Tag Archives: knitting

Things I Steal: 1926


I expect you’ll open your eyes at this title, and think: “Is this a confession by a Baby Vamp?” (writes Isa Grieve). But there are lots of things I steal—not the sort of things I could ever be put into prison for, of course but very exciting things all the same —ideas!

There is a chic little hat shop in an arcade, for instance. Whenever I want a new hat, I go along there and feast my eyes upon the three or four guinea confections in the windows. There’s sure to be a new way of trimming a hat—something that makes it different from all other hats. Many a time I have gone away, and after much search (this part is really hard work), I have found a suitable shape for a few shillings, and made it look like one of those arcade confections.

Clothes are the same. The other day I noticed a girl wearing a particularly pretty woollen coat. She happened to be sitting opposite me in the tram, and gradually I realised that her coat was knitted at home. The original touches at the bottom and sleeves were achieved by wool fringe, and darning in Oriental colourings on a dark background. I stole that coat of hers. I went home and made one just like it. only the colourings are a little different, to match the colour scheme of my clothes.

Then a friend of mine possesses a really large pouffe covered with silk, which I much admired. She told me that she had merely filled two canvas bags with shredded rags, and then sewn them together, and covered the whole with really nice silk. The pouffe had cost less than eight shillings, and you could not hope to buy one like it anywhere for less than thirty shillings at least. Yes, I stole that idea, too.

But —just one word here —do be careful what you steal, in case you should bring anger, swift and remorseless, upon your own head. Don’t, for instance, copy your friends’ dresses, even if they are very original.

Still, there are heaps of ways in which you can profit by someone else’s brainwaves. and so make a little money go a very long way. We can’t all be original, but we can recognise originality when we see it. It is very silly to go through the world blindfolded, for all around us are to be found all sorts of interesting gadgets that actually keep our money in our pockets.

All my friends think I must spend far more upon my clothes than I do.

‘You are always so well dressed!” someone said to me the other day. That was a real compliment, although she did not know how greatly I prized it. But then—she does not know how much I really spend upon my clothes. You see, I’d rather spend brain, than money!

Otago [NZ] Daily Times 19 October 1926: p. 14

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire: Earlier this week, Mrs Daffodil published a post on Fashion Pirates. One wonders where the author draws the line between actual theft of proprietary designs and “profiting from someone else’s brainwaves.” She is on very shaky moral ground when she blithely reproduces a stranger’s coat, yet warns against copying a friend’s dresses.

It was a widespread problem. Young ladies did not scruple to borrow one another’s clothes, then rush to their dress-maker to have them copied. See this post on “The Very Worst Thing,” for shocking examples of this depravity.

To be Relentlessly Informative, the term “Vamp,” comes from “vampire,” and, at this time, was common usage for an unscrupulous lady who appropriated other ladies’ husbands with the same, gay insouciance of the author.

Mrs Daffodil invites you to join her on the curiously named “Face-book,” where you will find a feast of fashion hints, fads and fancies, and historical anecdotes

You may read about a sentimental succubus, a vengeful seamstress’s ghost, Victorian mourning gone horribly wrong, and, of course, Mrs Daffodil’s efficient tidying up after a distasteful decapitation in A Spot of Bother: Four Macabre Tales.

Autobiography of A Christmas Gift: 1908

Autobiography of A Christmas Gift.

I am a Christmas gift. In fact, I have always been one. My age is now nineteen, though I may look older. I was made by the dainty hands of Miss Susanna Silkes, who at that time was just the age I am now. Guess her age at present? She is still Miss Susanna, and she still owns me.

Oh, yes. Miss Susanna gave me away. Perhaps I should explain that I am twins, being a pair of knit slippers. Miss Susanna, it was understood, had benevolent designs upon the young pastor of her church, so she knit me and sent me to the reverend youth.

