Welcome to My Red Cape. Long ago in another time my husband Jack and I lived in a little old red house. It was the stuff of dreams to us for the few years that we were there. I live there still a number of hours every day in imagination, with old dolls and paintings and fabrics and feather trees. I draw inspiration and happiness from the memories of that space in time and share some of it here with friends who remember how to step with Alice through the looking glass and take delight in whimsies and antiquities. ~Edyth O’Neill

Sunday, December 6, 2009

two Greiner dolls Rachael dressed for me

The doll in the wild brown and blue print is a Greiner patent head, with the black stamp used before the printed label. They typically have this batty look which just sends me! I feel so fortunate to have a few dolls dressed by Rachael Kinneson. They are standouts! E

Thanksgiving at Sarah's house,19 of us

Chocolate Sheath cake I make often

Chocolate Sheath Cake, quick easy under 1 hour cake, start to finish
Sift and mix together in large bowl and set aside:
2 cups sugar
2 Cups flour
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp soda

Bring to rapid boil in a sauce pan, stirring contantly, then add to bowl and stir till well mixed:
2 sticks butter
(I use one stick butter in this pan, and add 1/2 cup apple sauce to the liquids later
plus a dash of salt to replace salt that would be in the butter.)
1 cup water
4 Tbs cocoa

Mix and add to bowl:
1/2 cup buttermilk (you can use plain milk)
1 tsp vanilla
3 eggs

Mix well and pour into 11 by 17 greased and floured pan. Bake 22 to 23 minutes at 400 degrees.

Begin icing 5 minutes before cake is done.

Melt togeher in saucepan and bring to a boil:
(VERY easy to scorch and ruin!!)
1 stick butter
1/3 cup milk
4 Tbs cocoa

Remove from heat and add fast:
1 box of sifted powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup pecons broken
Beat it quickly and pour and spread over cake while hot.
When cool, cut into squares and serve directly from the pan. This is a rich delicious chocolate lover's cake with the touch of cinnamon as is often added to Mexican chocolate recipies. Edyth

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Wednesday before Thursday!

It is countdown now to turkey day, we will be swamped with details of that. Yesterday China and folding chairs and blue napkins went to Sarah's house from ours. I gifted her permanently with one of our old Ironstone platters. I love to turn them over and see the dear old English marks. We will carry the turkey over tomorrow and slice it onto our best wheat pattern ironstone platter, very large and grand indeed. There will be three turkeys cooked three ways, and a ham. Many sides and many deserts. Norman Rockwell will be right there in spirit. About 20 of us will be eating there. More O'Neill branches will be in two other gatherings here in Fredericksburg.
Sarah and her mother Beth and I all have large amounts of the same china patterns. We are always able to pick up more from each other and serve groups nicely. Before the fire I had service for 36 in Spode indian tree. Some was damaged, I lost a lot of cups, and some other pieces were crazed from the heat. I still can serve over 24 in basic pieces. Beth concentrated on Spode's Christmas tree pattern, she has enough for about 30 of us in that. Sarah has the Spode blue room reissue things, including a nice amount of Spode Itallian. I have all three in our cupboards, as well as a bit of Spode tradewinds which mimics the old chinese export dishes with red sailing ships. Jack always says of us, we never met a dish we did not like!!!
When Great Granddaughter Bailey Elizabeth was about 3 she was making her way into the living room with a doll size tea set to show off, and dropped the teapot and broke it! Up went this heartbreaking wail, "Oh my China!" We were all in the livingroom and heard her and rolled our eyes. Poor little thing will love it as we three older ones do! Of course we showered the child with more tea sets. The beloved dishes are just a symbol for the joy of repeating the traditions once more, the beautiful ties of having 5 generations in households a few blocks apart in a small town. We count this among our greatest blessings to be thankful for, that we are close together on a daily basis. E

Friday, November 20, 2009

Glorious fall party

Our Antique study group met in San Antonio this month, and the day was one to savor. You can make new friends, but you can't make old friends is true of us who have been enjoying each other's collections for so many years. I took a lot of pics and want to share just a sample of them here. Notice in particular the mounding of fall arrangements up high on top of cupboards, and the pan rack over the island. Our food was served on the island, and then carried to individually decorated tables.
Lots of us are doing our own Thanksgiving tables this week, Blessings to each of you and your families. E

