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Laura Ingalls: Lace Knitter

May 13, 2013

As many of you know, I'm a big Laura Ingalls Wilder fan. I read all of her books as a little girl, more than once. I read them again when I was about 30 years old and recovering from surgery. I remember that as a wonderful time, even though I was bed-ridden for two weeks.

    
The Ingalls girls: (left to right) Carrie, Mary, and Laura. Photographer and date unknown. (Photograph © the Laura Ingalls Wilder Museum, Mansfield, Missouri.)
I wasn't a knitter when I re-read the Little House books, so I didn't take note of Laura or the other characters knitting in the books. I was so thrilled to see this article about Laura knitting, which appears in the May/June 2013 issue of PieceWork magazine. Author Mary Lycan does a fabulous job bringing Laura and her knitting back to life, along with providing fascinating background information about what was going on in De Smet un 1880. Here's an excerpt from that article:

OF ALL THE NEEDLEWORK described in Laura Ingalls Wilder's Little House books, the petticoat lace that Laura (1867-1957) knitted during the Hard Winter of 1880-1881 speaks to me the most. As supply trains coming west from Minnesota were blocked by ice and snow, as food and fuel stocks dwindled to nothing, as shrieking blizzard winds blew snow into house-high drifts or scoured the street bare, thirteen-year-old Laura sat in her Pa's store building in De Smet, Dakota Territory, and knitted lace edging on fine needles with a spool of cotton thread.

Winters were usually a season of relative leisure for farmwomen. After the hard work of harvest and preserving, drying, smoking, or freezing food for the coming winter, they could rest a little. Typically, they did their housework in the morning and served the main meal at noon. After the dishes were done and the baby put down for a nap, they could sit down with their needlework.

There was plenty of routine needlework to do. The four Ingalls girls wore wool dresses and petticoats over long flannel underwear, all handsewn from store-bought yard goods. Ma and Mary knitted socks for Pa and stockings for all the girls. Everyone had to be cocooned in wool coats, shawls, hoods, mufflers, and mittens before they could step outside.

Ma could knit socks by firelight or lamplight, and blind Mary could knit at any time. Early afternoons, with their strong sunlight, were the best time for the fiddly patterns and tiny stitches of Laura's fancywork. Midday winter sunlight reflected from ice or snow was the strongest and clearest light of all.

Pa's store building in De Smet, on the east side of north-and-south running Main Street (now Calumet), had windows on each side of the front door. That was just the place to put Ma's and Mary's rocking chairs for the most warmth and light, and that is where Laura sat to work on her lace on a Saturday in October of 1880:

    
Delicate shell-motif lace from the New-York Tribune weekly edition, November 11, 1879, chosen by Mary Lycan for the lace that Laura knitted for Mary's petticoat in The Long Winter. (Photograph by Joe Coca.)
"In the sunshine from the western windows Mary rocked gently, and Laura's steel knitting needles flashed. Laura was knitting lace, of fine white thread, to trim a petticoat. She sat close to the window and watched the street, for she was expecting Mary Power and Minnie Johnson. They were coming to spend the afternoon, bringing their crocheting. . . . 'Oh, bother! I've miscounted the stitches!' she exclaimed. She unraveled the row and began to pick the tiny stitches up again on the fine needle. . . . The little loops of thread were dimming before her eyes as if she were going blind. She could not see them. The spool of thread dropped from her lap and rolled away on the floor as she jumped up." [The Long Winter, by Laura Ingalls Wilder]

Then another blizzard struck.

When coal supplies began to run low in De Smet and trains were blocked again, the Ingalls family stopped using the coal heater in the front room and huddled around the cook stove in the kitchen in the back. The cramped, darker kitchen had a single side window. Laura kept knitting her lace.

When sunshine melted the frost on the window and it refroze into sheets of ice over the cold glass, she pried the ice off the panes, wiped them dry, and kept on knitting. She finished the lace before Christmas. The trains were still blocked, and so buying Christmas presents for anyone but Grace and Pa was out of the question.

Laura wound her lace into a roll, wrapped it carefully in tissue paper, and gave it to Mary: "She fingered it lovingly and her face was shining with delight. ‘I'll save it to wear when I go to college,' she said. ‘It's another thing to help me to go. It will be so pretty on a white petticoat' " [The Long Winter, by Laura Ingalls Wilder].

—Mary Lycan, from PieceWork magazine, May/June 2013

How many of us have said something like "oh, bother!" when we've miscounted our own stitches? I love it. And Mary's reaction to her gift is so touching. As part of her article, Mary Lycan chose a lace border that she thought might be similar to Laura's lace. The pattern is a combination of Vandyke triangles and garter-stitch squares, and it would indeed look lovely on an 1880s-style petticoat.

