Devan and I have been reading Farmer Boy by Laura Ingalls Wilder. Although I read this book as a child, I had forgotten about all the amazing references to the textile arts—a necessity in the 1800s. Wilder tells the story of the day to day life of a nine-year-old farm boy and his family. In addition to plowing the fields, planting potatoes and breaking calves, the reader gets lessons in weaving, knitting, dyeing and sewing.
I particularly enjoyed the description of how the young boy’s clothes were made by his mother.
… but inside his good woolen clothes he was warm. They were all made from the wool of his father’s sheep. His underwear was creamy white, but Mother had dyed the wool for his outside clothes.
Butternut hulls had dyed the thread for his coat and his long trousers. Then Mother had woven it, and she had soaked and shrunk the cloth into heavy, thick fullcloth. Not wind nor cold nor even a drenching rain could go through the good fullcloth that Mother made.
For Almanzo’s waist she had dyed fine wool as red as a cherry, and she had woven a soft, thin cloth. It was light and warm and beautifully red.
Almanzo’s long brown pants buttoned to his red waist with a row of bright brass buttons, all around his middle. The waist’s collar buttoned snugly up to his chin, and so did his long coat of brown fullcloth. Mother had made his cap of the same brown fullcloth, with cozy ear-flaps that tied under his chin. And his red mittens were on a string that went up the sleeves of his coat and across the back of his neck. That was so he couldn’t lose them.
He wore one pair of socks pulled snug over the legs of his underdrawers, and another pair outside the legs of his long brown pants, and he wore moccasins. They were exactly like the moccasins that Indians wore.