Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Charlie Brown, Blogging, and the video you need to watch *now*

I was reading around the Internet as I usually do, and found some inspiring posts. First off, if you are in need of something inspiring (or something to procrastinate with, I don't judge), you should watch Amber Naslund's presentation at TedX Peachtree.

I started writing this post because I read an entertaining column on Charlie Brown and its relevance to blog writing - I'm a Linus VanPelt, entertainingly. (Go over and read Carrie Keenan's column "Do You Blog Like Charlie Brown?" - go ahead, I'll wait)
"Linus VanPelt -  Linus is a very conscientious researcher but he lets his research take over and go off into tangents and analogies that don’t quite make sense."
I'm totally Linus - I do love to research and go off on tangents...oops, I'm getting off topic from what I started from! :-) 

This sort of collides with a discussion I was having this week with a friend. She was asking me why I don't blog every day without fail. I had to say that I think its more important to have a message, an important thought, that I've researched and thought about in the car, in the shower, and so much that I can't live without sharing. 
Amber, in particular, is a role model of mine, even before I knew about her experience with mental illness. Why? Her blog is exactly what I think a blog should be - thought provoking, not necessarily about the same thing, but loosely based around a theme, not posting every day but often enough that I remember to check my email for her entry. I get the feeling that her entries are incredibly personal, no matter what the conversation is like, and not that she's cranking them out all the time because she's required to. I used to subscribe to Seth Godin's blog before I realized that he cranks out posts and while I find the questions he proposes thought provoking (on occasion) there is no substance there. I can't say I remember a single entry of his, where I've already talked to multiple people about Amber's blog entry and video.
Every time I read an Amber Naslund post, I sit there and think about it. More than one have shaped and changed my own behavior, both online and offline. That's what a blog should do - rather than meeting some sort of arbitrary schedule that results in posts that are fluff, useless, and don't stick to your brain like a meat and potatoes meal sticks to your ribs. 
I honestly don't care that I get a lot of comments. I don't care that my long posts violate a lot of bloggers so-called rules. I don't care that some people may not give a hoot what I write about, or that they tell me I'm wrong (I'm always open to change, so I appreciate them telling me, but I will firmly make my own decision). I care that I talk to people in real life that tell me they helped save their genealogy society by trying something new, or that they tried their hand at loom knitting because I made it seem so easy that they could do it and could open their mind beyond knitting = 2 sticks, or that I brought up something in my blog that really reached them about the quality of another writer or a designer. Its those real life moments that make writing this blog so much fun, and that's something a lot of folks I see writing a blog don't say. I see and hear a lot of people who say their blog is their job, their drag, their requirement. For me, its a fun part to say something where I can actually spell it all out before people interrupt my thought pattern and my own brain starts racing a mile a minute with the response, or to process what they're saying. 
I often think about the idea of the intellectual salons of France of the 18th century, and in my fantasy of them, I can bring together my favorite bloggers such as Amber, Hannah from Bittersweet, Judy from The Legal Genealogist, Mardee from Mardeeknits, and Molly Erdman from Catalog Knitting. What would we talk about? No idea, but it would go off on some interesting winding path that wouldn't be possible elsewhere, like a good knit-crochet night with friends. 
Err...getting off on that tangent again. My point through this post is that I never would have guessed that Amber has lived with a mental illness as long as she has revealed in her video. From reading my own writing, I never would have guessed that about myself, either. Maybe that's why her work speaks to me so much - I get *it*. So I want to acquiesce to her request and say - add me too. I've had anxiety disorder for nearing 10 years, and I still have those moments where I have to hide in order to be able to breathe, but I can live and do everything I need to. This blog is one of my coping mechanisms - my thoughts onto paper slow down my brain enough to do what I need to do. My brother has ADD, and has had to also find coping mechanisms to make things work. Medications are only one piece of the puzzle - and I think that writing and meditative activities such as meditation, yoga, knitting, crocheting, etc. are another, and sharing with one another that we have these needs are incredibly important.

Kudos to Amber for having the courage to get up there and talk about it. I'm glad to be a part of her audience.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Théière au crochet (Crocheted Tiny Teapots)

I started doing translation of knitting and crocheting patterns awhile back when the Internet was more of a Wild West and resources like Babelfish and Google Translate weren't available. That way I could share fiber arts fever with the rest of the world, or at least to my non-English speaking neighbors.

Once in awhile, an opportunity develops to help out once again. Yes, you can translate patterns with Google Translate, but you end up with a text that sounds like its talking about swords, mesh, and air stitches. Its just not set up to do the specialized language of translating knitting and crocheting language. Tsitsa Tsitsa on Ravelry has a wonderful blog called Bulle de tut'Oz where she shares patterns with the French speaking world. Seriously, check out her adorable dog crown! A Ravelry user asked her permission to get one of her patterns translated, and so I am posting the translation here.

