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The Automated Dress Pattern for the Apple II

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Recently I was looking at an old Interface Age magazine (Sept 1978, p. 76-81) and I ran across this gem. It’s a program on a vinyl record, called a Floppy Rom, that prints out McCalls sewing pattern 6066 for the dress pictured above in sizes 9-13. The program is designed to print out the pattern on a 132 character wide printer in multiple long strips that you tape together. The pattern is mapped as it was sized on the pattern sheets. There is no provision to dynamically adjust the pattern.

For you geeks out there, a bit about the Floppy Rom. The Floppy Rom is a 33 1/3 rpm vinyl record that is thin enough to be bound in a magazine. Usually these records held one song or some audio advertising but a technique was developed so that the vinyl record could store digital data in the Kansas City standard, a format originally developed for audio cassette tapes.

Click on the link to see the full article The Automated Dress Pattern for the Apple II by Wm. V. R. Smith III, (c) Artsci Publishing. It is reprinted here with permission of the author. You can follow Bill’s current company and learn a little more about how the pattern program was developed under the history section at Artsci Publishing and learn a little more about Bill on his web page William V. R. Smith.

Cellulose Acetate Crochet Hooks

By 1930, cellulose acetate along with specially designed compression molding equipment was available and began replacing celluloid for plastic crochet hooks. The main advantages of cellulose acetate over celluloid were that molding techniques were much faster and cellulose acetate was not flammable.

Like celluloid, cellulose acetate is naturally clear but can be made in any color or opacity. It is tough and flexible. It is easily machined and easily manipulated by hand when softened to 100 degrees C (212 degrees F, boiling). Because it is nonflammable, cellulose acetate was perfect for compression molding which was introduced in 1929 and, later, injection molding introduced in 1934.

About 1929 Tennessee Eastman, a subsidiary of Eastman Kodak, began selling sheets, rods, tubes, and molding powders of Tenite cellulose acetate. Boye began making injection molded crochet hooks out of Tenite. This is the substance the crochet hooks marked

are made from. These came in a wide variety of colors: white, red, yellow, translucent green, sky blue. Patent number 2024794 actually refers to the shape of the hook which is square in cross section. Many other hook manufacturers used cellulose acetate also.


Celluloid – The First Plastic Crochet Hooks

Examples of celluloid crochet hooks (top to bottom) – Diadem Manufacturing Company imitating ivory, tortoise shell imitation, imitation amber hook came in a variety of transparent colors from “apple juice” as shown to “cranberry”, Sunlight Yarn Company with hollow ivory colored handle and solid black plugs at both ends.

The first plastic used for consumer goods, specifically celluloid, was used for crochet hooks as early as 1912. The British patent for celluloid was issued to Parkes in England in 1856. The US patent was issued to Hyatt in 1878 and expired in 1892.

Celluloid is a naturally clear, hard, shiny, durable substance. It can assume any desired color or opacity. Early on, it almost always imitated natural materials: ivory, tortoise shell, amber, horn, coral, agate, malachite, or wood. For crochet hooks, celluloid joined the market imitating the first three of these items. Its main advantage was to manufacturers because celluloid was more consistent in quality and all of the waste could be reused. Its main disadvantage is that it is flammable. Celluloid exposed to high heat or open flame bursts into flame. In the factories, this resulted in frequent fires. At home, women with celluloid buttons on their dresses sometimes had the buttons burst into flame if they got too close to the stove.

Celluloid, ivory, tortoise shell, horn, and bone, all of which were used for larger size crochet hooks, all had some supply problems between 1900 and WWI. The quality of Celluloid varied, sometimes turning color, bubbling, warping, etc. Camphor, derived from the camphor tree and used in the Celluloid manufacturing process, became hard to obtain due to deforestation of the camphor trees in Asia. Eventually, artificial camphor was invented. Ivory was available but the price and quality both fluctuated widely and it was always more expensive than Celluloid. Tortoise shell required a long process to prepare it for use, so it too was more expensive than Celluloid. Horn became scarce by 1900 as ranchers adopted the practice of dehorning cattle before shipping them to market. Cow shin bone of sufficient length became hard to get in the late 1920s as US ranchers began to ship cattle to market at a younger age.

Eventually, celluloid became more consistent in quality, easier to obtain, faster to manufacture, and, therefore, cheaper than natural materials used for crochet hooks although it never completely replaced any of them. That would be done by later proprietary plastics.

WARNING—because Celluloid is constantly degasses and both the gas and the Celluloid itself are flammable, store Celluloid crochet hooks in a container that allows air to circulate and keep Celluloid away from open flames.

Learn Short Row Slip Stitch (Crochet)

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Just got copies of my new crochet book Learn Short Row Slip Stitch by Annie’s (formerly DRG – Dynamic Resources Group). My favorite pattern has to be be the Cosy Vest loosely based on a Victorian era pattern called al Hug-Me-Tight. I like the pattern so much that I made one for myself in peach that I wore to the Knit and Crochet Show and CGOA Chain Link Conference last month in Indianapolis. My editor’s favorite pattern is the  Wrapped Scarf. You can vary the look by wrapping it one, two or three times around your neck! She’s wearing it to the Knit and Crochet Show in Charlotte next month!

