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Saturday, April 28, 2018

The American Weekly, Mail Order Patterns

The American Weekly was a weekly magazine insertion to the Sunday newspapers from the late 1896 until 1966.   The paper (from my recall as a young girl) was perhaps in the 16 x 22 size range, fold over design, with a glossy cover and a variety of rather meaningless (my opinion) articles, along with, of course, the prized Womens' Sections.

The American Weekly was exclusive to their pattern column, offering only patterns under the name of The American Weekly, of course.

And, just like the other mail order services, the reader sent a note with the pattern number and payment and a couple weeks later the pattern arrived in the mail.

The pattern service started in 1936.  The first couple years, the offerings were sewing patterns only.  Then, in 1938, the patterns began expanding into the usual sewing, crochet, knitting and embroidery.

The patterns were in the same 'known' mail order format - the large large 17 x 22 inch single sheet of paper, folded into sections.  The needlework patterns typically included large pattern stitch diagrams and blocking charts, when appropriate.

The pattern offered by The American Weekly were the same Designs of Laura Wheeler / Alice Brooks.   The same cover pictures, as well as directions and diagrams were the same.   Only difference - the pattern name displayed and the envelopes and the pattern numbers themselves.  The American Weekly patterns were in the 3000 through 3800 series, depending upon the pattern type.
Notes:  In the 3100 number series.

An August 28, 1949 newspaper reported that The American Weekly pattern sales were 260,000 for a month.   Now, it would be interesting to know if that was exclusive to The American Weekly, or that was the 'Readers Mail' syndicate.

There are very few newspaper references on The American Weekly papers.   The paper was published on very thin paper, which did not stand-up to time - i.e., being scanned into archives.  (What a real loss!).  There are a few references out there in Internet land as there were a couple newspapers - for example Cincinnati OH, that printed the Womens section in their newspaper page, not as a separate circular. 

The American Weekly Publication was discontinued in 1966.

If you'd care to look, I have a number of these patterns in the shop (and more waiting to be entered).  If you happen to know more information about The American Weekly Patterns, I'd appreciate your sharing!

Thanks for dropping by.

Friday, April 20, 2018

Dritz Luxury Corde Yarn, Article 100

World War II has just ended and the yarn makers are again gearing up to produce yarns for the Home Needle Crafter, versus wools for the military market.   And, of course, John Dritz and Sons, continued with their brands for accessories ... in this case - Dritz Luxury Corde.

Dritz Luxury Corde:  50% rayon, 50% Cotton in 144 yard cones.  Primarily used for fashion asseccories - hats and bags, with a soft stiffness to hold shape.

The yarn was introduced in the market mid-year 1945 at the surprisingly high price (based on the time period) of $1.50 per cone in a limited number of colors.

Dritz supplied pattern sheets to the yarn shops, who displayed and gave them to customers with purchase of  the product.  (A very popular promotion, with many shops giving lessons as well).   In addition Dritz published pattern books.  The advertisement, for Volume 17 - Corde Style Book - was advertised in Needlework magazines to further entice the consumer.    Note that this ad includes 'Dritz Sparkle Corde".   I completed quite a number of searches and find no reference to this product.   I am assuming it is Luxury Corde with a strand of metallic.

And, moving into the early 1950's, pre-packaged kits became the rage and Dritz took their's a step further.  This bag kit (1953) cross-promoted their products.  All the products in the bag - plastic, corde and hardware all products of Dritz!

The high introductory price of $1.50 per cone did not hold -- there were a number of competitors that drove the price down.  Here, in this 1957 ad, the regular price had dropped to $1.00, which sales as low as 49 cents.

And, in 1958, after a 13 year run, Dritz withdrew their Luxury Corde from the market.

Out there in internet land are a  number of pattern books and leaflets with wonderful designs that are work pursuing.   I have a few patterns in the shop as well, should you care to browse.

Now,  you may be asking ... just what substitute do I use.   Well, I found the following suggestion in a late 1950's Alice Books Mail Order pattern:

1 strand of corde = 4 strands of Mercerized Crochet and Knitting Cotton held together 
or a double strand of Sports Yarn.   

Okay, time for me to get back to work.    Thanks for dropping by.

Friday, April 13, 2018

Fleishers 1923 National Knitting Contest

Now, for a moment (or two) of fun, let's take a look back on Fleishers 1923 National Knitting Contest. Yes .. 1923 ... 95 years ago.

The contest, which closes June 9, 1923, offers $11,000 in cash and prices, with the grand prize being $2000, and 149 others will receive cash prizes between $25. and $500.   The first, second and third prizes are national; the remaining prizes are awarded three per state.  Remember, this time span is in the middle of the great depression, when the potential of cash would be of great interest to 'knitters', as well as increased yarn sales to Fleishers.