Never used a translation before? Here's what to do. Load up the original pattern in one window. Put that on the side of your monitor. You'll need it to see the copyrighted illustrations and photos from the original. On the other side of the window, keep this screen open. You'll then be able to follow both, side by side.

Please go see her adorable teapots when you get a chance. They are so tiny and lovely! I have intentions to get to them after my class is over - my mother would love a teapot chain decoration like them. If you like them and intend to do a project, go to her page on Ravelry and enter the project.

All terms are translated into American crochet terminology.

The Micro-Teapot by Tsitsa Tsitsa

sc = single crochet
sc2tog = single crochet two together (decrease)
sl st = slip stitch
ch = chain
sts = stitches

The body of the teapot (to start at the top of the pot)
Row 1: Chain 3 stitches and close round with 1 sl st.
Row 2: Ch 1, 6 sc, with 1 sl st.
Row 3: Ch 1, 2 sc in each sc from previous row, close with 1 sl st (= 12 sc).
Row 4: ch 1, * sc in 2 sc from previous row, 1 sc *, repeat from * to * until end of row and end with 1 sl st (= 18 sc).
Rows 5, 6, 7, 8 and 9: Ch 1, 18 sc, with 1 sl st.
Row 10: ch 1, * sc2tog, 1 sc *, repeat from * to end of row and end with 1 sl st (= 12 sc). Put the stuffing in.
Row 11: Ch 1, sc2tog until the end of the row and then close with 1 sl st (= 6 sc). Cut the thread and pull to tighten in the stitches at the base of the teapot.

The lid
Make a chain of 3, close with 1 sl st.
Crochet in the circle 4 sc, with 1 sl st at the end of the round.
Sew the small lid on top of the teapot.

The handle
Make a chain of 12 sts + 1 ch to turn the work and crochet back to 12 sc

The spout
Row 1: Chain 4 stitches + 1 turning ch
Rank 2: 4 sc, ch 1
Rank 3: 4 sc, ch 1

Assembly and decoration
Assemble the various small parts, bringing the ends to the base of the teapot.
Tie them together and then bring down the ends in the body of the teapot, and pull them a little flush before cutting so they are hidden in the teapot.

Photo caption
Insert the needle from side to side to make decorative French knots. Finish by directing your ends to the base of the teapot.

Row 1: Chain 3 sts, end with 1 sl st
Row 2: Ch 1, 6 sc in ring base with 1 sl st
Row 3: Ch 1, 2 sc in each sc from previous row (= 12 sc)
Row 4: ch 1, * 2 sc in the previous row, 1 sc *, repeat from * to end of row and end with 1 sl st (= 18 sc)
Row 5: ch 1, * 2 sc in the previous row, 2 sc *, repeat from * to * until end of row and end with 1 sl st (= 24 sc)
Sew the saucer at the base

To turn the teapot into a ring, as seen in the photos at her blog:
Chain 3 stitches + 1 ch to turn and crochet go to the desired size. Sew the two ends discreetly in the saucer.

If you want to do the even smaller teapot, here's the directions for it as well:

The Mini-Micro Teapot

The body of the teapot (to start at the top of the pot)
Rows 1-4: Proceed in the same way as for the micro-teapot
Row 5: ch 1, * 2 sc in the previous row, 2 sc *, repeat from * to * until end of row and end with 1 sl st (= 24 sc).
Rows 6-11: Ch 1, 24 sc, with 1 sl st.
Row 12: ch 1, * sc2tog, 1 sc *, repeat from * to end of row and end with sc2tog with 1 sl st. Put the stuffing in.
Row 13: Ch 1, * sc2tog, 1 sc *, repeat from * to * until end of row and end with sc2tog with 1 sl st.
Row 14: Ch 1, sc2tog until the end of row with 1 sl st.
Cut the thread and pull in to tighten in the stitches and bring down through base of the teapot

The lid
Chain 3 with 1 sl st.
Crochet 6 sc in ring with 1 sl st and sew the lid on the top of the pot (see explanations from micro-teapot above)

The handle
Proceed in the same way as for the micro-teapot on a chain of 14 stitches

The spout
Proceed in the same way as for the micro-teapot. Assembly and decoration: see explanation in pictures micro-teapot

Rows 1-5: The same procedure as for the micro-teapot
Row 6: ch 1, * 2 sc in the previous row (for 1 increase), 3 sc *, repeat from * to * until end of row and end with 1 sl st (= 30 sc)
Sew the saucer at the base.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Pinterest: Image and the Crafting Pattern

This gorgeous flower is from the cotinis stream on Flickr.
The original, along with his other gorgeous photos, can be found here

I've been doing a lot of reading lately of the business journals and it has me thinking about the power of the image. There's a lot of talk on the Internet now about Pinterest, and I've been following the phenomenon with some interest, as its changing the design community. Patterns that used to be sold in a book with no picture are now full of splashy photography in order to make the sale.

