Monday, 19 October 2020

Greetings from the Past

Another collection of family treasures today, this time greetings cards of one sort or another, all dating from the 1940s, 50s or 60s.

Aren't they pretty? I thought we'd go through them in date order, telling the tales behind them along the way. So, first of all there are these, mostly birthday cards from the 1940s.

I think my favourite is the one with the crinoline lady on it.

This was given to my Mum, Ann and is signed 'from Dorothy'. I don't know who Dorothy was, maybe a friend from school?

This is Miss Dine's class at New Street School, Andover and would have been taken during World War Two. Mum is in the second row, second from the left (as we look at the photo), wearing a gym slip and white blouse and with her hair in bunches. Maybe Dorothy is in this picture too. There were 44 children in this class and only 16 of them were boys. The age range is quite big too, from the little girls like Mum to the big ones in the back row. Nearly thirty years after this picture was taken, I was briefly taught by Miss Dine too, just before she retired.

Birthday postcards used to be quite common. This one was sent to Mum by her cousin Glenys for her ninth birthday in 1945.

Given that Glenys lived just down the road from Mum, she would have had to walk further to the postbox than to deliver it by hand. I expect it was more exciting to get it in the post though. Glenys and her family lived with her grandmother during the war as they had to be moved out of their RAF house because of the danger of air raids.

Here we have, from left to right, Mum, Glenys and Frances (Mum's sister, the one I was named after).

The tiniest card in this group is a French New Year card, undated but written in French to Mum by Micheline. Again, I don't know who she was. Perhaps a pen friend when they were both at secondary school? It's a very pretty little card.

Moving on to the 1950s and I have this lovely collection from Mum and Dad's wedding in September 1956.

I found the lucky horseshoes and silver shoes in their box earlier this year. Do brides still get given these I wonder?

You must always hang lucky horseshoes this way up so that your luck doesn't run out the bottom. Shoes are a very old symbol of luck and fertility which is why they are tied to the back of wedding cars. Here's Mum being given her lucky charms as she left the church.

This is Mum's younger brother Allan

I know, from the newspaper report at the time, that this little girl was called Dawn but nothing more.

This is my favourite one of the wedding photos, taken just as the wind caught Mum's train and veil.

As well as photos, Mum kept this little notebook with its lists of wedding guests, the presents, who to send slices of cake to ...

The recipe for the wedding cake includes 37 eggs for cake, almond paste and icing and 11 lb of sugar. Luckily, rationing had ended a few years before this.

Then there was all that dressmaking to do ... 18½ yards of rayon brocade for £3. 12 / 6 (12 shillings and sixpence) and 8 yards of figured taffets for £1 3/4. Mum's mother made the dress and, to say thank-you, she bought her this cuckoo clock which I remember fondly from my Granny's house. It now belongs to my daughter.

Oh the excitement as children, waiting for the cuckoo to pop out of his little door.

The list of wedding presents is interesting too, mostly quite modest things to help them in setting up their new home. Top of the list is 'Yellow Plaid Tea Service and Dinner Service - Mum and Dad'. I still have a few pieces of this set and am very fond of it.

The numbers on the back show that it was made in April 1956, a few months before the wedding.

There are a couple of beautiful wedding cards too ...

... and who remembers these? Wedding telegrams which would have been read out by the Best Man at the reception.

This tradition came to an end in 1982 when the telegram service stopped in England, having been replaced by the widespread use of the telephone.

Sadly, Mum and Dad divorced in the 1970s. Mum died twelve years ago but Dad is still going strong; I had a chat with him over the phone this morning.

Predictably enough, the next batch of cards are birth congratulations, first for my brother who was born in 1957 and then, three years after that, for me.

It's quite hard to work out which are which as they mostly don't say 'baby boy' or 'baby girl' on them so I've had to guess a bit. I think these are the cards for Stephen's birth.

Here he is with his proud parents in the garden at our Granny's house ...

He had such blond hair. When I started primary school, I could always pick him out in the playground by his hair. The cards mostly feature babies in cradles, like this one ...

That's a strip of real lace on the edge of the canopy.

Cradles in tree tops were popular too; the card designers obviously hadn't read to the end of the rhyme.
'Rock-a-bye Baby in the tree top,
When the wind blows, the cradle will rock,
When the bough breaks, the cradle will fall,
Down will come baby, cradle and all.'

I like this tiny card with the animals too ...

Among all the traditional cards, this one looks rather modern ...

This card was from Aunty Eva and Uncle Dan; Aunty Eva was the knitter of the matinee jacket that I mentioned in my post about old Baby Knitting Patterns.

Fast forward to 1960 and there were more cards, this time for my birth.

And then there were four ...

This photo was taken in the same spot as the earlier one but Mum gets a chair to sit on this time.

Again, the cards could be for a boy or girl, apart from this one, complete with a tactile baby blanket.

This next one made me laugh. Another cradle up a tree ...