Next Christmas, the preacher, who had received five other pairs, sent me to his sister. You see, knit slippers are guaranteed to fit any feet as well as any other feet. So the preacher’s sister was not at all offended.

The next Christmas she sent me to her old college chum, Mrs. De Brown, who was a member of her brother’s congregation. Next Christmas Mrs. De B. sent me to her pastor. The pastor grinned when he saw me again and remarked something like “Cast your bread upon the waters and it will return to you after many days.”

The next Christmas the pastor sent me to his old college chum, who was sweet on Miss Susanna. There was every prospect of a match, since Miss Susanna had despaired of winning the preacher, who was known to be engaged to another lady. But—the very next Christmas the preacher’s college chum sent me to Miss Susanna with a perfumed note praising her dainty little feet. This broke off the match, of course.

Well, next Christmas Miss Susanna mailed me to a friend of hers clear across the continent. Miss Susanna’s address on the corner of the box in which I was mailed got rubbed off en route, and her friend didn’t know who sent me.

So the very next Christmas I returned to Miss Susanna. Oh, I was hard to lose! I was not made to wear; I was made to circulate. I am a good thing and so everybody passes me along.

Oh, so you recognize me now? Yes, I spent a year with you. Well, time slips, and I must be going. This is Christmas eve, you know.

T. Sapp, Jr.

Daily Herald [Biloxi, MS] 21 December 1908: p. 4

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire: The making of slippers was a well-worn Christmas ritual for the ladies of the parish. Slippers in daintily designed or even beaded Berlin wool-work were perhaps the more usual format, but no matter the method of production, they were all equally despised by their beleaguered recipients.

Some might think it a pity that Miss Susanna did not swallow her pride–after all, the old college chum did not have an inkling about the slippers’ origins and did, after all, praise her dainty feet, although she seems to have taken it in the spirit of mockery. How much human happiness turns on these miscommunications! Miss Susanna did not consider that she could have spent a useful life knitting slippers for the Deserving Poor of the parish, kept comfortably in yarn by her devoted clerical husband.


Mrs Daffodil invites you to join her on the curiously named “Face-book,” where you will find a feast of fashion hints, fads and fancies, and historical anecdotes

You may read about a sentimental succubus, a vengeful seamstress’s ghost, Victorian mourning gone horribly wrong, and, of course, Mrs Daffodil’s efficient tidying up after a distasteful decapitation in A Spot of Bother: Four Macabre Tales.

The Cunning Tricks of Skillful Fingers: 1874

white rabbit egg dye The Pharmaceutical Era 1887


I thought I should die a-laughing, and yet I | didn’t dare let the pucker out of my lips. There were four of them, Mary, Martha, Maria and Margaret, all at home with their mother, and she a widow. Mehitable, the youngest girl, was married, and lived just “’cross lots.” Her two little boys nicknamed Mink and Monkey, were at grandma’s every day. They were so happy—that family away in Southern Ohio, where I was visiting. My cousins said I must visit there before I went home, because none of those girls had ever seen a live authoress, and they didn’t know but people who “writ for the papers” went on all fours, like quadrupeds.

These girls’ ages were all the way between thirty-five and forty-five. They were not handsome; they were dark, and stout, and had strongly-marked features, and bold, bright, courageous eyes, and their dear old hands were hard, and stained, and horny, and very, very handy at all kinds of work, from plowing down to all the pretty devices which make a woman’s nature so sweet, and tender, and womanly. Ah! how this pretty work, the cunning tricks of skillful fingers, so fascinating to the mind of woman, does stamp her as lovable and sensitive, and sweet souled. It is like the delicate vine of embroidery about a dainty garment.

This was three years ago. As soon as I sat down in the great rocking-chair, which gave me such a soft and gracious welcome, my eyes fell upon the carpet, which was of home manufacture. The colors were red, brown, green and purple, graduated shades, with a singular, little ribbony stripe of black, orange and pink, twisted together in a way that made the colors intermingle beautifully.