Take easy knit baby hats, for example. Most are the same instructions - cast on a certain number of stitches, knit for 5-7 inches, then start a set system of decreases until the hat is bound off, or from the other direction, cast on just a couple stitches, increase until a set size, and then knit until long enough. Most designers now are adding a few more flourishes, such as lace, animal ears, colorwork, etc.

Pretty easy instructions, right? It can be on a handout, a notepad, anything. Back in the day, we were happy to get some photos at all, and it was hoped that they showed key details. I did a search on Ravelry for paid knit baby hats with most projects and least projects.



Look at the difference between the two. Both have action and flat shots, and both look like they would make serviceable hat patterns that would be well loved by their recipients. Yet the teddy bear hat has 190 projects, and the other has 1. The difference: look at the quality. The teddy bear hat has professional looking prhotography, lots of of photos with variety, including detail shots. The other hat has worse lighting, less detail in the shots, and overall, looks like a amateur photo. The ideal search item via image, rather than via pattern instruction.

Would this have made a difference ten years ago? Not really. The designer of the teddy bear hat might have garnered some attention via her blog, but the other hat could have easily been posted on craftster or other craft forums and had tons of projects.

Pinterest really brings this issue home. Check out the results of a search there. You'd think there were only a few producers because of the amount of repins of certain images. Yet in reality, there are thousands of patterns out there for a baby hat. But the ones with the best images rise to the top.

We are at the forefront of the digital catalog taking photography to the forefront of crafting businesses. Are you getting ready for it?

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Life as we know it...an update

I had intended over the last couple weeks to update this blog with pictures of the existing Household projects and update with two new ones. However, life gets in the way yet again - I am currently working on my capstone class for my MBA and its taking a lot of my time. In fact, I'd arguably say if I'm not at physical therapy or work, I'm probably working on it!

Its a really good project though, and I've learned a lot about business planning, so that makes the time and effort pay off. Will I launch the business that we're planning? Probably not. Has a kernel of an idea been planted? Absolutely. I intend to launch several micro businesses and see which one of them works, rather than launching the million dollar monster they have us presenting at the end of class.

That being said, I've been looking at some other blogs and thinking that its high time I start a schedule and stick to it, making it not just about certain areas of my life but also others involved. So expect to see more content as I build a schedule up in Blogger, publishing more regularly.

Thank you for sticking with me readers! I promise to make it up to you.

In the meantime, enjoy my latest picture of China the Panda Bear:

China's birthday outfit

Thursday, August 23, 2012

The Young Genealogist: There is NOTHING wrong with them (and here's how to keep them into genealogy)

I got started with this blog post on the fact that there's yet another article accusing young genealogists of being deficient in some way or too stuck on themselves to be in genealogy, or too addicted to the computer to be interested in anything else. Sorry this will get a little long, but its worth sticking through, I promise!

"You don’t even think about your roots. In your 20s and 30s you’re busy creating your own identity.”
"These younger people usually had some kind of disconnect in their family, or a missing relative, and were “trying to fill a hole”, she says."
“Because it’s a lot more focused on comperuterisation, that brings the younger generation through. It is on the internet.”

These are quotes from Michelle Patient, President of the New Zealand Society of Genealogists.

Michelle, I want to point out that you are not a psychologist nor a psychiatrist, so I question the validity of your statement. Should you have proof that we're too busy creating our own identity to care about others/our genealogy in our 20s and 30s, please feel free to email me.

At first I was offended by the idea that she seems to think that younger genealogists are motivated only by negative causes to pursue a lifelong hobby that takes many years to fulfill. Then I thought about it as I munched on my lunch...

...she's confusing "spark" or inspiration with motivation.

You see, I got into genealogy when I was 10 years old. I found a piece of paper among the things I inherited from my grandmother. She was an awesome woman whom I fondly miss, but I knew her quite well as she had spent quite a bit of time with my family in our houses. My "spark" was not the death of my grandmother, but the piece of paper.

That piece of paper sparked an interest in detective work. Aside from the Disney movies, my mother and father introduced me to TV Shows like 21 Jump Street, Law and Order, CHIPs, Cagney and Lacey, Charlie's Angels, The Untouchables, and NYPD Blue (up until the episode where they started showing nudity, at which point I couldn't watch it anymore) along with horror/puzzle shows like the Twilight Zone reboot, Tales from the Crypt, Unsolved Mysteries and the old Rod Sterling Twilight Zone.

What did I take away from this? I hate all the blood, the guts, and the violent gore - but I was hooked on solving the puzzle of the case. And then I remembered the piece of paper, with names of some great-uncles I knew. So I took the Internet and in searching through AOL, came across a link to their genealogy community amongst the various links for detective fans. That in turn led me to their message boards, where someone got me to Rootsweb where I learned how to find the right courthouses, and I started writing letters. As I received each piece of the puzzle, my brain began to whir with possibilities and I studied the history of the areas my family is from, learning about the daily life of a person there and then, and eventually, I started traveling to places my family had been, learning more and more - and with the explosion of information from the Internet, I've gradually progressed to a researched and sourced tree that goes back to the 1700s on both sides of the family.