Needlecraft for Today cover 1978

The old dolls have been my passion since the early 1950's. My mama collected a few when she could, always, and I bought my first one on my own at age 23, about 1954. I was interested in the hooked rugs and clipped a few of them from American home magazine in the 50's and 60' but did not encounter anyone who knew how to make them until 1978. The rooster rug was my first one, it hangs in daughter Beth's house. Being on burlap rather than linen and having been used on the floor many years, attacked by moths and mended by me on one small corner, the rug could easily be sold today as 1930's antique. The cloth doll Minerve was with us a number of years, then traded to a dealer in Pennsylvania for a mache. She has a wonderful profile and a fierce expression, rather daunting to small children, whom I have seen back away from her after a close look. Sorting through old magazines which threaten to engulf us, it was fun to come across this one. E

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Saturday is for yard sales

How we enjoy the weekly treasure hunts, often returning empty handed or close to it, but about once a year we find rugs! Today we came home with 14 simple sterling rings, another nice Texas Crock for a group Jack is enjoying assembling, and two terribly abused rugs, both now scrubbed and thouroghly rinsed and drying on our back deck. The light one, my favorite, has an actual hole in it, not large, and I will patch it from the back with a piece of wool in a friendly color and with the all over pattern you will not notice it. Pictures of Jack with his crocks are from 2 weeks back, the little brown one has the name of a Fredericksburg Merchant on it, made for that business. Jack loves old American pottery and always lights up when he sees that. The crock he found this morning ( not pictured) is a simple cylindrical one, with spots and the Leon slip brown intereior that says "South Texas".
We miss the big antique shows and the great Brimfield markets we once played in, but let me assure you we are dangerous in the local competition! Have a Great Weekend, Edyth

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

The Lions in Winter

Family photos, Great grandson, small Jack 7 months old, a precious little bear!
My Jack ready for Halloween, Jack and I are feeling older as all these children grow up! Still busy and happy, Jack has gone to the gym to work out a bit this am and then on to run errands, I mailed away the last of 6 new rug patterns last week for Barb to publish in the new rug pattern supplement for Woolley Fox, and we are helping a bit with the move for Sarah's family into a house very near us. It is a glorious fall here, leaves just starting to turn, and I hope to paint some today! Best, E

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Tascha come home to me

This sweet doll was one of our very best ones, a very large milliner's model doll I named Tasha and sent photos of to Tasha T and had a letter back in Tasha T's own hand commending the doll and her wonderful original 1830's clothing. The doll went through our house fire which the letter and clothing and leather body did not survive. Jack cut away the sodden and smoked leather body and saved just the smoked and soggy head and her wooden limbs. I have not been able to bear to look at it these years! Dearest friend Rachael Kinnison undertook to make a new shapely body, correct in form and proportion. She painstakingly scraped away the ruined varnish, and forbore to repaint other than the hair color. The original painting of the soulful brown eyes and brows and all the features is intact. This leaves a very pale doll, but was a choice between results. Rachael spells the name Tascha, and as the doll seems re born to me I have changed my spelling. Rachael made all the clothing entirely by hand and of old fabric, with little piping and details that i have to have a magnifying glass to see! The corset or stays with a little carved busk belong in a museum! The amount of skill and time devoted to the doll are overwhelming. She will live with me now and someday will go to live with Aunt Rachael.

a new dress for a dolly

Hi Barb, Spoon is so happy to have a new (old)frock from you! Her last owner let Grandchildren run over her and tear and soil her dress and person. The owner gave her back to me 2 years ago, having bought the doll in 1983. I was so glad to welcome her back again. Spoon was one of my earlier rag dolls, signed and numbered 13.
I am working on the new rug designs, scroll down two posts to see the finished doll sized Welcom rug. Thank you again, Love, E

