March 31, 2009

Tasha Tudor Calendar

Corgyncombe Library Notes
 As it almost time to change the Tasha Tudor Calendar to another month, we pause again to look at the cover of the 2009 Japanese calendar. The cover photograph by Richard Brown shows Tasha sitting in her garden on a bench with Sarah, with Tasha's corgyn the handsome Mr. Owyn and lovely Rebecca. How happy Tasha looks!

The photograph is also in the Japanese book "Tasha and Her Corgis". It is a wonderful book full of photographs of Tasha's Corgyn through the years and Tasha's drawings. In "Tasha and Her Corgis" there is also a picture of Queen Elizabeth and her Corgi on a book called "The Welsh Corgi". Diane and Sarah are cousins through different old family lines to both Tasha Tudor and Queen Elizabeth. It is on the Queen Mum's side that Queen Elizabeth is related to Diane and Sarah.

Below is a photograph of Corgyncombe's Elizabeth with her Corgi Ethlyn. In another month it will be May Day!


March 30, 2009

A Fashionable Sleeve

Tillie Tinkham's Frocks and FashionsMummy is having a fitting of a sleeve Tillie Tinkham made according to the directions for "The Circular Long Sleeve" from "The Workwoman's Guide" published in 1838. Antique sleeves that Tasha Tudor had collected were carefully studied, such fine sewing and lovely materials! Elizabeth stands on a chair holding the pincushion for Tillie and observing the little seamstress at work. Elizabeth is learning sewing skills from Tillie. Tillie is checking to see if the sleeve is to her liking.

Here is a link to: The Corgyncombe Courant, March 22nd edition that featured "The Workwoman's Guide"

Tillie Tinkham is in agreement with Tasha Tudor: "The Workwoman's Guide" is an "invaluable work"!

Here is a link to: More photographs of Mummy's fitting on our web site

The doll residents of Corgyncombe, like The Corgyncombe Courant reporters Diane and Sarah, like many different time periods of fashion. The 1830s is a particular favorite!

The dolls lives are rather like a dream, made up of favorite bits and pieces of different eras... but once all these pieces are put together the dolls lives are very real! The dolls all have different personalities and when Diane and Sarah are writing a story each doll has a certain way they talk and way their "voices sound", each with their own likes and dislikes. A vivid imagination is such a gift! Diane, Sarah, and the dolls have ever so much fun! Diane remembers when she was a little girl playing and then thinking "What could I use for this?" and then thinking "Aha, I know what would be just perfect!" and running up the stairs to her room to retrieve it. Nothing has changed (except for right now with her broken leg, she doesn't run), as with delight she runs and finds or makes what would be just perfect for the dolls' next activity.


March 27, 2009

Knitting the Sontag and Return of the Robin!

Knitting and Birds
The sontag as it is being knitted up. Diane's handspun yarn was dyed with black walnut hulls and the dark moss green color skein that will be used for the trim was dyed with goldenrod.

The pattern for the sontag is in the March/April 2009 issue of "Piecework" magazine. This "Piecework" magazine issue is mentioned in The Corgyncombe Courant's March 25th edition.

Here is a link to: The Corgyncombe Courant, March 25th edition

Delightful Spring news! The Robins have returned to Corgycombe! The first were seen yesterday on the barn ramp. Thornton Burgess in his book "The Burgess Bird Book for Children" called him "Welcome Robin" and a welcome robin he is indeed! The photograph below is a favorite of The Corgyncombe Courant and was taken by The Corgyncombe Courant photographer Diane Shepard Johnson in the Spring of 2007. This photograph has been used by Amelia, a lady doll resident of Corgyncombe, as little cards to send to her lady doll friends.


March 25, 2009

Old Fashioned Needlework

Corgyncombe Library Notes: "Piecework" Magazine
Trying out the basketweave pattern to test the gauge for the sontag that is featured in "Piecework".

The reporters at The Corgyncombe Courant are extremely pleased with the March/April 2009 issue of "Piecework" magazine. It has many old fashioned needlework articles of quality, some with patterns. There are not many magazines out there that The Corgyncombe Courant finds so interesting. The Corgyncombe Courant prefers magazines with old fashioned things, rather than the abundance of modern, trendy magazines that all look just the same.

This issue of "Piecework" has articles about making Lucet braids, embroidering monograms on handkerchiefs, an article called "Commend Me to a Knitting Wife, Knitting during the American Civil War", "Carriage Boots Stitch Pattern", a knitted sontag pattern in basketweave, knitting Civil War Union and Confederate socks and patterns, embroidered "pinkeep" pattern, 17th century knitted undershirt pattern, and smocking.