I continued throughout my 20s and 30s and I met more and more young genealogists like myself, who got started in different ways. Many got hooked because of school projects that got them started. Others were like me - finding something and wanting to know more. Some saw genealogists on TV, helping solve brilliant cases of inheritance treasure and death. Others wanted to know more about their family because they saw history as names and dates and thought there was more to it. Some wanted to know what the heck their parents and grandparents saw in the hobby, :-). Some just liked the pictures.

Rarely have I met the young genealogist who has said they were lacking something in their life. A few have mentioned they were adopted, and were looking into that, and a few have mentioned that the death of a grandparent motivated them to make sure their life and family was documented for the future. But these have been few and far between the many hundreds of young genealogists I have met.

The other issue I want to address is the idea that we're all technology junkies between 20-30 nowadays. Yes, we are all addicted to using our smartphones. But that doesn't mean there aren't genealogists who still write letters, travel, trade photographs, and other non-technology motivated tasks - we use the technology to assist with this. We don't need everything on the computer just to have fun in genealogy.

Michelle Patient, if you want to motivate younger folks to participate and stay in genealogy, you have to have people actively working to let the young folks in. Putting the schools in the family history fair is a great idea, but you also have to demonstrate to the schools how doing your family tree helps with critical thinking, essay writing, building research skills, budgeting, planning, organization, and leads to a lifelong hobby to help you interact with others for the rest of your life.

You also have to work to let the young folks in. Here in the States, often genealogy societies have people in positions from their 60s until they die, leaving no place for young folks to participate except in perhaps "social media" or "website design". We don't have an attention span anymore to stick around for 40 years, waiting for someone to die off so we can get involved. Putting projects together such as digitizing old photos, matching them to current locations, working with GPS, doing oral interviews over Skype and in person, and collecting stories are great ways to get young folks involved and keep them in genealogy for a long time.

Here are some more ideas: working with the Eagle Scout candidates in Boy Scouts, working with the Gold Award candidates in Girl Scouts - they often do historical cemetery projects, cleaning and categorizing, or installing historical markers in towns here, compiling town or church histories, etc. Their service can be of great help to genealogists every where, and yet, they are often an overlooked resource. Same thing with many community service groups - they can clean cemeteries, make lists of names, take town photographs, research old photos, etc.

Creating ways to make cemeteries less scary to young folks can also help. Halloween parties in cemeteries, cemetery walks with tales about the people there and their lives are both great ideas and can also help cut down on cemetery vandalism, as people realize how valuable those tombstones are. Making museums more active can also help, as it prompts interaction with younger folks. The Cantigny First Division Museum is a great example of this ideal near where I live - its design has received numerous national awards.

Also - you can think of alternative uses for genealogy. Who would have thought that antique spinning wheel owners would get interested in it? Or that knitters would be able to run whole genealogies on the patterns passed down from generation to generation? Or that Italian Stregheria (think similar to Wiccans) would be interested in finding their ancestry? Think outside the box to involve these folks in your activities as well. New Zealand has a huge, wonderful history with the fiber industry - it would be wonderful for those of us in the States to get to learn more about it. Could you involve folks like Wiccans in tracing the alternative religions of New Zealand and get them in love with genealogy as well?

Lastly, most genealogy societies have their meetings on a weekday in the middle of the day. Younger folks are in school, at work, and definitely not available for many society meetings. Moving meetings to a Saturday or evening can really help bring in a younger demographic, as more of them are able to come outside of their obligation time.

Michelle Patient, I hope you realize that you CAN entice younger folks into genealogy and they're not deficient or defective in some way, and that you can motivate rather than just "spark" their interest. Good luck to the New Zealand Society of Genealogists!

Monday, August 6, 2012

A short post on how to read the Oakleaf Edging

Hello all,

Sorry for the lack of The Household on Friday. It was because I was preparing this post over the weekend.

I received an email from someone asking about how to use these patterns because she couldn't understand the terminology.

Excellent question!

Let's take the 4th row of the Oakleaf Edging:
Fourth row-knit three plain, seam one, knit two plain, seam one, knit three plain, throw thread over twice and seam two together; knit two plain, throw thread over twice and seam two together, knit two plain.

