Long Post

11 Apr 2008


Some time ago I came across these two old blankets at the op shop. I'm always on the look out for decent blankets either to use as is or re purpose. White blankets are especially desirable for felting and dyeing.

It wasn't until I got them home that I took a good look at their labels. I always check before I buy that the blankets are woollen and if they are Australian or even Tasmanian made so much the better. Not because I'm trying to buy local I'm just interested to know about local woollen mills especially as Launceston was a mill town and when I was a child many of my school friends had parents who worked at Patons and Baldwins, later to become Coats Patons. We also had the Tamar Knitting Mill and Waverly Woollen Mill. Only Waverly still exists and of course these days a lot of Australian wool heads overseas to be milled.

Anyway if you read the labels you can see they are both wartime blankets being made to wartime specifications. Isn't that interesting? I don't feel I can cut them up now. My interest in our social history from the 1930s through until the 1960s is growing with each new discovery I'm lead to.

My reading of various wartime diaries; discovering more about my parents childhood and the lives of my grandmothers as they raised their children one living in a small rural mining community and one in an inner city area that contained slums and poverty; living in a house that was built at the start of the Great Depression; television programmes such as the 1940s House, The Cazalets, All Creatures Great and Small, Love in a Cold Climate as well as various books by and about the Mitford sisters ; films such as Mrs Miniver, Brief Encounter and Since You Went Away; vintage homemaking books such as How to Run Your Home Without Help from Persephone and The Book of Hint and Wrinkles sent to me by the lovely Natalie as well as novels by Monica Dickens "Mariana" and "One Pair of Hands" and Elizabeth Taylor's "At Mrs Lippincotes"as well as others: each of these seems to lead me onto something else even more interesting. The local history of Launceston during those thirty years is easy to find and there are of course still so many people around who were just starting out on their adult lives during that time.

Finding some thing like the labels on those old blankets makes me feel as though I have found a real treasure. It's not that I want to go back to those times I am just fascinated by them. A place in time so close we can almost touch it when the horror of the plastic bag was unknown, when recycling was unheard of , it just happened naturally and was part of good housekeeping and good use was made of any excess that came into the house, when walking and cycling and public transport were the norm not an oddity. I love the conveniences of modern life and I'm thankful for the positive gains of modern medicine and technologies but its comforting to know that people were able to live decent lives without all the paraphenalia we seem to have accumulated.


Imagine my surprise when I picked up my books from the library yesterday and found that the Alison Uttley book that I had requested was an original 1945 edition.


I am surprised they let me borrow it.


And at the bottom of the page was this little note. The pages are very full with writing. No double spaces between paragraphs, new chapters begin on the same page that the previous one finished and the margins around the writing are very small.

It is amazing to me how the war effected every facet of life, even down to the economical production of books.


As well as the books that were waiting for me I also happened upon this little treasure.

Kate has decided that her dolls house is too childish for her, the chunky furniture and dolls. What she dreams of is a proper grown up dolls house. You know I used to dream and even pray for a doll house when I was a child. It was so special to me that I never told anyone about my dream. Consequently I was never given a dollhouse. Sometimes parents and Father Christmas need a few clues.
Now it seems that my time has come. Kate and I are slowly hatching plans for our very own dollhouse. The only problem is that she wants to decorate it like Green Gables of L.M.Montgomery fame and I, after finding this book want to go for 1930/40s style. We may have to have a doll house each. What do you think? Or more importantly what does Stephen think as he will be the chief builder.

To push my case, just look at these gorgeous pieces of furniture:





I have just noticed that my fingernails are a bit grotty, sorry, and you can see the scar on my finger where I chopped myself with the secateurs and fainted.





I just love all these dinky little things. What is it about miniatures that is so appealing?

I must admit that another thing I love about the thirties and forties is all the wonderful knitwear. Those women were fantastic knitters through all kinds of adversity they knitted for their families and others to keep their loved ones warm and give comfort as well as being wonderfully creative with wonderfully functional creations. Having seen the Anne of Green Gables and Avonlea films though , they too had some spectacular knitwear.

Well at the moment it is all a dream and I've more than enough to do but it could look upon it as my Twentieth Century Social History Thesis couldn't I ?

18 Responses to “Long Post”

  1. I love the Miss Read books, they take me back to a simpler time.

    I realize England is not like that these days... but I can dream. :)

    Much like America is not like The Walton's TV show or Andy Griffith but we look back and see that they truly knew how to live day to day and that neighbors were important.

    By the way... LOVE the cat on the table. Don't they just take over the house, even when napping?

  2. I have a waverley blanket, from the "checked" era that I picked up in an op-shop. It is great on my son's bed in winter or even mine. You really can't beat the quality of the old blankets.
    I too love the era when my parents grew up and luckily as a child i was brought up to bake and cook from scratch. I'd love to return to simpler times where what I do is the norm rather than being different!
    I love reading your blog, but tend to be a lurker most of the time - your posts are always so pictorially beautiful and well written. I feel like I am peeking in your back door.
    Lis in Adelaide

  3. What fun, Jenny!

    I love miniatures too. And the Warnumbool blankets -- what a find! Thanks for sharing!

  4. Hi Jen,thanks for sharing this wonderful post. The woolen blankets are special and I can see why you wouldn't want to cut them up for projects. How neat to beable to read the orginal edition of the book you requested,and I love the book on dollhouse miniatures. What fun to be planning a dollhouse with your Kate. Maybe you can both do your own and that would be a fun project as well.....Thanks for your long lovely post. Blessings on your home and family......


