Apr 21 2012

Remember this postcard from the other day?

I love it so much, along with all it represents.

I love the soft pastels colors, the freedom of movement and the joyous, unrestrained dance. All of these feminine attributes can be recognized and affirmed to effectively empower women.

In other words, power does not have to be male or physically strong.

There are many ways to view this scene. What some see
as ladies dancing, others see as an expression of the
Divine Feminine.

Neoclassicism has been prominent in the United States during two time periods. First, after the Revolutionary War and the French Revolution, the United States and Europe were intent on recreating the grandeur of Rome and Greece by emulating classical architecture, art, clothing and design.

Neoclassical Grecian Fashions from 1780 -1820.

I have always found this period confusing to study until I finally put it together that the Empire Period in France, the Regency Period in England and the Federal Period in the Untied States are all the same, just had different names in the three countries. All of the periods featured women’s fashions with high waisted slim flowing gowns with draped colored sashes.

Neoclassical Grecian Fashions 1900 – 1920.

The second time of Neoclassicism in the United States came at the turn of the 19th to 20th centuries, up until about 1927. Feminine power seemed to break out again and gracefully assert “herself.” Appreciation for the classic feminine figure and for accentuating the breast came to prominence. Not since the previous classical period, about a hundred years before, was the breast touted and displayed along with the natural feminine form which otherwise had been corseted into unnatural shapes.  Once again, women were freed from being manipulated into movement restricting silhouettes.

The Music Man musical is set in 1912 and shows the popularity
of Neoclassical female fashions and dance at that time. In
this scene, reverence for the female form is turned into a joke.

While we, perhaps, think these dresses were baring for the delight and stimulation of men, research indicates  nursing and motherhood were not only accepted, but admired. Natural was in. In fact, high waisted dresses and low cut bodices made the breasts more accessible for nursing, according to the 1795-1820 in Women’s Fashion entry in Wikipedia:

“With this Classical style came the willingness to expose the breast. With the new iconography of the Revolution as well as a change in emphasis on maternal breast-feeding, the chemise dress became a sign of the new egalitarian society. The style was simple and appropriate for the comfort of a pregnant or nursing woman as the breasts were emphasized and their availability was heightened. Maternity became fashionable and it was not uncommon for women to walk around with their breasts exposed. Some women took the “fashionable maternity” a step further and wore a “six month pad” under their dress to appear pregnant.”

The feminine form and the power it contains to create life while nurturing have been revered since ancient times. Female reproductive powers are still worshiped today by less technological societies that tend also, to be matrilinear in orientation.

It is important in a world that is more technologically
structured to affirm and actively respect
women and their naturally feminine shapes.

Next in this series: Dance of the Divine Feminine

NaBloPoMo April 2012

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Jan 26 2012

May Your Hearts Beat in Sweet Unison

There is a saying that “Youth is wasted on the young.” Reading recently on BlogHer, it occurs to me that perhaps, rhetorically speaking, marriage is wasted on the young. When I read how many problems young married couples have, it seems like the lofty goals anticipated for marriage don’t always lead to the happy homes intended. People grow and change, sometimes growing together, sometimes growing apart. The levels of maturity can vary along with all of the skills that it takes to successfully navigate through family finances, illnesses and life and death transitions.

So, although the natural order of things is to marry when young and start families, it would seem that marrying later in life would not only be better targeted for success, but would result in more satisfying unions built on a mature realization of what life is all about. In other words, I wouldn’t really say it is wasted on the young, but rather, that marriages occurring later in life should be celebrated with more fanfare, not less. In other words, when it comes to marriage later in life, both the bride and groom go into it fully informed. They have arrived!

But, see how older brides are treated. Google “older bride” and take a gander. One web site made it clear that older brides, instead of just planning for a lovely celebration, must also defeat their possible constipation along with that of their groom. What!?!? Having enough probiotics for the digestion is for everyone, not just older wedding parties. I can’t imagine confusing late in life nuptials with late in life dietary habits. Don’t young people have constitutional issues? Do we interrupt the ambiance of The Magic Room to inquire of the bride and her father if they are eliminating regularly to avoid bloating on the wedding day?