Looks like a foreign language, right? Let's break it down:

1886:                                    2012:
Fourth row                            Fourth row
knit three plain                       K3
seam one                               P1
knit two plain                         K2
seam one                               P1
knit three plain                       K3
throw thread over twice         2YO
seam two together                 P2tog
knit two plain                         K2
throw thread over twice         2YO
seam two together                 P2tog
knit two plain                        K2

So the line that formerly looked like this:
Fourth row-knit three plain, seam one, knit two plain, seam one, knit three plain, throw thread over twice and seam two together; knit two plain, throw thread over twice and seam two together, knit two plain.
is now:
Fourth Row: K3, P1, K2, P1, K3, 2YO, P2tog, K2, 2YO, P2tog, K2

Sounds much better, right? But to know that, you would need to know that "throw thread over twice" is the same as two yarn overs. I rely on lists like this one to see what the terms are, and then its the same as translating over any pattern.

Still a bit confusing? Wanting to take it to the next step? I thought you might. Stay tuned!

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Dorcas from Illinois: Child's Knitted Sash

Dorcas from Illinois wrote a cute pattern for a child's knitted sash in last week's column:

"Child's Knit Sash
This sash is pretty knit of worsted to match a flannel dress for little girls. Cast on a hundred and twenty-five stitches, knit round and round like the leg of a stocking, without widening or narrowing, for a length of two and a quarter yards. Dampen and press flat. Draw up the ends and finish with a ball or tassel. It takes about five and a half ounces of worsted for one."

I was emailed a comment by an anonymous reader that they were wondering how I surmised that this was a fine yarn in small needles. Well, I'm glad I was asked! Sometimes its best to just trust the writer of the pattern and go for it and see what happens, but other times, its much better to think and then knit.

Let's start with what we know:
-"knit of worsted"
-"125 stitches"
-"knit round and round like the leg of a stocking"
-"length of two and a quarter yards"
-Drawn up ends tied with tassel
-"five and a half ounces of worsted for one"

I admit...I totally read by the comment "of worsted" when I typed this one up. To the modern knitter in the USA, "worsted" signifies a weight class of yarn, signified by its most famous version, Red Heart Super Saver (RHSS). We've all seen it and used it. Its okay - you can admit it!

But prior to the 1950s when RHSS came on the scene, we have to go back to the beginning of what worsted yarn truly is. When spinning wool, there are different ways to spin the yarn. Worsted actually refers to the type of spinning, not the weight. Check this link out. About halfway down, you'll see the "soft woolen yarn" and the "worsted yarn" - see the difference? It really means a smooth, evenly spun yarn.

So we're back at square one. But we have some clues that will help us figure this out:
-"125 stitches"
-"five and a half ounces"
-"knit round and round"
-"two and a quarter yards"

We know this is 125 stitches, knit in the round, and uses 5.5 ounces of yarn.  If you're thinking about the structure of a sash, you'll know they are worn horizontally. 2.25 yards would be extremely tall if we were knitting this from top to bottom, so we know we are knitting side to side. 125 stitches in worsted weight yarn would have been very bulky, so we know it would have had to be smaller weight than that! So I can pull out my handy chart of vintage yarn sizes and see 4 ply - single zephyr yarn - now known as fingering. That seems like it could be right - 125 stitches would be about 1.5 times the size of the average sock, so that would make a wide, but not uncomfortable belt.

We don't have a needle size, so the only thing we can really do is guesstimate, and then figure out if it was 5.5 ounces. Regarding the needles, this would have been done on double pointed needles, as circular knitting needles were not invented until the 20th century. We're still about 40 years too early for them - which also helps us indicate the size, as the thin double points from this time period are all small in size, not bulky. The largest I've ever seen in a museum are for DK weight yarn, no bigger than a size six.

In the end, all you'd then need to do is either work the maths to see if you're right, or work a swatch to see if the knitted fabric looks correct to you. Our knitting ancestors tended to teach each other the intuitive knowledge to be able to feel if the fabric is right, something that many of us lack now, so I recommend swatching.

Good luck with your sash, anonymous reader! I wish you well.

Friday, July 27, 2012

The Household - Narrow Knit Edge and Child's Knit Sash

Last week I posted a blog about a newspaper column from the Detroit Free Press in the 1880s. May Perrin Goff, the editor, continues to fascinate me.

I can't imagine, for example that I could write so politely to "Beauty's Note Book" that "a series of articles on the subject of the toilet would be appreciated" with the same caliber as "Dark Rosamond", "Kindergarten Mother" and "Desdichado" about everything from forwarding letters, welcoming back contributors, and sending missing columns.

"Desdichado" in particular struck me. It means unfortunate in Spanish, something that struck me as being an unusual name in the Midwest in the 1880s. Then I remembered that Desdichado is a name that also appears in Ivanhoe by Sir Walter Scott from 1820. So an educated lady lacking her Household column of recipes, patterns, and household tips might indeed, be an unfortunate one, just like the jousting knight in the story who turned out to be someone else (Wilfred of Ivanhoe, if I recall correctly).

Dorcas of Illinois makes her first appearance in the column on January 2, 1886. She's apparently an accomplished knitter, contributing not one but two patterns to this week.

