Does it (or will it) look like this where you are this winter? Not a time to venture outside without bundling up! I like to spend winter curled up on the couch, watching a mini-series, and getting some knitting/crocheting/beadweaving/tatting/weaving time in. Being a multi-crafty person I am always interested in finding “vintage” craft patterns, instructions, and ideas.
I gave myself the challenge of finding craft ideas from within our collections. This might seem quite difficult – our collections are strong in agriculture, science, and technology. However, we also document the University and so we have collections that match the major research and teaching areas on campus, one of which is the Department of Human Development and Family Studies. We also have the papers of alumni, rare books, and Iowa-related materials in other areas. So, after scouring our collections I’ve found several fun things you can do indoors this winter!
Iris Macumber, along with her sister Ruth (B.S. 1932), was a Home Economics student in the late 1920s (B.S. 1930). She took courses in textiles, vocational education, zoology, technical journalism, and personal accounting. A portion of the collection contains her coursework. Her notebook for “Textiles 249” contains a wealth of sewing information – samples of both hand and machine sewing, designs, dress mock-ups, etc.
For her vocational education class, Iris identified some basic abilities she would expect eleventh graders with no prior sewing experience to master. These could be great goals for a beginning sewer to learn this winter! Here’s a sampling from her syllabus (RS 21/7/228 Box 4, Folder 18):
- The ability to sew with a thimble
- The ability to hold material and needle correctly
- The ability to make all stitches (running, blind, basting, etc.)
- The ability to construct a plain seam
- The ability to construct a french seam
- The ability to construct a flat fell seam
- The ability to construct a false french seam
- The ability to make different width plain hems
- The ability to make roll hems
- The ability to use a sewing machine
- The ability to regulate and care for sewing machines
2. Make some music
We’ve showcased the Iowa Sheet Music Collection before, but I think it deserves another mention. The collection (MS 474) features music by Iowans and/or about Iowa. Singing or playing an instrument is a great way to entertain yourself indoors this winter.
How about a classic Christmas carol adapted for easy piano?
Or, maybe you and three friends would like to try out this quartet version of “On a Little Farm in Iowa”?
3. Try some indoor gardening
The August 1826 (Vol. 1, no. 6) issue of the Farmer’s, Mechanic’s, Manufacturer’s, and Sportsman’s Magazine (call number T1 F22) offers directions on how to create “Vegetable Window Ornaments” (follow these at your own risk!):
The same issue provides instructions for getting a branch to bloom in winter:
I may try the vegetable window decorations!
4. Make some ornaments
The last craft project I’ve found for you involves making cardboard and paper mâché ornaments. This was intended as a children’s craft and would be an excellent project to do with kids. Zoe Murphy was the Homemaking Editor for Wallace’s Farmer (call number S1 W55) and was very active in homemaker groups (e.g. Master Homemaker Award, National Farm Home Editors Association), 4-H, and education.
I hope you stay warm this winter. If you do venture out and are in the Ames area, please stop by and see us in the Special Collections Department. Our collections have all sorts of interesting things – sometimes in unexpected places! You can get started with our subject guides, seek out some of our services for patrons, or search our manuscript collections or university archives materials. We’ve got film and digital collections too! We’re looking forward to helping you explore what’s here.