HSF #25: Spat-Boots, Or Gaiters

Spat-boots! WIth my 1917 ensemble.

It’s time for the details about my entry for HSF challenge #25: One Metre. I prefer saying I’m wearing “spat-boots” though the actual items I’m really wearing are shoes and “gaiters.” Spat-boots has more of a ring to it, I think.

Close up of my spat-boot look.

The gaiters very effectively turn my sort-of-1910s-but-more-1920s American Duchess Gibsons into very 19-teens spat-boots! If you look at the first black and white image of suffragists in this previous post you can clearly see some similar spat-boot styles. And if you look at the images on my Sewing Project: 1917 Blouse and Accessories Pinterest board you can see multiple examples of the spat-boot style. Some boots, like these from 1917 at the Met, were made in two different colors of leather. That’s the look I was trying to imitate, except that I was doing it with a separate garment rather than as a part of my shoe. The Met actually has quite a number of early 20th century gaiters, made out of leather and cotton. If you’d like to see these examples, I’ve pinned many of them to my Early 20th Century Accessories Pinterest board.

The facts, you ask?

Fabric: Scraps of heavy unbleached cotton.

Pattern: Created by me.

Year: 1917.

Notions: Thread, black elastic, cotton twill tape in various widths, and plastic buttons.

How historically accurate?: 90%. The look is right but the materials are a mix and match of right and modern.

Hours to complete: 6-8? Took a few fittings to get them ready to sew. Then finishing and sewing on buttons took awhile.

First worn: At a Thanksgiving event in Plymouth.

Total cost: None. The fabric was left over from a grad school mock up and the notions were all from my stash. (See that odd marking in the middle of the center piece? That’s blue sharpie that soaked onto this part of the fabric from notes I wrote on the mock up… There was a lot of blue sharpie, and I couldn’t cut around it and still have enough fabric. Doesn’t show on the outside though!)

Here’s an inside view of one of the gaiters. You can see that I’ve used three different kinds of twill tape to bind the seams and the edges. All of the sewing was done by machine except sewing on the buttons.

There are a few things that I would change consider changing if I made these again in some other reality. #1: Having my buttons spaced closer together, as the extant gaiters and boots do. But in this case I only had a limited number of buttons to work with! #2: Potentially putting a strap with a buckle to go under the foot rather than elastic, since the buckle method is what extant gaiters have. But the elastic worked so well and you really couldn’t see it… so I probably wouldn’t actually change this, especially since I don’t have the right sort of buckles in my stash. #3: Making the back part that comes down over my heel longer. I was aiming for a nice swoop up from the part held down by the elastic, but the back of the gaiters kept popping up over the edge of my shoes, which was a little uncomfortable. I spent a lot of time during the day I wore these pulling the back of the gaiters down.

Like a flamengo, I’m standing on one leg and pulling down the back of my gaiter, which had popped up over the back of my shoe.
Overall, I’m super pleased. These were quite successful. You should try some yourself!
Product links in this post contain an affiliate code, which provides a small benefit to my shoe fund. This does not affect my impressions and reviews of this product.


HSF #24: 1917 Fur Hat (And Revised Muff)

The theme of this HSF challenge is Re-Do, in which you re-do a previous challenge for a second time or you re-do a challenge you didn’t complete the first time around.

The muff and hat are super soft. In addition to keeping my hands in the muff, I also spent a fair amount of time hugging and patting it.

I’m using my recently completed 1917 fur hat and recently revised matching muff as my entry for this challenge. I think the hat and muff best qualify for a re-do of Challenge #20: Outerwear, which I did complete with my 1822 Walking Dress (so this would be a re-do of a challenge I already completed). So, the facts:

Fabric: About 1/4 yd of faux fur and about 1/4 yd cotton flannel.

Pattern: Created by me.

Year: 1917.

Notions: Thread, polyester batting.

How historically accurate?: 90%. Tall round hats of this sort were popular in 1917, though they were likely made of real fur rather than faux fur. The revised muff has a great shape for lots of periods, including this one, and is pretty accurate, aside from the fact that it is also faux fur. Oh, and neither hats nor muffs were insulated with poly batting… but it is so warm! And no one will know except me, and those of you reading this!

Hours to complete: Unknown. I was pretty tired while working on the hat, so I know it took longer than it should have. The muff was quick (like 2 hours) but that’s just the revision. I don’t remember how long it took to make it originally.

First worn: At a Thanksgiving event in Plymouth.

Total cost: None, since I bought the fur and the flannel specifically for the muff over two years ago I count it as a stash project.