... and look what it says inside ...

Sorry about that, Stephen!

This was from Mum's parents and, in their defence, not only was I their first granddaughter but I was born just a few years after their daughter Frances Mary died and I was given those names in memory of her.

I also like this one; I'm not sure it shows up in the photo but it has glitter on it. I'm very partial to a glittery card.

The next three cards were all for Mum from Stephen and I on various birthdays.

The first one, with the little black dog, was just from Stephen.

I'm guessing that this might have been for her 24th birthday which was a week after I was born, when Stephen would have been three.

The other two cards are from both of us. I especially like this one ...

I can just about write my name inside but Stephen has moved on to joined up writing.

Stephen has put 30 kisses so I think this could have been for Mum's 30th birthday in 1966. I think this photo might have been taken around that time.

This is one of my favourite photos of Mum. Note the trousers with the elastic under the foot. That was how we kept our stretchy 'slacks' in place in the days before Lycra. I had some too, both pairs probably made by Mum.

One more collection of cards, this time all my own work!

Actually, tell a lie, the one with the birds on is from Stephen

This one is particularly elaborate ...

Yes, that's right, an Advent Calendar card for Mothering Sunday. Funnily enough, this idea never caught on commercially. Leaving aside the fact that I obviously didn't know the meaning of the word 'Advent', I have no idea why there are only 14 doors. Most of the pictures aren't recognisable but the two at the top are a crown and an umbrella. Want to look inside?

Spelling mistakes aside, I''m not sure why it says 'Mother' as I never called her anything but Mum or Mummy. Cards of the time often said 'Mother' though so maybe that's where I got it from.

I recognised this next card as my work straight away.

I'm pretty sure I still draw flowers like this.

I've left the best till last. I can remember making these Easter cards; as you can see, I cut them out myself.

When I showed them to my son, he said "are those meant to be Easter eggs?". Well obviously they are - and him a primary school teacher too.

I hope you've enjoyed looking at these cards with me. I'll leave you with a picture of Stephen and I looking our best.

Thursday, 15 October 2020

Conker Scarf

Six months after publishing my last pattern (a scarf), I have just managed to complete a new design (another scarf). Well, its a start.

Conker scarf features a simple slip stitch rib pattern that's easy to knit and makes a warm, textured fabric. As you can see, I chose my yarn to match the conkers and the autumn leaves. It's an aran weight yarn from Katia called Azteca.

I used 200g of yarn to knit my scarf but you could adapt the pattern for other weights of yarn and make your scarf any with or length you like.

It's taken me a very long time to get this simple pattern written and checked, doing one small task a day so I hope there aren't any mistakes in it. Just remembering how to publish a pattern on ravelry was quite a challenge.

As well as looking pretty, the conkers came in handy for holding the edges of the scarf down so that I could stretch the rib a bit for some photos.

New, shiny conkers are very pleasing; Tolly cat likes to play pawball with them too - they don't roll straight which he likes. Can you spot the fake conker in this little bowl of them?

It's the one still in its case. I bought this resin conker at a craft fair years ago and I'm very fond of it.

Monday, 12 October 2020

Autumn Samplers

Last month I told you about a year long stitch-a-long that my daughter and I have embarked on, cross stitching a sampler for each season, using charts from Little Dove Designs. Well, we've finished our first one which is called 'Autumn Glows'.

Here is Rose's sampler ...

She stitched on 32 count linen in Raw, a natural, dark hessian colour which doesn't show up well in the photos. Rose uses Anchor stranded cottons and, as you can see, has signed her work for posterity. More of that later.

Here's my finished sampler ...

You get a better idea of the rich colours in this photo (due to the high powered lighting set up I have). One of the reasons we chose these designs is because of the designer's flair for colour. I stitched my sampler on 16 count Aida in a flecked oatmeal shade that is quite a lot lighter than the one Rose used. I used to only stitch on linen too but my eyes have got older so aida is sometimes a better option for me now. My threads are DMC.

There are lots of lovely details in this sampler, from the house at the top ...

Rose enjoyed stitching all those little leaves, I didn't!

... to the owl on the apple tree ...

... and the row of creatures, flowers and toadstools at the bottom.

I think this is my favourite part of the whole picture. The french knots on the toadstools almost look like little beads and as for that lovely spider ...

Rose is an archivist and she's trained me well in the importance of signing and dating everything. So, cross stitch is always signed near the edge of the fabric where it will be hidden under the frame but there for future generations to read. 

You'll notice that Rose hasn't given the day that she finished her sampler. That's because she finished one day later than me. The tables could be reversed next time. She did, however, manage to keep her writing in a straight line, unlike me.

I think hers, all in capitals, is much easier to read too. I may have to do that next time.

We will be starting our next sampler Winter Warmth in December. I suspect that these will take us longer to finish, what with all that other festive stitching we shall want to do. Christmas cross stitch is definitely the best.