Friday, January 11, 2019

Knit Cloths

Five knit washcloths, square and diamond shapes- varigated pink-white and white-red-green colors.

Warming up on knitting, with some cotton washcloths. Knit in stockinette, on size 8 needles.

Monday, January 7, 2019

HFF 3.1: Twelfth Night Cake

A woman's hands, gesturing with a spoon over a laden table. Detail from Lily Martin Spencer's "Kiss Me And You'll Kiss the Lassies"

The Challenge: New Year's A new year, a new era, a new receipt, or a food intended for New Year's.

For the "new year" challenge, I tried a new receipt that seasonal in early January: Twelfth (Night) Cake.  For added fun, I baked in my new 8" tin cake ring (from Goosebay Workshops).

My usual receipt for Twelfth Cake is from 1888, and I tend to decorate it with marzipan and my modern almond-buttercream icing (since I encountered references to such cakes being iced and decorated in sugarplums or sweetmeats, but without explicit recipes).  While preparing for this task, however, I discovered some very helpful receipts in the The Complete Cook (1850): a specific icing for wedding or twelfth cakes, as well as an apple paste for decoration, and a couple versions of the cake itself.  However, I couldn't resist trying the 1857 cake receipt in Godey's--it's in rhyme!

The Receipt:  Twelfth Cake
To two pounds of flour well sifted unite
 Of loaf sugar ounces sixteen.
Two pounds of fresh butter with eighteen fine eggs
And four pounds of currants washed clean
Eight ounces of almonds well blanched and cut small
The same weight of citron sliced
Of orange and lemon peel candied one pound
And a gill of pale brandy uniced
A large nutmeg grated exact half an ounce
Of allspice but only a quarter
Of mace coriander and ginger well ground
Or pounded to dust in a mortar
An important addition is cinnamon which
Is better increased than diminished
The fourth of an ounce is sufficient
Now this
May be baked four good hours till finished.
The Date/Year and Region: 1857, American (Philadelphia)

How Did You Make it: I made this receipt on a quarter-scale. First, there was candied lemon and orange peel to make (in the usual method of boiling in sugar syrup). I then beat 4.5 eggs (four eggs and the white of a fifth) very hard, and mixed into it 1/2 lb of softened butter, 1/4 lb sugar, and 1/2 lb all-purpose flour.  I then stirred in 10 oz of currants (should have been 16 oz), 2 oz of silvered, blanched almonds, 4 oz of candied peel (minced), 1 fl oz brandy, about a quarter of a nutmeg (freshly grated), 1.5 tsp ground allspice, 3/4 tsp each of mace, coriander, ginger, and cinnamon.  I omitted the 2 oz citron, as I did not have any.

Having learned from previous recipes that these cakes need to bake very slowly, I put a double layer of parchment paper around the inside of the cake ring, and on the cookie sheet under it, and over the batter. It was much easier that trying to line a pan in paper.  This cake baked in 2 hours at 325F. I added a white bean near the end of the bake, per tradition.

For the icing, I beat egg white and powered sugar for about ~20 minutes, until the icing thickened and would hang on  the side of a spoon without dripping.  I actually managed to forget the lemon juice; this didn't affect the consistency of the cake when first cut, but on the day after, the icing broke/scaled when cut, just as the book warned.

Running out of time to make the apple paste (which I simply have to try next year), I used commercial marzipan and modern food coloring to decorate the cake. I'm still not good at shaping marzipan, so after the usual attempt at a crown, I just made medallions with a cookie stamp.

[I used the approximation of 4 Tbsp= 1 oz on the spices, since I didn't have a scale that could handle weighing out 1/8 and 1/16 oz quantities.  For the brandy, 1 gill = half a cup or 4 fl oz.]

Time to Complete: About half an hour to prepare the cake (after the peel was candied) and two hours to bake it. Decorating it was another 20-30 minutes of playing with the marzipan while letting the mixer beat the icing.

Total Cost: Most everything I already had on hand.

How Successful Was It? Fairly successful. This cake baked nicer than my previous ones, which tend to get overdone on the edges by time the center bakes (even with a few layers of paper). I think the proportions of raisins/currants/almonds/peel in my usual receipt is slightly richer, but the texture was really pleasant on this one. The new icing went on easily and looked well, but I like using my modern icing, because I think the extra almond flavor goes well with the cake.  I may try experimenting with some period almond icings next year, and hopefully that apple paste, too.

How Accurate Is It? As noted, I scaled down to a quarter-sized cake; I'm tempted to try a half-size in my current cake hoop, but I'll need a much larger party and pan to attempt a full-sized cake. Even with a dozen people, we only ate 3/4 of the cake that night (resulting in a second year with no monarch being crowned--no one found the bean). I omitted the citron, simply because I didn't have any, and used 'zante currants' for the currants, because that is what I can buy locally. We do have a native currant in this region, so one of these years I'd like to dry some of its fruit for my winter baking.

A saucepan on a stove top, containing a boiling liquid with orange and yellow strips of citrus peel.
Boiling lemon and orange peel in sugar syrup.

A tin cylinder, 8" in diameter and 4" high, open on both ends. It is riveted along one seam.
New cake round! It was easy to paper, easy to remove the cake,
and only a tiny bit of the batter seeped under.

