Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Vintage books online

   Recently I've been looking more and more at vintage books online.  Google books has some really great ones if you have the knowledge of vintage patterns, and the patience.  If not, thanks to the internet these days, it isn't too difficult to figure things out as well :)
   One I recently started reading is called Treasures in Needlework. It's dated 1855 and it basically has several collected patterns for Knitting, Netting, Crochet, Point Lace, Tatting, Braiding and Embroidery.   I'm unfamiliar with Netting and Point Lace as yet, so I looked at some of the other patterns.  If you're in love with vintage crafting, you won't be disappointed with this book.  It has a little of everything in there I believe, from baby socks to neck ties.  Caps, Mats, Toilet (toiletry not the modern toilet) fringe, Turkish slippers, and one of my favorite subjects an embroidered pocketbook.   I'm seriously hoping I can find time to do at least a couple of the patterns from this book.
   If you're interested in the 1830's, and haven't already heard of it, here's a real gem.  The Workwoman's guide.  Have I mentioned this book before?  If I have here it is again.  Great resource for learning how to sew nearly everything from soft corsets, chemise, shirts, dresses, baby clothes to household goods.  The one drawback that it has is the measurements, and the need for intermediate sewing knowledge.  As for measurements, that's easily resolved by going to the Online Conversion Chart.   Using the all lengths and distance conversions, you can easily type in how many nails and have it translate it into inches, and voile you're ready to go.
   Another interesting online book is My Knitting Book by Miss. Lambert published in 1843.   It's really no different than other knitting books of it's time, however I could tell immediately why it isn't widely used or shared.  There's absolutely no images drawn or otherwise to go by.  So when you set out to knit a Pretty Cuff, you're literally flying blind until you observe whether it really is pretty or not.
   Now that might be a drawback to some.  But it could also be interesting.  The mystery of what the Pretty Cuff might look like could entice someone enough to knit it just to see.
   I haven't personally done more than download and flip quickly through this one, but if you're up to the challenge of mystery or blind knitting The Comprehensive Knitting-Book also offers a nice assortment of patterns.  Published originally in 1849 it has baby items, curtains, something it calls a habit shirt.  What caught my possible interest to venture into experimentation were the gaiter patterns.  One called Gaiter, with stripes down the leg (possible steampunk item?), and the Traveling Gaiters for a Lady.
     I do find modern crafting interesting sometimes.  But there is this certain j'nai said quoi about vintage crafts.  Perhaps it's the romanticism attached to it.  Whatever it is, I honestly hope they continue to share wonderful books like these online for future generations to enjoy.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Beauty everywhere

  I don't know about anyone else, but I've been having a horrible time getting myself to work on anything creative.  It was just so cold and dreary this winter that the beautiful weather has been making it difficult if not impossible to concentrate on anything else.
   Of course I could always take knitting outside, but then it would only be worse most likely.  So I gave in and whipped out my camera to snap a little of what's been popping up in our yard, and that of our neighbors.  I'll start there because they have a gorgeous Tulip Tree.  I don't know if there's another name for it, but they call it a Tulip Tree, and for good reason, so I snapped a few of the blossoms with the zoom.

and here's a closer view.

   While admiring the green everywhere, I noticed we have what I think is wild Parsley.  Anyone know what it looks like for certain?  Because I really think it is, although I'm not adventurous enough to try it to see.  It smells similar to the tops of a carrot, however the roots and leaves look like parsley.

  On the second half of our yard there's an Ornamental Pear tree the former owner had planted.  Although the blossoms only last a few days when they do bloom it's so beautiful.

    It's only too bad it's ornamental and won't ever have fruit.  So far our Jonathan Apple Tree, Montmorency Cherry tree and Plum haven't popped blossoms yet, but they look like they will any day now.  I'm assuming the cold weather we had after a bit of warm might have slowed them down because last year we had cherry blossoms by now.  Leaves are unfolding so I know it didn't die on us.  But according to my husband, he thinks our baby Fig tree might have.  I'm hoping he's wrong, because I love figs right off the tree.  I guess if it did die, we just have to buy a couple more, although I really am surprised if it was so delicate.  It's a Tx breed that's supposed to be really hearty.
   On wild flowers, we don't have very many around us.  My in laws get Indian Paint brushes and other really lovely flowers.  Other than clover and dandelion I have no clue what the purpley wild blossoms are called.  But the way they grow in clumps makes them stand out.

    And these look almost glowing blue.  I don't think I quite caught them right though, and I have no clue what they are either.
  If anyone does, I'd love to know.  I took way too many pictures to share, including a nice clump of clover but then that's the way I am.  Sometimes everyone ignores something because it's everywhere, and I stop and stare all the while thinking to myself how beautiful it is.

   On a side note, my Knit Picks Tonal yarns arrived last week.  Sadly I'm too poor to get one of everything, but I did get Canopy green, Deep Waters blue and Queen Anne pink in lace, and Queen Anne in Stroll sock yarn.
   I had decided to do a cardigan with two of them, but couldn't make up my mind.  Now I'm not so sure about the pattern, because it's rather plain.  And a Victorian cardigan perhaps in the Queen Anne would be so much better.  I have a really nice pattern from the early 1900's, but they always seem to be in extra small, and they expect you to know how to re-size.  I feel very blessed that I figured out how to re-size the sontag, I'm not so sure I'd get it right for a cardigan though without more practice.
  Perhaps I should just stick to working on my hand bag pattern.  I wanted something like a beaded purse, but minus the beads.  So far two weeks later I have half a pattern written and I think I'm close.  I'm wondering if it wouldn't have been easier just writing a miser's purse pattern instead. 
    Sure there are patterns already for them.  But it just seems to me that there's enough evidence to show our ladies of history didn't just follow a pattern when they made things.  Some of them used their skill and knowledge to create their own originals in the same style of the period.  In a way it saddens me that some who do vintage inspired crafting, are so stuck on doing something only if they can find a pattern for it.  If you're doing re-enacting and living history wouldn't it seem logical to follow the examples of the past and not just the letter of the law, and be more creative?   Our Victorian ancestors and their Rococco ancestors, and so on and so forth were.  Many of them taking pride in their skill, whatever it was.