Practical working woman as I am, I did not long stand on ceremony, I can assure you. I was so taken with the carpet that I began asking questions right away, for in the two hundred and fifty yards which I had made, not one yard of it could compare with that rare and pretty piece.

The dear old girls! they all talked at once; they fired up with an enthusiasm, that really made them handsome. They told me it was all made at home, the warp spun and dyed, and the rags cut, sewed, colored and woven by themselves. Such colors! I took out my note-book to jot down the different names of the dyes, which I had never yet heard of; all bought in one package, and called Leamon’s Aniline Dyes, twelve kinds in one box, to be bought of any whole. sale druggist in the United States. The directions go with the dyes in full, so that any child can use them successfully.

Nature lets nothing in the world remain useless; she makes everything serve a purpose, live again, and do good in some form or other. Just so with these managing, planning, contriving girls, they let nothing go to loss, they turned everything to good account.

My note-book has a page well packed with items, picked up that day, which I am glad to give to the sisterhood. One of the prettiest things I saw, was a what-not made of wood, covered with a thin layer of putty, into which had been worked some of Leamon’s | Brown Aniline Dye until it was the shade of black walnut; this was permitted to dry well, then putties of different colors, dyed with red, green, purple, gray, and any shade required for vines, leaves, berries, grapes, etc., were made, and put on as nature and fancy dictated; this was likewise set aside to dry, and then varnished. It was marvelously beautiful, and these what-nots had sold readily for twenty and twenty-five dollars.

A cornucopia made after this style was elegant. They can be varied by coloring the groundwork putty different shades, and any girl, at all ingenious and tasteful, can make them. They were filled with grasses and mosses, dyed green, oats and nodding swamp-grasses were dyed red, and blue, and purple, and yellow; while flowers of the amaranth were intermingled. All kinds of parlor ornaments and winter bouquets were made this way.

I think handsome rugs adorn and make cozy one’s sitting-rooms, but these girls had made them too pretty to step on. I felt afraid of crushing some of the half-opened buds, and the fresh, crisp-looking, leaves. They had spun yarn out of lamb’s wool, dyed it with the Aniline Dyes, and worked them over a pattern taken out of a magazine. The chair and sofa-tidies wrought on black canvas, were perfect. The second-best rugs were made out of old white woolen stocking: legs, dyed bright colors, the strip, cut narrow, round and round, thus turning to a good and life-long account what some women would use for moth-feed.

But the table-mats! I tee-hee’d right out! I promised the dear old gals that I would not let it get into the papers ‘long-side of the felicitous names of Mary, Martha, “Marier and Marg’et;” nor will I. No one knows whether the last name is Smith or Jones. Those delectable mats were made out of old worn-out felt hats, such as the neighbor boys used to fight bumble-bees with! The girls washed them clean in hot soap-suds, dyed them dark slate, and peachy drab, and rich wine color, stretched them well, tacked them on a board to dry, out in the sunshine, and when ready, cut them in circular shape and bound with crimson braid, or maroon, or any color that contrasted pleasantly. Then in the centre of each they stitched with bright yarn the words “meat,” “coffee,” “potatoes”

Now many a woman situate like these were, would have mourned because she could not find her “sphere,” she would have sighed for a “mission” in this world. These four sisters had missions. They filled positions that women, gifted with wealth, and beauty, and intellect, never could have filled so gracefully, and so excellently and well. Opportunity was theirs for a wide usefulness, they could bless, and help, and teach, and cheer their unskillful sisters, and could develop the latent resources of theirs most admirably.

I was amused and delighted at one of them telling about selecting her sister’s wedding-dress.

“I got dark gray cashmere,” she said; “for I told Hitty it could be dyed into half a dozen new dresses before it was wore out. When she was tired of gray, she could take some of the Aniline Dye and make it slate color, then afterwhile a light brown, then dark brown, then plum, then navy blue, and finally she could turn it the third time and end with Leamon’s immaculate black.”

