Category Archives: Curiosities

Trail Cookery for Girl Scouts

 

This little cook booklet dates from 1945, and while it is not an official Girl Scout publication, the company that printed it made it specifically with the Girl Scouts in mind.  Look closely at the pictures to figure out who made the booklet.

Even without the date, I’d have put this in the 1940s due to the cute pleated shorts all the girls are wearing.

One girl just can’t resist those Boy Scouts on the opposite mountain.

The booklet does not actually tell you how to cook an egg with a magnifying glass, unfortunately.

There are even menus included which predominately feature the product of the publisher.  And guesses yet?

Yes, this booklet was developed by the Home Economics Department of the Kellogg Company of Battle Creek, Michigan.

Those baby bears simply cannot resist Rice Krispies!

 

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Vintage Label Quilt, Part II

Five years ago I wrote about a quilt that was made of clothing labels.  It had taken me ten years to track it down, but I finally was put in touch with the owner, Chris Kluge.  Chris’s great grandfather started a label weaving company,  Artistic Weaving, which was at one time the world’s largest manufacturers of woven labels.  Using the word “artistic” as part of the company’s name was totally appropriate, as the labels are little works of art.  You can read the story of Artistic Weaving in my post from five years ago.

Several days ago I got an email from Seref Ozen, a dealer of antique textiles who lives in Istanbul, Turkey.  He was in possession of a similar quilt, and had found my old blog post in looking for information.  Instead of clothing labels, this one was made of woven Christmas greetings.  Many were signed by Albert Kluge, or stated that they were from the Artistic Weaving Company.

I really could not tell Seref anything else about his quilt, but I was intrigued.  How did such an obviously American item end up in his possession in Turkey?  What was the meaning of the woven greetings?

My first step was to contact Chris Kluge.  He confirmed what I suspected, that the company made their own woven Christmas greetings.  His great uncle Albert Kluge sent them to his customers and friends, and after Chris’s father inherited the business he continued the tradition until the business was sold in the late 1990s.

Chris also said that it was possible that these were designed by a Mr. Smith, who was a label artist at Artistic.  He “may well have created the colored sketch which was then ‘translated’ into jacquard punch cards for weaving the pictures.”

So how did this quilt end up in Istanbul?  Believe it or not, it came from Afghanistan. From Seref: “The piece was found by an Afghan picker in Afghanistan and an Uzbek picker” brought it to his attention.  He bought it.

There is really no way to know with certainty how this quilt ended up in Afghanistan, but Seref has a theory.  “I have no idea but I think, people are sending lots of aid boxes to Afghanistan because every now and then I find things that don’t make sense in Afghanistan.  I even got a YoYo quilt years ago.”

My guess is that these woven greetings were made in the 1920s through the 1940s.  The amount of detail is simply amazing.  If these don’t make you long for the days of wonderful woven labels, nothing will.

The entire quilt is quite large.

Gearing up for WWII?

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The Cowichan Indian Sweater

I pulled this great little booklet out of a Goodwill bin, along with some other vintage booklets about Native American textiles.  What really interested me about this one was the section on knitted goods made by Vancouver Island Indians.  I know that knitting is not what generally springs to mind when thinking of Native textiles, but the Cowichan sweater is a special story.

In the early days of ebay chat boards, I loved to read the Vintage Fashion Board.  This was in the late 1990s, or maybe early 2000s, long before any vintage blogs or other sources of information online.  It was the best vintage education I could have gotten because it was an open discussion about anything and everything about old clothes.

One discussion I remembered in particular involved Mary Maxim and Cowichan sweaters.  As ebay was growing (exploding, actually) one of the big concerns was using key words so buyers could find what they wanted through searching.  For some reason, probably due to some “expert” on the board giving bad information, sellers started using the term Cowichan to describe Mary Maxim sweaters.

The only things the two sweaters really have in common is the use of a heavy multi-ply yarn in their making and often, the depiction of wildlife.  Mary Maxim is a company that sold knitting charts and yarns to home knitters.  The patterns are pictorial in nature, with themes like fishing or bowling or airplanes, usually in bright colors on a tan background.  They are best described, I suppose, as novelty sweaters.  Cowichan sweaters are hand knit by Indians on Vancouver Island, often with geometric patterns, but also depicting local wildlife.  They are knit in neutral colors of wool.

