Archive for the tag 'vintage'


Monday’s Child: 80s Boucle

80s CowlIt is fall again, and my vintage sweater collection is ready to keep me toasty. I’ve been busy with lots of laundering and mending over the last year, to get everything ready. It isn’t always easy, either, to fit vintage sweaters into modern looks, and I don’t claim to be extra-great at it. Some sweaters, like a simple cream-colored Aran, or a lovely Shetland wool fair isle, will always be fashionable, because they are wardrobe standards. But others, like today’s gray boucle with a cowl neck, straight out of the late 70s or early 80s, can be tricky. It’s so very definitely the era in which it was made; there is nothing even remotely timeless about it. But it is also a flattering shape and an interesting color and texture. Paired with plain bluejeans, it definitely evokes it’s era, but sometimes, with vintage, you just have to embrace it. Meanwhile, a quick search of Anthropologie’s recent crop of sweaters for fall and winter of 2014 give us things like this neutral-colored sweater with a fringe collar and this cowl-neck boucle sweater that both have elements reminiscent of my little vintage cowl. The shapes and textures from the 80s are definitely to be found all over in 2014′s designer sweaters, so I’ll count myself lucky my pretty vintage baby is in-the-moment for it’s debut season. And I’ll count myself extra lucky that this gem came to me via a Goodwill $1-days sale.


Sunday’s Child: Knit-O-Graf

Knit-O-Graf ad from 1959 McCalls Needlework & Crafts

Knit-O-Graf ad from 1959 McCalls Needlework & Crafts

Knit-to-Fit Snow White Graph

Knit-to-Fit Snow White Graph

Some day, a part of my needlework museum library will include a copy of every Knit-O-Graf and Knit-to-Fit chart published. I’m only up to 2 of each so far.

In the 1950s, knits featuring colorful pictures were all the rage, especially for children. Typical themes included cowboys, poodles, rocket ships, ice-skaters, adorable animals, clowns, and fairy tales. If you could find it on a dish towel, it was probably also on a sweater at some point. This trend really didn’t peter off until, well, ever. These days, you might find some more sophisticated designs for children; grown-up sweaters made small, but you’ll still find sweaters featuring kittens, ladybugs and choo choo trains. On the flip side, we’ve also incorporated more childlike designs into adult wear, giving grownups an in on the whimsical and cheerful that would have seemed too, too gauche not very long ago. This is lucky for everyone involved.

Big names in graphed knitting included the Knit-O-Graf and Knit-to-Fit charted patterns. When I found my first of these, I was ecstatic. Although they were designed for children, and the patterns sized appropriately, the clear charts are quirky and fun, and could be used to easily give a retro vibe to any sweater, whether for child or for adult. I own Knit-O-Graf patterns No. 170 and No. 206, featuring cowboys and poodles, and Knit-to-Fit patterns No. 410 and No. 416, featuring an ice skater and Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. The Snow White design includes a copyright notice for Walt Disney Productions, but it’s hard to tell whether this was an officially licensed design. That whole idea of character copyright and licensing was notoriously weird during the early half of the 20th century.

Knit-to-Fit Ice Skater

Knit-to-Fit Ice Skater

From a technical standpoint, the charts are very interesting. Written instructions are included, but with a basic understanding of increasing and decreasing, sweater construction, and how intarsia works, the graph itself is all you really need. Each of the charts includes instructions for both pullover and cardigan styles, as well as different sleeve lengths and neck options.

Included below is the chart for the figure skater from Knit-to-Fit pattern No. 410. Use it to spiff up an existing garment by working the chart in duplicate stitch, or practice your intarsia chops by adding her into a new garment. She’d be adorable on a sweater, scarf, hat, or possibly even mittens or socks, or on knitted dishclothes and towels. Recharted in a clean digital file, in color for ease of reading, at roughly 5:7 ratio. Choose your own colors, of course.