Now there is more sound truth in this than fun, and if a dress is honest goods, and all wool, Mary was correct; the wedding-dress would do to wear to all the births, and baptisms, and weddings, and funerals, and finally make a very respectable and no doubt comfortable burial robe. I respect the woman who is rich in resources, who can see her way out of a dungeon or over a wall, or through a hole.

They dyed a pink wool delaine dress a dark crimson for one of the neighbor’s girls—never a spot in it. They wet it thoroughly in warm soap-suds first, and then for a mordant used alum-water. For another they dyed a white zephyr shawl a deep scarlet to match the fringe; while ties, ribbons, sashes and all such things just bloomed out into new beauty, and usefulness, and renewed freshness.

Plumes of exceeding loveliness were made of white chicken-feathers, dyed all shades of pink, from deep rose down to pale blush and all colors of blue from graduated shades, fading away to the palest, daintiest int of a hue. In making the plumes, the under side of the feather was scraped away with a knife, and it was left pliant and flexible. Another way they made beautiful, long, waving plumes, was by dyeing the tips of feathers brown, or black, and sewing them on fine cap-wire, overlapping so that only the fine tips showed. These sold for four and five dollars. Any girl can make her own. Bird-wings they colored, and the girls said they could not be told from “boughten wings.”

They made old veils into new ones, stiffened by a weak solution of gum-arabic. With these magic dyes they colored blue ones green by dipping into yellow dye, drab and gray they dyed brown, and brown black, and dingy black ones culminated into jetty black.

Old dresses were made into any color desirable, care being taken to wet the goods well first; steep slowly, and set the color with a mordant of alumwater; dilute sugar of lead and water, or saleratus-water. Then drain instead of wring, and press under a paper while damp, until dry.

In the hands of these wonderful girls dyed turkey feathers made nice fans.

An old knit sacque, faded and dingy, they raveled out, dyed brown and crocheted into a new and modern one by following a paper pattern laid in the lap; for an edge or border some fine, soft yarn of an old nubia, [a knitted head-scarf] raveled and dyed maroon and royal purple, and the sacque was a marvel and a beauty, and will last a lifetime. The old sacque was sleeveless; the new one has sleeves knit seamless, and is so warm, and snug, and pretty. I tried it on, and it fit like the truth.

Something pretty, I don’t know what it was called, made out of snail-shells dyed different colors, stood on a wide window-shelf—looked like a mound somewhat, only it was irregular in form. Then I saw something else rare and new out on the cool, breezy porch. They had taken some large clam-shells, boiled them in lye, and all the rough, gray exterior had come off and left them white and fine; these had been boiled in dyes of three or four different colors, and they were beautiful. I never knew this kind of shells could be cleaned and made good for anything, and I asked how they learned it. Mary looked over at her sister affectionately, and said: “Oh, Marg’et thought of it herself!”

They had likewise taken a couple of old nubias— one they left white and the other they dyed a delicate salmon—ripped them apart, and they were left nearly square. Now you wouldn’t guess what they made of ’em. Nobody would. I told you they made everything live anew, and I should have said that often the second life was the better and more useful one. Why, they spread them over soft, white batting, with a white lining, and made wee baby cradle-spreads of them. The white one they knotted with blue, and the blue one with white, and bound the edges with ribbon to match. You can guess how sweet a baby would look with such a fleecy covering.

They said the Aniline blue made nice bluing for washing-day; and the black, with the directions given with the package of dyes, makes the best black ink they ever saw.

Coral baskets and pretty nicknacks were made out of raisin-stems by adding some of the red dye, while melting, to the white wax and bees wax. These girls made brackets of them, too, bright and glistening, and even prettier than the real coral or those of sealing-wax.

