Thursday, December 30, 2010

The Rich History of Gloves

This history of gloves came in my Knitting Daily newsletter and I thought you might enjoy the history of those essential cold weather items.  It was written by Kathleen Cubley, editor of Knitting Daily

The Rich History of Gloves by Kathleen Cubley

I gave one of my knitting friends a copy of Knitting Traditions for Christmas this year, and before I wrapped it up I couldn't help but look through it again. I have a pair of gloves on the needles, so naturally, all of the glove and mitten patterns caught my eye.
Knitting Traditions also contains a fascinating Nancy Bush-authored article about the history of gloves and like everything Nancy does, it's wonderful.
I'm sure you'll enjoy it, too, so I'm excerpting some of it for you here.

The Symbolism of Gloves

The history of gloves is a long and rich tale of romance and intrigue, honor and chivalry, daring and deceit—but long before it acquired these associations, someone had devised gloves to provide warmth and protection to the hands from cold, heat, dirt, and other environmental insults.

Well-formed gloves, made of linen and decorated with a drawstring closure at the wrist, were found in the tomb of Egyptian ruler Tutankhamen (circa 1370-1353 B.C.). Wall paintings from Thebes, a city in ancient Egypt, depict ambassadors bearing presents of gloves, suggesting that even then they had symbolic value beyond their utility.

The sixteenth-century Sture glove from Uppsala, Sweden, knitted at 24 stitches per inch. Photograph copyright Antikvarisk-Topografiska Arkivet, Stockholm, Sweden. Photograph by Gabriel Hildebrand.

The Greek historian Xenophon (circa 431-352 B.C.) reported that "not only did [the Persians] have umbrellas borne over them in summer . . . but in winter it is not sufficient for them to clothe their heads and their bodies and their feet, but they have coverings made of hair for their hands and fingers."

In the days of chivalry (the twelfth and most of the thirteenth centuries), a knight would often wear a glove or other token given by his lady on his helmet or shield as a sign of his devotion and purity of heart as well as of his worship of and affection for his beloved.

Richard Rutt, in The History of Handknitting, tells of Captain Sten Svantesson Sture, a twenty-one-year-old Swede who died in 1565 in a sea battle against the Danes and their allies. Sture left a black felt hat to which was fastened a small glove (shown above left) of gold thread and colored silks knitted to a gauge of about 24 stitches per inch.

The words Frevchen Sofia are worked in knitting across the palm. Textile historians had thought that Sture was engaged to a German girl, that the glove very likely was hers, worn as her favor in battle, and that the word frevchen meant "miss" in Middle Low German.

Recent research by Danish textile historian Lise Warburg has shown that frevchen was sixteenth-century Swedish for "princess." Princess Sofia (born in 1547) was the daughter of King Gustav Vasa of Sweden (ruled from 1523-1560), and it is now believed that she was engaged to Sture. She most likely knitted the glove herself, because it is not the work of a professional, and made it for Sten to carry with him into battle.
Gloves throughout the ages have been made from the skin of deer, kid goats, or sheep, or from linen, silk, cotton, or wool. They have been cut and sewn, thread-woven, knotted, and knitted. In addition to their primary function as hand protectors, gloves became symbols of loyalty, honor, and integrity, as well as bonds of security. Perhaps some of these old ways are worth preserving in our own cyber-whelmed lives.

—Nancy Bush, as published in Knitting Traditions, Winter 2010

Isn't this a super piece of writing? I find it so satisfying that the gloves I'm knitting today are one pair in a long history of glove-making.  Kathleen
If you weren't able to get a printed copy of Knitting Traditions (it sold out fast!), we're now offering a digital download. Knitting Traditions is a really important part of any knitter's collection, yours isn't complete without it!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Handmade Lace

Here is a wonderful website (Thanks to Anna Bauersmith's blog) on handmade lace.  It has descriptions and pictures.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Machine Lace

Thanks to Bev for this interesting article.


We are often told that period lace was all handmade and that machine made lace is not appropriate for use on period clothing and accessories. However research shows us that by 1841 lace was widely available. True many of the modern day fibers used in lace are not appropriate but it is not the fact that the lace is machine made that makes it inappropriate.