Here’s my inspiration for the hat. I was aiming for the exaggerated shape on the right. I don’t think I quite achieved that, unfortunately. I did actually spend a lot of time patterning the hat so it would look right sitting at an angle rather than straight. I think I was so cold when I was wearing it that I pulled it down to cover more of my head and thus pulled it off of its angle. Sad! But also, the thick fur rather obscures the shape anyway. I chose not to do the sticky-up bit, partly because I ran out of time, and partly because I just didn’t know what to make it out of, since the hat was already fur. Oh well. I really like that middle hat, too…

1915. In the collection of the NYPL.

I originally made the muff for an 1860s event a few years ago. I had a plan to use gathered silk for the two ends, but it turns out it looked cooler in my head than when I executed the plan. Also, the muff was a little longer than I liked, so I decided that for this event I would shorten the muff by taking off the silk ends and folding the fur over to cover the ends. Here’s my Pinterest board of inspiration for this project. You’ll see that there are various shapes and sizes of muffs c. 1917. Mine is somewhere in the middle in terms of size and shape.

This is sort of what I was envisioning with the silk on the ends, but it is a little underwhelming. You can see the cotton flannel lining in the middle. It holds body heat, so it doesn’t feel cold when you put your hands in!
This is the other side. It’s pretty twisty and sad.

But as I said, I took the silk off, folded the fur down over the ends, and sewed it directly to the flannel. (I have plans to use the silk for a Regency reticule at some point in the future… yay recycling!) You can see the results in these next few pictures. I’m quite happy with the results! The muff is about 3″ shorter and I like the look of the fur on the sides.

See the fur on the sides? That used to be the silk part.
This was our silly shot and it shows off the new muff end well.
Another silly shot, just for fun. I think maybe I was trying to keep my face warm?

Thankful For Suffrage

If you saw my last post, you were left guessing as to what event I was furiously sewing for. I think most you guessed that it had to do with women’s suffrage… Yay you! The entire event wasn’t really about suffrage, but suffrage was a part of it. We went down to Plymouth, MA to be a part of a historic village event that was linked to the main Thanksgiving parade in town.

The historic village contained various groups from the early 17th century, groups from the 18th century, Marines from 1812, a unit from the Civil War, my usual dancing friends and I representing women’s suffrage c. 1914, and paratroopers from the 1940s. The parade was…a parade. There were historic groups in it (including some of the military groups I just mentioned), there were marching bands, there were floats, there were unicycles, and there were horses doing various things.

And I’ve got pictures! To start, here are some images of the parade:

Happy Thanksgiving! The giant inflatable turkey was pretty amusing, especially when he had to slightly deflate to get his head under the power lines!
Often these guys are dancing with us, but at this event they were hanging out in the 1630s as the Salem Trayned Band.
Some of our other friends: 1812 Marines.
8 beautiful (and large!) Budweiser Clydesdales.
4 spirited horses pulling…
A fancy Wells Fargo stage coach!
A super snazzy green car, with bright green trim!
Red, white, and blue confetti in the cold, clear air near the end of the parade route.

Next, here are some images of our representation of Suffragists and our setup in the historic village:

Setting up our tea table. Other setups included tents and smoking fires (it had rained the day before and everything was damp and mushy, so the fires didn’t really work…).
Yes, we really did drink tea. In china cups. It actually was very nice to have hot beverages throughout the day given how cold it was outside!
See, we’re drinking our tea!
We didn’t march in the parade or parade around the historic village, but we did serenade the ducks in the creek behind us (and visitors walking by) with suffrage songs.
Here we are making “serious suffrage” faces.
Ok, smile for the camera.

The best part is that in addition to sharing a little bit about history with the public and getting to watch the Thanksgiving parade in all its glory, I was able to use this opportunity to build and wear an outfit showing off my recently completed 1917 Knitted Sweater of Angorina. I had to plan for cold weather, but I didn’t want to cover up my sweater! So I planned a faux fur hat to match an existing muff, a wool skirt, a polyester crepe blouse (in this case, the polyester was a great choice, because the fact that it wouldn’t breathe would help me stay warm and use up a random bit of fabric in my stash that had no other project in its future!), and did a mostly unnoticeable revamp on my 1860s/can-look-like-other-decades fur muff (which was essential, it turned out, for keeping my hands warm!). And to look stylish, I made gaiters to turn my 1920s American Duchess Gibsons into 19-teens looking spat-boots. And all of the fabrics were from my stash! The gaiters might just be my favorite part of the outfit, and both they and my fur hat will qualify for the next two HSF challenges, so you’ll see more detailed information on those soon! All in all, I managed to stay warm, except for my feet! I wore thick tights, but I didn’t think to wear extra socks, and my toes and feet were SO cold! Note to self: wear thick socks next time an all day outside event in the cold is on the horizon…

