Here are some ideas with images on how to create a vintage Afternoon Tea…
“The knitted blanket is a glorious expression of any grandmother’s soul; it is the colours of her dreams woven in delicate and loving hands. She would sit in that old rocking chair, hands moving, brain at peace, and from those delicate fingers would come the blankets.”
Reading this paragraph in a book I was reading inspired me to knit a patchwork granny blanket. I had a box full of odd wool ends in a multitude of colours.
I decided right from casting on the first stitch that I would knit six squares one after the other in different colours rather than individual squares.
All my wool was double knitting and I chose a pair of needles in size 7 for a 9” square using garter stitch ( knitting every row) and casting on 35 stitches. I’m so pleased with the result I’m knitting another in black ( as I have lots of this wool).
Before 1800, housekeeping books tended to be handwritten collections of recipes and instructions tried and tested by the household cook. By the 1850’s they were developed into books for ‘adult women’, in particular for your brides who were setting up home.
They were intended as work manuals, they were without lavish photography or even set in fine bindings but if you can get hold of one from a book shop they will amaze you. They tell us about the lives of the women in the past from where you can see social change and the disappearance of domestic servants.
Mrs. Breton’s Book of Household Management, which was published in 1861 was a huge success and sold 60,000 copies in its first year and two million by 1868. Of course with no television at that time these books were inspirational.
By the time Helen Simpson wrote ‘The Happy Housewife’ in 1934 modern appliances were starting to pop up everywhere, not only helping with the housework but also removing the servants of that time.
In ‘Keeping House’ with Elizabeth Craig (Collins 1936) she said ‘ I have no use for elaborately decorated or furnished homes or for elaborate meals. The simpler the home, the simpler the housekeeping.
Some of these vintage home books can now fetch a lot of money at auction. A book published in 1687 ‘The Accomplished Ladies Rich Closit of Rarities’, by John Shirley sold at Sotheby’s for £1,625. So, if your great aunt or grandma is still alive and has some old cookery books make sure they don’t end up at the tip.
Even the National Trust ‘Manual of Housekeeping of 2006’ sold 10,000 copies in 2006 !!!!!!!
The principal use of Grandma’s apron was to protect the dress underneath because she only had a few. It was also because it was easier to wash aprons than dresses and aprons used less material. But along with that,it served as a potholder for removing hot pans from the oven. It was wonderful for drying children’s tears, and on occasion was even used for cleaning out dirty ears. When company came,those aprons were ideal hiding places for shy kids.. And when the weather was cold Grandma wrapped it around her arms. Those big old aprons wiped many a perspiring brow, bent over the hot wood stove. Chips and kindling wood were brought into the kitchen in that apron. From the garden,it carried all sorts of vegetables. After the peas had been shelled, it carried out the hulls.
In the Autumn, the apron was used to bring in apples that had fallen from the trees. When unexpected company drove up the road, it was surprising how much furniture that old apron could dust in a matter of seconds. When dinner was ready, Grandma walked out onto the porch, waved her apron, to tell us it was time to come in for dinner. It will be a long time before someone invents something that will replace that ‘old-time apron’ that served so many purposes. Grandma would also set her hot baked apple pies on the window sill to cool. Her granddaughters now set theirs on the window sill to thaw. They would go crazy now trying to figure out how many germs were on that apron.