"Narrow Knit Edge
Cast on eight stitches.
First row - Slip one, knit two, thread over, slip one, knit one, pass slipped stitch over, knit one, wool over twice, knit one, wool over twice, knit one
Second row - Knit two, purl one, knit two, purl one, knit two, purl one, knit three.
Third row - Slip one, knit two, wool over, slip one, knit one, pass slipped stitch over, knit the rest plain.
Fourth row - bind off until only seven stitches are on the left hand needle and one on the right; knit three, purl one, knit the rest; commence at first row again."

Here we see a characteristic of the column - there is a very wordy pattern that gives us just enough detail to make it work, and yet, gives us no information about the shape of the piece, stitch counts, or charts to help us visualize it.

"Child's Knit Sash
This sash is pretty knit of worsted to match a flannel dress for little girls. Cast on a hundred and twenty-five stitches, knit round and round like the leg of a stocking, without widening or narrowing, for a length of two and a quarter yards. Dampen and press flat. Draw up the ends and finish with a ball or tassel. It takes about five and a half ounces of worsted for one."

This one threw me for a bit, as I think of sash and think "Girl Scouts", but in actuality, the sash was a wide belt that was typically tied in the back with a bow, or in this case, tassels. I'm guessing this was made in very fine yarn with double point needles, 125 stitches is quite a lot in the round and circular needles were not invented yet. Probably a fingering or zephyr weight, perhaps smaller even so. Aniline dyes were invented by 1870s, so bright colors could be used like scarlet red, navy, plum, and puce could have been used for it. FashionEra.com shows a good example of a sash with a dress from 1880. Aside from the hair/hat, this little girl is a good example of what kids today can look like in their dresses for special occasions.

Friday, July 20, 2012

The Household: Oakleaf Edging

When I was helping clean my grandparents house to ready it for sale in Lake Orion, I came upon some curious clippings that were helping hold the photographers together in a pile. They were so old and brittle that most of them just fell apart in my hands. But from a couple of the larger chunks, I learned that the clippings were part of a column called "The Household" and that it was from the Detroit Free Press.

Its likely that these clippings were fluff from my great-great-grandparents that disintegrated over time. My great grandmother Barry Mae Perry was well known for her embroidery, but no one I've talked to has ever mentioned she was good at knitting or crocheting, either. Since we don't know anything about the great-greats, its anyone's guess.

May Perrin Goff was the editor of The Household, and was the only female editorial staff of the Detroit Free Press. She "does a man's work, get's a man's pay", and "takes her chance with the rest of the boys". I found this fascinating, a female newspaper editor in the 1880s. Submitted from around the distribution area, The Household formed an interesting supplement to the Detroit Free Press, and I imagine that if it was a recipe issue, there were going to be many men having the recipes for supper!

In fact, I'd even call it a primitive form of Ravelry with its "wants and answers" and craft columns. The patterns are likely reprints - looking at the instructions, it seems like it may have appeared earlier and been reprinted as beloved subscriber patterns rather than attributing their regular sources.

Take January 16, 1886 Detroit Free Press.

Wants and Answers:
"Arma" of Chester, asks for a recipe for Swiss salad.
"Mrs. Mary L." of Liverpool, asks for a recipe for a good furniture polish.
"Elna? D" of Michigan, asks how to make chocolate macaroons.
"B.R.F." of London, asks how to crochet a child's sacque in start stitch
"Subscriber" of Allegheny City, PA, asks for recipes for fishballs and corncakes.

Oakleaf Edging, submitted by Pansy, Niles, Michigan
*Pansy even was mentioned in chat "We should be pleased to hear from you again on the subject of knitted work".

"Cast on fourteen stitches, knit across plain.
First row-Knit two plain, throw thread over twice, and seam two together; knit two plain, throw thread over twice, and seam two together; knit one plain, throw thread over twice, and knit two together; throw thread over twice and knit two together, knit one plain
Second row-Knit three plain, seam one, knit two plain, seam one, knit one plain, throw thread over twice, and seam two together; knit two plain; throw thread over twice, and seam two together; knit two plain.
Third row-Knit two plain; throw thread over twice, and seam two together; knit two plain; throw thread over twice and seam two together; knit three plain, throw thread over twice, and knit two together; throw thread over twice, and knit two together; knit one plain.
Fourth row-knit three plain, seam one, knit two plain, seam one, knit three plain, throw thread over twice and seam two together; knit two plain, throw thread over twice and seam two together, knit two plain.
Fifth row-Knit two plain, throw thread over twice and seam two together; knit two plain; throw thread over twice and seam two together; knit five plain, throw thread over twice and knit two together; throw thread over twice and knit two together; knit one plain.
Sixth row-Knit three plain, seam one, knit two plain, seam one, knit five plain, throw thread over twice and seam two together; knit two plain, throw thread over twice and seam two together; knit two plain.
Seventh row-knit two plain, throw thread over twice and seam two together; knit two plain, throw thread over twice and seam two together; knit seven plain, throw thread over twice and knit two together; throw thread over twice and knit two together; knit one plain.
Eighth row - Knit three plain, seam one, knit two plain, seam one, knit seven plain  throw thread over twice and seam two together; knit two plain; throw thread over twice, seam two together; knit two plain.
Ninth row-knit two plain, throw thread over twice and seam two together; knit two plain, throw thread over twice and seam two together, knit fourteen plain.
Tenth row - Knit two plain, bind the first over the second, and so continue knitting and binding until you have bound off eight stitches and have fourteen left on the needles, one on the right hand needle and thirteen on the left hand one; knit five plain, throw thread over twice and seam two together; knit two plain, throw thread over twice and seam two together; knit two plain. This completes one scallop."

