January 28, 2011

Civil War Knitted Garters from Godey's Lady's Book

Weather permitting, I will hopefully be going to my friend's house for a knitting group tomorrow. I plan to finish my Civil War garters from a Godey's pattern that I had been meaning to try for a good few years. The pattern can be found here.

I think that the first garter turned out very similar to the etching. It is being modeled on one of my Christmas presents. I used 100% cotton crochet thread. It is stretchy enough to fit on my upper leg or lower leg which is great depending on what kind of reenacting socks you wear.

The garter is a lot bigger than how I pictured it when looking at the etching. But they fit perfectly. I was very worried at trying to loop the knitting because I had never tried to pick up stitches from a cast on but it worked out perfectly with very little issues. 

Hope you enjoy!

Colonial Games: How to play Fives

Fives, the Game of Fives or Hand Tennis has many game variations and can be played in teams of 1 to 5 players. A line is drawn down a suitable wall. The starting team throws the ball at the wall and, once the ball ricochets back, uses their hands like moderns day tennis rackets to hit the ball to the other teams' part of the wall. The ball may hit the ground once or be intercepted from the wall, if the ball is missed, the other team gets a point. The ball is then thrown again and the game continued.   

A favorite place to play was against church walls because they provided the best kind of wall for the game. The book, The Sports and Pastimes of the People of England from the Earliest Times  (1901,) stated that "The custom of playing fives in churchyards continued in many a country district until quite recent years, notably in Somersetshire and Staffordshire. Ball-playing in such a place no doubt prevailed because the church tower often afforded so suitable a wall for fives. It was usually practised on the north side, because there were generally no graves on that side, and the sport created less scandal. A painted line for the game still remains on some of our church towers, but a string-course of suitable elevation more usually sufficed. " 

The ball was typically a soft leather ball but later the game came to include wood rackets or gloves, especially with the upper classes to protect the hands.

January 26, 2011

Spending Way Too Much Time on the Computer

I got a new computer for Christmas and it is absolutely amazing! My old computer was so slow that even though i needed to use it a lot, I really couldn't use it for unnecessary things. Youtube videos took too long to load to watch more than one, Stumbleupon would freeze the computer after 10 clicks and opening up more than 3 tabs at a time would make Firefox call animal control. But now that I've have this new computer that turns on faster than I can press the button, I've found that I can open up 18 tabs in Firefox at once, listen to music, and watch videos all at once.

Subsequently I have realized that I've been getting very little done. I thought faster computer would equal more accomplished but it has not turned out that way. It used to take about 3 minutes to boot up my computer and so I would collect things that I wanted to look up or research throughout the day and look them all up at once when I had the computer on. But this new computer makes it so easy for me to turn on the computer 8 times a day if necessary and look something up immediately. Unfortunately, every time I look one thing up, I get distracted by a whole lot of nothing.

So in the interest of actually doing other things, like I used to (knitting, reading, practicing guitar, drawing, and researching properly,) I've decided to put a computer time limit on myself. I am giving myself 2 hours a day during the week, which may seem very excessive to most people but most of my school papers and homework requires the internet. It is amazing the number of things you have to do on the computer now, e-mails, banking, shopping, writing, etc.. I am actually very nervous about having these time limits--it seems way too short, but I am sure I will enjoy actually having my life back even better. Today was a snow day from college, and I got to see just how little I did today.   

For those who have been thinking that they'd like some limits for themselves, Here is how to do it:

Go to Control Panel.

Select User Accounts and Family Safety.  

Select Parental Controls. If you only have one user account on the computer, you will need to make a separate one for the time limit as you can't put parental controls if you only have one user account.

Select the Account you want the time limit on. In my picture it is labeled "2 Hour Time Limit."

Make sure the Parental Control button is switched to "on." and Click on Time Limits

Drag the Time Limit Sliders where you want them. I want two hours after school each day and all day on the weekends. I have them backwards for this photo, the white is for allow and the blue is for restricted.

If you have a Mac, here are the instructions: Parental Controls. I like the Mac settings better, I would rather be able to spread my two hours over the day by minutes.