In the course of the ebay discussion, some knowledgeable person finally showed up and set us all straight about the Cowichan.  To use the term Cowichan to describe any bulky hand knit was just wrong, and to be honest, ignorant.  It was a good lesson for me, not to rely on the word of people I don’t really know.  Do my own research and be careful with the details.  Of course it is much easier now, fifteen years later.  The amount  of information on the internet is far beyond anything I imagined in 2000.  And it helps that today I know many people online whose knowledge I can trust.

Following is the text from the booklet, Indian Weaving, Knitting, Basketry of the Northwest, by Elizabeth Hawkins.  It was published in 1978.

Knitting is a modern technique that was introduced by early Scottish settlers to Vancouver Island Indians.  Today, Native knitting is predominated by the Salish women knitting the famous Cowichan Indian sweaters, and to a lesser extent, tams, socks, mitts and ponchos.  Many women still spin and dye their own wool both because of the handcrafted touch it gives and to keep the cost down.  Many of the sweaters are knitted in the round using as many as eight needles and therefore produce a seamless garment.

There is such a demand today for these sweaters that I was recently told that on two of the Vancouver Island reserves every woman of age commercially knits.  While the southern Vancouver Island and Fraser Valley tribes are the predominant knitters the demand is encouraging a similar home industry in northern villages as well.

Design

Geometric patterns predominate in primitive Salish design but more modern designs often incorporate wildlife.  Thunderbird, eagle, killer whale and deer are crest figures often portrayed.

Duncan Fall Fair brings forth competition among Cowichan knitters.

I thought the spindles were really interesting.  I’ve never seen a spinning wheel adapted from an old treadle sewing machine.

Note the Scottish influence in the sweaters hanging behind the happy spinners.  I love that argyle.  The snowflake is interesting as well.  It looks like other knitting designs such as Scandinavian were being appropriated into the Cowichan.

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Schiaparelli for Catalina Swimsuit, 1949, Part II

Click to enlarge

 

In reading about the Schiaparelli for Catalina swim suit I recently bought I discovered that, according to an advertisement, that this suit was the “Official Swim Suit of the Atlantic City Miss America Pageant.” That sent me on an internet search to see if I could actually find photos of the contestants wearing this particular suit.  When I came up  empty I just assumed that it was Catalina suits in general that were the official suit of the pageant.

To my surprise and delight, I got the above photo in my inbox last night.  Julie of Jet Set Sewing saw my Schiaparelli suit and thought it looked familiar.  Then she realized that a photo of the 1948 contestants wearing the suit was hanging in her home.  Julie’s husband found the photo in a shop in Paris.

As you can see, it is the Schiaparelli swim suit, but with the addition of the Catalina flying fish logo.  And even though this was the 1948 Miss America contest, the suit was not made commercially until the next year.  Thus, all my searches for “Miss America Catalina 1949″ brought up a different set of swim suits.

Even though the power of Google is great and it so often leads us to the correct information, it makes me happy that it was a friend who provided the breakthrough on this one.  Thanks, Julie!

Click to enlarge

 

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Antique Fabric Swatches Need a Date

One of the reasons I keep returning to my local Goodwill Outlet bins is because I never know what will be found there.  It truly is a giant treasure hunt, with some people hunting for gold in the book bins and others hunting for silver in the toy bins.  Like me, there are those who are looking for textile treasures, so I have to really keep my eyes open and ready to spot something interesting.  On a recent trip I found a plastic baggie full of what looked to be at first glance, swatches of reproductions of antique fabrics.  I threw the bag in my buggy anyway to give it a closer look.

A closer examination showed that every swatch was different and they were all the same size.  A previous owner had written “$5″ on the baggie, and so these were left over from a sale of some sort.

While examining the pieces I noticed that on the backs were remnants of glue and even little scraps of paper.  These swatches had been torn out of a sample book, was my guess.

And one was still clinging to this piece of very old paper. At this point I was convinced that these swatches were actually antique fabrics.  My guess is that they were attached to a sample book or cards, and that someone removed them to use as quilt or crafting pieces.  That’s the sort of act that just breaks my heart, as it removes the object from some very vital information.  Who made these fabrics?  When were they marketed?  Are they American in origin?

It’s likely I’ll never know the answers to all my questions, but I’m sure there are some of you who can help me narrow down a date for them.  Using the information and photos in Eileen Jahnke Trestain’s book, Dating Fabrics: A Color Guide 1800 -1960 I’ve placed them in her category of 1880 through 1910.  I’d like something a bit more precise.