And here is my brand new 1917 outfit:

Yay! New hat, revised muff, new blouse, hand knit sweater, new skirt, and new gaiters, worn with my Gibsons, my modern cashmere lined leather gloves, my 1913 petticoat pinned up to shorten its length, and a golden yellow ribbon in support of women’s suffrage. I was able to completely finish my accessories, but the blouse and skirt didn’t get as far as closures. You can’t tell of course, but safety pins are great sometimes. These two garments now live in the “need to be finished” section of my sewing list.
One of the only back views. The blouse has neat collar details (see those cute points?) and neat cuff details you obviously can’t see. When I eventually finish the blouse and skirt I’ll post more details about their design and construction.

Despite last minute sewing for all of us, we all looked good and had fun wearing clothes from the 1910s while sharing a bit of important history with the public:

Brown wool suit with fur trim.
A wool plaid hobble skirt and jacket and a lovely black wool coat with fur collar.

The 19th Amendment, which gave women the right to vote in the US, was ratified in 1920, after over 70 years of struggle. I think it’s fitting that Thanksgiving and women’s suffrage were related events for us ladies this year. In addition to many other things, we’re thankful for those who fought to get women the right to vote!

Product links in this post contain an affiliate code, which provides a small benefit to my shoe fund. This does not affect my impressions and reviews of this product.

A Little Visual Teaser

I’m sewing away furiously on an outfit for an event tomorrow. My head and feet accessories are complete, but I still need the important things like a skirt and blouse… So while I don’t have time for sewing pictures or completed garment pictures today, I thought I’d share a bit of visual research related to the event tomorrow. It’s up to you to imagine what sort of event I might be attending, and what sort of clothes I might be wearing…

Suffragists “march in October 1917, displaying placards containing the signatures of over one million New York women demanding to vote.” Source

1917 Knitted Sweater Of Angorina Annotated Pattern

In the spirit of the HSF #23: Generosity and Gratitude, I thought I’d share an annotated version of my altered 1917 Knitted Sweater Of Angorina pattern. Who knows, maybe you’re thinking of knitting this sweater or something similar right now, and this version of the pattern and these notes will come in super handy as you knit your own sweater?

The original:

“Knitted Sweater of Angorina” from the Star Needlework Journal 1917.

My version:

“Knitted Sweater of Angorina”

Here’s the pattern. I’ve put original directions in [brackets] if I’ve changed them, and included my version before the original version, so you can compare. My version of the pattern and any notes that I have added are in italics.

One of the major reasons I adjusted the pattern in places was in attempt to make it to my measurements (40″ hips, 30″ waist, and 36″ bust). On size 5 needles I was knitting 10 stitches in 2.5″, which was 2 squares of the pattern, and knitting 1″ vertically every 6 rows, which was 1 square of the pattern. If I had knit the sweater with this gauge and the original directions I would have had a sweater body that would be too big: about 12″ too big around and 3″-5″ too long in length.

ABBREVIATIONS: K – knit, P – purl.

MATERIALS: 6 skeins of probably acrylic yarn (of medium weight and unknown length, though on the smallish side, as modern skeins go (and I could have used 7!)); 5mm and 3mm knitting needles; 6 plastic buttons.

[17 balls of THE AMERICAN THREAD COMPANY’S Article 200 “Angorina” Fluffed Cotton, size 4; two long celluloid knitting needles No. 5 and two shorter celluloid knitting needles No. 3; 6 buttons.]


For the Basket Stitch pattern: Cast on a number of stitches divisible by 10 and 2 over for the edge stitches. (So the 10 is the repeat of two squares of the pattern, and the 2 extra are for the edges.)

lst Row: Slip the first stitch (this is the edge stitch) , * then knit 5, and purl 5, repeat from * to the end of row ending with P 6, turn (the last stitch is the edge stitch).

2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th and 6th rows: Same as first Row.

7th Row: Slip the first stitch, * then P 5, and knit 5, repeat from * to the end of Row, ending with K 6, turn.

8th, 9th, 10th, 11th and 12th Rows: Same as 7th Row.

These twelve rows form the pattern, which is knit throughout the sweater.


Cast on 82 [112] stitches on the long celluloid needles No. 5 and begin to K at the bottom of the sweater,

FOR THE BORDER: K plain back and forth for 14 rows or 7 ridges (2 rows of plain knitting back and forth form a ridge).

Now begin to knit the pattern as directed above.

K 12 [14] rows, then begin to decrease 1 St at the beginning and end of every third row until 10 stitches have been decreased at each end.