Other ways to limit computer time:
  • Minutes Please: This is a website that will limit the amount of time you spend on the websites you spend the most time wasting time. It is free and easy to use. This is probably perfect for people who need to be using the computer for work but don't want to be checking Facebook every three seconds. 
  • 6 Firefox Tools That Monitor your Time Online: If you want to be alarmed at where you really are wasting time, check out these Firefox Tools.  
  • Leech Block: A Firefox add-on designed to make your use of the internet more productive.

January 24, 2011

Homemade Penny Whistles: CPVC Tin Whistles

Yesterday Andy and I made homemade Penny Whistles out of CPVC pipes. He made a low D whistle and a whistle with Uilleann pipe fingerings (which means I won't have to listen to those bagpipes when he's practicing a new song. ::jumps up and down:: )and I made a penny whistle with an extra hole to allow the whistle to reach a middle C.

Andy and I originally were just going to make a Low D whistle because they are expensive but the pipes were sold in 10 ft segments so we ended up making a bunch.

It took a lot of measuring and sanding but they did not take very long to make.All it took was The pipe, a wood dowel, a saw and sandpaper.

 It really was a lot of fun and we got three whistles done in a couple of hours.  They sound very pretty too. If I can convince Andy to let me record him, I will post it on here. He always says yes but ends up avoiding it-- he's shy about playing in front of people but is very good.

Some Tutorials, Plans and Tips for making CPVC and PVC whistles and other instruments if you'd like to try yourselves:

January 21, 2011

Colonial Games: How to Play Thread the Needle

This is the second post about Colonial games, the first can be read here: How to Play Blind Man's Buff. 

Thread the Needle, Thread My Needle, Thread the Tailor's Needle is an old game that was popular for both girls and boys.

There are two popular versions of the game. In the first version, all join hands to make a line. The last two people of the line raise their arms to form an arch and the first person in line goes under the arch, leading the rest of the line under. The person who was previously first in the line then becomes the end of the line and will be one of the people forming the next arch. The new front of the line will now try to go under the new arch and the whole completed until the chain is broken. The point of the game is to try and do this many times without breaking the chain.

 The second version of this game was popular in the U.S. and includes a Biblical chant. Everyone holds hands and forms a line the two people at the head of the line chant "How many miles to Babylon?" The end two people chant in response "Three score and ten." The conversation continues "Can I get there by candle light?" "Yes, and back again." "Then open the gates with mere ado and let the King and his men pass through. The end couple then raises their hands up in an arch and the game is played the same as the first version.

January 19, 2011

School Again

I have finally been to all of the classes I will be taking this semester and it really seems like a lot of work! I am taking a lot of my education and teaching courses.

Things here have been really hectic with the weather. The snow and ice have made school and travel a complete nightmare.

College is a very strange place. I'll never understand the "college experience." For people should be experimenting with budgeting, cooking, studying, working and overall living on their own, a lot of the students seem to be not practicing any of these things at all.

Throughout the sememster, many students never learn to budget their time and end up missing assignments. Some students only show up for class a few times a month.
Many students spend way too much time socializing, going to parties and hanging out with friends. Not to even mention underage drinking and other illegal activity. 

I hear girls in the halls talking to their friend about how "so and so" is cheating on his girlfriend and how stupid people were acting at that "underwear party" on Friday night (I would not believe such a thing existed if I hadn't heard people talking about it myself.)

Something that astonishes me even more is the pure number of girlfriends and boyfriends, I hear fighting over the phone. I can't imagine that people stay in relationships where every call is a fight.  Has the standard of relationships been set so low that people think that daily fighting is "normal?" I know not every day in a relationship is perfect but shouldn't there be more perfect days than not?

I even overheard a girl telling her friend that her father was so mean because he wouldn't let her boyfriend sleep over because he was afraid they would sleep together. She then said that it was pointless because her mother already knew that she had already slept with him and was keeping it a secret from her husband to protect her. This girl said she didn't want to lose her father's trust. I felt like asking her why she does things that she is not comfortable telling her parents about. If she wants to have her parents trust, why deliberately break their trust?

