Perhaps one of you know something more?  

Thanks for dropping by. 

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Red Heart Knitting Worsted

Red Heart Knitting Worsted entered the U.S. market late 1936 under the Chadwicks label.

The Chadwick brand & label originated from James Chadwick & Brothers Ltd., that was Purchased
by J&P Coats in 1917.   Chadwick & Brothers continued in the business, all combined under the distribution of The Spool Cotton Co.

Red Heart Knitting Worsted:  100% Virgin Wool, 4 ply, 1-3/4 oz skeins in assorted colors. 

The yarn was quite popular in the market and used in many applications from clothing to afghans.
Skeins in different weights were introduced, along with a growing array of colors.  (1941 newspaper advertisement from Asheville, NC).

In 1952, the companies completed intergration (Coats, Clarks, Spool Cotton, Chadwicks and a few others) was completed and the various brands and marketing names began consolidation to Coats & Clark's.
(yarn photo from Etsy seller vintagevivvy)
By the late 1950's, the Chadwicks brand name has disappeared and all of the labeling is Coats & Clark's Red Heart Knitting Worsted.  Same great yarn, only the brand name has changed.

 There are many great vintage designs out there that call for the Red Heart Knitting Worsted.  Substitution should be no problem  ... a 4-ply worsted weight yarn, that meets the gauge of the specific pattern, will do it.   Do I have any of these patterns in the shop .... absolutely.

In the mid 1970's, Coats & Clarks discontinued production of this yarn and by the late 1970's, all the built up stock in warehouses and shops was depleted.   Why was this great yarn discontinued.   I really have no way of knowing that, but I'd think that with the many fiber changes going on that they moved on to new brands.

Okay, back to work now.   Thanks for dropping by.

PS - 1/21/21:   A reader, Bruce, just finished up a project using a vintage skein of Red Heart Knitting 
Worsted and was kind enough to share a photo of the original label.     Thanks Bruce! 

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

My Lady Rug Loom

Now, I know that a rug loom has nothing to do with Knit or Crochet, but I have a sweet pamphlet in my collection of papers that deserves to be shared.  AND, since it's my blog .... I can write whatever I want !

Now, the 'My Lady Rug Loom' was introduced to the market in 1938.  There were actually two - the Standard and a Junior model.

This is the Junior model (Photo from Worthpoint)

This is the Standard Model (Photo from Etsy Seller VintageandretroinWv)

The company, My Lady Rug Loom Mfr. (Los Angeles) went on a marketing blitz across the country with a series of newspaper ads.   This ad is February, 1938. 

This demonstration takes the promotion a step further - a Rug contest in 1939.  I searched the Paris, TX newspaper for a follow-up on the winners (hoping for a picture of the rugs), but nothing was found. 

And then, it was all over, with the last newspaper advertisement appearing early 1940.   Perhaps the rug loom did not prove popular, or more likely, World War began September 1, 1939 and labor and finances were no long available. 

So, let me get back to where I started .... the 'My Lady Rug Loom' manual. 

I've set up a Google alert hoping (one day) to learn more.   Old pictures of finished rugs would be more splendid.    Perhaps you know something about this old ' Bit of History ' and will share. 

Thanks for dropping by,

Monday, January 15, 2018

Sears Hearthside Crochet Cotton

The "Hearthside Crochet Cotton" was the product of January and Woods (Kentucky Yarn Co.), who packaged and labeled with the Sears Hearthside  brand.  (They also packaged and labeled the same product for others suppliers in the market as well).  The Hearthside brand was an exclusive rebrand of Sears & Roebuck and was sold through their stores and catalogs only.

Hearthside Crochet Cotton Advertisement, 1945
    "Lustrous, mercerized, 3-ply combed crochet cotton makes beautiful bedspreads, tablecloths, chair sets"
Hearthside brand Crochet Cotton made it's appearance in 1945 and was heavily promoted in the weekly Sears newspaper advertisements.    

Sears, as did most of the thread suppliers, also offered free patterns as promotion.  You know, buy the thread and get the pattern for free.

The brand was short lived as, in the early 1950's Sears discontinued selling re-branded thread and began selling the other major brands of the time period. 

I have no doubt there are still a number of excellent patterns calling for the Hearthside branded Crochet Cotton.  (I don't have much, but hope to come across more).   Substitute any brand of suitable size.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Hiawatha Super Chenille Yarn

The Heirloom Needlecraft Guild copyrighted their Chenille yarn in May, 1944. 

Their are basically two brands here ... Chenille and Super Chenille ... with the different being how many yards per skein.  (Chenille has 36 yards, with Super Chenille having 72). 

Pictures courtesy of Etsy Seller AnniesAntiques

Hiawatha Super Chenille, Art 66 (wired):  80% Rayon, 20% Cotton
Crochet Gauge Reference:  7 sts = 2"; 6 rows = 2"  
Crochet Hook 00

 By early 1945, the yarn had been distributed to yarn shops and was being advertised in newspapers.

Both these advertisements were at product introduction, with the 36 yard skeins selling (on average) at 65 cents.  This soft and luxurious yarn is marketed primarily for fashion accessories.   

This advertisement, mid 1952, shows that the price was on the decline, even with the quantity being doubled!.   By 1955, the product was no longer available.   

There are a number of patterns calling for this yarn in the shop, should you care to browse.   Many of these are well worth another fashion shot.   To use, select a wired chenille that will get you close to the gauge noted above (or in the specific pattern).   

Thanks for dropping by,

Sunday, January 7, 2018

Hiawatha Belastraw, Article 35

I volunteer at a local Thrift Shop on Thursday.   Last week I was walking through, and on the top of an incoming box, I saw it ....
Hiawatha Belastraw.   I'm sure others may have heard the screeching sound as I made an immediate U-turn to claim this sole tube.   (There were a couple other goodies in there that I'll cover later).   I've a number of patterns in the shop that call for Hiawatha Belastraw and always like to give the details for these vintage threads. 

Hiawatha Belastraw, Article 35- 100 Viscose Process Rayon thread, 6 ply.    Now, just for conversation sake, Dritz and Bernat also marketed a Belastraw product with the only difference being they are 5 ply, versus the 6 ply.

Here's the close-up.   I've always seen it described as straw-like.   Now, it is heavier than a heavy thread, but it's not nearly as stiff as a 'straw'.   I happened to have a ball of thin soft twine in my studio, and felt they were very similar.   I'd suggest, if looking for a replacement, you give twine, or perhaps jute a try to match the gauges given.  

Hiawatha Belastraw entered the market in 1945.   This was the WWII era, when wool was dedicated to military production and yarn/thread suppliers had to develop substitute materials.   Thus, rayons and other synthetics became a mainstream.  The introductory price ... $0.59/tube.  

The product was heavily marketed in newspapers across the country.   Often the individual yarn shops offered free instruction as well. 

And, of course, a number of pattern books were published to not only drive up demand for the product, but to fill a need for those wanting to create accessories in the 'wool-less' time.

Hiawatha Belastraw remained strong in the market through 1953 and then started to fade, completing disappearing from 'advertisements' in 1957. 

Of course, rayon and synthetic blends, combined into cottons and wools were bounding and like all trends, the fiber artists were 'moving on' to other options.  But, from this era, there remain a large number of fabulous vintage patterns (from Hiawatha, Dritz and Bernat) that deserve going forward.   If you love vintage fashions, I'd suggest giving them a ry. 

OH ... and please, when you find a substitute that works well for you, please drop back by and let's us know.