Notes on copyrights: The Knit-O-Graf charts were designed and copyrighted by Della Delia Fitch and renewed in the 1980s by Nancy Karen Fitch Mott. They are still protected by copyright! They were distributed in Canada by Bouquet Yarns, and in the US by mail direct from the Knit-O-Graf Pattern Company. Knit-to-Fit charts were published during the same time period by Bernhard Ulmann Co, makers of Bear Brand, Fleisher’s, and Bucilla yarns. I cannot find any renewal information on the Knit-to-Fit charts. To the best of my knowledge the patterns are not still protected by copyright, however, designs featuring copyrighted characters may be otherwise protected. I always urge caution when approaching reproduction of such items. If I should be informed, or find information, that the chart I have provided is infringing in any way, it will be removed from the website as soon as possible.

I love vintage clothing, and I love knits, so it should come as no surprise at all that I adore vintage knits. This past season, I worked on my collection of vintage sweaters, focusing on wool. I buy vintage sweaters that most people don’t want because they need repair or are obviously out-dated, and I usually buy them CHEAP. I’d like to focus my Mondays on these sweaters as I get them each washed and repaired. If you do not want to hear a woman wax poetic about knits, these will not be the posts for you.

Vintage pink wool hand-knit cardiganLet’s start with this ridiculously pink cardigan. This is a mid to late 60s hand knit. If you recognize this from a vintage pattern book, please drop me a note; I’ve been hunting and can’t track it down. Special features include a saddle shoulder and paired cable braids on front and sleeves, with little open breast pockets at the top of each of the front cables. It has no shaping to speak of, and I really don’t know how to style it. Open over a white T-shirt and black jeans? Every time I look at I feel different about the color. Half the time I think it is perfect, the other half I make up my mind to over-dye it with purple. At the very least, I think I will update the buttons.

Now, this is also my first serious attempt at mending a sweater. I’ve fixed seams in the past, and even holes, but never with the intention of the sweater being as good as new. One of my previous attempts was a sweater of my husband’s that was worn a lot during our dog’s younger years, and lots of tooth and toenail snags latter was in the throw-away box. But he thought it was comfy, and lamented that it was ripped to shreds. So I mended it to good-enough, so he could slouch about the house in it. He could never wear it to work again, though. With my vintage sweater collection, the goal is to make the sweaters every bit as wearable as they ever were. This sweater had a hole in the back, and a weirdly crusty stain on one sleeve. After washing, the crusty stain turned into a lightly stained hole, and right over a cable, too. I couldn’t find any yarn quite the same pink, but found something pretty close and did a swiss-darning-style mend on the back to make it as invisible as possible, and then basically just tried to reconstruct as well as possible the damaged cable. It’s in a spot that won’t be noticed, and will most likely be taken for a stain rather than a darn, but my mixed-success was successful enough, I think, and will be even more so after another good blocking.


When I saw the Pantone Spring 2014 fashion color report, I thought it looked a little familiar. So I pulled out a couple of old Simplicity pattern books I have in my stash, and there, on the front of the Simplicity Summer 1959 book:

Simplicity Summer 1959

This look is Simplicity pattern 3014 in a “Far Eastern print” in rayon/silk blend by Fabrex. Of course, the print most reminds me of Islamic & Mediterranean tile-work, which even in the 50′s would not have been considered “Far East”. The mixture of obi, frog closure, kimono sleeve and Turkish-style mosaic print is interesting, though. And if that isn’t Dazzling Blue, Hemlock, Placid Blue and Violet Tulip, then it is pretty darn close.

Later in the book we find:

Simplicity Summer 1959 Dress

This look is Simplicity 2961 (which also included a short version) and I think it’s pretty safe to say that’s nearly Celosia Orange there. It illustrates the black and white print and full skirt adorned with a pop of color in the form of a bright “obi”. Included in this issue are also brief instructions and diagrams for constructing these wide sashes to add to your accessory closet. I’ll be exploring these in a later post.


Tuesday’s Child: Easter Meals 1937

I love old recipes. Things like molasses don’t get nearly enough credit these days. On that note, I came across an issue of Home Arts magazine from April of 1937 recently, and it was chock full of recipes for Easter. Below, you’ll find a selection of meal menus and recipes.