A 2 inch tall cake, 8 inches in diameter, baked to a light brown, and with currants and almonds visible in it.
The baked cake.
A single layer cake, on a silver pedestal stand; the icing is white, with a yellow crown at the center, and 2" medallions in green, blue and red set around the circumference of the cake.
Iced cake, decorated with a  yellow marzipan crown in the center,
and red, blue and green medallions around the sides.
The crown stood straighter before I cut the back half of the cake.

Saturday, January 5, 2019

Swatch Books and Fabric Samples Online

Happy Twelfth Day of Christmas. For a while, I've been gathering examples of historic textiles (fabric samples and designs) which have been digitalized. Here's my initial attempt at curating them.

Most of these are from Internet Archive, but there's also two from Reproduction Fabrics, and several from museum collections such as the Met, MFA, and VAM. A few are whole books of fabric designs or samples, others are single pages or even single pieces of material.

Fragments & Samples

London Foundling Hospital (1740s-1760s) Threads of Feeling fabric swatch collection

MFA Boston textile fragments (18th-19th centuries, like this 1830s print)

The Victoria and Albert has many samples, especially c.1840-1851 (like these or this or this)

Sample & Design Books

c.1700: Pattern Book of Silks and Damasks these are woven silk patterns, not prints
c.1700: Asian Fabric Sample Book, vol. 1
c.1700: Asian Fabric Sample Book, vol. 2

1784: Textile Sample Book (Manchester), cotton

c.1800 Embroidery Sample Book, Maison Sedille (Iran/Persia) French imports?
1800-1899: Sample Book of Trims, Lobre Frères  (Lyons) embroidered net, diverse passementerie
c.1800-? British Sample Book, early 19th century
1818: Textile Sample Book (Lyon), prints, one page
1821: Textile Sample Book, page
1825: Fortin Sample Book (Paris)

c.1830: The Dargate Book, identified as French dress goods

1842: De la fabrique d'étoffes (Lyon), woven designs with the drafts and treadling sequences
1845: Échantillons (France), prints
1846: Textile Sample Book (Lyon), prints, two pages
1846-1860: Textile Sample Book, page
1843-1863: The Delaine Book (Paris), wool prints dated 1843-4, 1849, and 1863

1861: John Smith/Goodshawl Chapel (Lancashire)
1863: Maison Robert Sample Book (Paris)
1863: Darras-Heumann Sample Book (Paris), these mostly seem to be kerchiefs or border prints
c.1865 Imprimés en tous genres,  E. Lemancel Sample Book No. 2 (Paris)

Louis Long Sample Book (USA) 1860-18951877-1892 1878-19001886-19031885-1902, 1884-1889 1880-1920s, 1903-7

c.1870–78 Ullman Frères/Willman Sample Book whitework embroideries
c.1870s British or American Sample Book prints
c.1875: Trims and Edging embroidery designs for nightgowns and shirts

1881: Textile Sample Book (Lyon)
1886: Silk Ribbon and Trims, E. Lemancel Sample Book (Paris)
1887-8: Sample Book (American)

1890-1901: Gazes, E. Lemancel Sample Book (Paris)
1893: Rudolf Kratzsch Sample Book (Germany), one page
1895: French Silk Sample Book 

1900: Lainages unis en façonnies en tous genres. Livre no. 3, E. Lemancel (Paris)
1900: Untitled Sample Book (Paris)
1900: Weaving Pattern Sample Book (Lyon?)

19--: Aniline Colors on Cotton Yarn (New York) dyeing information and color samples

Friday, January 4, 2019

Original: Moire Silk Ballgown c. 1865

For the 11th day of Christmas, an original gown. Because warp-printed butterflies are what we all need in January. And it's a moire taffeta, too...

Warp printed silk moire gown, c.1865 from LACMA collection.
Warp-printed moire silk gown,
c. 1865, LACMA.
As always, follow the link for more images. I strongly approve of both LACMA's staging, and the number of detail shots they include. Also, their photographs are public domain, just in case we needed another reason to love them.

Thursday, January 3, 2019

More Pillow Pincushions

Two pin cushions, each made of 6 square calico pillows, joined at the corners to make a hollow ball. Each vertex tied with a pink bow.
The bows may have achieved peak cuteness.

On the tenth day of Christmas, two more pillow pin cushions made as New Year's presents. I think these would look great hung on a Victorian Christmas tree (as presents).

The cushions are calico, the stuffing wool (one emory); I used Rit pale pink dye with vinegar to color the silk ribbon, and (again) got a very bright shade.

Wednesday, January 2, 2019

Wool Caps

From the Workwoman's Guide (1838), caps for men or boys. The brims should be leather, but I tried self-fabric on these first two.

A newsboy or mechanic's style cap in tan wool
In retrospect, the beige sofa was not an ideal backdrop.

A newsboy or mechanic's style cap in black wool
Black wool photographs really flat, apparently.

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

Costume Resolutions, 2019

Two women in mid-16th century attire, one sitting and one standing.

Happy New Year! On the 8th day of Christmas: my costuming goals for 2019. A few of these did get held over from last year...

Late 18th century chemise, maybe one more 16th century smock.
That linen gown*
Tablet-Woven Garters*
Another pair of turnshoes

1770s corset*

Empire ballgown remade
Dancing slippers
Bib-front Empire dress* (completed skirt and sleeves, bodice needs work)

1848 Dress and Bonnet

Fix mid-19th century corset
New sets of 1850s undergarments
Braidwork coat*
Blue Wool* Sleeves Reworked (did make and wear it)
Black or red plaid wool worked up*
That sewing apron*

1890s corset*