Slip stitch crochet produces a fabric that is nearly identical to 1×1 knit rib. It’s soft, stretchy and flexible. Short rows, a technique borrowed from knitting, shape the slip stitch into unexpected shapes such as domes, wedges and ruffles. Short rows are also used in the book for easy custom bust cup sizing. Order your copy from Annie’s Catalog in either a paper or digital version.


Heirloom Buttons in Threads


My upcoming article “Make Your Own Heirloom Buttons” in Threads magazine #169 is featured on this week’s Threads’ blog. The blog post shows how to embellish your completed Dorset and Shirtwaist buttons with embroidery and beads. You can also learn how to make variations of two types of toggle buttons – a cord toggle and monkey’s fist.

Barn Quilts in McLean County, Illinois

Louise and Larry Reeser, friends of mine in McLean County, Illinois, just installed their new barn quilt this week and Louise sent me this photo.

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Here’s what Louise told me about their choices for their quilt.

The pattern is “hands all around.”  We need all hands to work on the farm.
Orange for “Case” tractors
Blue & Orange for Illini
Dove in center for “peace”.
Someone has written a poem about us and the quilt, but we will not hear it until the kickoff ceremonies next weekend.

The barn quilt (8′ x 8′ painted on wood) is part of the McLean County Barn Quilt Heritage Trail. You can get information and a map here The Reesers’ quilt and 19 other new ones added this year are not listed yet but should be soon. If you want to drive by the address is 16838 E. 775 North Road, Heyworth, IL 61745.

The Integral Grip of August Kippenburg

Posted by August 6, 2013

Shortly after 1865 when the Bessemer process for making steel in large batches was invented, making fine crochet hooks using needle making methods was more or less abandoned. Small crochet hooks were fashioned by drawing out the end of a steel rod and fashioning a hook on it. The remaining thick body of the rod became the handle. These one piece hooks were studier, better quality and required less labor (were cheaper to make) than hooks made with needle making technology.

The biggest problem with the rod was that it rolled in the fingers. Every so often you had to stop and look at the hook to rotate it back into position. In 1896, August Kippenberg, a German citizen, was granted US patent 572809 for an integral crochet-hook comprising a shank, a hook at the end thereof, and a flattened portion therein…the grip.

Kippenberg must have taken out similar patents in Germany and England because grips did not become a universal feature of steel rod hooks until sometime between 1912 and 1914 when his patent expired.

The hook pictured with the scissors is from Hadley, Sara, ed., The Lace Maker, D. S. Bennet, vol. 1, no. 5, May 1903.

Lacy Knitting Patterns

Posted by July 24, 2013


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The Fall 2013 issue of Knitting Traditions by Interweave Press is out and two of Mary Shiffmann’s knitted lace patterns, Star Doily and Freda Frase’s Square Doily (pictured above) are featured.

I first met Mary Schiffmann in 1994 at a meeting of the Lacy Knitters, a group she cofounded to promote lace knitting by collecting, cataloging, and making available old knitted lace patterns. Mary had collected more than 500 patterns in her lifetime, and these form the foundations of the Lacy Knitters pattern bank. Mary very much wanted to see her collection of patterns in print. She felt like a lone crusader in the 1950s, 60s, and 70s as she watched the interest in lace knitting die. Mary died April 28, 1996 [prior to the publication of The Lacy Knitting of Mary Schiffmann by Nancy Nehring, Interweave Press, 1998]. Here final words to her knitting friends were, “I spent my life looking for patterns. Don’t you quit.”

Idar-Oberstein Agate Handles

Posted by July 2, 2013

Most crochet hooks were made out of common materials so it is a treat to come across a crochet hook with a semiprecious agate handle. The agate handles were manufactured in Idar-Oberstein, Germany, from agate mined in Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil.

Historically there were agate deposits at Idar-Oberstein and water power to help work the stone. Local workers became experts at cutting, grinding and polishing the stone. When agate deposits began to play out about 1800, hunger caused many of the workers to emigrate to South America. In 1927 some of these Germans discovered agate deposits in Rio Grande do Sul. The expertise for working agate still remained in Germany and beginning in 1834 raw agate was shipped to Idar-Oberstein as cheap ballast on ships returning empty to Germany. Manufacturing items from Brazilian agate continued until World War II.

Crochet hooks with agate handles were made using the same methods used for bone handled hooks from the mid to late 1800s. A metal collet glued to the bone or agate held a removable steel needle in place. Crochet hook manufacturers who wanted a higher priced line of hooks probably just ordered handles from Idar-Oberstein manufacturers to fit the metal parts they were already using. Some of the hooks were further embellished with silver and the hooks also came in boxed sets with multisized hooks. A lovely gift then and now.

GBACG Button Making Workshop

Posted by June 11, 2013

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 Nov 9, 2013


San Jose, California

Button Making Workshop – 6 hours

I’m scheduled to teach a button making workshop for the Greater Bay Area Costumers Guild. We’ll be learning to make all four of the buttons in the photo! Contact them at the email address above for more information.