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Star of Texas Rug Camp

I had the wonderful experience of leading a class of rug hookers for a week at star camp here in Fredericksburg. They all came home for lunch with me one day. The rest of the time we were all busy working on a room full of exciting rugs, with color reverberating back and forth as we sought ever more beautiful combinations. My classes are never really about technique, but about effective color.
Even so we managed to start one brand new person off in the craft and to meet each person at the point they were on the rug crafting journey. Many of the women in the group are far more experienced than I am in making gorgeous rugs, so they just blew us all away!
There were over 110 people at the camp, with 7 teachers plus administrative folks. I enjoyed time to get to know the rest of the instructors better, and appreciate everyone's warm help. A beautiful event I was grateful to be part of. e

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Antique study group meeting

There was such a pretty party for our meeting today, and the subject is dear to my heart, everyone brought children's clothing of the past for show and tell. I took my big doll Susan in her little boy's red dress. She is a darling Tom boy in red with her blond curls. Everyone brought something charming, most a batch. The only garment there really old enough for my 19th century dolls to wear was a dear brown calico wrapper or dressing gown, lined in another pleasing brown calico print. Sweet old buttons. And at the end, the wonderful surprise is that the owner of the dress, our friend of over 25 years, GAVE me the dress for my doll family! Antiques, good company, beautiful foods, a table covered in a 10 ft antique woolen paisley, Altogether a lovely day! (I also took my little welcome rug in doll size, finished now. Worked on a size 6 cut.) pictures soon. Thank you for all the nice comments on the small rugs. e

Friday, August 28, 2009

Little hooked rugs

Some of the sweetest things in my doll collection are the wonderful furniture pieces my husband has made over the years. To go with them I have made a number of doll size rugs. Having lost the first ones, I am making some more, and find these small pieces easier on my hands than heavier rugs in real size. Above see the small whale and the little house rug both made some time back, and the little Hadley Welcom rug just now begun. It is about 9 inches tall to give you an idea of scale. I am having fun with this! By the way for those of you who know Penny, she is in Maine on an island sailing with friends and doing all kinds of fun things this week! e

A favorite mold for china and mache doll heads

Many times dolls were made in the same mold for either a china finish or a bisque, often parian untinted bisque. Sometimes too, we see the same mold used for china and mache. Such is the case for this one. Several examples of huge china heads in this mold are in Art of Dolls by Merrill.
Pictured in a chair is a huge doll, with an 11 inch tall shoulder head. This mold always has a sleepy eye on the doll's left eye. Abby is shown here in a great comb back rocker in the red cape. This mache head in this size was in Gerkin's book on maches. It is owned in a blond version by the Shelburne museum. It has been found and documented in one of the doll books as having a Superior label from Muller and Strausberger. This doll I called "Abby" has gone to live with Rachael K. The little dashes under the eyes, so typical of M and S superiors further confirm her origin. I now own lovely little "Hannah" a 9 1/2 to 10 inch tall mache shoulder head which I plan to sew a new body for. Her good old cloth hands are still intact and will stay with her. Can you see the same sleepy left eye? It is also on the painted eye china head doll beside Hannah in one picture. A doll of this mold is in the Richard Wright auction coming up soon. Now here is the puzzle: The mache heads are documented and beyond a doubt by Muller and Strauseburger. But the china heads are attributed to Kloster Vielsdorf, as stated and pictured on page 125 of Mary Krombholz's new book on chinas. I wish I could ask her and learn more about this mold! In either China or mache they are unusual finds. Edyth

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

A Message in a Shoe!

I started to put a shoe on the dolly I made the body for yesterday, and inside was folded a brown and torn scrap of paper. The paper itself was a bank deposit slip, from German American Bank, St Paul MN, dated 188blank for 1880 something. The lines for you to record your deposit included gold, silver, currency and checks. The slip was not used for that purpose, but contained an ink message in fine old script, "shoes that I wore when a baby" Mary Mc. I have carefully placed the pieces in a part of an archival photo album page to keep in my doll family scrap book. The doll may get the name of Mary.
Here she sits on my bed. I am making a big effort to get my dolls dressed. One of the first things I see each morning is this trio of big dolls atop a black highboy in my bedroom. I have many large dolls that want small girl's cotton dresses, prints preferred, These are big 35 and 36 inch dolls I need dresses for. If any one has any early cotton ones to sell, I would love to hear about it. Also I have a small perfect pink toned covered wagon china head, very very nice, that I would trade for a very special dress. Photos and measurements exchanged. This is a head not a doll.