All of this makes me want to read The Long Winter again! It was one of my favorites. And maybe I'll do a little lace knitting and make Laura's lace edging for a pillowcase, since petticoats aren't part of my everyday wardrobe!

PieceWork magazine is always full of wonderful information and patterns that connect us to our favorite figures in history and introduce us to new ones. Subscribe today so you don't miss a thing.

Cheers,

P.S. Are you a Little House fan? Leave a comment and let us know which book is your favorite and why! Mine is Farmer Boy. Who's with me?

 


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Comments

smileygal wrote
on Jun 6, 2013 8:53 PM

Reading the Little House books is what helped me become interested in learning to knit. Recently our power went out during a thunderstorm. I was knitting a sock at the time and remembered that the Ingalls ladies would sit and knit by candle light. I tried it y'all... it's HARD! I couldn't see!

Glenna@3 wrote
on Jun 6, 2013 12:23 PM

Love love love Laura Ingalls Wilder and all of her books!  I'm also fortunate enough to live in Springfield, Missouri, about 45 miles from Mansfield where she and Almanzo lived and raised their daughter Rose. The house where Laura wrote the books in her later years is now one of my favorite museums to visit.  They have pieces of lace made by Laura, Mary, and Caroline, Pa's fiddle, and tons of other personal treasures we all know from the books.  If you ever get the chance to visit...Y'all come on over, as we say here in the Ozarks, you'll enjoy it!

sprucetree20 wrote
on May 21, 2013 3:33 PM

I adored the Little House books as a kid and now, at 30, I've been reading through them again.

I also recently discovered the "pre-Laura" books, depicting the stories of her great grandmother, grandmother and mother in their childhoods.

Check out your library for the books by Melissa Wiley (Martha years and Charlotte years) or Maria D.Wilkes and Celia Wilkins (Caroline years).  They are quite well done, though mostly fiction based on historical facts.

Doodledaddy wrote
on May 20, 2013 2:52 PM

I have the LIttle House books, too, and have loved them since my childhood, as well. It very well may be unsual for a man to like those books, but I have always had a love of the warmth and coziness expressed in a setting of good, strong, loving family life, things which are sorely absent in so many homes today.  I was fortunate enough to grow up in this kind of loving environment, so it holds that much more value to me, as I can fully relate and appreciate the value of a strong, tightly-knit family, where knitting REALLY counts the most, both figuratively and literally.  I can't really state which book is my favorite, as every page of each one holds treasure for the youngest listener or reader, to the very oldest centenarian. I actually crotcheted lace very similar, though a little more detailed, as the lace pictured, for a pair of socks that my daughter wore as a little girl.  The socks were store bought, thin dressy socks to wear with Mary Janes and ruffled dresses for church, and the lace was a shell pattern that I crotcheted directly around the outside of the socks, placing the shells really close together to form a ruffled effect.  They were  so cute on her, that I have those socks packed away, and I will NEVER part with them, as I see her in them every time I look in that box of memorobilia.  I loved the descriptions of food, too, and have to admit to drooling over them, as I imagined those food laden tables and snacks!  I did notice all the references to sewing, paper projects, crotcheting, knitting, and needlework mentioned throughout the series of books, and  really loved the diaries of Laura at the 1915 state fair in California with her daughter Rose as adults, and the diary of Rose as they traveled when she was a girl.  I was shocked to read that the Ingalls family had actually lived in Florida for a time, in between the books titled Little House In On The Prairie and On The Banks OF Plum Creek!  I just wonder why Laura chose to omit that time from her books?  It may have been  a short time, but it would sure be nice to have read about it!  I still love to re-read these books, even at the age of 45!

on May 19, 2013 4:08 PM

I read all of the Little House books as a child and loved them. I had the opportunity last year to re-read them to my own children. They are still as wonderful and charming as the first time I read them. My favorite is also Farmer Boy mostly, I have to admit, because of the descriptions of the foods they ate. My daughter and I were exclaiming over the pies, cakes and especially donuts that Alonzo got to eat everyday.

Pat wiklund wrote
on May 19, 2013 11:16 AM

Because I was sick a lot as a little girl, the Little House Books were precious to me. I read them over and over and got really excited when my Mother would find a new one and bring it home to me. I'd cuddle down in her big bed and read until it was finished, then read it again! Of course then I'd have to start at the beginning and read them all, finishing with a third read of my newest book.

I am still a voracious reader and realized that i need to go back and read the Little House series again at 70.

