Hope Chest and Crocheted Items

18-year-old Helena Muffly wrote exactly 100 years ago today: 

Thursday, August 21, 1913:  Am trying to learn to crochet. I’d like to be able to do that ever so very much.

hope.chest

Her middle-aged granddaughter’s comments 100 years later:

The diary provides no indication that Grandma had a boyfriend—but did she dream of a boyfriend and eventual marriage?

Many young women a hundred years ago had hope chests that they filled with items they made in anticipation of a future marriage.Did Grandma want to make crocheted items for her hope chest?

1913-08-33.bLinens and nightgown with crocheted trim (Source: Ladies Home Journal, 1912-1913)

16 Responses

  1. I wonder if her cousin Alma had a hope chest, and was able to crochet; hence Helena’s seemingly sudden interest in learning to crochet.

  2. My mom used to crochet. I have a nice afghan that she made for me. We would also use a crochet hook and make long chains out of string when we were kids.

  3. Was she already a knitter? Certainly in England, most working-class girls of her age would have been accomplished knitters, taught by their mothers at a very young age. I guess the same for the US?

  4. That is a gorgeous hope chest, yours? I am actually surprised that grandma could not crochet yet, usually a girl would learn these skills at a much younger age. I wonder if she was left handed, it is so difficult to learn to crochet when left handed! great post, thanks for sharing!

  5. I’m surprised she didn’t already know how to crochet. I guess I thought everyone knew how back then. It’s one of the hobbies that I regret having given up.

  6. I never had that crafty feeling. Didn’t want to knit or crochet or do needlepoint, etc…

  7. I am also surprised that she did not already know how to crochet etc. My mother taught me how to knit and crochet and sewing when I was around ten years old. And I thought that many schools in your grandmothers time had such classes for the girls.

  8. We had a hope chest noting fancy but it was basically old leftover army footlockers. I still have mine now filled with treasures from when i was a child and things of my children. I filled mine with gifts from my aunts for that special day, towels and a few little odds and ends. My mother gave me a linen table cloth that belonged to her mother and has some crochet around the edges that now is worn and has holes in along with some doilies that I still use although they have seen better days. The doilies I believe her mom or her sister made either way they are at least 50 yrs old. I wonder if Helena traded off thing for a hope chest with things from her childhood or her childrens things.

  9. It is so telling that Grandma wanted to crochet EVER SO MUCH, She gives us a little peek into language 100 years ago.

  10. Are hope chests a thing of the past? One never hears of them any more. A graduation gift was a small cedar box and a coupon for a discount off a cedar chest from a local furniture company. It was something everyone had at one time.

  11. Crocheting was the “in” thing I think – and not necessarily knitting. Today it’s knitting making a comeback.

  12. I filled my hopechest with stuff from $1.49 Day. A old store here ‘Woodward’s’ used to have the best stuff on Tuesdays.

  13. I have recently started crocheting again and it has been so much fun! I wonder if your Grandma made something… maybe we’ll find out later in a future entry? :)

  14. This is beautiful, Sheryl.
    My mother and aunts taught me to crochet, but only my grandmother did tatting. Tiny, tiny stitches creating the most beautiful borders on bed linens and tablecloths. This brings back a lot of memories. Thank you.

  15. My mother taught me to crochet when I was a child. She learned from her older sister, who was the first one in the family to learn.

  16. Here, in South Australia in the 1950s/60s, a “hope chest” was actually very common. Not necessarily a “chest” but a collection of homeware in preparation for marriage.
    My nana was very talented at Crochet, and everything else :-) … but died before passing it on to me and mum had never accomplished that particular art. What a delight that my hubby’s Grandmother taught me to crochet when we were just “dating”…Thanks Nana Andy … xxx :-)

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