First off, I have to mention the genealogy aspect of this. Some of the column regulars become recognizable, and perhaps this Pansy might be a family member. These columns could be an interesting source of evidence for someone who knew their great-greats name or nicknames.

Second, what a change of terminology.
Some Hints:
Seam = purl
throw thread over = yarn over
knit X plain = knit

I had intended on publishing this after I had made a successful oak leaf edging, but find myself more interested in publishing the column that knitting it up immediately.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Daniel Graves - will the dilemma ever end?

Those of you who read the blog regularly know I have been patiently chipping away at the various Daniel Graves' of upper New York for oh, the past decade or so.

At the last juncture, I had this as my leading candidate:

"the Children of Daniel Graves and his wife Jenny"
Daniel Graves Junr., born in Andover, NH, Nov 8th, 1802.
William Graves, born Sept 14th, 1811
John Graves, born April 4, 1815
Recorded 22d April 1826 attest: John Kimball, Town Clerk

However, he's pretty much ruled out since we're 95% sure of John Graves' birth being in 1815, making this Daniel 13 years old at time of birth.

Another candidate:

Daniel Graves and Rebecca - hmm - In 1851/2, Daniel Graves, b. 1813 in Vermont is listed in the Malahide, Elgin County, Ontario census with wife Rebecca, daughter Nancy and son James. In 1861, the family is listed in Middlesex, Ontario. In 1871, Daniel is listed as a widow in Mosa, Middlesex West, Ontario. In 1881 he is also listed as a widow in Newbury, Middlesex West, Ontario.

Well, he would again be like, 2 when John was born, so that doesn't really work either.

Another lost cause: Daniel Graves of New Brunswick, married Ann. Children: Adaline, Valentine, Xenophon, Berlin. Again, nope, proven elsewhere and children are born over the dates of my own.

Another one I keep coming back to:

Daniel Graves and Harriet, son of Abraham Graves - (no) - settles in Rochester but is well-documented enough there with only two kids with nowhere near the names I have. The family is quite prestigious and a painting of Daniel is at the local historical society.

Well...this one I guess I haven't put to bed yet. Children Vincent and Amanda, and Daniel is in Rochester for quite some time, going through a court case dissolving his partnership with Charles Robinson. Yet I struggle to believe this is the correct option, as this Daniel seems so documented already.

Another new find this past week: Daniel Graves, going through bankruptcy between 1816 and 1820 in Salem, New York, down in Washington County.

"By order of the honorable Anthony I Blanchard, Esq. first judge of court of common pleas for the county of Washington :— NOTICE is hereby given to all creditors of Daniel Graves, the town of Greenwich, in said county, an insolvent debtor, to shew cause any they have, before the said judge at his dwelling-house in the town of Salem in said county, on the eleventh of May next, at ten o'clock in the forenoon of that day, why an assignment of the said insolvent's estate should be made, and he be discharged, according to the forms of the acts such case made and provided. Dated March 1, 1816 

I hesitate to include him on the list of candidates, though. I can find little mention of him elsewhere, he would only be 15, and I would think that we could find him on other records.

However, he is on the 1840 census:
name:Daniel Graves
residence:Granville, Washington, New York
page number:204
nara publication number:M704
nara roll number:348
film number:0017209
digital folder number:004410815
image number:00416
Source Citation
"United States Census, 1840," index and images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/XHBS-1PR : accessed 16 July 2012), Daniel Graves, Granville, Washington, New York.
So there's that. On the other hand, there is a tantalizing clue in Granville that might make sense:

"Rufus Graves (759) was born 26 Feb. 1792 in Conway, Mass., and died 1 Aug. 1851 in Granville, Washington Co., N.Y.  He married Sophronia Newcomb, daughter of Hezekiah Newcomb and Lydia Hunt, on 26 Feb. 1815.  She was born 10 Jan. 1778 in Bernardston, and died 23 Aug. 1838 in Granville.  They lived in Guilford, Vt., and later moved to Granville in 1825, where he was engaged for many years in trade.  (R‑200)
Children - Graves
+1716.  Hezekiah Newcomb Graves, b. 11 Oct. 1818, m. Eliza Laura Bishop, 25 Nov. 1839, d. 30 March 1890."
from: Graves Family Association Generation 168

Isn't it though? That's possibly where Hezekiah could have come from, if this is a relation.