There are now 62 [92] stitches left in the row and 42 rows of pattern K.

Continue knitting the pattern for 120 [138] more rows or until 15 patterns or 180 patterns are K in all. (That last section of directions about 15 patters and 180 patterns confused me, so I just sort of ignored it…)

This completes the length of the back.

Next Row: Slip the first stitch, then knit 5, and P5 for 21 [31] stitches (this is for the right shoulder), bind off 20 [28] stitches for the back of the neck, the next 21 [32] stitches left on the needle are for the left shoulder.

Now put the first 21 [32] stitches on to a spare needle or thread (and I added one stitch to make it 22, so I would have a 20 stitches for the repeat of the pattern and one for each end), and continue knitting the left front as follows: K the pattern for 8 rows pattern (this is for the shoulder), then begin to increase 1 stitch at the beginning of every second row, this is at the neck – until 20 stitches have been increased.

There are now 42 [52] stitches in the row.

K the pattern without increasing for 84 [104] rows, then begin to increase 1 stitch every 3rd [7th] row at the outer edge (the outer edge was the end of each 2nd row for me) (the front edge must be straight) for 10 [5] times (that means I knitted in this fashion until I had increased 20 stitches), then K 12 more rows without increasing. (I chose not to knit the final 12 rows: I just ignored that direction.)

16 patterns of 192 pattern rows are now K for the length of, the front. (Again, I was confused by this direction and just ignored it.)

K 7 ridges plain back and forth for the border. (7 ridges equals 14 rows.)

Bind off loosely, break the thread. Now K the right front to correspond with the left front, then sew up the underarm seams (this is the length of 10 ½ patterns or 126 pattern rows from the bottom of the sweater up). (I waited to sew up my seams until I was entirely finished knitting the sweater. As before, I ignored the confusing direction about the number of patterns and pattern rows.)

Repeat the directions from right after “This completes the length of the back…” for the right front of the sweater. I’ve repeated them here, with the changes I made for knitting the right side instead of the left. 

Next Row: Slip the first stitch, then knit 5, and P5 for 21 [31] stitches (this is for the right shoulder), bind off 20 [28] stitches for the back of the neck, the next 21 [32] stitches left on the needle are for the left shoulder.

Now put the first 21 [32] stitches on to a spare needle or thread (and I added one stitch to make it 22, so I would have a 20 stitches for the repeat of the pattern and one for each end), and continue knitting the left front as follows: K the pattern for 8 rows pattern (this is for the shoulder), then begin to increase 1 stitch at the beginning of every second row, this is at the neck – until 20 stitches have been increased.

There are now 42 [52] stitches in the row.

K the pattern without increasing for 84 [104] rows, then begin to increase 1 stitch every 3rd [7th] row at the outer edge (the outer edge was the beginning of each 2nd row for me) (the front edge must be straight) for 10 [5] times (that means I knitted in this fashion until I had increased 20 stitches), then K 12 more rows without increasing. (I chose not to knit the final 12 rows: I just ignored that direction.)

16 patterns of 192 pattern rows are now K for the length of, the front. (Again, I was confused by this direction and just ignored it.)

K 7 ridges plain back and forth for the border. (7 ridges equals 14 rows.)

Bind off loosely, break the thread.

FOR THE SLEEVES (The following directions are what I used for my first attempt at a sleeve for this sweater… I didn’t like the resulting sleeve and chose to take it apart and try again. I’ll include my revised sleeve pattern following these directions for the sleeve I didn’t like. You can read more about why I changed my sleeve pattern and see pictures of the before and after, in this previous post.):

Cast on 72 stitches, and K the pattern for 3 rows, then begin to decrease 1 stitch at the beginning and end of every second row until 5 stitches have been decreased at each end.

There are now 62 stitches left in the Row.

Knit 120 rows of pattern. [K 9½ patterns or 114 rows without decreasing.]

Now slip the stitches on to the No. 3 needles, and K plain back and forth for 18 ridges for the cuff, bind off, and sew up the seam.

Place the sleeve in the armhole, so that the sleeve seam and underarm seam meet. (I waited until all of my pieces were knit before sewing any seams.)

(So now, here is my revised sleeve pattern):

Cast on 72 stitches (I added a single plain knit row, as a transition), and K the pattern for 3 rows, then begin to decrease 1 stitch at the beginning and end of every second row until 5 stitches have been decreased at each end.

There are now 62 stitches left in the Row.

Knit 60 rows of pattern without decreasing. Knit 60 rows, decreasing 1 stitch at the beginning and end of every 4th row. [K 9½ patterns or 114 rows without decreasing.] (Again, I ignored the first part because it is confusing.)