  5. I think the biggest problem with the current war on our homefront (There are lots of problems but I don't want to get too political with this) is how, for most of us without military ties, it is easy to forget it. Our military families are making all the sacrifice, while we have as much sugar and butter and gasoline as we can want. We are not required to economize and sacrifice for our cause.

    Modern warfare can be so easy to forget..so easy to ignore. I think I have always been drawn to the 30s and 40s because of their sense of community.. their bonded effort to make do with so little so the war effort could go forward. They were united in finding the perfect Christmas pudding recipe that they could make with their rations. I love the Miss Read books, and in one she talks about a wartime group of women who came together to make their Christmas puddings, each bringing their small stash of sultanas or sugar to contribute...a very funny story.. just don't remember which of her books this was in.

    Anyway, I hope I made sense...

    I also love dollhouses...had some real beauties when I was small thanks to my grandmother. I will have to tell you about them sometime!

  6. The blankets are such a wonderful find.
    One of my all time favorite movies is "Since You Went Away." Another great movie from that time is "The Best Years of Our Lives."
    Blessings to you and your family,

  7. O, I love doll houses! Like you, I'd go for the 30s 40s style. I've got a half finished doll house that I was styling in the Art Nouveau style. We haven't got enough room for it where we live now, but if we ever move to a bigger place in the future, I'll be doing miniature things again! :)

  8. I am also fascinated by women's history from war-time. I have a little pincushion that says "made in occupied Japan."

  9. Good evening Jenny,
    Your find of the blankets made me look for the one that had been kept from my childhood. The label reads, WFB pure wool Triple wear blanket, Made in Australia. It's has large pink, blue, yellow & orange squares. I used it for an extra blanket when our children were small.
    I also have a collection of spools, one of them I know comes from the Onkaparinga Mill that was in South Australia. Sad to think that many of these mills have now closed.
    I think two dolls houses are needed, then you & Kate can decorate to your heart's desire. But I have to say Green Gables decoration is to my liking. My daughter & I (with the family male lurkers)use to watch the Green Gables movies over & over again.

  10. Jenny,
    I am also so fascinated by this period in time. Your post is wonderful. Have a blessed weekend. Love, Tami

  11. Oh, Definitely, you should each have a dollhouse of your own!!! I am currently hatching plans for a house made from a salvaged bookshelf. It is perfect for Hitty-Scale, which is more like 1:10 than 1:12. I don't know hwat it is about miniatures...I just LOVE them!

  12. what a wonderful find, I love wool blankets. I have rescued several from thrift store. But none with the origianal lables. What a treat they are in such good condition. Your doll house/houses with Kate sound great. Have you ever checke out Tasha Tudors minature world. I like both ideas, of time. But lean toward the Green Gables erea, as I had a kitchen that was so retro it was original:) To dented to be saved for inside but they will make a wonderful addition to my potting shed, and gardening area. I have an old stove I won't part with. I agree with you about the times being a celebration of women taking care of their families. It was something to be proud of. Lost arts in so many ways. I think it's good to explore those simpler times. Thank you for the insight and all the fun toys to dream over.

  13. Thanks for the peek into the miniatures book.

    I have only in the last year taken up knitting. I realised that my Granny can't knit anymore and in about a decade or two my Mum may not be able to either. I thought it prudent to reaquaint myself with this skill before I didn't have the years of experience from previous generations to guide me! I have to say, I'm loving it. I've only chosen simple things, but I'm enjoying it immensely!

  14. Oh, I LOVE your research, however informal, on the 30s and 40s. I'm absolutely fascinated too. So I'd vote for a dollhouse in that style or yes, one for you alone!

  15. jenny, I too love the way life was lived in the 30's and 40's. For me it is about simplicity. I am happy to have an automatic washing machine, breadmaker, electric stove, computer etc but I also like to peg my clothes out, sew my clothes, cook from scratch, practice thrift, dress my children to look like children, etc etc. I try to live according to the way people lived back then as I feel this adds quality to my life.

    Mrs MacKenzie

  16. What an interesting post. As a child in the 1960's I had some of my Mother's wartime editions of Enid Blyton books. They stated that they were printed to wartime regulations and were on very thick blotting-paper type pages - probably made from recycled pulp by the feel of them. I've still got those books up in the loft and I'm hoping my nephew will enjoy reading them when he's a bit older. When my sister and I shared a flat 20 plus years ago we had an old 'utility' sofa (made to strict wartime rationing). It was the most sturdy and comfortable sofa I've ever owned. Sadly, we had to leave it behind when we left the flat as we couldn't get it back down the stairs again. How I wish I still had it, it was much more comfortable than the modern ones I have now.

  17. I found your post fascinating, Jenny. I have books published on thin paper because it was wartime, but no other items. While many things from that era are appealing, the thought of having to send either my husband or my sweet sons off to fight sends me cold. I think I would rather live now (well, in Australia anyway). Nazi germany can't have been much fun, either.


  18. I am so fascinated by domestic history from say 1840 onwards,but especially the 20th century up until the 1960s.I have a flannalette cot sheet which was on my cot in 1947.it is utility one and has been a cot sheet for my three children,my two grandchildren,used as an ironing blanket when you need to iron things on the kitchen table.Now it is used in my siamese cat Phryne's basket.There is still no holes or even thin places in it !! Made to LAST WOULDN'T YOU SAY ? My Mother is still using her utility dressing table which was bought when she married during wartime.


Thanks so much for taking the time to chat. I don't always have time to reply but I do read every message you leave.