In fact, the first machine to make lace was developed in the late 1770’s from a machine that made stockings. This machine only made the netting or on which workers embroidered the lace pattern using a needle.
(Picture from
John Heathcoat, who worked with as an apprentice making fancy stockings, improved these machines and by 1808 he applied for a patent for a machine that produced a twisted netting that closely resembled Lille bobbin lace. This netting was still embellished with embroidery or tambour hook chain stitching. Some lace from Ireland had fine muslin appliqu├ęd on the net. These machines were so successful that his factory was destroyed by those who opposed the use of this method. In 1812 an Act was passed which set the penalty for such destruction as execution. One man was executed for this crime.

The continued improvement of machines allowed for the pattern to be worked by a machine called a Pusher. The raised outline called gimp was still applied by hand. Some of this lace was difficult to distinguish from the handrun gimp such as Chantilly.

Other types of lace were made using only slightly different methods and machines. Tape lace was a popular lace making method using tapes embellished with needlework. Battenburg is a tape lace. Another type of lace was produced by using a sacrificial fabric of netting. Patterns were embroidered on this base and chemicals were used to remove the base fabric, leaving only the lace pattern. Schiffli lace is an example of chemical lace.

Improvements by Leaver and Jacquard led to a led to a machine that would also apply the gimp. By 1841 lace produced was difficult to distinguish from hand made lace. After this development, the use of lace machines developed so quickly that the market was soon flooded with this new inexpensive lace.

Heathcoat’s factory is still in operation and uses the Heathcoat machines.



LACE AND LACEMAKING by Alice-May Bullock


Frontier Army of the Dakotas Winter Conference Schedule

Take this opportunity to learn about Living History Groups activities in other parts of the West.  The Frontier Armny of the Dakotas is in the "7th Cavalry" country of Montana, Wyoming, North and South Dakota.  I was fortunate to meet them two summers ago at Ft. Abraham Lincoln.  This is information on their Winter Conference that will have you wishing that the wagon roads from Texas to South Dakota weren't so bad in the winter.  If you are close to this conference, be sure to share the information with others that are interested. It looks marvelous!

Conference Information

Frontier Army of the Dakotas

Mid Winter Conference Schedule
Dakota Event Center
720 Lamont St, Aberdeen, SD 57401
February 18 – 20, 2011

Friday – Pre Conference Workshop

12:00 – 6:00 Having a Fit part 1, 2 & 3, Elizabeth Stewart Clark, Idaho Falls, ID
Pre-Registration Required at

Are you traveling a bit further back in time? Join Elizabeth Stewart Clark on Friday, 18 February 2011, for
independent workshops focusing on the late 1830s, 1840s, and 1860s. We'll explore bodice fitting three ways:
fitting from published patterns, learning to directly-drape a pattern on the body, and adapting any basic bodice to get the styles you've been loving, but haven't found patterns to help you make. Each two-hour workshop is $15, ($45 for all) and includes take-home resources as well as in-session work. Pre-registration is required;
contact Elizabeth directly at her email; or her on-line registration at will be available for these independent workshops beginning in mid-
December. Please let Elizabeth know if you'd like to be a model for Having a Fit 1 or 2 (imperfect figures
welcome, corsets or stays very helpful), or if you'd like to schedule a private, personal fitting or bodice draping with her.

7:00 pm Meet & Greet – renew your acquaintances & friendships, meet the presenters at
Mavericks Steak & Grill (next to the Dakota Event Center, Hampton Inn, & Holiday Express)


All Day:
Many raffles & door prizes will be available throughout the day.

Fall In! Soldiering in Dakota Exhibit – SD Historical Society
As settlers moved in to Dakota, the military protected them, surveyed and mapped the terrain, and built roads. Too much territory and too few men made soldiering in Dakota a tough go.

8:00 – 9:00 Check-in

9:00 – 10:00 Women’s Clothing Overview by Elizabeth Stewart Clark

This workshop covers not just the layers and styles you'll need for a functional historic wardrobe, but covers the "why?" of it, too. We'll also discuss making individual impression choices based on research--women in the19th century were not cookie cutter people! There are so many choices that all fall within the range of "period appropriate": there's something for every personality, every budget, and every impression.