Now slip the stitches on to the No. 3 needles, and K plain back and forth for 10 [18] ridges for the cuff, bind off, and sew up the seam.

Place the sleeve in the armhole, so that the sleeve seam and underarm seam meet. (I waited until all of my pieces were knit before sewing any seams.)

This second sleeve pattern worked much better for me, so I repeated it for my second sleeve.

FOR THE BANDS: Cast on 12 [16] stitches on the No. 3 needles. K plain back and forth for 2 1/2 [4] inches (25 rows), then make a buttonhole as follows: K 4 [7] stitches. bind off 4 [6] stitches, K 4 stitches (this leaves 4 [5] stitches at each side of the 4 [6] stitches bound off).

In the next Row cast on the 4 [6] stitches bound off, thus forming a buttonhole.

K back and forth for 3 1/2 [3] inches (35 rows), then make the next buttonhole.

Continue knitting plain back and forth making 4 more buttonholes so that there are 6 in all, always leaving an interval of 3 1/2 [3] inches (35 rows) between each buttonhole.

(I calculated these measurements and row lengths between buttonholes to fit into the length of the front of the sweater before the V neck starts… in my case, that length was 21″. If your gauge is different you might want to consider changing these directions to suit you.)

(At this point I became very worried about running out of yarn. I wish I would have had enough to make the bands as wide as the original pattern called for… but I had to make them narrower, so my revised pattern will reflect that. If you have enough yarn you should keep the band wide and only adjust for length.)

K 1/2 [1] inch (5 rows) after the sixth buttonhole then begin to decrease 1 stitch at the beginning of every second row until 8 stitches have been decreased.

There are now 8 stitches in the row. Knit for awhile… turns out I knit plain for 45 rows. Begin to increase 1 stitch at the end of every 2nd row until 8 stitches have been increased… in theory that was my plan, but since I was running out of yarn, I just slowly decreased until I ran out of yarn. [K plain for 18 inches or long enough to go around the neck, then increase 1 stitch at the beginning of every second Row until 16 stitches are on the needle again.]

K plain for 21 inches or as long as the wider part of the band with the buttonholes, bind off loosely.

Sew the buttonhole part of the band on to the right front, the narrow part around the neck and the plain wider part to the left front, this should be done very carefully, then sew on the buttons.

Whew! At this point I just need to sew up my seams and sew on the buttons. Yay!

HSF #23: 1917 “Knitted Sweater Of Angorina”

My “knitted sweater of Angorina.” (Thanks to Mr. Q, who consented to take pictures of me with no hassle on my first ask!)

And here’s the image from the pattern, for comparison.

“Knitted sweater of Angorina” from the Star Needlework Journal 1917.

This is my entry for the HSF Challenge #23: Generosity and Gratitude. This challenge “is not about a particular item or aesthetic, it’s about celebrating the generosity of spirit and willingness to help others that makes the historical sewing community great, and giving credit and thanks to those who have contributed to our collective knowledge without expecting payment in return.”

My special thanks goes out to the person, or people, who took the time to put this knitting pattern out there on the internet, for free! I wouldn’t have been able to complete this project with the pattern, obviously. Thanks!

As it is, I’m really pleased to be done knitting and putting together this sweater. I’ve been using my sew time to knit, which has been a nice change and fun, but I do miss sewing! So now it will be back to sewing, which is good, because I have a lot of projects I’m working on!

Also, this sweater was a bit stressful… It started out on a relaxing note, but after completing the front, back, and one sleeve, I realized that it was taking way more yarn than I expected and I started to get worried I might run out before finishing the sweater! So as I was knitting my brain kept trying to think of ways to conserve yarn and wondering if there would be enough. I actually wound up completing unraveling one sleeve in order to knit it with less yarn… and thank goodness I did, because I barely had enough yarn to get as far as I did, and that was still with alterations to the original pattern to accommodate my dwindling yarn pile. You see, after knitting the front, back, and the two sleeves, there’s still the buttonhole/neck/button band to be knit, and you need enough yarn to stitch the seams! The sweater is quite long, so these things take more yarn than you might think. I used up literally almost all of the yarn I had…

The first sleeve before it was unraveled and re-knit.
The new sleeve shape with alterations to the pattern.
Sewing up a side seam. The front, back, sleeves, and band are all knit separately, and flat, and then seamed together, creating side seams, armsceye seams, underarm seams, and a seam to join the band to the front/neck opening.
These are literally the only pieces of yarn I have left… The longest is about 6″!

Here are the facts:

Fabric: 6 skeins, of unknown length, of probably acrylic yarn.

Pattern: 1917 Knitted Sweater of Angorina.