Burlap rugs, made with a rug-hook out of soft old coats, and trousers, and ladies’ cloth, they finished with a bright edge of fine old flannel or opera-cloth, dyed those shades that would harmonize or work in unison. Sometimes, you know, colors don’t agree, and will mutually swear at each other.

An old, dingy, merino shawl they colored a deep black with Leamon’s black dye for their pastor’s wife, then cut it over into a dolman, trimmed it with fringe that had been on their mother’s parasol, and finished with bias bands of black silk which had once been their grandmother’s “quarterly meetin’ apron.” Truly, I never saw such generalship since the days of the man who was willing to “fight it out on that line,” etc. I wish I could tell you all I learned that day, but space will not permit.

Last October I was visiting in that neighborhood again. The week before I went there, Marg’et was married to a widower, a merchant who lived in the village. Of course she sent for me to come and see her, and—who ever heard of the like!-Leamon’s Aniline Dyes had gotten that old gal a husband

He told her, and she told me, how it came about. He said she sat in range of his roving, searching eye one Sabbath, at church, and that she did look so sweet, and peaceful, and modest in her quiet brown dress, and little brown hat with its tossy, tilting feathers, and the rose-pink bow in her hair and on her bosom, that before he knew it he had elected her the queen of his heart, the gem he would wear henceforth–if he could get her. And he vowed he’d get her if he could. He watched her all the time, and bowed and smiled at the door, and walked down the lane as far as the big white hawthorn, and in the evening he called awhile, and kept on calling and calling, until he called her his wife, and bore her away to his own dear little home-nest among the cedars and the climbing-roses. She further told me that the dress he admired was a soft, drab-y cashmere, sun-faded, and she had dyed it a dark, rich, nutty brown, taking special pains with it. The hat she had worn for years, an old white one; but she colored, stiffened, pressed and trimmed it with a bit of seal-brown and a nodding bunch of the ends of bronze cock-feathers, pink face-trimming, never thinking her close economy was weaving a snare to catch the heart and hand of a lone, lorn “widdy man.”

The kind, mellow, married woman! she had saved me a generous slice of the wedding-cake. It was that delicious kind called watermelon-cake. I ate it that evening as we sat at tea, the willow trailing its lithe branches to and fro across the dining-room windows that opened out upon the prettiest, shadiest lawn and orchard I ever looked upon. Such cake! It really did resemble a cool, crisp slice of melon with the seeds in it. I will give you the recipe in its proper place sometime; will only say now that the red core of the melon-cake is made by adding a grain or two of red aniline to a few drops of cinnamon essence.

Among the wedding gifts that delighted me most was a pompous white rooster and a hen to match, the gifts of the little nephews, Mink and Monkey. Their tails had been dyed dark red with Aniline Dyes, and they did look too cute!. It was such a roguish present.

We went into the parlor to see some of the bridal gifts: they were nearly all the handiwork of the beloved sisters, Mary, Martha and Maria. One, I remember was a lovely picture-frame; and another was a beautiful lamb-skin mat, dyed light brown, very fine, and velvety, and exquisitely finished with a cardinal border. A flossy little Maltese kitten slipped into the parlor behind us, and nestled itself in the dazzling centre of the pretty rug. Before Marg’et closed the door, she called it out into the sitting-room, with a gentle “Come, Leamon ‘”


Arthur’s Illustrated Home Magazine, Volume 46, 1878: pp. 394-

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire:   It sounds a perfect hell of fancy-work!  And incidentally a puff-piece for Leamon Aniline Dyes…

We have met with the art of economy in dress–a dreary and thankless task–but these ladies seem to have been truly inspired to create articles they found beautiful and useful, and–happy accident!—a snare to catch the heart and hand of a lone, lorn “widdy man.”

Mrs Daffodil invites you to join her on the curiously named “Face-book,” where you will find a feast of fashion hints, fads and fancies, and historical anecdotes

You may read about a sentimental succubus, a vengeful seamstress’s ghost, Victorian mourning gone horribly wrong, and, of course, Mrs Daffodil’s efficient tidying up after a distasteful decapitation in A Spot of Bother: Four Macabre Tales.