I was amazed at the sharpness of the colors…

And the modern look to some of the designs.

There was even an early novelty print, in the form of card suits.

There were several prints that were made in different colorways.

About half of the swatches have a black background, but there are also some pretty, light prints in pink and white.

And then, as now, black and white prints were a favored combination.

So please, if you can shed some light on the age of these lovely little pieces, post and enlighten this mid-century girl.  I’d also like suggestions on what to do with them.  Should I put them back in a book where they belong?  Pactchwork is out of the question!

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Items from Our Catalog, 1982 and 1983

I thought I’d found a vintage LL Bean catalog at the Goodwill last week, but a closer look revealed something a bit strange.  A hound wearing a bra?  Now that’s one product I’m pretty sure I’d never seen at LL Bean.

And I was right.  This is not a catalog at all, but rather, is a parody of the famous Bean book.  The early 1980s were good years for LL Bean.  The Official Preppy Handbook  by Lisa Birnbach had been published in 1980, and suddenly everyone, even those who could not even name an elite prep school, was wearing chinos and duck shoes.  It must have been a very happy surprise for LL Bean, as they had been selling those products for years.

Items from Our Catalog, and its sequel, More Items from Our Catalog had a lot of fun making light of LL Bean.  I guess not everyone was sold on the idea of actually appropriating prep style.  Perhaps it was more fun to make fun of it.  So sit back and enjoy how Alfred Gingold reimagined the world of the preppy.

The first photo in each set is from my 1977 LL Bean catalog, and the second one is from Items from Our Catalog.

Bean’s Links-Knit Cardigan became…

the Como (as in Perry, I assume) Sweater.  Note the range of sizes.

The Bush Coat was a big seller among the LL Bean big game hunters.

The Our Catalog Bush Jackets were infinitely more creative.

Everyone need a drawer full of LL Bean turtlenecks in five different colors.

But how much more fun were the Invisible Print Turtlenecks of Our Catalog?  “An extraordinarily tasteful item that can not possibly offend anyone.”

Ragg Sweaters were an early 1980s wardrobe staple…

and no one did it better than Our Catalog.

Bean’s GumShoe was the “Three eyelet version of our famous Maine Hunting Shoe – for canoeing, yard work and campus or after ski wear.”

Our Catalog warned that their Gum Shoe was “…not recommended for rapid travel, dancing or carpets.”

The Boating Moc was another LL Bean and preppy standard.

The Our Catalog version was a bit pricier, but much more useful on the water.

LL Bean Madras Slacks were guaranteed to bleed, as all good madras does.

The Our Catalog Jackass Slacks came in “Three offensive Madras patterns” and were nonbleeding.

LL Bean was selling the fanny pack years before it hit mainstream fashion.

Our Catalog saw that there was another use of the pack.

Of course I focused on the clothing offerings from LL Bean and Items from Our Catalog, but there were plenty of great products for the outdoor lifestyle.  A favorite was the Field Litter Pan, a must-have for the camping cat.

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1960s Buffy For Cinderella Dress

I usually do not buy children’s clothing, but I had to pick up this late 1960s  little dress to share here.

For those of you not around in the 1960s, Buffy was a character on the American sit-com, Family Affair.  It was the story of how three adorable orphans went to live with their urbane uncle and his valet in a luxurious New York apartment.  Buffy was a fan favorite, with her Mrs. Beasley doll and cute pigtails.

I remember the Mrs. Beasley doll being licensed and manufactured by Mattel, but I had no idea that Cinderella was making Buffy dresses.  When the show debuted in 1966 I was eleven years old, and so identified more with the older sister, Cissy.  Her wardrobe was what I’d have gone for.

Buffy was played by Anissa Jones, who unfortunately died from a drug overdose at eighteen.  It was a sad ending to the story of a little girl who had captured the hearts of so many.

Even little girls gave up feminine frills in the 1960s in order to be Mod.  This dress is made from the popular acrylic knit and featured a dropped waist accentuated with a bright red tie.  It was completely on fashion, and very different from the frilly types of dress I remember being produced by Cinderella.

I don’t plan to keep this dress, so if any of you are in need of a tiny little mod dress for daughter or doll, let me know, and I’ll send it on to you.

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