Year: January-March 1917. Here’s a blog post about the history of knitting in WWI that explains why the months are so specific.

Notions: Heavy thread to sew on the buttons, and 6 plastic buttons.

How historically accurate?: Acrylic wasn’t invented until 1941 and as fas as I know plastic buttons of the sort I used weren’t in use in 1917, but as a historic costume I’d give myself 95% on looking right, even if the materials aren’t 100% historically accurate.

Hours to complete: Oh goodness… mounds. It took me the entire month of October, and that was working on the sweater for 2-4 hours almost every day.

First worn: For pictures! Hopefully I’ll get to wear it later this month for an event.

Total cost: $2.50 for the knitting needles, $3 for the yarn, $1.50 for the buttons… total = $7! Now that is a project total I’d love to have more often!

Things I’m proud of in this sweater? #1: It’s the first sweater I’ve ever knit! #2: I was really careful to keep the pattern perfectly knit, sometimes taking out 5-10 rows after noticing I had made a mistake, so I could go back and fix it (let me just say that un-knitting, like seam ripping, is not nearly as exciting as knitting or sewing!). The end result is that the pattern is perfect everywhere… yes, I’m a perfectionist. #3: I did a really good job sewing up the seams, especially on the front band. #4: I learned out to knit a button hole! It’s not that hard, really, just casting off one row and on the next, but it does take your brain a little bit to figure it out. As I went along my button holes became neater and neater, as you would expect. #5: The band fits nicely around the neck opening and is a lovely way to finish off the sweater edge.

Where front meets front band. See that seam? Nope, you don’t, because it looks like I knit it all at once! (ooo, and see my button holes?)

Things that make me call this sweater “wonky” or “original” or perhaps just simply “hand knit”? #1: That I had to cut corners because I was running out of yarn. The part of the band that goes around the neck is not as wide as the pattern calls for. And the part of the band that should have the buttons sewn to it is, well, non-existent. I literally ran out of yarn. #2: Because the button part of the band is non-existent, the neckline isn’t actually symmetrical… the side with the buttons doesn’t widen to be the same width at the button hole side. So the neck V doesn’t quite want to center, and the buttons/button holes wind up being slightly off center, too. (Honestly, though, I don’t think other people would notice those things if I didn’t point them out…) #3: Even with my sleeve alts, the sleeve is still rather large around (can you imagine if I hadn’t re-knitted them?!?) and they are a little long, even with a cuff. #4: Now that it’s finished, the sweater is rather heavy and prone to sagging some in places like the sleeves. Oh well!

See the side with the buttons? Yup, no band there!
Looking at my slightly loose, and rather long, sleeve.

For a first try at knitting a sweater, and using a historic pattern, I’m calling this one a  success!

Knitting For Victory

My 1917 “Knit Sweater of Angorina” is finally complete! But, you’ll have to wait until my official HSF post to see it. In the meantime, I want to share a little bit of history that relates to knitting in WWI and, by extension, my new sweater.

World War I Red Cross poster encouraging knitting, ca. 1917

World War I started on July 28, 1914 and ended on November 11, 1918. The US entered the war on April 6, 1917. After the US joined the war, it didn’t take long before conditions in the trenches prompted the Red Cross to put out an urgent call for knitted goods for soldiers in the summer of 1917. Their immediate need was for one and a half million each of knitted wristlets, mufflers, sweaters, and pairs of socks. That’s a lot of knitting!

This section is quoted directly from historylink.org essay 5721:

The need for the socks was paramount: The trench warfare conditions under which the war was fought meant that soldiers spent weeks or months entrenched in wet and in winter freezing conditions.

For American soldiers in the trenches or on the march in France, warm socks made all the difference. The boots these soldiers wore (the 1917 Trench Boot) were made of heavy retanned cowhide with thick soles. Although in theory water-repellant, the boots ripped out at the seams fairly quickly. They had iron heels and five rows of hobnails (to prevent slipping) hammered into the soles. These hobnails conducted the cold from the frozen ground directly to the soldiers’ feet.

An improved version (1918) called the Pershing Boot added an extra sole and thus extra warmth, but a soldier could not bend his foot in the rigid boot and his feet remained cold, sore, and often wet. These boots were not insulated in any way, and soldiers took to wearing two pairs of thick wool sock. This required them to wear boots two sizes larger than their regular size. Allowing for wear and tear and the prudent practice of changing socks often in order to avoid contracting trench foot (a fungus), the need for a continuous supply of warm wool socks was endless.