The completed entries are sent to Fleishers office in Philadelphia. All of the garments that do not win prizes are returned to the knitter.

The official announcement(s) began appearing in newspapers across the country on April 07, 1923.   The ads were placed by the individual local yarn shops, where you could also purchase the yarn, pickup the entry form, and even purchase Fleishers new Knitting Manual.

AND ... American knitters got started - participating in a variety of .......

Obviously this promotions (by the hotel perhaps), featured 23 knitters, knitting non-stop at the Ambassador Hotel in Atlantic City.  They were closely monitored to make sure they did not stop. From another newspaper is a notation that the youngest of the 23 knitters was 3 year old Nancy McGurk, who fell asleep after 1 hour, knitting needles still in hand.

In New Jersey (notice the dog between) Fire fighters knit between calls.

And here, the stewardesses of liner President Harding are knitting away.   There's an addition premise, and promotion going on here (and I'm sure many other instances).   The more times you enter, the higher your chances to win.   Passengers joined in on the contest and a 'week out' a special fashion show will take place to model the entries.

And the New York Governor's wife and daughter Emily join in.   (Note the times here .... the Governor's wife doesn't seem to have a name of her own!).

"Never before has a nation wide contest had such a dramatic appeal.  Prominent women, wives of governors, club women, the flapper who is now foresaking her flapperism, firemen and train conductors, wives of laborers, and women of wealth are all excited contestants".

And then ... June 9th arrives and at midnight, the contest closes.  And ... everything went quiet until early August.

"For the two weeks before the date of closing, and for days after, four huge trucks laden with knitted garments arrived each morning as the first delivery, and smaller lots continued throughout the day.  The entries disclose garments of rare beauty both in color and design, as well as others which are humorous and even grotesque".

"Ten's of Thousands" of entries were received, which each had to be logged in, classified, stored, judged, etc. etc. etc.   Even Mrs. Calvin Coolidge entered the contest.  "Over 100 square feet of warehouse space was piled high with entries"  It took the staff weeks of work.

And, on August 24th, the process of announcing the winners began. Mrs Wyman of Rhode Island wins $2000, Mrs. Elizabeth Potts of California wins second place and Mr. G.F. Greenwood of Philadelphia wins place.   The remaining winners were announced in their respective states.

This particular contest was not repeated in subsequent years.

I hope you enjoyed this 'Bit of History'.    Thanks for dropping by.

Monday, April 9, 2018

Bernat Mohairlaine Yarn

In the 1960's, Mohair yarns changed from being an available commodity to a 'must have' essential in the woman' wardrobe.  Now, I don't know if these was due to the many blends being developed, or a surge of the wool to the market, or fabulous promotions from the suppliers, but either way, it proved very popular.    Emile Bernat and Sons were among the leaders of the pack bring the 'blended' mohair to market.   They introduced Bernat Mohairspun Yarn in 1959, and quickly followed up with  Astrakhan Mohair Plus and Mohairlaine  in  early 1960. 

Brushed Texture - 62% Goat - Mohair, 19% Wool, 19% Manufactured Fibers - Nylon / Polyamide

The first newspaper promotion takes us back to June, 1960.   It was also featured, through patterns, in the Bernat Mohair Collection Book 118.

On a small scale (in comparison to Bernat's other mohair brands), patterns were supplied to the individual pattern shops to 'give away' with yarn purchases - August 1962.  (This pattern was also offered as a complete kit later in the year).

Bernat offered a number of Kit patterns in the early 1960's - this one from 1964.  The kits were made up in the Bernat factory, each in a variety of colors, and distributed to the individual yarn shops for sale to the needlework customer.

Bernat had teamed up with Judy Love, of Stitchin' Times newspaper column, where a Bernat Mohairlaine pattern was featured.   In these cases, the pattern was offered as a Mail Order through the newspaper itself.  This article / offer appeared in newspapers on June 30, 1970.

And the last newspaper promotion appeared in December, 1973 with this Fuzzy Snuggler offer. 

And from there, it seems to have quietly disappeared from the market.  There did not appear to be a lot of product growth over the 13 years (1960 - 1973), with the suggested price starting at $0.99 and ending at $1.39.    Also, in the realm of Bernat, newspaper and magazine promotions were very light. I'm making a guess, that Mohairlaine was most frequently used in combination with the other Bernat Mohair yarns (as in a number of the patterns in the Bernat Mohair Collection Book and faded away in the same time frame as the other Bernat Mohair blends from the late 1950 / early 1960's. 