However, I don't think I'll challenge these eyes with making such tiny lace...maybe a larger version...hmmmmm

bjanderson2 wrote
on May 18, 2013 9:59 PM

Farmer Boy was the first of the "Little House" books I ever read and it is still my favorite. I loved the description of daily life on the farm, as well as the days when Almanzo got to stay home for "special occasions". My favorite part is the story of the stove black on the parlor wall. I used that solution later on in my teens when a ladle-ful of spaghetti sauce hit a wall while mother was away. I forgot the ceiling though.I was always impressed at the amount of knitting and sewing the women did, sewing especially without a machine. I "get" knitting now, and understand the need, and the beautiful things that were created...I still can't imagine sewing for a large family without a machine, however!

ellenceleste wrote
on May 18, 2013 2:32 PM

Little House on the Prairie was the first 'real' book I ever read.  I still remember standing in the public library with my second grade teacher when she placed the book in my hand.  I looked at that cover with Laura and Mary in the back of the covered wagon and fell in love.  I've read the series over and over, most recently about two years ago.  The writing is so exquisite.  Rose Wilder Lane was an absolute genius, and every word so carefully chosen to evoke a place, a time, an atmosphere.  Their trek to Oklahoma Territory is still my favorite, and I still tear up thinking of Jack the brindle bull dog crossing that swollen river and coming to find them.  And Mr. Edwards meeting Santa Claus and bringing Christmas to them.  Probably my next favorite is Long Hard Winter which so fascinated me, as I had never seen snow -- and didn't until I was in my 20's.  

umlaut wrote
on May 18, 2013 11:41 AM

I, too, read all the Little House books again and again.  Everytime I had a cold and stayed in bed, I re-read "Farmer Boy" because it has the best food of any book except "A Christmas Carol."  I also enjoyed 'Let the Hurricane Roar" by  Rose Wilder Lane about Laura's early marriage and, of course, a treasure is 'American Needlework" with pictures of Laura's handwork (also by Rose W. Lane, her daughter).  The one thing I have tried to knit and failed to conquer is that round doily of Laura's.  On my bucket list is a visit to her homestead in Missouri - one of these days...

Sister12345 wrote
on May 18, 2013 11:02 AM

One day back when Little House was a new television program, I was at the library and was amused to hear some young girls, @10 years old, exclaiming excitedly that "Someone has written books about Little House on the Prairie!" It was my great pleasure to explain to the girls that the books had been written long ago and they were the true stories about the Ingalls family, written by the little girl, Laura, in the TV shows when she had grown up.

susanolson1 wrote
on May 18, 2013 9:47 AM

I loved reading this article, as it reminded me of the many times I read Long Winter (and all the rest) as a girl and then again to my own children.  It also inspired me to look for some simple lace edging patterns to try and I found this fabulous article and set of simple patterns by designer Franklin Habit.

knitty.com/.../FEATss10SIT.php

stitchwoman wrote
on May 18, 2013 9:09 AM

I have been a Little House fan since third grade.  This series started my lifelong passion for reading.  Kathleen, after reading your article, I am inspired to read the series all over again.  My favorite is Little House in the Big Woods because it is about my home state, Wisconsin.

ResaP wrote
on May 18, 2013 8:49 AM

My beloved aunt who taught me to crochet at age 5 bought me these books when I was growing up, and I loved them!  I have gone through the books two more times with my children.  I home school them, and I used a unit study that uses the Little House series books as reading books.  I have enjoyed them all so very much, and it is very hard to pick a favorite, but I think _Little House in the Big Woods_  is my pick.

klbucci wrote
on May 18, 2013 8:45 AM

Thanks Kathleen for sharing this! I had forgotten that my childhood hero (mostly because she grew up to be a writer) was also a knitter! I'll echo the sentiment that it's difficult to choose a favorite LIW but I think Farmer Boy is one of them because I also have always LOVED horses and Almanzo had his VERY OWN as a boy. After I first read the series at age 9, I wasn't sure who I wanted to be more -- Laura or Almanzo! Thanks again. This article and reading all the comments had me smiling and feeling very nostalgic! :)

DeniseN wrote
on May 18, 2013 8:10 AM

Haven't read the Little House series but your article reminds me of the pillowcases I have tucked away, tied with ribbon with this lovely lace knit edging. The work was done by my Grandmother probably well over 40 years ago. I can't bring myself to use them.

On another note, isn't the resemblance remarkable between the real Laura Ingalls and young Melissa Gilbert who played her on the TV show.

