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Thursday, June 25, 2020

Mayfair Needle Art Designs, Mail Order Patterns

Next up in my stack of Mail Order Patterns to process is a crochet pattern branded as Mayfair Needle-Art Design.  I recalled I already had one Mayfair pattern, however, had not yet taken the time to learn more.  Well, now is the time!
The official name of the pattern line - Mayfair Needle-Art Design.   In the newspaper clippings they simply branded 'by Mayfair'.  They marketed a line of sewing, knitting and crochet patterns in 'The Tribune' franchise of newspapers across 17 states. The advertisement promotions appeared bi-weekly in the Womens Pages.   The ads first appeared in April 1936 and ran through October, 1937, then disappeared .... no more 'by Mayfair' tag lines.   
There were approximately 140 marketed, all three digit numbers ranging between 120 and 350.  Now this number range implies there may have been more patterns.  If so, I've not found them!  There was also no sequence to how they appeared, one week 220, the next 135.   
I've just two of these patterns .... 

This blouse an unusual factor - perhaps consistent with it's age.  It was ordered by size (32 to 38), and came with tissue patterns for blocking purposes. 

I looked to see who preceded Mayfair Arts in the Tribune publications.   Well, for sewing patterns, it was Household Arts.  At that time, Household Arts did not market knit or crochet Designs. Perhaps, Mayfair was, for a short time period, a part of Household Arts.  

And who followed Mayfair Needle Arts?  Household Arts, of course, under the name of Alice Brooks. 

And, that's all I (currently) know about Mayfair.   Should you know more, or perhaps some of these patterns in your collection that you would be willing to share, I'd be most appreciative.   I'm trying to create a directory of mail order designs for that 'Bits of History' concept. 

Thanks for dropping by,   Lorrie

Monday, June 8, 2020

Vintage Crochet Cape Pattern, Alice Brooks 5360

Each day I strive to process one or two mail order patterns for the shop.   Today, at the top of the pile (or, actually, at the front of the container) was Design 5360, which seemed as good as any a place to start.   Now, at this point, I could call this pattern .... how I spent a good portion of the day.

This pattern is best described as fragile .... as it should be ... going all the way back to 1936.

Fortunately, I'd scanned this pattern back in 2014, before it became quite so fragile.   (Yes, sometimes it takes me a long time to get around to a pattern - I've several hundred waiting).   Still, it needed taped back together at the folds for the checking process.   An interesting note about this Alice Brooks Design pattern is it is written entirely in caps (which made it a real bugger to check).   I do not recall seeing this in any others.     A second interesting factor is the pattern number itself - 5360.   The very early Alice Brooks patterns are in the 6000 number series.   This is the one and only I've seen in the 5000.  

 Now, I do not crochet so I cannot truly attest whether this is a difficult pattern, (the directions say it is a simple stitch), but it is definitely a large pattern .... lots of directions.   It's a lacy delight with a jabot type neck tie and a one size below breast / above elbow design.   Some might even call it a capelet.

In case you can't make out the print from this photo -- the official write-up:  "A summer night, starlilght and your sheerest frock call for this lacy capelet, which, in turn, calls for crochet hook and a bit of white, pastel or black string. You'll love the soft scarf collar that ties so fetchingly 'neath your chin, so hurry - if you'd enjoy this cape all summer. It will do equally well for a neighborly visit or a more formal occasion".   I have to say, as far as pattern descriptions go, this is nothing less than a charmer!

The pattern is now available in the shop, should you be interested.

Thanks for dropping by.

Friday, June 5, 2020

Crochet Snowflake Doily Pattern Series, Anne Cabot

I (currently) have two Anne Cabot patterns in my collection that reference "Snowflake Series" which brought me to wondering more.   I've processed several thousand Mail Order patterns, researching each one to the extent possible, and have to say this is the first time I've seen an actual series.   It's definitely worth an hour to investigate.

The series, six patterns in all,  began in April, 1942 and continued at sporadic intervals into September 1942.  "The snowflake, brilliant white and lacy, lends itself as a perfect motif for the crochet doily pattern". Now, I'm sure the description of duplicating from a photograph under a microscope is a bit of a stretch.   But, you know, it's all about marketing!