Here is a link to: "Piecework" Magazine

The title of the article about Civil War era knitting reflects the words in a letter written by a gentleman to the "American Agriculturist". The letter is partially quoted in the article. The gentleman's desire above all, if he ever was to find a wife, was to find a wife that excelled in knitting, as he found knitting the most admirable of skills.

Here is a link to the: Letter published in the "American Agriculturalist"

In the above photograph, The Corgyncombe Courant reporter Diane Shepard Johnson added to the little sample that she had previously started of seed stitch and a wildflower pattern and continued on to try out the gauge for the basketweave pattern of the sontag. The yarn is Diane's two-ply handspun wool that Diane dyed with black walnuts, mordented with alum. Perhaps an edging of dark green goldenrod dyed handspun yarn would go well with the walnut dyed basketweave pattern.

"Piecework" also includes a "Carriage Boots Stitch Pattern" and a picture of some antique knitted carriage boots. The reporters at The Corgyncombe Courant are fortunate to have a pair of children's boots similar to the carriage boots featured in the "Piecework" article. In the photograph below are the children's boots that were handed down in the Scandinavian family of the husband and father, respectively, of the reporters at The Corgyncombe Courant. The knitted boots have leather soles with fleece on the inside.

The "Piecework" article on Civil War Union and Confederate socks includes patterns. It says that the needles used to knit socks were very small and that fine plied yarn was used. The resulting items were strong, long lasting socks.

One antique pair of socks featured in the article was appraised on "Antiques Roadshow" and can be seen on the PBS web site.

Here is a link to: The "Antiques Roadshow" appraisal on PBS that was mentioned in the "Piecework" article

Whilst on the subject of long lasting socks, The Corgyncombe Courant reporter Diane Shepard Johnson has these fond remembrances: Tasha Tudor was delighted when I gave her some of my handspun two-ply wool yarn. My handspun wool yarn was knit into socks and Tasha wrote me later that she daily wore them. Tasha wrote of the socks: "Every morning and every evening I put them on when I go to milk my goats. They wear like iron."

The next issue of "Piecework" will highlight lace. The Corgyncombe Courant can't wait!!!


March 22, 2009

A Sampling from The Corgyncombe Old Cap Collection

"The Workwoman's Guide" at The Corgyncombe Library
An old cap and "The Workwoman's Guide" originally published in 1838.

In referencing bunnies and knitted rabbit wool items from Beatrix Potter's stories and a knitting pattern, Tasha Tudor mentioned "The Workwoman's Guide" and wrote to us "Maybe you also own this invaluable work?" Those at Corgyncombe find that "The Workwoman's Guide" is indeed a most valuable guide. It contains information, patterns, and instructions relating to bonnets and caps, collars, stitches, shawls, frocks, sleeves, knitting, household items, and many other things. The book has instructions for making little stitches and "neat" and "neatly" are predominant words.

Lena, an elderly cousin of Diane's great grandmum, gave Diane the little delicate baby cap that is on the dolly. Lena did not make this cap, as it was an antique when it was presented to Diane.

As was discussed in the March 2nd Edition of The Corgyncombe Courant, Diane's great grandmum's cousin Lena always emphasized tiny stitches in needlework.

Here is a link to: The Corgyncombe Courant, March 2nd Edition

Lena's occupation was a seamstress. She not only sewed clothing and doll clothing but also made many of the type of things that are in "The Workwoman's Guide". She and her husband also made hooked rugs and wove chair seats.

Tasha Tudor liked to make doll clothing and did an exquisite job of fashioning and sewing.

Tillie Tinkham, seamstress for the dolls at Corgyncombe, used "The Circular Long Sleeve" pattern and instructions from "The Workwoman's Guide" in a scaled down version to make a trial pattern to fit the lady dolls at Corgyncombe.

Here is a link to:
Photographs of Tillie Tinkham

Another old cap from The Corgyncombe Old Fashioned Cap Collection.


March 21, 2009

Maple Sugaring Season!

For a more detailed report visit our web site at the following link:

March Maple Sugaring


March 19, 2009

Spring Cheer!

The Call of the Red-wing

The Red-wing calling at early morn.

The Red-Wings have been seen and mostly heard about Corgyncombe for several days now. Nothing gladdens my heart more in the spring than to hear that familiar call and nothing says spring to me more than the red-winged blackbird's O-ca-lee, O-ca-lee. It is a sound that has said "spring" to me since I was a child. I enjoy seeing the red-winged blackbirds in Tasha Tudor's "A Time To Keep" on the March pages.

Below is a link to Cornell's All About Birds Red-winged Blackbird page:

Sound of the Red-winged Blackbird

If you click on "listen to songs of this species" and click the play button you will hear the Red-winged Blackbird.