Week-end Compendium: 27 January 2016

Leap Year ladies wooing a very self-satisfied snowman.

Leap Year ladies wooing a very self-satisfied snowman.

Mrs Daffodil, who entered into the so-called “Week-end Compendium” arrangement at the behest of that persuasive person over at the Haunted Ohio blog, wishes to poll her readers as to the continuation of the compendium. Mrs Daffodil can revert to posts designed to educate, elevate, and amuse or continue this omnibus format. Mrs Daffodil will ask that you write your vote for “Continue” or “Revert” in an impeccable copper-plate hand on white or ivory note-paper with your crest engraved at the top and send it to the comments section of this blog. Mrs Daffodil thanks you.

In this week’s posts:

Mrs Daffodil is shocked, shocked by the vile goings-on among a group of club-women arranging a patriotic entertainment in A Lady Washington Tea Party Comes to Grief.

A 1903 enamel and diamond motor-car brooch. http://www.bonhams.com/auctions/18191/lot/45/

A 1903 enamel and paste motor-car brooch. http://www.bonhams.com/auctions/18191/lot/45/

The Automobile Girl, it is explained, has chosen motoring for its fashion possibilities. Other voices, advocating veils and warm coats, weigh in.

It being Leap Year, Mrs Daffodil thought it would be amusing to look at some of the topsy-turvey traditions of the Leap Year and its Proposals.  Mrs Daffodil sees much potential for an economical refurbishing of one’s wardrobe if one chooses one’s prey carefully.

On Sunday, in spite of her reluctance to encourage prattling tots, Mrs Daffodil shares the touching story of “Nellie’s Leap Year Proposal.”

Leap Year Joke: If there is any girl who doesn’t like to pop the questions even if it is leap year, she can get around it by asking her young man if he’d be willing to fill in his name on her marriage certificate. The Christian Recorder 9 October 1884

From Mrs Daffodil’s archives: Two rival prostitutes fight it out.

Contemplating the possibilities of Leap Year.

Contemplating the possibilities of Leap Year.

Over at the Haunted Ohio blog, we find much that is distasteful:

A Ghost With the Smell of a Charnel House infests a property near London. Olefactory unpleasantness ensues.

A visit to a Dead-House at Munich, (part of the “Little Visits to the Great Morgues of Europe” series) reveals grewsome sights and the smell of antiseptic. Much nicer than the Paris Morgue, however.

From the archives, a shocking history of electric practical jokes.

There are some quite exciting links this week: An author solves a 160-year-old mystery involving an erstwhile portrait of Pocahontas.

The quest for Dicken’s pet Raven, Grip.

A truly evocative Great War knitting project, which inspired a documentary: Tell Them of Us.

And an amusing look at historic advice for writers of romantic fiction.

Mrs Daffodil wishes all Leap Year Ladies the best of luck. (Girl with Good Luck Charms, Raphael Kirchner, 1902 http://www.mfa.org/collections/object/girl-wearing-lucky-charms-from-the-series-girls-with-good-luck-charms-553207

Mrs Daffodil wishes all Leap Year Ladies the best of luck. (Girl with Good Luck Charms, Raphael Kirchner, 1902) http://www.mfa.org/collections/object/girl-wearing-lucky-charms-from-the-series-girls-with-good-luck-charms-553207

Mrs Daffodil invites you to join her on the curiously named “Face-book,” where you will find a feast of fashion hints, fads and fancies, and historical anecdotes

You may read about a sentimental succubus, a vengeful seamstress’s ghost, Victorian mourning gone horribly wrong, and, of course, Mrs Daffodil’s efficient tidying up after a distasteful decapitation in A Spot of Bother: Four Macabre Tales.