Portlandia’s Spyke and Iris plan their Cool Wedding

What other advice can we gather for older brides from bridal web sites? Well, first and foremost, older brides are told to be tasteful. Never mind that some young brides overestimate the tensile strength of satin to conceal one Big Mac too many and others bag “blushing” while wearing outfits more suited to pole dancing. Bridal sites somehow feel age relieves one of common sense. Why does an older bride have to be told she needs to be tasteful? While young brides are promoted as princesses with every detail to their whim and fancy, older brides are begged not to offend.

The older bride is far less inclined to wear something tasteless, by her very nature. “An older bride in a young and sexy dress will not look right,” one bridal site intones. Many young brides, however, do not “look right” in young and sexy dresses. And since when has it become fashionable to tout your sexual allure on your wedding day anyway? What happened to being demure with a veil to seclude the bridal blush? When did bumping and grinding down the aisle get established so guests can sample what the groom will soon cherish as his own?

And just what do these nagging bridal sites think older brides are going to choose? The G-string Wedding Dress shown recently by Kavia Gauche at Berlin Fashion Week? Oh pa-leeze!

May Your Lives Be One Glorious Sunset

All in all, older brides need to be choosier in selecting their bridal sites for advice. While many “lesser sites” may point to giving away bottles of Milk of Magnesia as table favors, Martha Stewart reigns supreme in the older bride arena as well as in all others. On her web site, Martha receives an e-mail from a 60 year old bride inquiring what would be “right” or politically correct for a bride of her age having her second wedding. Martha answers that except for a veil, the rules of etiquette are the same and TIMELESS for a bride of any age. There you go. Taste is taste and class is class no matter the age of the bride and groom.


NaBloPoMo January 2012

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Dec 03 2010

Socks can be objects of beauty and comfort,
not just utilitarian.

Socks: an item we are used to picking up discount stores by the packaged dozen. A utilitarian item so necessary we don’t consider them a snugly luxury, perhaps. But! What if your socks were nice and soft and absorbent natural fibers and made your feet feel like a million! Then you might call them a luxurious asset and greatly appreciate an introduction to a homemade model.

You can buy these hand knitted socks on Etsy by clicking here.

Hand knitted socks are just yummy. I crochet, so I stand in awe of anyone knitting socks. I am amazed by those who knit them, because anything on circular knitting needles or more than two knitting needles makes me nervous. Recently, I was fascinated, though, to be seated next to a woman knitting socks for her husband at a Scottish Country Dance in Alexandria, Virginia. I couldn’t take my eyes off of the needles as she rhythmically moved them in a sequenced dance around and around the tube of a sock in production. It was fascinating to watch the sock grow in the short time we were together.

I don’t knit, but I am going to sign up by clicking here
for these delightful knitted sock patterns! Maybe the bug
will bite! Best part of all, the patterns are FREE for your
e-mail address. They are really scrumptious. I want to move
to upstate New York so I can wear them EVERYDAY!

Just like there are knitters whose love to make sweaters, and those who specialize in mittens and scarves, there are knitters who love to make socks. The time it takes to make one is extensive. Even with the knitting machine shown below, one of the machine knitters is proud it “only” took eight hours to make one! So, knitting socks is a labor of love. In addition, the final product is so comforting, many consider it worth the time spent. And what a gift to a loved one it is.

Dorret, from YouTube has a series of four videos that show
her working needles to knit socks. Love it!

I always read the comments under YouTube videos. You learn so much from the other viewers, especially on the instructional YouTubes. Notice that one viewer mentions Dorret’s method of casting on stitches using two hands and the single knitting needle seated vertically between her hands. I was not familiar with that method either. I am like the viewer in that I hope Dorret will provide another YouTube showing her method for casting on.

Making socks with a circular knitting machine. I think this
makes me more nervous than multiple sock needles.