Four Easter Menus

Easter Breakfast Luncheon or Supper
  • Stewed Rhubarb
  • Broiled grapefruit*
  • Poached eggs hollandaise
    (found in another Tuesday’s Child)
  • Toast
  • Cafe’ au lait or with cream
  • Ham loaf with horseradish sauce*
  • Prune muffins
    (found in last week’s Tuesday’s Child)
  • Watercress and dandelion green salad
  • Fruited gelatin
  • Sponge cake
  • Tea or chocolate
Two Dinners
  • Broiled chicken
  • or Savory chicken casserole*
  • Potato balls with butter and parsley
  • Asparagus
  • Bread sticks
  • Chopped mixed salad
  • Parfait praline ice cream
    (found in last week’s Tuesday’s Child)
  • Almond orange cookies
  • Coffee
  • Leg of roast lamb
  • or Stuffed shoulder of lamb*
  • Mint jelly
  • Radishes
  • Mashed potatoes
  • Brown gravy
  • New buttered beets
  • Hot rolls
  • Asparagus salad
  • Almond ice cream
    (found in last week’s Tuesday’s Child)
  • Cup-cakes
  • Coffee

*Find these recipes below!

Broiled Grapefruit

“You may think this is taking trouble to spoil a grapefruit with its delicious cool tang, and I thought so too at first but am gradually being converted. There are several ways to do this. Always first you snip out the core with the useful kitchen scissors, run the thin curved knife around the edge and take out the dividing membranes (some merely separate the slices but the membranes are rather bitter and I like mine out). For Baked Grapefruit Hawaiian, dribble molasses between the sections and put a teaspoonful in the center, sprinkle with cinnamon and place under the broiler for five minutes. Another way is to sprinkle with white sugar, dot with butter and broil. For a luncheon or dessert service, a marshmallow may be put in the center one minute before removing from broiler. And at any time a sprinkling of sugar and two tablespoons of sherry wine or flavor is delicious. The pink grapefruit so treated makes a most satisfying dessert and is more refreshing to my mind than when offered to an empty stomach at the beginning of a meal. When so served they should be chilled.

Another sweetener for the grapefruit, cold or hot, is honey. Many like a little salt added before the sugar. As always, in salad dressings and cookery, salt and sugar complement each other and if balanced are used to bring out the flavor of food, not obscure it. They should never be obtrusive. A sprig of mint is a fine addition, and some use a cube of red jelly in the center when it is served for dessert. And by the way, sections of grapefruit sprinkled with salt, rolled in sugar and dotted with butter and broiled make an excellent fowl and meat accompaniment, just as we have always used broiled orange or pineapple with duck and ham.”

Ham Loaf for a Dozen

1 1/4 lbs ground ham
1/2 lbs fresh pork
1 1/4 lbs veal
4 eggs
1 cup milk
1 cup cracker crumbs or dry cereal
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper

Basting Sauce

3/8 cup brown sugar
1/2 Tbls dry mustard
1/8 cup water
1/8 cup vinegar
1/4 tsp paprika

Mold into a loaf, surround with half a cup of water and bake covered in a moderate oven (375 degrees) for about an hour and forty-five minutes, basting every fifteen minutes with the sauce and drippings. Uncover for last fifteen minutes to brown.

This loaf is most unusual when basted as directed and the horseradish sauce with either raw or cooked apples is a perfect accompaniment for any cold meat or fowl.

Horseradish Sauce for Ham Loaf

3/8 cup brown sugar
1/2 Tbsp dry mustard
1/8 cup water
1/8 cup vinegar
1/4 tsp paprika

Mix and serve on top of each piece of ham loaf

Savory Chicken Casserole

1 four pound fowl
2 quarts water
2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1 medium onion, sliced
6 small white onions, diced
3 Tbsp butter
3 eggs
2 1/2 cups chicken broth
1/4 cup crumbs

Cut fowl in eight pieces. Place in kettle with the water, salt, pepper and sliced onion. Cover and simmer till tender. Fry the white onions in butter till lightly browned. Place the cooked chicken in a greased casserole or baking dish, cover with the fried onions. Add the beaten eggs to the chicken broth reduced to two and one-half cups and pour over the chicken. Sprinkle with crumbs and bake for thirty-five to forty minutes in a 375 degree oven (moderate). This will make about six servings.