9:15 – 10:00 Ordnance Magazines by Thomas Buecker, Ft Robinson NE
Almost every Army post had an ordnance magazine, but we really don’t know much about these important fortstructures. We’ll talk about construction, where magazines were located, and the ten 19th Century magazine structures that survived through the years on the Northern Plains.

10:15 – 11:00 Katheryne Reynolds 1849 – 1947 presented by Joyce Jefferson, Rapid City, SD

Freed from slavery, Kate and her mother left the plantation life seeking a new and better life. They traveled
through the Cheyenne Gateway to arrive in Dakota Territory. Kate practiced the lessons of her mother very
well. She used the land, helped people and followed the Golden Rule. After working in Deadwood as a cook, midwife, nurse, boarding house manager and laundry worker, “Aunt Kate” homesteaded on land along
Spearfish Canyon. She earned the money to “prove up” her land by selling cord wood to the forest service. Joyce will share how she and others researched documentation and Kate’s homestead to develop Kate’s story. Learn how you can use archeological finds and documentation to prepare a first-person narrative.

10:15 – 12:00 Clothing Handwork Techniques by Elizabeth Stewart Clark:

PRE-REGISTRATION REQUIRED see registration form.
To dress ourselves in high-quality clothing for the mid-century, we need to use historically-correct shapes,
historically-correct materials, and historically-correct techniques. The handwork techniques aren't found in your local sewing shop, however! Fortunately, you'll need a concise set of skills, and they can be learned by anyone.
In this workshop, participants will get hands-on experience replicating a sampler of historic techniques,
including seams and seam finishes (seaming, stitching, run-and-fell seams, whipped finishes), construction
details (piping, bias finishes, setting hooks & eyes, handmade buttonholes if time allows), simple hems, and
handling fullness (gauging, pleating, gathering, and stroked gathering.) No machine is needed, and a full
materials kit plus a take-home stitching guide is provided. The techniques learned can be used on men's,
women's, infant's, children's, and teen's clothing. Class size limited to 25 participants. Pre-registration required.
See registration form.

11:00 –12:00 Andersonville: A Tragedy of Errors by Warren Schlecht, Ellendale ND

During the early part of the Civil War, prisoners were exchanged one for one, oftentimes immediately
after a battle. But this system quickly collapsed, resulting in over 150 prisoner-of-war camps. A great influx of prisoners led to appalling conditions in most of the detention camps—both North and South; however one prison has captured and held the attention of the public more than any other: the stockade at Andersonville. A compounding of errors at Andersonville created one of the greatest tragedies in America’s history.

12:00 – 1:00 Lunch Break – on your own

1:00 – 1:45 Northern Plains Forts by Thomas Buecker

There were 68 forts, how did they evolve, why & when were they abandoned, what happened to them after
the Army left, why we have forts preserved and why some are fields.

1:00 – 1:45 Sarah Campbell 1824? – 1888 presented by Joyce Jefferson
One of the Black Hills' most interesting figures, Sarah Campbell, is buried in the little community of Galena near Deadwood, South Dakota. Sarah Campbell, who traveled with the George Armstrong Custer expedition of 1874, shares her experiences living during the gold rush. Probably born into slavery in Kentucky, Sarah tells of having traveled the Missouri River on steam boats for years. She was in Bismarck, Dakota Territory, when Custer was commissioned to survey the Black Hills of Dakota Territory. She signed on as a cook with the expedition. She was known as "Aunt Sally" to both soldiers and miners and all who loved her. She is reportedly the first woman to file a mining claim at Custer Gulch, Aug 5, 1874. After the presentation, you will have the opportunity to“talk” to Aunt Sally about her life. Then Joyce Jefferson will acquaint you with ways to develop a “minor” character when little is known about the individual.

2:00 – 4:00 Keynote Speaker: Sharing the Frontier World - Elizabeth Stewart Clark:

In order to share the complex mid-century world, first we need to educate ourselves, and then learn to
communicate what we know effectively. This workshop explores the how-to of research and documentation, and then expands into the specifics of how to draw on our own personal interests and passions to develop interpretive scenarios and strategies to communicate with site patrons and our fellow living history enthusiasts.