The knitting machines appear complex, but it would seem that once the basics are mastered, the only problem would be in the monotony of working with the machine over and over. The circular knitter seems dated and I can imagine a mother with ten kids trying to fit this task in with every other one required by the household. Circular knitters would be necessary time savers. If you are interested in learning more about this unique labor saving device, you’ll find you are not alone.  Click here to visit a remarkable web site devoted to circular knitting machines. It’s amazing!

Knitting socks with a flat bed knitting machine.

Flat bed knitting machines knit squares or rectangles that are then sewn together, so the resulting product will always have a seam. Round, circular knitting cannot be done on a flat bed machine. As on all knitting machines, it is the SIZE of the type of yarn that determines the machine to be used, rather than the type of project. For example, socks can be made on a circular knitting machine or a flat bed. The type of sock produced will depend upon the size of the yarn used which is, in turn, determined by the size of the latch hooks on the selected machine. 

As I read up on the knitting machines, I realized that there is much to know before one considers the purchase. For a great discussion on the good and bad points of hand vs. machine knitting, click here. Angelika’s web site puts it all down in black and turquoise and it helped me understand the various technologies much better. When you reach Angelika’s web page, go down to the article, ” “What Every Hand Knitter Should Know Before Buying a Knitting Machine”.

If you want to handknit socks, try this excellent book:

This book has 5 stars from its reviewers. If it interests
you, hover your mouse over this link for a preview:

Getting Started Knitting Socks (Getting Started series)

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Nov 06 2010

Hello to Marilyn in South Carolina!
Thank you for sending this great tribute to Grandma’s Apron.

The History of Aprons

I don’t think our kids know what an apron is. The principal use of Grandma’s apron was to protect the dress underneath because she only had a few. It was also easier to wash aprons than dresses and aprons used less material. But along with that, it served as a potholder for removing hot pans from the oven.

It was wonderful for drying children’s tears, and on occasion was even used for cleaning out dirty ears.

From the chicken coop, the apron was used for carrying eggs, fussy chicks, and sometimes half-hatched eggs to be finished in the warming oven.

When company came, those aprons were ideal hiding places for shy kids.

And when the weather was cold Grandma wrapped it around her arms.

Those big old aprons wiped many a perspiring brow, bent over the hot wood stove.

Chips and kindling wood were brought into the kitchen in that apron.

From the garden, it carried all sorts of vegetables.  After the peas had been shelled, it carried out the hulls.

In the fall, the apron was used to bring in apples that had fallen from the trees.

When unexpected company drove up the road, it was surprising how much furniture that old apron could dust in a matter of seconds.

When dinner was ready, Grandma walked out onto the porch, waved her apron, and the men folk knew it was time to come in from the fields to dinner.

It will be a long time before someone invents something that will replace that ‘old-time apron’ that served so many purposes.


Grandma used to set her hot baked apple pies on the window sill to cool. Her granddaughters set theirs on the window sill to thaw.

People now would go crazy now trying to figure out how many germs were on that apron. I don’t think I ever caught anything from an apron – but love…

Lots of heartwarming thoughts with that e-mail circulating about. Although it’s one of those anonymous postings that’s traveled around the world because it strikes a chord with so many people, this one seems to have a beginning. I found what appears to be its origin here. And there are many links to enjoy in that on-line article, so set time aside to browse.

One thing, though, that needs to be updated from this article is how aprons are making a come back. The warmth and love that comes from the kitchen and good, nutritious food is not lost on the present generation. People are turning in droves to healthier lifestyles and eating at home with a seated meal at the dinner hour. Homemade biscuits and the aprons worn to catch the airborne flour are the natural accompaniments and it is a blessing they are showing up more and more. Just think of the memories waiting to be made! The old Pillsbury ad that said, “Nothing says lovin’ like something from the oven” did say it best.

Welcome an apron back into your life, if they ever went away. Looking into the future of Sunbonnet Smart, I can forecast a great many apron patterns coming along. Cooking like your grandmother will get that much easier the minute you put one on and tie the strings around in back.

If you love aprons, the styles and the colors
like I do, then preview this book by hovering
your mouse over the link:

  The Apron Book: Making, Wearing, and Sharing a Bit of Cloth and Comfort

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NaBloPoMo November 2012