Wednesday, March 4, 2009


To help lift my mood I pulled one of my old homemaking books off of the shelf and wanted to share some of the fun.  The book is called "The New First Course in Homemaking" by Maude Richman Calvert published in 1932.  It was a Duval County, Florida schoolbook and belonged to Mary Jane Quarrier in 1938.  In today's economy maybe more of us would be willing to repair instead of replace, buy less, reuse and at the same time help to heal our planet.

     "How to Darn. Darning is the replacing of worn material with a weaving stitch and is one of the very best methods of repairing stockings, sweaters, and all kinds of knit goods.  The thread should match the material in the garment as nearly as possible, both in color and kind.  A needle that is too large will cause the weaving to be too loose and conspicuous in appearance.
     In darning stockings trim away the ragged edges around the hole.  Strengthen the weakened places by weaving the darning thread in and out to add thickness.  Begin the weaving a few stitches to the side of the hole; then, when the hole is reached, weave in and out below the hole, carry the thread across to the opposite side of the hole, and weave in a few more stitches.  Have the thread go into the cloth on the right side once and on the wrong side the next time so that no raw edge will show.  Continue until the hole is covered with threads, then weave in and out of the material on the sides to strengthen them.  You are now ready  to fill in threads going in the opposite direction.  Weave in and out of the material next to the hole as before.  Inside the hole go over one thread and under one across to the opposite side.  Continue in this manner until the hole has been filled in.  Be careful not to draw the threads enough to pucker them.  Always match the color of the stockings with the thread that is used.  Use two strands of darning cotton for heavy cotton hosiery, and one strand for thin cotton stockings.  Use silk darning thread for silk hose, and yarn for woolen hose." (p. 300)

And of course, if you want to keep your things nice, ask yourself...
"Do you hang your clothes on clothes hangers?  Do you brush and air your clothes often?  Do you know how to press your clothes?  Do you have a closet in your room?  Do you know how to store your clothes?  Do you give your shoes the proper care?  Are your rubbers ready for use? Do you keep your stockings clean?  Do you sometimes dust your hats?  Are your gloves clean and mended?  Do you know how to remove spots and stains from your clothing?  Do you know how to launder your clothes?"  

     All the tips to those questions are neatly answered in the pages of this lovely little book. What a fun way to spend a cold day indoors.  I have been dreaming about organizing my sewing and laundry room all day.   It all started with Sarah Josepha Hale and Godey's Lady's Book.  I am completely hooked and have quite a wonderful collection of old homemaking books and cookbooks on my shelf.  I love the tips, the fashion, the recipes, the feminine voices from the past. I guess I have that gene that loves all things old.  I pour over books from the colonial days, books about farming in the past, cooking, preserving, sewing, and especially laundry, all of it, any of it.  I love good old elbow grease, vinegar and baking soda.  I just love the work.  I find all of it deeply satisfying, even the mundane.  It is all a part of the peace I get from living in my home, it is so Benedictine...the zen of homemaking.   I enjoy reaping the harvest of my own labor, that is why I love growing my own food and running my laundry through the ringer.  I am exactly where I have always dreamed I would be....

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