"Bird Songs, 250 North American Birds in Song" by Les Beletsky, "Featuring Audio from The Cornell Lab of Ornithology", is a wonderful book that has beautiful illustrations of birds with a button to push to hear the sounds the birds make. The book was added to the Corgyncombe Library a few Christmases ago.

The Corgyncombe Library gives "Bird Songs, 250 North American Birds in Song" by Les Beletsky, five stars!

In grade school one of Diane's teachers loved birds and always fed them in a tree outside the window. Diane always liked to watch the birds instead of concentrating on school work. One of Diane's favorite birds to watch was the Nuthatch. Diane received an award for perfect attendance which was a certificate to be redeemed at the bookstore. The second Diane walked in the bookstore she knew which book she wanted... a big wonderful book about birds. The book included a recording of all the lovely bird songs. The book that Diane was awarded in school reminds her of "Bird Songs, 250 North American Birds in Song".


March 18, 2009

Pretty Spring Flowers

Outfitted with a new mobile action cast, Diane, reporter and photographer for The Corgyncombe Courant, was again enjoying one of her favorite pastimes, antiquing. Amongst her delightful favorite finds was an antique bowl painted round with pansies and forget-me-nots.

The shopkeeper was so sympathetic and attentive to Diane's injury. As usual, Diane showed her some of her latest photographs, this time of Beatrix Bunny, and made the shopkeeper's day.

Amelia found a couple of old yellowware molds and baking dishes for Daisy. It was a perfectly lovely day!


March 12, 2009

Tasha Tudor Remembrances at Tea

Special Memories in a Box!
The box above features a Tasha Tudor print on the lid. The print is from the book "The Real Pretend", written by Joan Donaldson and illustrated by Tasha Tudor. Tasha's borders are always so wonderful and such a treat to look over again and again. The border of this illustration contains autumnal foliage, school items, and a little red squirrel up top. Sarah was Tasha's model for the illustrations of Kathy in "The Real Pretend". Sarah is seated on the front bench, third from the right, the little girl with the corgi red braids done up, wearing a dark blue frock. Within the box I keep many letters written to me by Tasha Tudor. Whilst recovering from my leg injury I take a letter or two out to read at tea.

In one of her letters, Tasha wrote: "The illustrations are coming so well for 'The Real Pretend' thanks to having so charming a model. So Sarah, you are with me all the hours that I paint and I find you the very best companion."

Sarah sitting on a stile writing on her slate. Her tin lunch pail is beside her.

Several years ago I broke my wrist whilst traversing a parking lot and fell on black ice. I was ho
lding special photograph negatives at the time that I did not want to get wet and scratched and even through the fall I managed to keep hold of them. This fall was similar to my recent fall when I was holding my Corgi Lydia, in that both times I was holding something I did not want to let go of which influenced the outcome of the fall.

Upon hearing that I broke my wrist, Tasha wrote me: "What a shame about your wrist! I feel for you. How upsetting to say the least. I hope you will be on the mend soon. I'm so sorry it happened."

Whilst my wrist was mending I once again read "The Secret Garden" by Frances Hodgson Burnett and illustrated by Tasha Tudor. At that time in the winter it was so nice to think of a spring garden blooming and to look at my friend Tasha's illustrations made it even more special. Perhaps I might share more little bits of what Tasha wrote to me in future articles of The Corgyncombe Courant.

In the photograph above is my direct ancestor's old school bell, the tin pail that Sarah carried her lunch in, and the slate that was a wedding shower gift to me from a friend at the museum where I used to work. I received appropriate gifts to remember my fellow workers by from the workers in each of the buildings at the museum. Also in the photograph are old McGuffey's Readers that had lessons showing children at work, play, and enjoying simple pleasures. Many times McGuffey's Readers gave a lesson in good behavior.


March 6, 2009

Carriages at Corgyncombe

The Corgyncombe Courant reports that Amelia has found a good used carriage and had it delivered. In the photograph above she is getting a feel for how the seat sits. My she is elegant! She looks forward to hitching her horse and driving about the vast and beautiful acreage of Corgyncombe.

The decorative swirl and striping on Amelia' carriage.

Amelia's new carriage reminds The Corgyncombe Courant of the doll carriage in Tasha Tudor's illustrations in "A is for Annabelle", "Increase Rabbit", and "The Night Before Christmas".

The Surrey in the photograph above is another carriage from The Corgyncombe Carriage Collection.