Chris Woodyard is the author of The Victorian Book of the Dead, The Ghost Wore Black, The Headless Horror, The Face in the Window, and the 7-volume Haunted Ohio series. She is also the chronicler of the adventures of that amiable murderess Mrs Daffodil in A Spot of Bother: Four Macabre Tales. The books are available in paperback and for Kindle. Indexes and fact sheets for all of these books may be found by searching hauntedohiobooks.com. Join her on FB at Haunted Ohio by Chris Woodyard or The Victorian Book of the Dead.

Cora’s Christmas Doll: 1879

 girl and dollCora Norwood’s Christmas Present.

Press and Knickerbocker, Albany, N.Y.

The brightest and pleasantest story of Christmas season comes to the Press and Knickerbocker, from Maine. Indeed it is a veritable romance, and almost like a fairy tale. In a village of the Pine Tree State, which bears the prosaic name of “Buckport” lives Cora Norwood, the heroine of our story, who employs her busy little nine-year-old fingers in knitting mittens and gloves, to assist in meeting the expenses of the family. One day last year, while Cora was deftly and swiftly engaged, not in “spinning yarns,” but weaving their varied colors into the useful articles which were to protect some brawny hands from the biting frost and the cutting wind, visions of the ice and the snow of Christmas frolics and Santa Claus with his reindeers, came flitting through the little maiden’s mind, until she seemed transported into the winter days. When the gloves into which she had woven so many dreams and airy visions were at last completed, she wrote a little note, saying:

“This pair of gloves were made by Cora S. Norwood, aged nine years, of Buckport, Maine. As my parents are too poor to give me a Christmas present, I would be much pleased to receive a wax doll for Christmas and hope that the person who buys these gloves will think enough of it to comply with my request.” This note she placed on the inside of one of the gloves. Together with others, the glove, with its precious message, passed through many hands unnoticed, to Boston, to New York, and finally to Chicago. There, in the Phoenix City of the Great West, a clerk in the store of Keith Brothers & Co. found the wish so modestly and prettily expressed, and calling the attention of the proprietors and his fellow clerks to the matter a purse was raised, the doll procured, and given into the sure hands of the United States Express Company to deliver to the little girl by the sunrise sea. To Mr. B. Schermerhorn, President of the United Express Company was related the story of the little girl’s request and the purchase of the doll, which so pleased him that he determined at once to secure the free delivery of the present to the hands of its intended recipient. The following is a copy of the way bill, as made out by him, and to which he attached the note found in the glove:

United States Express Company: one box. Consignor, Keith Bros & Co, furnishing goods, Chicago, Ill., Address, Cora S. Norwood. Destination, Buckport, Maine. Advance charges, gift. United States charges, gift. Kansas Pacific charges, gift; collect nothing. Prepaid, with love. Remarks: Be happy.

The letter pasted on, is a request found in a pair of gloves and this box contains the desired wax doll, being the gift of employees of the firm selling the gloves. Please let this way-bill go through and be delivered with doll. Those who handle the way-bill may indorse on the back their Happy new Years, etc.

[Signed] B. Schermerhorn

Chicago, Ill.

The back of the way-bill bears the following indorsements:

“Merry Christmas to Cora B. Shermerhorn.”

“A Carleton sends his compliments, Michigan Southern route.”

“Schneider wishes that all your requests in life be granted as readily as this. Dunkirk and Toledo route.”

J.C. Rae: “Heaven’s blessings be with you, hoping you a Happy New Year.”

“To Miss Cora: As you gently glide down life’s rugged river, be ever watchful of the many deceitful rocks that so thickly line its banks and you will always have a Happy Christmas.” A Shaw, train 12, December 17, 1879.

“W.H. Phelon wishes Cora a Merry Christmas.”

“A Merry Christmas and Happy new Year to Cora Norwood. William Hutchinson and partner, Boston, December 21, 1879.”