Now, there are still a number of patterns out there that deserve consideration .... I have a couple in the shop as well, should you care to browse.  For a replacement, select a lightweight brushed mohair that will meet the stated gauge of your pattern.

Thanks for dropping by.

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Kentucky Soft Spun Yarn, Variegated

Kentucky brand yarns were produced by January & Wood Company in Maysville, KY.  Originally well known for their Carpet Warp brands, after WWII they began introducing other 'types' of yarn from the secondary market.    Among these brands .... Kentucky Soft Spun. 

Photo from Ebay seller from Fourhuvsrider
A thick, fluffy yarn - soft and resilient.  Gives body to rugs  - a bulky, textured look and feel to jackets and stoles, hats and bags

                                         25% Cotton, 75% Rayon in 70 yard skeins 
A unique 'tweed' yarn.  Fours colors twisted together in a single strand create a varicolored effect that is uniform throughout the entire skein.  For unusual textures - with even the simplest stitches - in fashion and home accessories.   There was also a Soft Spun Decorative, which had metallic fibers to added pizzazz which was sold in 60 yard skeins.

The yarn was delivered to market in late 1947 in 100 yard hands at a mere 29 cents.

As noted in the above advertisement, they released a pattern book to promote their rug yarn - Kentucky Rug Yarns, Vol 5

And, to catch up the customer with one more opportunity to try the yarn, a Free beginners pattern was given out with yarn purchases.  (This pattern is available in the shop).

To keep up interest in the yarn, as well as 'catch' new potential customers, January & Woods regularly ran newspapers ads for free patterns ... Just mail away to the Women's Editor of the paper.   I don't know if the patterns were distributed through the paper themselves, or the requests sent to January & Woods.  This 1954 offering combines crochet and sewing with cloth sleeves and collar.  There were many ... many ... many of these leaflets offered that I'd so like to find.   (Do you have any hiding away that we could perhaps trade for?)

And, it late to the market (in comparison to other yarn manufacturers, January & Woods added the 'Rug Kit' to the product offerings in 1963.

And, in the early 1970's, January & Woods began selling their 'factory seconds' of the Soft Spun Yarn.   Now, this may have been practiced by others .... I don't know .... but this is the first time I've seen reference to this.   The 'seconds were sold for skeins to a bag.

I've not yet researched the subject, but in the late 1970's, for a short period, the yarn was also sold under a brand name of Majesty -- i.e., Majesty Kentucky Soft Spun Yarn.   Another note, the same yarn was also sold under the Woolworth and Sears Brands.

The yarn was discontinued in 1978 and had disappeared from the primary market by the end of 1979.  What a great run it had ... 30 years.

Now, there are a number of patterns out there in internet land (as well as a few in my shop, should you care to browse).  Many of the patterns are quite easy, perfect for beginners.    The yarn can still be found on Ebay in the misc. resale shops (Etsy, Artfire).   Or, for a substitute any of the current bulky rug yarns should do.

Thanks for dropping by, 

Monday, April 2, 2018

Laura Wheeler Designs in Australia

I spent a fair amount of (enjoyable) time researching 'bits of history' in   I just never know what's going to present itself ......  drumroll please ... like Laura Wheeler Designs in Australia !

This advertisement set takes us back to (almost) the beginning ...  Laura Wheeler 1411 - Crocheted Doilies was offered in United States papers January 30, 1937, and in Australian papers August 22, 1938.  Did you notice the different spelling of Doilies ... Doyleys? 

This beautiful Peacock - Laura Wheeler 766 - a combination of embroidery and crochet, was published in the US on January 20, 1944 and October 20, 1945 in Australia.  Here, the pattern descriptions and pictures are the same.  A note of interest, it does not appear the Needlework Catalogs were an offering. 
Here's another 'Gay Topper' example of almost the 'same advertisement' spaced about a year apart.  Laura Wheeler 391 is available in the shop.  

Now, I found these in what's called The Trove - National Library of Australia, where a small accumulations (for historical significance, I'd assume), were clipped from newspapers.  The dates available were just a handful (142) between 1938 and 1947.    So, until I find another access to online Australian newspapers, I don't know if the offerings continued into the late 1970's, as did the Readers Mail Laura Wheeler syndication.

It was truly naive for me to  that Laura Wheeler was purely a United States pattern syndication.  (I've no doubt the syndicate appeared in Canada as well ... but haven't followed up on that yet).  Why wouldn't Readers Mail want to capitalize wherever might be possible. 

There's a hint on The Trove page that the patterns were offered in New Zealand as well.  I wonder what other countries offered the Design Mail Order catalogs.   I know there are a number of International Readers ... perhaps you can let us know. 

Thanks for dropping by.