DebbbieJ wrote
on May 17, 2013 11:30 PM

On the Banks of Plum Creek has always been my favorite. It was the first LIW book I read, followed by the Little House in the Big Woods. i really enjoyed reading the books and following her through out her life as she got older, but the early years were my favorites.

jparquer wrote
on May 16, 2013 11:58 PM

I liked reading about Charlotte in the growing up years.  Charlotte lovingly called Lottie is Laura`s  Grandmother.  2nd favorites are Plum creek and Farmer Boy.

lomelindi wrote
on May 16, 2013 6:53 PM

I also love Farmer Boy mostly for the descriptions of the food!! But in my heart of hearts The Long Winter has always been my favorite.

on May 14, 2013 7:49 PM

I don't know if I have a favorite book, but one of my favorite moments is in "The First Four Years" when Laura left the sugar out of the "pie plant" pie she was serving to the threshers.  It became a favorite when I realized that "pie plant" was rhubarb!

Suzanne Morchin

DoreenK@3 wrote
on May 14, 2013 6:25 PM

I have read all of the Little House books and love them still. We even went to the Laura Ingalls Wilder Museum in Missouri.  I have Rose Wilder Lanes book about her Mother and enjoyed it also.l  My favorite of the books would be. These Happy Golden Years. Laura has always been my hero.  Seeing the actual items that she  made  and the houses she and Manny lived in was wonderful.

tmknitta wrote
on May 14, 2013 4:49 PM

My Dad read Little House in the Big Woods to me and the rest of the kids when I was about 6. I loved the description of Christmas in the Big Woods and the maple sugar candy that was made using a pan of snow. I bought a full set of all the titles for my daughters and we all love them and read them over and over again - as an adult they are still relevant, comforting and entertaining. It would be lovely to visit the museum one day...

Who would have thought all these details of day to day living would be so captivating for so many - even as far afield as Northland in New Zealand.

Cindy Weaver wrote
on May 14, 2013 4:08 PM

I haven't read The Long Winter but I believe I will now. I recall reading several of the Little House books to my three young boys, who loved them as much as any girl would have. I still watch the TV reruns of the show. This was a really great article and I enjoyed it thoroughly.

jo morgan wrote
on May 13, 2013 10:43 PM

Can't name a favorite!  I read all of the series over and over as a child and still love to reread them every 10 years or so!  They're still all favorites!  I especially love the story of Christmas in Little House on the Prairie.

jo morgan wrote
on May 13, 2013 10:43 PM

Can't name a favorite!  I read all of the series over and over as a child and still love to reread them every 10 years or so!  They're still all favorites!  I especially love the story of Christmas in Little House on the Prairie.

nanijones wrote
on May 13, 2013 8:11 PM

I was delighted today to be reminded of all the handwork done in the Little House books.  I loved the books as a child and even collect them now--especially the older editions with the Helen Sewell illustrations.  My favorite isn't actually a part of the series but was published in the 1970s after being found among Laura's things by her daughter Rose.  It's called "On the Way Home," and is the story of the Wilders'  move from De Smet to Mansfield.

In 1995,  my husband and I were driving through Missouri and decided to visit Mansfield.  What a surprise we had to find that a big celebration was being held at the home and museum on that very day!  It was to commemorate Laura and Almanzo's arrival there in 1895.  Roger Lea McBride and William Anderson spoke, and Pa's fiddle was removed from its protective case and played by a local musician.  What fun!  Since then we have also visited De Smet.

Laura has been an inspiration to me all my life!

luckygrammie wrote
on May 13, 2013 7:57 PM

I used to teach from Farmer Boy in my fourth grade classroom. I used the description of the farm and we drew it out frrom the words, getting into some deep discussions as we read and reread the pages. We made ice cream and pulled candy along with Almanzo and tried our hand at several crafts mentioned. I taught anybody in my class who wanted to learn how to knit. And we brought old fashioned lunches to school in a bucket covered with a piece of cloth. I don't know who enjoyed the book and activities more.... my students or me! Thanks for reminding me how much I loved the whole series. I have read them all at least three times and it's time I started again!

Madama_B wrote
on May 13, 2013 6:36 PM

I don't know if I had a favourite Little House book, I think my favourite changed as I got older.  When I first read the books it was L.H. on the Prairie and Plum Creek but as I grew up I liked Little Town on the Prairie and (as I grew more romantic-minded!) I loved the courtship between Almanzo and Laura as he drove to get her every Friday from her distant teaching post all winter long.

I have read some of the Roger Lea MacBride books about Laura's daughter Rose, just to follow Laura further in life and learn about their life in Missouri.  That series is also a good one.