“I fully concur in the above. A.D. Heith, Boston and Bangor route.”

The last messenger through whose hands this bill and its precious package passed, wrote.

“Respectfully referred to Cora’s young man.” The doll thus brought and carefully carried to its destination, came to hand on Christmas eve, and the delight in the house of Norwood may be imagined, but not described. We are sure all who read this little poem of real life will join in the wishes for a Merry Christmas, and many of them, to little Cora Norwood in the far east State of Maine.

Wheeling [WV] Register 17 January 1880: p. 3

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire:  It is recorded elsewhere that young Cora was delighted with her present and wrote the following thank-you letter:

Bucksport, Dec. 24,1870. Dear Sirs: I received a postal from you Monday, saying that you had sent me a wax doll in answer to my letter I put in a pair of mittens, which I knit about six weeks ago. Tuesday I received the wax doll that I have wished for so many times. It is very pretty, and I thank you over and over again for being so good.

I also got the way-bill with many kind endorsements, and I thank them for their pretty compliments.

I wish you kind employes, and all concerned, a merry Christmas and a happy New Year. I have named my handsome doll Lulu Keith. I never shall forget you.

Your little friend,

Cora S. Norwood.

Mrs Daffodil sends the compliments of the season to her kind readers and wishes them all the best in the New Year. She will return 7 January, 2015, with more jottings on the fads, fancies, and ephemera of history.

Mrs Daffodil invites you to join her on the curiously named “Face-book,”where you will find a feast of fashion hints, fads and fancies, and historical anecdotes.

A Knitting Bag Costume: Fancy-dress Inspiration: 1918

knitting girl

Struck by a happy inspiration, she decides to attend the fancy-dress party as a knitting bag.


From the Christian Science Monitor.

Here is an idea of a decidedly novel fancy dress costume. One young woman has tried it with great success. She was going to a costume party and she did so want to appear in something new and truly original. She knitted away industriously, as she meditated upon what she should wear. It was hard to think of something that none of her friends or acquaintances had ever tried, and something moreover, which would not demand too much time and work in preparation. She glanced at the pretty knitting bag beside her and then the idea came. Why not go as a knitting bag!

She bought some pretty, but inexpensive cretonne and made her costume. It was cut somewhat on the bloomer plan, but very, very full. The short sleeves were also very full, and so arranged that they looked not unlike the side drapery, seen on so many of these popular bags. She gathered it about the neck with a standing ruffle, with ribbon bows on each shoulder like drawstrings. Then she did her hair in a big loose knot, stuck four or five knitting needles thru it, and there she was in a decidedly novel and quite up-to-date knitting bag costume. It did not take long to prepare it, nor was it an expensive variety of fancy dress, but it was much admired and so a great success. Colorado Springs [CO] Gazette 9 June 1918: p. 23

fancy dress knitting bag girl and pumpkin girl

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire: Mrs Daffodil has, at last, found an image of this novel and eccentric fancy-dress costume. The knitting needles would have proved useful as a weapon to ward off any unwanted suitors driven to madness by this provocative garment.  This was obviously a frame-less, draw-string knitting bag. If any of Mrs Daffodil’s readers are knitters, perhaps they could make a version incorporating the more recognisable wooden rings or handles hanging down back and front. Bamboo rings and wooden handles are readily available at the needlework store. Add material from an old curtain, and hey presto!  you are the perl of the ball!knittingbag2

Crafting a costume based on a standing knitting bag will entail using one of those folding wooden laundry driers and is not recommended if one wishes to dance.


Mrs Daffodil invites you to join her on the curiously named “Face-book,” where you will find a feast of fashion hints, fads and fancies, and historical anecdotes

You may read about a sentimental succubus, a vengeful seamstress’s ghost, Victorian mourning gone horribly wrong, and, of course, Mrs Daffodil’s efficient tidying up after a distasteful decapitation in A Spot of Bother: Four Macabre Tales.