But the most interesting piece of information comes from here: http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn86063615/1897-10-31/ed-1/seq-16/ Aunt Polly Graves of the Cornstalk Indians? Who are the Cornstalk Indians? Why did they die out? Are Daniel and Polly part of a tribe? Again, nothing but questions is left.

So, in an attempt to try to eat away the list of questions, I have petitioned the Bennington County Museum for assistance to see if there is anything about Daniel and Mary "Polly" Ferguson listed in their archives. Even a small mention would help us narrow this target down, and give us some place to go!

I've also started digging into the records of Gouverneur, trying to take some mystery years off the list that way as well.

Any ideas are welcome! Please feel free to comment.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Let's try and save "Who Do You Think You Are?" from NBC Cancellation Doom!

I wrote my letter. Would you write one too? I started with a template of Bill West's, and then made it my own. Its so easy. Take the time to save this quality, educational, and inspiring show!

If you're ready to send your own letter to NBC, go to http://www.nbc.com/contact/general/, choose "Who Do You Think You Are?" from the "Select Show" box. And then share this with your friends and tell them to share too! Its a long shot, but on occasion, fans have been able to bring a show back from the dead zone. The other thing is that the fan outcry can also signal to another network to pick up a show to boost their ratings. Thanks!

Here's my letter if you want a starting shot.

Dear NBC, 

I am greatly disappointed in your decision to cancel Who Do You Think You Are? At a time when there are so many ridiculous so-called "reality shows",  you've chosen to drop the one show on your schedule that is not only educational but inspiring as well. The fact that such a quality program is to be replaced by the likes of Howie Mandel's "White Elephant" is especially disheartening.

There was a time when NBC was known for the quality of its prime time lineup. I'd hoped that "Who Do You Think You Are?" signaled a return to those days - in fact, its one of the few shows left on NBC that I still watch, and one of the rare TV shows I watch on a network station.

In fact, the show has been gaining momentum amongst the people I know - more and more "regular folks" and not just people with an interest in genealogy are watching it because its so interesting and touches people on a level that "Dumb and Dumber" style reality shows do not.

Please reconsider this terrible decision and renew the program. Are you merely doing shows aimed at the very lowest forms of public entertainment, or are you committed to doing right by your viewers?

Thank you very much for your time. I hope this makes a difference!

Concetta Phillipps

Friday, March 9, 2012

Writing...Family History, or Otherwise

I went to an interesting seminar last night on writing and family history. Why? It seems like all of us want to publish something about our family tree, learn a better way to tell the story, or maybe take the story of Grandma chasing Grandpa with a frying pan into a fiction story for the mass market.

A writer hosted the seminar and gave an interesting talk on mostly learning to write down the stories, and letting the other stuff come later. It was a good reminder of what my creative writing teachers always told me - start writing, and the spelling, grammar, paragraph structure, and narrative structure will come later. Our third-fourth grade teachers who graded us on only structure and grammar really did us a disservice in setting up our brains to think that is how "writing" is wired.

The exercise she did in class was abbreviated, since there were so many of us, but I enjoyed it. It started by thinking of a favorite memory. My partner and I couldn't think of one at first, but the act of talking about our past made a really solid memory pop out. For me it was the year I moved to Minnesota when it snowed 30" on Halloween. For her it was a regular trip to San Francisco, but it was the first trip where she became the navigator. Both of us struggled to recall all five senses, but in the end, both of us realized that the value was in recalling at all. Working the five senses questions in "What did you see/smell/taste/touch/hear" actually strengthened the memory considerably.

Her biggest suggestion that I am going to start taking away is to write one "I remember" each day. It doesn't matter if its a Facebook post, a blog entry, a journal entry, a full blown story, or just a note to a loved one. If we try to remember something each day, we'll have the writing to share in the joy of an interesting life, even if our level of interesting is the day we went to the grocery store and tried a new yogurt.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Knitting with Sandra Singh: Judy Marples of Purl Bumps & Giveaway

I rarely discuss other designers on this blog because I figure you probably get the content a million different ways anyway.

However, after I read Knitting with Sandra Singh this morning, I just had to post about Purl Bumps (and not JUST because of the giveaway!).

Purl Bumps is her fledging design blog if you want to take a look. I have to say, I'm so surprised I haven't found her before! Her love of literature, unique locations, and inspirational imagery in her pieces is just smashing.

Another great blog is Knitting with Sandra Singh, who did a lovely profile of Judy and is currently hosting a giveaway! Love those giveaways! In all seriousness, I highly recommend her blog. I'm on Google Friend Connect for it, for example. She's a smart writer and interviews many interesting guests.

Hope you check both blogs out and enjoy!