Most recently I read a WONDERFUL non-fiction book called The Wilder Life: My Adventures in the Lost World of Little House on the Prairie.  I would HIGHLY recommend it to Laura fans!  One of my dreams is to visit the homesites, and reading this book is the next best thing to doing that.

Thanks for stirring up memories of childhood reading.  It definitely makes me want to get my set out again!

on May 13, 2013 4:57 PM

I read them as a child and don't remember which one I liked best.  My set is packed away somewhere.  I bought a set for each of my daugters when they were growing up and they still have them.

I have a question about another part of today's email.  Where is the pattern for the red scarf (pictured in the lower part of the email) available?  I'm sure I've seen it before, but don't remember where.  Please let me know.  Thanks!

on May 13, 2013 4:43 PM

Born in Kansas, I was raised with Laura's books.  Some of her lace knitting survives in the museums that now chart the path of her family's travels.  Of course Almanzo's family farm in Upstate NY (where I now live) is also preserved.  Now that I think about it, perhaps my love of knitting from early childhood was another unconscious way I tried to model myself on Laura...

meowm53 wrote
on May 13, 2013 4:26 PM

We gave my then 7 yr old daughter the Little House books for Christmas.  She received them on Christmas Day and had them all read by New Years Day!   I had never read them as a child but devoured them along with my daughter.  I think my favorite book was These Happy Golden Days.  I have read everything I could get my hands on about Laura and her family also visited her home in Mansfield, Mo.

Coggin

Karen R. wrote
on May 13, 2013 4:26 PM

I love the Little House books. I watched the series when I was a teen and learned of the books later. I've read them all several times and enjoy them each time I have read them. I recently found the books by Roger MacBride about Rose as she was growing up. There is mention in them about knitting as well. There are 8 in the series. I look forward to reading them again as well. Perhaps next time I'll start with Laura's and continue to the end of Rose's including hers about her married life at the end.  Attaching lace to a piece of cloth has always intrigued me. Perhaps some day I'll give it a try. I enjoy making lace projects but have not made it to sew to something else. For one thing I'm not quite sure how it is done.

huneebear wrote
on May 13, 2013 3:26 PM

I am already a member can I get the Laura Ingalls: Lace Knitter

book or do I have to subscribe again

laumay wrote
on May 13, 2013 3:22 PM

Like so many others, I love all the Little House books, and also count them among my comfort books. I feel that I am lucky I read them before the TV series came along! I'm also pleased to share a first name with Laura Ingalls Wilder. It's difficult to pick a favorite, though I love the child-like simplicity of Little House in the Big Woods. However, I find that the ones I go back to most often are Farmer Boy, Little Town on the Prairie, and The Long Winter.

I actually just knit some lace to trim the sleeves of a thrift-store blouse! I loved doing it, and it turned out well. I felt a kinship with Laura and other 19th century needle crafters. (And also 21st century re-users!)

vickelynn wrote
on May 13, 2013 2:33 PM

Hello Kathleen

This post has inspired me to purchase the books.  While I haven't read them, I did watch the TV series forever ago and loved them all.

I'll bet that the books are even better.

I keep rereading this post and absolutely love it.  How touching.  And how nice to know that so many people still enjoy these wonderful books.  I can't wait!

Thanks Kathleen

Sincerely

Vickie Danielsen

rivermom2 wrote
on May 13, 2013 1:24 PM

My kids (now late 20s) improved their reading out loud skills sitting in the back seat reading LIW books as we traveled across the Dakotas and Minnesota  visiting family each summer. We tried to time the trip and book to a stop at a reinactment.   I loved listening then, and still marvel at the fortitude those folks had as we zoom across the states at 70mph  and complain about how long it takes.  

If you do ever have the opportunity, Walnut Grove, MN and DeSmet, SD (and maybe other places) do reinactments of books in the summer.  At DeSmet, we sat on hay bales and watched the stories be acted out down in a swale below us.  Wonderful!

thanks for a lovely post and looking at the comments, bringing a smile and friendly memory to a lot of us!

sally@74 wrote
on May 13, 2013 12:44 PM

I live in Missouri just a few miles from where Laura and Almonza lived out their lives.  The homestead at Rocky Ridge and the museum are a must see if ever you get close enough to Mansfield Missouri, the things in the museum are so precious and walking through the home takes you back to the time when families were happy with so little.  

Did you know that since Laura was so tiny the everything at Rocky Ridge is made so that she could reach even the highest shelf without a step stool.  We stop often and always see something new that we have not seen before.  I guess I have read Little House to my students for almost 20 years and I have also read most of the books from the museum that are not so widely circulated to the general public.  Making lace like Laura could be a fun summer project and as you said it would be perfect for pillow cases or even to trim an white summer clutch bag.