Whatever happened to movies and popcorn on a Friday night or study groups? Some of this stuff is just too much and the worst thing about it is that they really don't seem happy. Many of them are regretful. Why is this behavior cultivated and promoted around educational institutions? Maybe this is a case of "it's always happened at college and it only seems more prevalent now." So, what do you think? Has college always been this way?

January 16, 2011

Colonial Games: How to Play Blindman's Buff

I think I will be starting a new Colonial Games post on Fridays detailing how to play different Colonial games. I know it's not Friday, but I would like to get a head start.

Blindman's Buff (or Blindman's Bluff) is a very old game that has been recorded in ancient Greece and has been popular all throughout the late 15th century through the 19th century.

The game is normally played outside or in a spacious area such as a barn or large room. One person's eyes are blindfolded. The other players will, make noise, tap and push the "blindman" slightly while the "blindman" attempts to catch one of the other players.


Once the "blindman" catches a player, he or she must then try to guess who they have caught. If the "blindman" guesses wrong the other players will clap to let the "blindman" know to let the prisoner loose. The game continues until the "blindman" catches and identifies another player. The caught player will then be the blindman next.

The other players must take care during the game to make sure that the "blindman" does not get hurt. They should signal to them if they are too close to a wall, piece of furniture, hole ect.  

January 12, 2011

How to Preserve Old Photographs

My Grandma and Grandpa on their Honeymoon in 1948.

It's a snow day here and everyone is snowed in. I thought it would be the perfect day to sort through and label all of those family photos that have been collecting over the years. Although I am very strict on how I keep my photos, my family has a notoriously bad system of keeping their photographs.  

My grandma gave me the photo at the left yesterday. My grandmother and my grandfather went on their honeymoon in Miami. My grandmother said that they had to take the bus all the way down because the trains were full of soldiers and that they still couldn't get meat. She got sun poisoning and was subsequently very sick. Her photos are really cool but are seriously degrading because of the photo books she has them in. The albums that were popular at the time were made with paper that contains acid which helps break down photographs.     

 Before you can preserve a photograph, you need to identify what kind of photo you have.

Types of Photographs

·         Daguerreotypes  (1840s-1860s) These photos are really fragile and most were placed in glass frame cases to protect the image. The image is printed on polished silver. These have a shiny , mirror-like quality to them. These are normally reversed images due to the photographic process used to make them. 
·         Ambrotypes (1854- 1880s) The picture is a negative image printed on glass and is backed with black paint, paper, or cloth to make the image appear as a positive. 

·         Tin Types (1850s)  Image is printed on an iron plate. 

·         Carte De Visite (CDV) (1860-1870s) The image is printed on paper and glued to a heavy card, frequently including studio information on the front or back of the card. These pictures are normally 2 ½ x 4 inches.  These were printed in sets of 8 and were given to friends and family.   
·         Cabinet Cards (1870s- 1900s)These photos look like CDV’s but in a larger size, 4 x 6 inches and were glued to heavier card stock.  

My Great, great Grandfather, Paul.

·         Gelatin (1890s-1960s) These images are glossy images printed on card-stock. The images are in true black and white.
This is my another picture of my Grandma. The original photo is in clean black and white, it looks brown because of the lighting.
·         Resin (1970s photos) These normally have a brownish tint.

How to Clean Photographs:

Daguerreotypes: Daguerreotypes normally have tape around the edges to prevent the image from tarnishing. To clean Daguerreotypes, you need to remove them from the glass or case while wearing gloves. Put the image in a safe location and clean the glass with distilled water, diluted dish soap and cotton swabs. Make sure the case is completely dry before replacing the image. The image is far too easy to scrape off if you clean the image, but due to the tape around it, the dirt is normally just on the glass anyway. 

Ambrotypes: If the image is sandwiched between two glass plates, the glass can be cleaned carefully using cotton swabs and rubbing alcohol. Make sure that you only touch glass and never touch the image or blackening. If the ambrotype only has one plate of glass, do not attempt to clean it, it is too easy to accidentally chip the black paint or image. Never try to open a sandwiched ambrotype. 

Tin Types: Tintypes are normally in cases and can be scratched easily.  Only hold the tin type by the edges and clean with compressed air. 

