In an August with uncharacteristically hot and muggy days (temperatures reached 107°F/41.67°C!), I temporarily turned my back on my knitting. Instead, I worked on improving my weaving skills. Of course, even though retired the researcher in me cannot be stilled, so as I poked around on the web for weaving tips and ideas, I was particularly thrilled with historical finds. One of them is the University of Arizona’s (“UA”) online digital archive.
Take a peek at “Heavy Mats for Bath or Bedroom” (1958). It was written by Heather G. Thorpe, the author of The Handweaver’s Workbook (1956) that I recently found at a thrift store. “Heavy Mats” was published by Lily G. Mills Company of Shelby, North Carolina. According to blogger The Vintage Traveler,
In the late 1940s Lily Mills [founded in 1903] helped finance the Lily Loom House at Penland [Penland School of Arts & Crafts]. Weavers who attend classes today still work in the Lily Loom House. In return, weaving instructors at Penland wrote booklets for Lily Mills, such as Practical Weaving Suggestions.
According to The Vintage Traveler, Lily Mills published Practical Weaving Suggestions between 1940 and 1971. And the name doesn’t mislead: The projects are indeed practical. For instance, volume XXI – “10 Projects on a Long Warp” by Harriet Douglas Tidball contains instructions for a warp from which a weaver could make an array of projects. (I have my eye on the aprons! One long warp, several varying aprons … birthday and holiday gifts for a year!)
As I focused on rug weaving through our hot summer, I was pleased to find more rug-related possibilities in Volume XXVI written by Osma Couch Gallinger – 10 “Easy to Weave Rugs” and Volume 1-61 “No-Tabby Weave and Tufted Rugs” by Mary Meigs Atwater.
But then my attention was again caught by aprons! Ruth L. Barrett’s apron patterns are featured in Volume 2-65 of Practical Weaving Suggestions. As one of the model is wearing pearls, perhaps her apron is a practical version of the “hostess apron.”
According to various sewing blogs I’ve read, hostess aprons are making a comeback.
For those of us of a “certain age” who grew up watching I Love Lucy or Leave It to Beaver, aprons were de rigueur for housewives. The styles ranged from every day to special occasions. Here Lucy and Ethel are wearing the everyday apron (sturdy cotton, large pockets, providing a lot of coverage).
But we’d also see Lucy in the hostess versions (thin, often diaphanous, frilly, not a lot of coverage). From this picture of Lucy wearing a hostess apron, it seems as though she decided to do a bit of quick dusting before guests arrived.
But I have digressed!
If you weren’t already familiar with the University of Arizona’s on-line digital weaving archive, I urge you to take some time and explore the site!