As you would expect, not everyone could knit very well, so the quality of knitted goods being sent overseas varied, but a sock is a sock, even with dropped stitches and other mistakes, and it will still keep a foot warm! In support of the war effort, people began knitting everywhere: work, school, while on public transportation, at church… People who couldn’t knit were encouraged to buy yarn for those who could, and children were encouraged to do whatever they could to help their family members have time to knit. Personal knitting was looked down upon for being selfish, because it didn’t support the war effort or the soldiers.

This section is quoted directly from historylink.org essay 5721:

By mid-1918 the need for socks was so severe that the Red Cross begged knitters, “Don’t make sweaters … every pound of yarn that can be secured should be used for knitting socks” (quoted in MacDonald, 218). Some knitters conserved wool by using cotton yarn for the legs and wool for the feet. Wool was the best fiber for moisture absorption. Other knitters, stymied by the somewhat complicated mystique of turning the heel (i.e. knitting a heel flap and then picking up stitches along its sides to knit a gusset, forming the heel-shaped portion of the sock) began knitting heel-less tube socks. These drew praise from soldiers because they were more comfortable than socks with lumpy, poorly made heels.

The Seattle Red Cross operated a knitting machine that produced long knitted tubes. The tubes were cut into 27-inch lengths and the toes purled together by hand. “When the knitting machine is once ‘set up’ with gray yarn, it knits and knits and knits.” (The Seattle Times, December 2, 1917)

In September 1918, all American yarn retailers were ordered by the War Industries Board to turn over their stock of service yarn (any yarn in khaki, gray, heather, natural or white) to the Red Cross. For the next six weeks all yarn for war-effort knitting was available only through the Red Cross. This was done to ease the yarn shortage and to allow Red Cross knitting to continue uninterrupted. 

…The so-called War To End All Wars ended on November 11, 1918, when Germany surrendered. In the war’s final months, the American Red Cross turned its attention to the devastating 1918 influenza pandemic… Many [knitters] foreswore gray and khaki yarn for good, or so they thought. These same knitters would be the first to pick up their needles in December 1941, to once more “knit for victory.”

Quite an interesting bit of history, I think. Given this information, I can confidently say that my sweater would have been knit early in 1917, before the US joined the war. I encourage you to click through to historylink.org to read the entire article I’ve quoted here. It focuses on knitters in the Seattle, Washington area, but I’m sure reflects what other areas would have been like as well.

Brushing Off My Knitting Needles

I’ve brushed off my knitting needles and am attempting to knit my first sweater! Not just any sweater, though, this sweater pattern is from 1917.

“Knitted sweater of Angorina” from the Star Needlework Journal 1917.

This most recently started project has me going in a slightly different direction than in my previous knitting adventures. I taught myself how to knit in college (it was a popular thing lots of my friends and I did). I would often knit in class (and I had awesome professors who realized that I actually paid more attention while I was knitting because it kept my brain engaged during lectures and discussions). Mostly I knit scarves… so many, in fact, that I ran out of people to give them to. Then I started on afghans and pillows. I loved to figure out complicated patterns and cabling… But I never could figure out how to knit in the round (to make hats and such) and I never wanted to deal with sizing and non-rectangular patterns to create a sweater. I’ve since been taught how to knit in the round, though I haven’t tried it yet, but this is my first attempt at a sweater!

I decided to knit a sweater for an event I’m likely to attend in November for which we’ll be wearing WWI era clothes. That’s what sparked my interest in looking for knitting patterns from that period. I found the pattern I’m using through Ravelry, but in searching the internet for other patterns I came across other resources for period knitting that I’ve included at the end of this post. I also came across a pattern for a 1922 sweater that I’m hoping to try eventually (and assuming this one isn’t a complete failure!). It’s a more complicated pattern that uses two colors, so that will be new and exciting… some day.

I was further spurred on my knitting mission by coming across knitting needles and skeins of yarn for 50 cents in the bargain attic at our local fabric store. The yarn is a lovely cream color and super soft. I’m guessing it’s acrylic, but it had no label and I haven’t bothered burn testing it, so I’m not certain of the fiber content. I figured that for about $3 I could take a chance on knitting a sweater. If it works out I can always buy more expensive (or normally priced, haha) yarn later and make another sweater. Oh, and did I mention that the pattern I’m using is free??? Love that price!

Here’s my progress so far:

The back of the sweater. I’ve still got about 6″ to go, but you can see that it’s starting to look like something!
Here’s a close up of the basket weave pattern. It’s just knits and purls in sets of 5 stitches.

I’ve been  knitting rather than sewing for the last week or so and it has been a nice change, plus it’s really neat to see the sweater starting to turn into something. As I get further I’ll post more about my progress.

