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.