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Tennis, Anyone?

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  Have you ever thought about the expression "sportswear?"  These days, it's a kind of stuffy-sounding department-store-sounding word, used to describe "normal" clothes.  It refers to the kinds of clothes that people wear on a daily basis, when they're not at the office or at a formal event.   But why SPORTS wear?  Today, sportswear is different than activewear, which is kind of weird when you actually think about it.  (To say nothing of athleisure  clothing.) The history of sportswear is (to nerds like me) utterly fascinating.  There were so many factors that came together in the late 19th century and very early 20th century to create garments we still wear today. In 1839, a process was discovered to create a durable rubber product that could be used for everything from tires to the soles of shoes.  This lead to the explosion in popularity of the bicycle, which necessitated changes in women's clothing. Bicycles gave women more freedom of movement th

Knitting New Vintage Garments

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Since I haven't written anything on my poor blog for months and months, I've got a bit of a backlog. So prepare yourself for a long essay on the process of knitting a cardigan using vintage yarn and a vintage pattern. Some time back, I bought a number of skeins of this beautiful vintage wool.  There were two shades of pale blue, and a lovely buttery yellow.  I had no idea what I was going to make with this yarn.  I just knew that it spoke to me. Thankfully, there are many wonderful people who have cataloged vintage patterns online, to share with weirdos like me. I went hunting for a garment that would suit my aesthetic, would be appropriate for the style of yarn I had, and most importantly would not require more yarn than I had purchased.   I found this adorable pattern from the February 1947 issue of Stitchcraft magazine.  It's described as "Rainbow Stripes -- for a charming evening jumper."  The gauge of yarn seemed perfect, and I knew that stripes were a great

Completing a 1950s Patio Dress

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... I have had a long love affair with a particular vintage outfit, known variously as a  patio, fiesta, or squaw dress (or set). This distinctive outfit dates to the late 1940s and early 1950s, when southwestern styles were popular in American fashion.  They were typically made in small workshops in Tucson, Arizona, and were worn by a wide cross-section of society. The dress draws influences from a combination of three similar types, all with a big tiered skirt: a slightly gathered skirt based on Navajo dress, a "broomstick" or pleated skirt based on Navajo and Mexican attire, and a fully gathered, three-tiered skirt based on contemporary Western Apache camp dresses or Navajo attire, according to an article by Parezo and Angelina R. Jones, " What's in a Name? The 1940s-1950's Squaw Dress ." These dresses are comprised of two pieces, a heavily embellished skirt and a matching blouse.  Rickrack and metallic trim are typical trimmings for these garments.   A w

Jamboree

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... We've reached the time in the year when our pluot tree is at its peak, and when I'm making loads of jam.  I thought I'd write down all the improvements I've made to my recipe, so that I won't have to rely on memory this time next year. The basic recipe is five pounds of fruit (with the pits removed), four pounds (eight cups) of sugar, and five or six lemons.  This produces between between ten and twelve half-pint jars of jam. Every morning, I collect the windfall pluots.  I wash them and cut off any bruised or damaged sections. Then I cut out the pit and put them in a sealed bag in the freezer.  A gallon bag holds about five pounds of fruit, which works out perfectly. I don't add any liquid, although I might add a few un-frozen pluots, just to get the juices flowing in the pan.  It's a bit shocking to see how much sugar goes into making jam. While the fruit is cooking down, I wash the jars and put the jars and lids in