“A new and savory way to slow-cook a fowl to tenderness is good news for any season.”

Veal Scaloppini

2 lbs veal steak or cutlet
4 Tbsp olive oil
3 1/2 cups veal broth or beef or chicken consomme’
3 Tbsp flour (browned)
salt and pepper to taste
2 Tbsp lemon juice or
8 Tbsp sherry
1 Tbsp Worcestershire

Have veal cut thin in three-inch squares. Pound well. Brown slowly in olive oil. Add broth thickened with the browned flour (canned chicken broth or bouillon cubes, or a knuckle of veal may be used to make stock). Season to taste with pepper and salt and add Worcestershire. Simmer meat in broth, covered, until very tender. Sprinkle with lemon juice or add sherry and serve very hot. Serves about eight. (If sherry is used one Tbsp more flour may be needed.)

Stuffing for Breast of Veal or Lamb

1 cup whole-wheat cereal
1 cup bread crumbs
1/2 to 1 tsp poultry seasoning
1/2 cup celery, minced
1 Tbsp minced onion
1/4 cup melted butter
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1/2 cup hot water

Combine raw cereal and bread crumbs. Add seasonings and mix in pan with melted butter until hot. Add hot water and mix well. Especially good for breast of veal and also fine to spread flank steak, roll up, tie and bake; to be served cold, cut through like a jelly roll.


Tuesday’s Child: Easter Baking 1937

Baking and desserts have changed some through the years, as people became more concerned with calories. Recipes from bygone days are often more rich and delicious, but should probably be enjoyed in moderation.

Molasses Parfait Praline

8 egg yolks
1 cup New Orleans molasses (Note: This is a light and sweet variety of molasses)
2 cups boiling milk
2 cups heavy cream
1/2 cup chopped almonds

Mix egg yolks and molasses and slowly stir in the boiling milk. Cook over hot water in a double-boiler, stirring with a wooden or enamel spoon slowly, and do not let boil. When the mixture begins to thicken, remove from the fire and let cool, continuing to stir. When cool, add the cream and chopped roasted nuts. Freeze. (Pack in equal parts ice and salt and let stand for four hours without stirring.) Serves six to eight.

“This rich parfait mixture using the “Easter eggs” generously is just right for a festive meal.”

Refrigerator Almond Ice Cream

2/3 cup sweetened condensed milk
1/2 cup water
1 1/2 tsp almond extract
1/2 cup finely shredded almonds
1 cup whipping cream

Blend condensed milk, water and extract and chill. Add the nuts and fold in the cream, whipped only to a custard-like texture, not stiff. Pour into freezing pan and place in freezing unit. When half-forzen, scrape mixture from bottom and sides of pan and beat quickly till smooth. Replace in freezing unit until frozen for serving. Six portions.

Delicious served in meringue shells or garnished with canned apricot halves, halved sweetened fresh strawberries, or cooked and chilled canned peaches, or any fresh fruit, especially peaches in season. You may also use this same base and flavor with coffee or one teaspoon orange and half teaspoon lemon extract if the almond flavor does not appeal.

Special Prune Muffins

1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup white sugar
4 Tbls melted butter
1 cup milk
2 cups flour
1 egg
4 level tsp baking powder
9 cooked prunes
1/4 tsp salt

Cream butter and sugar, stir in the melted butter and lightly beaten egg. Sift flower before measuring, then add baking powder and salt and sift again. Add to first mixture alternately with milk. Do not beat any more than necessary to mix well. Cook the prunes without sugar, cut very fine and stir in last. Bake in greased tins in a moderately hot oven (400 degrees) for twenty to twenty-five minutes.