Carte De Visite: Cartes De Visite should only be cleaned with a soft brush or canned air.

 Cabinet Cards: Cabinet Cards should only be cleaned with a soft brush and canned air.

All later photographs: Modern  photographs should be cleaned with canned air, soft brush and lint-free cloths.  

How to Store Photographs
After cleaning, Daguerreotypes, Ambrotypes and Tin Types should be stored in archival paper envelopes which can be made cheaply and easily using acid free computer paper. Make sure that after you make the envelope, you remove the photo, write the photograph information on the envelope then replace the photo and seal the envelope with a little bit of tape. Many people suggest that you store These types of photographs upright but it isn’t really practical unless you have a large number of them. Place your envelopes in a box, labeled with the photos contained therein. Store in a drawer or closet where they can be protected from temperature fluctuations, dampness and light.  

Cartes De Visite, Cabinet Cards, and modern photographs should be stored in acid-free albums (modern scrapbooks are normally good). Use photo corners to attach the photos to the page and be sure to write the photograph information on the paper to avoid having to remove and replace photos unnecessarily.


The Do’s and Don’ts of Photograph Preservation

-Don’t keep photos in contact paper books, the glue ages and browns and also ruins your photos.
-Don’t fold, tape, rubber band or paperclip photos. Tape eventually browns over time and will eventually hurt your pictures. Today, we can digitally reassemble a torn photo.
-Don’t glue photos into photo albums or they will likely be damaged when removed in the future.
-Always write the name or names of the people in the photos, the year and the location with a photo safe marker or lightly with a pencil. Regular pen ink deteriorates and can harm your photo.  (Really, do this. In a few years you might not remember as well as you think you will. It will also help your great grandkids in the future; it’s horrible to have a box of photos of unidentified people.)
-Always keep photos in temperature controlled areas (closets are good,) the extreme temperatures in attics will damage photos.
-Always use an archival scrapbook (the ones currently sold in craft stores are archival and contain no acids) and photo corners. Most older albums are actually bad for your photos.  
-Always hold photos by the edges, don’t touch the image.
-If you can, wear cotton gloves when touching photos.
-Make a copy, store the original.  If you display a photo, the light will eventually fade it, always make a copy and store the original safely.  Physical and digital copies of your photos also back up your photos if the original ever gets destroyed.

This photo of my grandmother was damaged in a house fire.
Torn photo as a result of being glued into a book.
Making copies is very important. If you display a photo, the light will eventually fade it, always make a copy to display and store the original safely. Physical and digital copies of your photos also back up your photos if the original ever gets destroyed. 

A lot of people don’t like to display copies because they think that they lack the charm of the original. Photocopying and art techniques can create an image that is practically indiscernible from the original and also preserves the original.      
This CDV is not only a copy but completely fake. It was made completely with modern photographing techniques and art. We keep this photo around as an example of what can be done to copies to try and preserve the charm of the original. Always make sure to write on the back of copies that they are not the original so you don't confuse future generations. Remember a lot of museums make similar replicas of their sensitive artifacts so the originals can be preserved for the future. You can even tell people that they are replicas--they will probably be really surprised.      

Phew! That was a lot!

January 10, 2011

Ex-Libris Bookplates and Poems

Bookplates, printed markings to indicate ownership, have their roots in the 15th century Germanic territories. Bookplates reached their popularity in the mid to late 1800s, when libraries both private and public needed to assure that books would be returned. Ex-Libris means "from the library of" and was frequently inscribed on bookplates.  Bookplates were printed on heavy paper and glued into books by the purchaser.

Bookplates normally included the name of the owner of the book as well as images that would remind the borrower who they borrowed a book from such as a family coat of arms or an image of the owner. They started out as individual works of art until the mid 1800s when they were mass produced, the printer only changing the name on the inscription.

Another tactic used in the 19th century to prompt a borrower to return a book was the use of book rhymes or sayings written in the front of the book.

Some popular sayings were:

"This book belongs to _____________________
Neither blemish this book nor the leaves double down,
Nor lend it to each idle friend in the town;
Return it when read; or, if lost, please supply
Another as good to the mind and the eye."