If you are going to have a summer wedding in the future why not make a few yards of knit lace and have it included in the ribbons of the brides bouquet, after the wedding it could be removed and put away to go on the hem of their childrens or family christening dress.

needler529 wrote
on May 13, 2013 11:55 AM

I first read this series of books way back in grammar school.  After I finished one, Grandma would pick it up and read it for herself.  We did this for the whole series.  After we finished reading the series, Grandma would start checking out the series and we reversed the process.  Then I would check out the series.  We used to laugh about that all the time.  I've been trying to learn all the old crafts so they don't get lost in modern day.  I tat, both shuttle and needle.  Still want to learn how to make candles and soap.  Already pretty good with a needle or hook,  just love keeping my fingers busy.  Though I don't know how they could knit such fine things as lace, without looking at their knitting.  I have to see what I'm doing.  Oh to live back in that time would be heavenly.

SiobhanD wrote
on May 13, 2013 11:50 AM

Picking a favorite of the Little House Books is hard because I like them all for different things. I've probably read the entire series a dozen times. I'm partial to These Happy Golden Years because it was the first book that I read; the scene where Pa helps her into the carriage after her wedding always makes me cry. Little Town on the Prairie has so many great moments -- the spelling bee, the new kitten, Laura being tested for her teaching certificate. The Long Winter must have given Laura's storytelling skills a workout, since she made endless months of sitting in the dark and cold as the food ran low sound interesting and serious without being overly scary, as it sure was.

Although I've spent very little time in the Midwest, I took a week's vacation after a business trip to Minneapolis to visit several Laura sites: DeSmet, Walnut Grove, and Pepin. I loved being in DeSmet, where people talk about the Ingalls family as though they are beloved elderly relatives who are no longer with us. I stayed in a B&B where the owner read the story about making Christmas pancakes after she served pancakes to her guests.  

SiobhanD wrote
on May 13, 2013 11:50 AM

Picking a favorite of the Little House Books is hard because I like them all for different things. I've probably read the entire series a dozen times. I'm partial to These Happy Golden Years because it was the first book that I read; the scene where Pa helps her into the carriage after her wedding always makes me cry. Little Town on the Prairie has so many great moments -- the spelling bee, the new kitten, Laura being tested for her teaching certificate. The Long Winter must have given Laura's storytelling skills a workout, since she made endless months of sitting in the dark and cold as the food ran low sound interesting and serious without being overly scary, as it sure was.

Although I've spent very little time in the Midwest, I took a week's vacation after a business trip to Minneapolis to visit several Laura sites: DeSmet, Walnut Grove, and Pepin. I loved being in DeSmet, where people talk about the Ingalls family as though they are beloved elderly relatives who are no longer with us. I stayed in a B&B where the owner read the story about making Christmas pancakes after she served pancakes to her guests.  

spinlouet wrote
on May 13, 2013 11:37 AM

I have loved all of the Little House books and read them over and over, it relieves stress.  My favorite though has to be The Long Winter. I was a  home school mom for all 5 of my children and we actually used the Little House on the Prairie Curriculum. Other than the Bible I would have to say these are my favorite books of all time. Laura was such an inspiration. To bad there are no direct descendants of the Charles Ingalls line.

Pagen Grey wrote
on May 13, 2013 11:35 AM

Maybe you are aware of this already, but Laura Ingalls daughter, Rose Wilder Lane, put together a book and pattern box for Women's Day called "Book of American Needlework". I loved all of the Little House books and was 8 when the show started airing. For my birthday my mom drove us all from Colorado to Laura's  house. I was so excited when I found this  book on the shelf and realized it was Laura's daughter! I loved looking at all of the pictures and unfolded all of the patterns constantly. This book has everything from quilting to knitting to crewel work, embroidery, weaving, and candle wicking. I think the only thing missing is tatting. I have learned almost all of these techniques and always refer to this book when I set out on a new skill.  It is old fashioned but useful and an interesting look at the history of needle arts. A great addition to any library for a person who loves needlework.