Saturday, August 15, 2009

A very large steiff cow came our way. Jack named her Moolah, because she seemed a bit pricey with all the mending she has, including teddy bear like ears which I may find better fabric for later. She now is somewhat cleaner, and has her eyes resewn and her new felt horns, not as white as the photo looks. We are watching for a turkey bell, which is shaped like a cow bell only smaller. I will also watch for an old blue silk ribbon to go around Moolah's neck. I know a serious plush collector would not consider her a treasure, but I am delighted with her. Two of my dolls have already claimed her. Moolah is about 16 inches tall and 24 inches long, a big toy!

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Had a letter from a friend long missed

Helen it is wonderful to see you posting again, oh how I have missed you my friend, but would not for the world have you use your hand in pain.
We are fine, as are all our chicks, I am sore all over from scrubbing out the cabinets and digging in the new yard, (more of the yard work at Courtney in the morning early) Thank you for pleasant words on the house, it can be viewed at
Yes I can see where to put our jugs up high and hang baskets and paint Rufus Porter scenes on the wall. What I cannot see is how to ever fit our still growing collection into the 1670 sq feet. No way. We will hold on here as long as we can reasonably do so, which might be for the duration. I document my antique dolls in notebooks for the good of whomever may have to sell them someday, or just want to know more about them, and I passed doll number 101 last week.
A new book, a pictorial reference for German china dolls by Krombholz came today and I must say it is one of my top favorites already! The dolls are certainly not all repetitious for those of us who have Mary's other books, (I have 3 others) and the presentation is awesome.
Fun to see my new parian in the book. I am one who will buy a doll for beauty and appeal and rarity, and too bad if she is damaged, so long as I know it and the price reflects condition. When I began collecting, condition was certainly important, particularly the degree of originality, but I did not become aware of the real stigma on damaged dolls until the 90's. However I will say that any break on the face is unacceptable to me, and a speck off the end of a nose is terrible indeed, and still... there is an adorable brown eyed Sophia Smith china in my sewing basket who simply delights me, and she has a tiny roughness on the tip of her nose! She is the little flat shoulder type from an early wooden body and dear! So I often make a plea for flexibility on condition, again if known and priced for it.
When are you coming to Fredericksburg!!??? Love, Edyth

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Whew what a heat wave!

Dear Friends, it seems like all of us are experiencing extreme weather. Dixie my friend in Maine can hardly get a day warm enough to let her boys swim! Here in west central Texas, we are enduring 100 degree plus almost everyday and are in the grip of an historical drought.
Jack and I , along with several younger members of our family have been working on a second house we are offering for rent now. I got my first call about it from an ad placed today, a woman in California, moving here soon. Yesterday I began a blog to show photos of the house, it is hard to get anything nice looking without a stick of furniture in it! Any way it is bright and shining clean and fresh, and has surprisingly good spaces for just 1670 sq ft! . Will add more photos there by this week end. http://609courtney.blogspot.com/
Our whole family will be glad to have the little house finished, wish us luck to find a renter who will enjoy it and keep it nicely.
I will be glad to return to enjoying our own house! Star of Texas rug camp comes soon in mid September, always a highlight, and this year most of all because I will be teaching there too. That is my swan song though, I have declined to repeat there next year, or have another class planned here at our house this fall or to teach at Souder next year. I deeply appreciate the honor of the invitations, sad to say this old grey mare just ain't what she used to be. My hands will not hook much now and I will be selling 90% of my personal rug wool. I need to stay home and enjoy my own gardens and take tea with my dollies and such friends as may come to join us.
Jack and I had dear friends in the antique business some years ago, and when they began to slow down and do fewer shows, Austin Smith said " If you can't run with the big dogs, get under the porch!" It is interesting to see how as some doors close, others open, that really is true is it not? E

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

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