Here are some other early 20th century knitting pattern sources I came across:

http://www.historylink.org/index.cfm?DisplayPage=output.cfm&File_Id=5721 (a history of knitting related to WWI, specifically in Washington State: it’s quite interesting!)

http://blog.caseybrowndesigns.com/2010/10/vintage-knitting-resources/ (links to vintage knitting patterns from the 1900s-1950s)

http://freevintageknitting.com/women.html (vintage 20th century sweater patterns: looks like mostly 1930s-1960s patterns but they don’t have dates, just images)

http://www.hjsstudio.com/patterns.html (has a variety of patterns from WWI and WWII)

Oh hey, and wordpress just reminded me that this is my 200th post on this blog! That’s pretty exciting!

The Gibson Shoe!

The latest shoe from American Duchess: the Gibson.


Lauren has all sorts of cute shoes planned for 2013, so I’m pretty sure this is only the beginning of what will be more shoe posts this year. Aren’t these cute though? I’m trying to decide between black and brown… If you are at all interested, pre-order-time is the time to make your decision, because if Lauren doesn’t receive enough orders, the style (or certain colors) might be cancelled. And that would be  sad! You now have no excuse. At the very least you should go check them out

Product links in this post contain an affiliate code, which provides a small benefit to my shoe fund. This does not affect my impressions and reviews of this product.


Newport Vintage Dance Week Part VI: Ragtime Dinner and Ball at Glen Manor

The next formal event at Newport was a Ragtime Dinner Reception and Formal Ball held at Glen Manor House in Portsmouth, Rhode Island. Glen Manor was designed by renowned architect John Russell Pope to resemble the Petit Trianon at Versailles. Construction began in 1921 and the house was completed in 1923.

It is truly lovely inside and out, as you will soon see in the photos! I have 1,266 pictures from that evening… and even though I’ve slimmed down the number I’m going to share with you I’m going to have to break the evening up into two posts. The first part will be before the ball and the second part during and after the ball.

The exterior of Glen Manor.
One of the ladies’ changing rooms just off of the entrance hallway.
Once I passed through the rooms, this was the view that greeted me.
The magnificent garden was also behind the main house.
Before dinner we took some group photos. While standing in the group I took the opportunity to snap a shot of Bill Cunningham taking photos of us! We were a little afraid for his safety on the ladder, so you can see people keeping careful watch.
This is Scott, from the Portsmouth Police. He has worked this particular event in years past and really loved it; indeed, he jiggled his work schedule around to join us again this year. He was so excited by the historic clothing that he had purchased a historic uniform to wear just for the event!
After the group photo the four of us and our faithful photographers set out to be silly and take beautiful pictures.
One of our faithful photographers caught Bill Cunningham (another of our faithful photographers) taking photos of us! It was really magical to have Bill Cunningham hurrying to catch our pictures! At one point he said he would “stop bothering us for five minutes” and then five minutes later he was back again, saying “I couldn’t resist, it’s been five minutes!”
The picture Bill Cunningham was trying to capture included frantic waving of the arms…
Running around is a returning theme for us. This time we were just enjoying the beauty and being silly.
Striking theatrical poses under the trees…
I think we resemble the Muses…
There were so many lovely flowers in the garden! We found some to match each of our dresses!
Flowers to match the burgundy in my dress.
Looking the other way. I think I like the first one better, but this is lovely as well.
Purple, white, and green!
Those hibiscus flowers were huge! And they matched so well!
There was also this lovely hydrangea bush that looked so droopy we just had to imitate it.
Peek a boo!
Elegantly perched.
One more panorama of the garden, because it is just so lovely!
After being in the gardens awhile we began to be drawn toward the water…
But decided to turn and take another picture before heading down the hill.
Heading down the hill toward the water.
At water’s edge. Literally, the water was lapping at the rocks just a few feet away.
Silly time!
Looking to our left, we noticed that enticing dock…
So naturally we had to go and investigate!
Diving in! With a red moon rising beyond the water.
The sun was obviously setting as the moon was rising. We stood on the end of the dock, thinking of the Great Gatsby, pointing across the water at the moon, and talking of West Egg and the green light.
Looking off into the distance and enjoying the twilight.
The sash on the left was another of my last minute creations. 
There was a breeze and we just had to soak in the atmosphere. So magical!
Don’t you just want to jump into the picture and join us?
By this point in the week the “young set” had taken on the name TNG “The Next Generation” (of the Commonwealth Vintage Dancers). We’re trying to spell TNG, but the N is hard to see and the G is a little like a blob…
So we tried again with all caps. Can you see it?
Now do you see it?
The new name sparked many bouts of Star Trek references… I hope that you see the connection!

I leave you for now, in a magical twilight world with TNG.