“Something exceptional in muffins is hard to find and for either the Easter breakfast or supper they will give the meal a flair.”

Lime Chiffon Pie

1 Tbsp gelatin
1/4 cup water
4 eggs, separated
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup lime or lemon juice
1/8 tsp salt
Baked pastry shell

Sprinkle gelatin on cold water. Beat egg yolks with half of the sugar. Add lime juice, salt and soaked gelatin and cook in top of double-boiler over hot water till slightly thickened. Chill. Fold in egg whites beaten until stiff and combined with the remaining half cup of sugar. Turn into baked pastry shell and chill till firm. Makes a nine-inch pie. Garnish with maraschino cherries around the rim, if desired.

I love old recipes. Things like molasses don’t get nearly enough credit these days. On that note, I came across an issue of Home Arts magazine from April of 1937 recently, and it was chock full of recipes for Easter. Below, you’ll find a selection of egg dishes, and in the weeks heading for Easter I’ll post additional recipes and meal ideas from this magazine.

“Easter breakfast eggs should be very special and the possibilities are endless. These two suggestions merely point the way. Eggs scrambled in a double-boiler, really creamed, with chopped chives are delicious; a poached egg on half toast, spread with potted chicken or ham is another touch. Hard cooked eggs, sliced and creamed are excellent. Just keep away from the eggs and bacon of winter, for variety and also for spring lightness.”

Poached Eggs Hollandaise

6 slices of half toast
6 eggs
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 cup white sauce
1/2 cup grated cheese (optional)

Fold the mayonnaise into the hot white sauce (two level Tbsp flour to one cup of milk, one Tbsp butter, a quarter teaspoon salt and an eighth tsp pepper). Place poached eggs on toast and pour sauce over whole. Serve at once.

Egg Fluff

Separate six eggs. Add a quarter tsp salt to whites and beat until stiff. Pile egg whites in a buttered, shallow baking dish. Drop the egg yolks onto the beaten whites, sprinkle with white pepper or paprika (and, if desired, with a little grated cheese) and bake in a slow oven (300 degrees) for eighteen minutes. Serve at once.


Monday’s Child: Dolman

Sweater: Vintage cotton dolman sleeve, Thrifted

March is here, and that means it’s starting to warm up here in sunny Nebraska. I love a light sweater for spring, and I also love the new/old dolman sleeve trend. It happens to be flattering on me, as well as being handy when you find a lovely vintage sweater and don’t want to look too terribly out of date. Once again, I really don’t know how to style this garment, but I feel like (my winter weight not withstanding) a pair of skinny jeans is the right direction. Perhaps that’s a little too 80′s, though. As always, let me know in the comments if you have any ideas for ways to style this garment.


Monday’s Child: Junior Fashions

Dress: Vintage Junior fashion dress

February’s vintage look isn’t really a look. I found this adorable shades-of-gray dress from the early 1960s, and it fits me like a dream. But I have NO earthly idea how to style it. I like the bright shoes, but I don’t know if red is the color. Perhaps a blue or turquoise would be better? I need more shoes. (Don’t tell my husband I said that.)

Ideas for how to style this dress? Leave me a comment!

Shirt: Cotton/Silk knit shell, Express, Thrifted
Skirt: Wool tweed, vintage John Meyer of Norwich, Thrifted
Boots: Franco Sarto
Wrap: Wool, printed in India, Thrifted

The first Monday of every month features an outfit from my own wardrobe. Every outfit either incorporates vintage pieces or is inspired by a vintage look. January’s look features my outfit for my husband’s office Christmas party. The skirt is a beautiful vintage tomato red wool tweed, and I was lucky to find the wrap, which doesn’t actually match, but coordinates really well.

Disclaimer: I am NOT a fashionista. In fact, I do a lot of blundering as far as dressing myself is concerned. However, I do have a very good eye for materials, and over the course of the last few years have managed to add some really lovely vintage pieces to my wardrobe. I don’t know how often I’m successful in wearing them, but I love them. Let me know in the comments if you think there’s a way I could better style any of my vintage pieces.

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