Here's the collection.   I've duplicated the exact wording below each from the newspaper descriptions.
Anne Cabot 5351  - Released April 07, 1942
"The first in my series of snowflake doilies - done in crochet. This doily has been painstakingly copied, under a microscope from a photograph of an actual snowflake.  It's a genuine museum piece - a six inch handful of delicate loveliness! One ball of No 40 crochet cotton is all it calls for - make it in your spare time - you'll have an exhibition piece that will call forth gasps of admiration. And, a whole collection of snowflake doilies - such a collection would be a valuable heirloom!  Make this first snowflake for yourself, or use it as a most charming wedding present".
Anne Cabot 5360 - Released April 24, 1942
"Here is the second "snowflake" in the series of doilies for fans and doily collectors.  It's even lovelier that the first one - and will be a beautiful compliment to it!  Each doily is the same size - about 8-1/2 inches across. Each doily has been copied from an enlarged photograph of an actual snowflake - and, as you know, the variety of the forms of snowflakes is infinite. A collection of these rare doilies will make a most unusual exhibit. And, as decorations for the home they are unsurpassed. Use them under glass flower bowls, or the shelves of your china closet, as a deluxe present. Take just one small ball of No 40 crochet cotton".
Anne Cabot 5372 - Released May 18, 1942
"This is the third doily in my series of "snowflake" designs.  You've doubtless seen the first two - they appeared in this column a few weeks ago.  There will be at least six in the complete series - three more will appear during June and August. You'll be able to exhibit all six (if you are out to capture prizes) at your state fair in the fall. Each doily is about 9 inches across and each one has been copied from a real snowflake.  You can make as many as you like of any one design and use them as a set, or you can make one of each "snowflake" and have a glorious collection of the most unusual doilies you've ever seen".
Anne Cabot 5396 - Released July 05, 1942
"This is No. 4 in my series of of six "snowflake" doilies.  Each one is exactly the same size - 9 inches in diameter.  You can make four or six of any one of the doilies - this one illustrated - for instance, or you can make one of each design. The complete set of crocheted snowflakes is indeed an unusual and lovely set.  You'll take prizes at home or at exhibitions with this beautiful heirloom piece".
Anne Cabot 5410 - Released July 31, 1942
"Here it is - the first doily in my snowflake series. There are so many uses for these lovely doilies that you'll have a wonderful time trying to decide just where in your home they look prettiest.  Each doily is just 9 inches in diameter.  Make a whole half dozen of any one of them or make your "collection" of one of each design. It will soon be county fair season - you'll certainly want to enter a Snowflake Doily - they're prize winners".
Anne Cabot 5441, Released September 24, 1942
The sixth and last in my series of "Snowflake" doilies  - each one 9 inches in diameter - each one lovelier than the other! They're really collectors doilies, though easy to crochet. Make a set of six to use as dessert plate doilies - make one of each design if you wish to have an unusual "show" or exhibition collection".

The same series was released in a number of newspapers in 1943 and a couple also appeared randomly, with different descriptions, not referencing the collectors series.

As I said, I have just two of them in my current collection.   I would, of course, like to have them all!  If you happen to have the missing 4 in your collection, would you be willing to share them?    I'll trade for other patterns!

Hope you enjoyed the series.  Thanks for dropping by,

Nantuk 4-Ply Knitting Worsted, Columbia Minerva

For this post, let's go back to 1964.  Columbia Minerva introduced their Nantuk 4-Ply Knitting Worsted.  
Nantuk 4-Ply Knitting Worsted
100% Orlon Acrylic - 2 oz

The yarn made it's debut in the market at 74 cents per skein.   Notice the 'Du Pont' on the advertisement?  Du Pont introduced the fibers that became the Orlon identification.   The hope was Orlon would become a replacement for wool. 

To coincide with the Nantuk 4-ply introduction, a pattern book, with 17 patterns for knit and crochet.   was released  - Afghans by Columbia Minerva

As was typical for Columbia Minerva, they also offered 'free patterns' through newspapers advertisements, where the 'reader' would send for the pattern and then, of course, purchase the yarn,
There were several of these offerings between 1967 and 1971.   The yarn was also featured in several other Columbia Minerva pattern books. 

By late 1971, the general price had risen to $1.90, with, of course, promotional sale prices varying dramatically.    This price point held for the rest of the yarns' life span.  

And then, around 1986, production stopped and through 1987, the yarn was discounted until inventories disappeared.  

Now, there are quite a number of vintage patterns that call for Nantuk 4-ply Knitting Worsted.  You'll find, of course, quite a number of them in the shop.   For a replacement yarn ... well .... any 4-ply Knitting Worsted will do.  Just do a quick check of your gauge.  

Hope you found this helpful.   Thanks for dropping by, 

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,