Pagen Grey wrote
on May 13, 2013 11:35 AM

Maybe you are aware of this already, but Laura Ingalls daughter, Rose Wilder Lane, put together a book and pattern box for Women's Day called "Book of American Needlework". I loved all of the Little House books and was 8 when the show started airing. For my birthday my mom drove us all from Colorado to Laura's  house. I was so excited when I found this  book on the shelf and realized it was Laura's daughter! I loved looking at all of the pictures and unfolded all of the patterns constantly. This book has everything from quilting to knitting to crewel work, embroidery, weaving, and candle wicking. I think the only thing missing is tatting. I have learned almost all of these techniques and always refer to this book when I set out on a new skill.  It is old fashioned but useful and an interesting look at the history of needle arts. A great addition to any library for a person who loves needlework.

gilrabo wrote
on May 13, 2013 11:31 AM

My favorite is a tie between the first book, little house on the prairie and on the banks of plum creek. I did love farmer boy as well though. Due to my love for these books, my uncle quite often cooked meals from that era. So much fun!

Geri G wrote
on May 13, 2013 11:23 AM

I first heard the books when a teacher read part of one each day.  I was older when I got the whole set (I read them from the library first).  I read them periodically yet.  No swear words or other things I don't like.  We have been to the museum in Missouri and Laura's house several times.  I don't know if I have a favorite one.  I enjoy all of them.

on May 13, 2013 10:37 AM

I'm with you, Kathleen. We read the Laura Ingalls Wilder books to our three children in tents over thirty years ago when we were on the great cross-Canada camping trip and back.

I still remember the vivid descriptions of rural crafts and especially Almanzo's mother making felt for coats from their own sheeps' wool in Farmer Boy.

luvhedgie wrote
on May 13, 2013 10:31 AM

Omg and here I thought I was the only one as an adult to read those books. I started to read her books in grade five when my English was 100% better.(I am frm european decent) my family immigrated in the early 60's)I have read them over and over. The books got hidden in my mid teens and then came to light when I was on my own. So comforting, just wish more and more  families could experience that loving and togetherness as a family unit today. Started reading them every night before bedtime to my children. I hope to read them to my grand babies when they come along in the future. We also watched the tv series as a family unit every wk. end as I recorded it during the wk.

Thanks to the inspirations that Laura has given me I have started my own tradition of making one or two home sewn,knitted,crocheted gifts for each family member for Christmas. It makes me feel so good when u hear the  explanations and the ohhhhh thank yous and the wows. I have noticed that most of them seem to admire these gifts more throughout christmas day than any of the store bought items. this makes my heart swell with pride. My family has extended and my new daughter in law has already asked if I could make her a hand embroidered tablecloth. I now know she appreciates the finer things in life. Yes the cloth is in the works and is almost ready to be put under the tree for this yr. my mother in law has told me that I have the true meaning of Christmas in my heart when it comes to theses homemade gifts. Thank you Laura  ingalls wilder!

For Christmas a couple of yrs ago my son got me the Laura ingalls wilder cookbook

Written by her daughter rose.

on May 13, 2013 10:26 AM

I have loved all Laura books and shows since I was a little girl---I went to one of the last country schools and our teacher read part of a book each day to us....I loved the show--I loved the broadway production that Melissa Gilbert did....I think the Long Winter is my favorite book...thanks so much for this article.....

GrannaP wrote
on May 13, 2013 10:20 AM

Yes, I, too, am a Laura Ingalls Wilder fan, but more for her adventuresome spirit!  My mother taught me to knit at age 9 for a Girl Scout badge but I was a wiggle worm so it laid dormant til I was in high school - later for my kids - and now as Granna I knit all the time :)

sewsweetpink wrote
on May 13, 2013 10:04 AM

My children and I loved watching the TV  series and at that time were living in a small  town in the mountains of British Columbia. The winter my son was born we had 22 feet of snow. One morning after a blizzard we had to tunnel out to the road as the wind had blown the drifts right over the already deep trench on either side of the path. Perhaps it is the weather that leads us to needle arts. I quilted a lot in those days. Now I am teaching myself to lace knit in my older years and I will be going to the library to find and read those books for myself. I have enjoyed so much reading these comments. Isn't it wonderful to be able to connect with so many people from all over the world right from your own home?

bean1082 wrote
on May 13, 2013 9:52 AM

I love all the Little House books!! If I had to chose a favorite, it might be Farmer Boy, but it's a tough choice. I have read these over and over. I remember mom reading them to us (3 girls), while eating brownies on a winter evening. Then, I read them aloud to my sisters. I've reread them a few times as an adult and I look forward so much to reading them to my future children!!

Thanks for the great article :)

MarianneM@15 wrote
on May 13, 2013 9:01 AM

I dearly loved all the books - have read them many times. One of my best memories is reading them out loud to my mother, the summer before she died. She had bad arthritis so holding books were hard - she listened to audio books but enjoyed this reading of mine.

 I love THESE HAPPY GOLDEN YEARS and of course THE LONG WINTER. They are my comfort books and now that I knit, I do notice the needlework more.