Playing This Weekend at The Corgyncombe Cottage Theatre

Margaret Rutherford as Miss Marple

The reviewers at The Corgyncombe Courant give the four Miss Marple movies starring Margaret Rutherford five stars! Her wit and fine detective abilities are evident in "Murder She Said", "Murder at the Gallop", "Murder Most Foul", and "Murder Ahoy!" Of special interest to The Corgyncombe Courant reviewers are the carriages seen in "Murder She Said", "Murder at the Gallop", and "Murder Most Foul".

Below is a link to "Murder at the Gallop" on YouTube. Miss Marple can be seen arriving at the Gallop Hotel and also appears at the end of the movie departing with a carriage similar to a carriage in The Corgyncombe Carriage Collection. Miss Marple's arrival to the Gallop Hotel starts at 6 minutes 13 seconds on this YouTube link:

A Carriage in "Murder at the Gallop"


March 5, 2009

Snow Covered Ice

Corgyncombe Happenings, Accident Report

The other day we had an appointment to take our corgyn to the veterinary for a routine visit. As time was getting short and your reporter's husband was still on the kitchen floor putting his new saw together, I said "But it's almost time to go, aren't you going to ready yourself?" Apparently he was too involved with the ins and outs of his new saw to pull himself away. I knew it would take time to make sure the corgyn had their necessary outing before being loaded in their crates in the vehicle. I loaded up Lydia's crate and went back for her, intending to carry her only a short distance. It wasn't far to walk, however one foot started sliding on the snow covered ice and down we went, my other foot went the other direction under my opposite side and twisted very oddly. It was a most unusual way to fall and I had never fallen that way before and I sensed it could be most bothersome. I loudly summoned my husband to come out and help me get up. Through it all I managed to still keep hold of Lydia who had to be pried out of my hands as I didn't want to let her loose outside the fence. We went to the veterinary where the routine visit was swiftly accomplished and on we went to hospital to have my leg x-rayed. After a very short time it was determined I had a small fracture in a non weight bearing bone that was considered fairly insignificant as sports injuries go. It was amazing how hard I fell and the position I fell on that it was just a little break. I am so glad that it wasn't into the joint. They put an air cast on and gave me crutches to use if I felt that I needed them. It's a bit sore and sometimes I do use my crutches but in the morning as the sun rose it was so beautiful that I laid my crutches up against the door and picked up my camera and started walking about without the crutches, taking photographs. Whilst taking photographs I could hear the pretty sounds of my play list that was turned up to the highest volume so I could hear it outside. The music was so inspiring. What a lovely morning, despite the difficulties. A friend inquired on the telephone saying "You haven't been out on the ice again, have you?"....


March 2, 2009

Welsh Tea Cakes for Tea

Corgyncombe Cookery
Another cold, snowy, blustery day, a perfect day for making Welsh tea cakes to enjoy with tea. In a yellowware bowl a swan butter print sits atop the sugar ready to be creamed together.

The tea cakes are made from scratch, rolled out, and cut into circles.

Diane Shepard Johnson, reporter and photographer for The Corgyncombe Courant, has these remembrances of visiting a favorite elderly relative: The little receipt book atop the little lap desk (in the photograph above) was given to me by my great grandmum's cousin Lena. (Receipt is an old word for recipe.) She excelled at domestic skills such as pickling, breadmaking, sewing, and many others. She always won prizes for her domestic abilities at the county fair. My family used to visit them often and I would usually take a doll with me. One time she surprised me with a handmade dolly wardrobe in an old basket. Lena was such a wonderful lady! And to think that she weighed only a few pounds when she was born and wasn't expected to live. To keep her warm after she was born they put her in a basket in the warming oven atop the old wood cookstove. It was just warm enough to keep the premature baby comfortably warm. Lena lived to a ripe old age and she passed many of her skills on to me! She taught me how to do piecing and quilting. I inherited some of her quilting patterns and equipment. Lena was so thrilled that I wanted to learn from her!

She always reiterated small, tiny stitches and she was very pleased with my efforts... but then we are from a long line of kindred who love to sew.
In the old days tiny quilting stitches were prized and well so because they made items that would last. The same goes for spinning excellence as they wanted good yarns to make into items that would last. These heirloom pieces last because of their fine workmanship. Children were taught at an early age such skills as spinning, knitting, and quilting.

The Welsh Tea Cakes are baked atop the stove, browned on each side.

The pretty wooden butter print was used to make the swan design on the butter.

Years ago farm wives would print their butter and take it to the country store for trading. If the housewife was known for superior butter, people would seek out the butter with her print.

The Welsh tea cakes are sprinkled with confectioners sugar. Tillie Tinkham, Corgyncombe's seamstress for the dolls, loves confectioners sugar.

Welsh tea cakes for tea at Corgyncombe Cottage. Delicious!