Devices for holding silk when wound were more popular in the past, when silk was dear and mercerised cottons were unknown. My work-box contains both wooden and mother-of-pearl silk winders, and a little carved silk holder, with a top that unscrews and a small hole at the side for the silk strand to come through.
Gentlewomen of the bye-gone age evidently indulged in note books as pretty as any to be found to-day. I have an ancient note-book containing paper and an ivory tablet. The binding outside is dark leather stamped very ornately with gold. In the centre, both back and front, is let in a medallion of the very finest Berlin wool work I have ever seen. Each medallion shows a group of roses and foliage perfectly executed. Yet is not more than an inch and a half across. The book inside is gorgeous with rose-silk pockets. In a flowing Italian hand, that so well matches the period of the book, someone has written down notes of a sermon preached at Cheltenham, but no date appears (a truly feminine omission !) It is possible that the same lady owned the flat silver vinaigrette, opening like a snuff box, that I keep in one compartment, with similar relics. It seems to suggest a hot day in church.
But the work-box is practical as well as ornamental. It is a matter of puffed up pride with me that I can invariably supply everybody's needs in the way of haberdashery.
There are linen buttons of all the orthodox sizes; glove and shoe buttons galore; hooks and eyes, white and black, of all gardes; cottons and silks for mending every imaginable shade of gloves, with lots of dress colours thrown in; white embroidery threads and cotton lie in orderly skeins, from size 1 onwards.
Friends try to catch me napping, and come to ask me for things they think I shan't have in stock, but I can usually supply them. White elastic I was asked for recently, also narrow linen tape, and black velvet binding for a skirt-bottom, I produced them all, trying to look modest, though I knew the inquirer didn't really need them. I told her I could also supply frilled elastic for suspenders if she required any, and small brass or ivory rings for sewing on fancy bags, and pins with any colour heads she liked to name. She retired, duly discomfited I trust.
Now my reason for telling about my work-box is to suggest to any readers who have only regarded a work-box as an uninteresting necessity that they might do worse than develop a "work-box hobby." I really do not know of many things that are more fascinating in a feminine way.
There is something very pretty about a well-ordered work-box, to start with, and that in itself is a great advantage. I like to look at the rainbow-coloured silks and cottons, at the lengths of pretty narrow ribbon, for lingerie, at the gay little pincushions, and the tiny bags made from odd bits of flowery silk, that I use for special buttons.
And then the utility of it gives an added charm. There is the same sort of pleasure in keeping it properly stocked as there is in looking after the store-cup board.
Moreover, this is not an expensive hobby
One can add a few reels of cotton at a time, and it does not amount to so very much.
A Box of Ribbon and Perforated Cardboard, ornamented with a wreath of forget-me-nots and roses.
The fittings, again, seem to collect themselves. Once you start, you wi11 be surprised to find how many trifles turn up that you pounce upon at once, exclaiming, "Thatwill just do for my work-box!" Whether the things are mordern or antique matters little, so longas they are pretty in themselves and can be turned to some practical purpose.
HEXAGONS AND SQUARES IN DARNED NET.
For directions see page 23.
A BBOAD EDGING.
The novelty of this lace lies in its simplicity of design and execution.
The design must form a series of curves, in fact, any simple braiding pattern can be followed for this make of lace, so long as sharp corners are avoided as much as possible.
Materials required: A very narrow lace braid, or even tape of the narrowest make will answer the purpose, though the lace braid is finer. - Tack the braid carefully over your pattern. Fill in the spaces by taking a thread from one side of the braid to the other as for herring-boning, but fastening the thread each time with a sort of knot formed thus: Hold down the 2 strands of thread with the thumb, make a button-hole stitch over these 2 strands. Draw up tightly, thus forming a kind of knot. Continue on opposite side the same.
To form a variety, the stitches are made more closely together in the narrow spaces, and the very wide spaces are filled in in the same manner, with a simple lace or buttonhole stitch.
In the more elaborate designs, button-holed bars fill in the very wide spaces.
This make of lace is most effective for infants' garments, lingerie frocks, jabots, and collars.
It also has a handsome effect when let into table linen of a fine quality.
This could be inserted in the end of a Sideboard Cloth, or in a linen Tea Cosy Cover, as illustrated on page 47.