Tuesday, August 09, 2011

Vintage Pattern say wha?

Since the mess with the thread crochet coaster, I decided to drown my woes in more woe - aka I started the thread crochet table runner. I decided on a relatively simple pattern I found on Ravelry: The Lacet Table Runner.

I admit, I did pick it because it looked relatively easy, leaving the struggle of the work purely to the mechanics of crocheting with thread and a hook barely to big to see. However, I was a bit more excited when I opened the link and found that the pattern is circa 1935.

(c) TextileHistory.org
I had never heard of the "Cotton Spool Company" which peaked my interest. After a few hours in, I decided to give my poor fingers (and eyes and brain) a rest from the thread and started looking some things up. They were interesting enough to me so I figured I'd share them here... hopefully I have the years right.

As it turns out, Cotton Spool Company is an early name for Coats and Clark. The history really starts in 1806 when Napoleon had blockaded Great Britain, causing silk to no longer be available on the market for weavers. At this time, the Clark family had a loom equipment business and had sold silk threads for the warp of the loom. Due to the blockade, Patrick Clark figured out how to twist cotton yarns together to produce a thread that was similar to silk. This new thread was so strong and was smooth enough that Clark knew it could replace the need for silk in the looms.

From there, the Clark family opened a new factory in 1812 to make cotton sewing thread. A few years after that, James Coats opened a cotton mill thread. In 1830, James Coats' sons, James and Peter, bought their fathers mill and expanded within the decade. The business included exporting to the United States which created the need to put a Coats family member, Andrew, in America to manage the business on that side.

In 1864, over 30 years later, the grandson's of James Clark opened a cotton mill in New Jersey. Close to 1870, the Coats family began manufacturing their thread in Rhode Island under the name Spool Cotton Company. In 1899, the Spool Cotton Company took over the sales of the three brands of Coats and Clark interest in the US: Coats Cotton Spool, Clark's ONT (Our New Thread), and Mile End. It was at this point that the two companies came together, making it almost impossible for other US based companies to compete with their product.

I think the oddest thing for me is that the merge happened, according to the various histories I found, in 1899. If they merged at this point, why are many of the Spool Cotton Company patterns tagged with dates from the mid 1930s into the 1940s? Did the company not change their name or maintain this side name for publications? I'm not entirely sure. I'm going to keep looking in order to satisfy my own curiosities. If you choose to look too or you know the answer already - do post back and let me know!

Back to the pattern... reading the pattern has been relatively simple, although statements like "finish it to make it look like the other side" makes me chuckle on the inside. I could see how this pattern, which has been simple for me thus far, could stump someone new to crochet or reading patterns. I am not perfect though - there are a few places I had to re-read the pattern and really ponder what the intention was before starting. So far, I have been ok.

Do you have any favorite vintage patterns you'd like to share a link to? What about difficulty reading these patterns - have you tried one? What was your experience?




florencefrazier2002 said...

I don't have any patterns to share but I can tell you that I used to design my own crochet thread patterns.  I did a picture for my parents and a pillow for my brother.  Both turned out lovely.  I also did a banner for someone that got married but I can't remember who that was, it's been 17 yrs, can I really be expected to remember?  *Chuckling*  My age is showing.  I hope to see it in your WIP tomorrow!

CrochetBlogger said...

I've found it really difficult to work with vintage patterns but love to see the results when other people do it! What fascinating history you found ...

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