 "If thou art borrowed by a friend, 
Right welcome shall he be,
To read, to study, not to lend,
But to return to me.

Not that imparted knowledge doth
Diminish learning's store,
But books, I find, if often lent
Return to me no more." 

"If this book you steal away,
What will you say
On Judgment Day?"
"Everytown is my dwelling-place
America is my nation
______________ is my name
And Christ is my salvation."
Ex-Libris poems were more common in the 1700s and were later surpassed in popularity by bookplates which printers began to mass produce them cheaply.

January 7, 2011

Anne of Green Gables Nut Cake

Andy and I haven't been seeing much of each other lately due to work, school and the snow, so tomorrow night we are going to get together and watch Anne of Green Gables (The 1985 Version.)

We might even bake a few Anne of Green Gables treats. I think we might try to make a Hickory Nut Cake using a recipe from 1902. In the book series, A nut cake, topped with pink icing and walnuts is given to Mr. Harrison to apologize for Anne's mistake of selling his cow.

Below is the recipe from 1902, it sounds like a "toothsome concoction" like the one is described in the book.

 Anne of Green Gables Nut Cake


- 1/2 Cup Butter
- 1 1/2 Cups Sugar
- 3/4 Cup Milk
- 2 Cups Sifted Flour
- 2 Teaspoons Baking Powder (Rollings Reliable Recommended)
- 4 Egg Whites, beaten stiff
- 1 Cup Hickory Nuts, ground


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Sift the Baking Powder and the Flour together in a medium sized mixing bowl, add the ground nuts. In a separate bowl, cream the Butter into the Sugar add the Milk. When thoroughly mixed add the Butter mixture into the Flour mixture and add the Egg Whites. Grease and Flour 2 9 inch loaf pans. Bake for 25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out of the center clean.

For the glaze: Mix 1 1/2 Cups of Powdered Sugar with a Tablespoon of Vanilla and enough hot Water to form a stiff paste. Spread on the cake once cooled.

Hickory Nut cake was very popular around Anne's time, it is also known to be one of James K. Polk's favorite foods. Hickory trees are native to most of the eastern U.S. and their nuts are probably familiar looking to most people. As kids we used to sail the pieces of the outermost shell of hickory nuts like little boats in the local creek. Hickory nuts have fallen out of favor due to their extremely hard shells.

January 5, 2011

Vegetable Gardening

Did anyone else get their vegetable gardening catalogs yet? They always send them in the midst of the bleak winter when you're yearning for color and delicious summer fruits and veggies. Now I will plan a garden about 4 acres large and by Mother's Day, I will have to whittle it down to 3 tiny raised beds and a few loose pots.

When I was little, my friend's mom had the prettiest garden. She grew flowers in the front yard along the walkways, which the butterflies loved, and a vegetable garden in the back. Her gardens were not huge, although they seemed that way when I was little, but they always had enough veggies to collect every time I was over there. I remember how colorful they were and how fun it was for my friend and I to stand in that garden barefoot and collect veggies in the bottom parts of our sundresses.

Now, I have had a garden on and off since I was, well, very little and I am still a terrible gardener. (Before you laugh at this picture, remember: It was the 90s and my socks match my tie-dye.)

Gardening is fun for me and I work in the garden almost everyday in the summer and I normally end up with about 5 tomatoes and a green bean. I am normally frugal but I do admit to spending about $50 in the summer on enriching my soil and other garden needs. What am I doing wrong?

So I have decided I no longer want to waste money, even though the garden is a lot of fun. I'm asking my readers for tips, suggestions, and book recommendations that will allow my garden to be fun and frugal.

Any ideas? Any books you could recommend?  

January 3, 2011

Sick Day with a Good Book

Ugh! I've been so sick! Luckily I've been in bed with a really awesome book: Fashion : A History from the 18th to the 20th Century. It is a photograph rich book detailing dresses from the Kyoto Costume Institute. It's normally a pretty expensive book but it is currently on sale in store at Barnes and Noble for $10.00 in their 50% off section. :D

I normally do not buy new books but I really couldn't pass this one up. You can read a preview of it here. Be prepared to drool and have your "To Sew" list expand by 100 garments.


Hope you enjoy!

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