Back in the days before two job, two car families when there was no television in the evenings, women turned to handwork when their house was tidied from supper and the kids put to bed. From time to time, too, during the busy day, things became quiet and women sat down to listen to the radio soap operas with some handwork to occupy them.
I'm drawing on my own memory here as I grew up during the 1940's, and was not in school until 1944.
During this period of time, many women subscribed to weekly women's magazines that specialized in dress patterns, and knit, crochet and embroidery patterns. Quite often an iron-on pattern or two were bound into the magazines as a free bonus - such patterns might be good only for a few transfers but after the colour was all gone, they could be copied using a pencil and thus were saved. (When I went through my mother's things upon her death 20 years ago, I found many of these patterns, carefully saved through all those years. Embroidery floss was cheap and plentiful and once I was in school I was often sent to the tiny yarn and embroidery shop to pick up floss for my mum. It was up an alleyway behind a radio and record sales and repair shop and the victorian counter's plate glass top had been so worn by coins that you could not see through it. Floss was three skeins for 10 cents at that time. Pure linen to work your pattern on could be had for very little and if you were too frugal to spring for the linen, Indian Head cotton (a firm, heavy, close-woven fabric) was to be had for around a dollar a yard and worked equally well.
So you see, cost was minimal and time was available because there were fewer distractions.
http://funkybabymine.blogspot.com/p/other-linens.html I think we might do well to revisit this sort of value today as we strive to make-do, recycle, repurpose and reduce our carbon footprint. Perhaps sometime in the future we again will have no plastic in which to wrap things and 'preserve' them..... ?
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