Every person now is an interesting mix of likes, dislikes, and interests; so were our counterparts from the mid-century! Tapping into our passions in a productive, research-grounded way gives great depth to our living history. We'll get into interpretive voices beyond first person, and how to effectively slide into various methods seamlessly, to best meet the needs of our visitors. We'll look at how to clarify interpretive goals, and how to mesh domestic interpretation with military interpretation. We'll also look at how to use local and regional research specifics, as well as wider societal context, to help our visitors make vital connections, and aid us in presenting our information clearly, and in an engaging manner. These concepts apply equally to citizen and military interpreters--after all, any military man was once a citizen, and he brings his citizen life experiences with him.

6:00 – Dinner followed by the Military Ball with a live band, 1860 – 1880 Period Dress Required.


9:00 - Possible Church Service to be announced -

10:00 - FAD meeting

Conference Presenters

Keynote Speaker

Elizabeth Stewart Clark – Idaho Falls, ID
has been involved in researching and interpreting the lives of everyday people from the mid-19th century for 18 years. She specializes in translating the details, and helping others learn the sometimes-specialized techniques that make creating a wardrobe or an impression so much easier. She is the author of The Dressmaker's Guide, 1840-1865, and numerous articles for Civil War Historian Magazine and The Citizen's Companion Magazine. She is the designer of The Sewing Academy/Historic Moments line of historic clothing patterns. Her workshops and presentations have been enjoyed by living history enthusiasts and historic site staff around the country for the past nine years.

Joyce Jefferson – Rapid City SD

Enthralled with the historic African American women who conquered the wild west, Joyce Jefferson has
researched and developed historical portrayals of women she calls sheroes. These women crossed dangerous and undeveloped lands, entering the wild west with all odds stacked against them. With backgrounds of slavery, little or no education, and being of minority gender, these women overcame the most challenging of circumstances to accomplish the extraordinary. Joyce Jefferson is a seasoned performer with hundreds of presentations to her credit. She shared billing with Yolonda King and Sally Roesch Wagner. She is also a frequent guest presenter at Gregory, South Dakota's Oscar Micheaux Film and Book Festival. Her portrayals of phenomenal women, who throughout history overcame the most challenging circumstances to accomplish the extraordinary. These heroes are examples of how each of us has the courage to reach our goals and dreams.
Joyce, attired in period costume, takes you back in time - as if you were in Old Custer, Deadwood or the plains.

Thomas Buecker – Ft Robinson NE

Tom is a native Nebraskan who spent part of his childhood growing up in Faulk County SD. He has earned a BAfrom the University of Nebraska at Kearney, and a MA from Chadron State College. He has been a museum curator for the Nebraska State Historical Society since 1977. Tom has also served as curator of the Ft Robinson museum since 1985. He has authored several books and numerous articles on the Army in the west.

Warren Schlecht - Ellendale, ND

Born and raised in North Dakota, Warren spent over thirty years farming before turning full-time to academia. After serving in the Army, he graduated with his BA from Jamestown College, earned an MA from North Dakota State University, and is currently working on completing his PhD in English Literature from the University of South Dakota. Warren has taught at NDSU, Jamestown College, and is currently an English and science professor at Trinity Bible College in Ellendale, ND. Having been intrigued by Stephen Crane’s novel The Red Badge of Courage at a young age, he has pursued a life-long interest in the American Civil War.

*Directions to the Dakota Event Center (DEC): The DEC is just west of Target on SE 6th Ave. or south of the Mall, next to the Hampton Inn, Holiday Express and Maverick’s Steak & Grill. Coming from the East or West, Hwy 12 turns into 6th Ave. Coming from the North, take Hwy 281 to 6th Ave and turn East (left). Coming from the South, take I29 to Hwy 12, turn East (left), which turns into 6th Ave. See Target
on your left. Coming from South Hwy 281, take a right on 6th Ave and go East until you see Target on your right.
For a registration form or other questions, please call Brigette at 605-225-3392, email or Mardell Weisenburger at 605-226-1567, email .