Wonderful books - wonderful woman!!

Mary E H D wrote
on May 13, 2013 8:59 AM

Didn't read the books, but did watch the TV program based on the books.  As the result of a conversation with my then fiancee regarding two of the actresses'  name "Melissa", we named our daughter Melissa three years later.  

barbaramwils wrote
on May 13, 2013 8:55 AM

Kathleen,

I loved the show.... all of them.... but have never read the books.....

As an adult, not as a child or teen, I read all of the Anne of Green Gables books and then found them on PBS....

I'm going to find some of Laura's' stories and read....

thanks  BMW in  FL a yarn and needles, of all sorts, enthusiast.... Thanks again

herbytod wrote
on May 13, 2013 8:53 AM

All of them!!! I have a big pile of them right here by my computer!! I'm involved in a big food growing project here in Todmorden, UK and often folk ask me how I know how to do something...from planting crops, to tapping our trees, to any number of other things...the answer is usually the same.." oh, from one of my little house' books!" when I met my partner ten years ago, I knew he was the one for me...the only man I'd ever met who had read and loved Farmer boy...he's like a cross between Almanzer and Professor Bhaer from Little Women.....maybe I read too much...he laughed when he asked what I was doing to get his wood stove lit first time every time...I said "it's the twists"..I showed him how to make newspaper twists.".how did you learn to do that?" " oh..it was how laura and the other girls made straw twists to burn on their stove in The Long Winter" I said...lol....my whole life has been influenced by those girls!! and I'm 52 now!!

puttygray wrote
on May 13, 2013 8:49 AM

I  first found about the book was when I  was still in the grade school. Since then I  wanted to come to America so badly. Now I  am living and knitting here happily all because Laura Ingalls introduced me the world I had not known that was so fascinating! I read the book in my language but now want to read in English especially the one with the story of lace edging which I  was not aware of.

Thank you for picking up the issue about Laura and knitting!

MableAF wrote
on May 13, 2013 8:34 AM

I think my favorite of the Little House books was On the Banks of Plum Creek, though Farmer Boy is definitely right up there! I adored the Little House books when I was growing up. My grandmother bought the set for me when I was in the 3rd grade, & my younger sister & I wore them out reading them. I even found Letters From Home, the book that Laura never edited because the lost interest in doing it after Manly died. I think they might have had something to do with my  interest in crochet, because it was about the 3rd grade that I started crocheting as well.

todd2165 wrote
on May 13, 2013 8:33 AM

It may not be macho, but I love the Little House books. I reread most of them recently. I listened to them on Talking Books, a program for the blind, as I am legally blind and have to do my knitting using a bioptic telescope mounted on glasses, just like surgeons use. I think my favorite might be "Little House in the Big Woods," but I love them all. If anyone would like to see what a blind guy can knit, please visit toddKnitz.etsy.com. I'm not making a sales pitch; I just thought you might like to look and maybe be inspired by a lace shawl or Aran sweater.

on May 13, 2013 8:27 AM

Thanks so much for the article on Laura Ingalls Wilder's lace knitting.  I, too, love the Wilder books.  My mother read them to us several times when I was a child, I read them myself when I was older, and received a boxed set as a gift in my late 20's and read them all again.  Though I liked them all I think that Little House in the Big Woods is my favorite.

Joan Tendler wrote
on May 13, 2013 8:21 AM

Definitely Farmer Boy! Perhaps from living here in Wisconsin, I'm a huge Little House fan. Besides my own reading and rereading of the books, I read all the books to the kids maybe 3 times, as well as the continuing stories, but Farmer Boy was a favorite, so that was read over and over again, especially the chapter when Mother and Father go on their week-long vacation and the kids all get into mischief. And lately I have been getting into knitting lacey stitches in my projects-maybe I'll go all the way and knit some lace too.

lanihaase wrote
on May 13, 2013 8:19 AM

Growing up in tropical Hawaii in the late 50's and 60's, I read and reread all the Laura Ingalls Wilder books, but remember after reading how the special maple syrup over snow treat was made, I immediately tried to make it by covering ice cubes with pancake syrup, not quite the same, but still fun to imagine! I eventually went to college in Wisconsin and visited Minnesota many times and experienced the long cold winters for myself.  Plan to reread some of her books to make note of all her references to knitting and quilting!  

lanihaase wrote
on May 13, 2013 8:19 AM

Growing up in tropical Hawaii in the late 50's and 60's, I read and reread all the Laura Ingalls Wilder books, but remember after reading how the special maple syrup over snow treat was made, I immediately tried to make it by covering ice cubes with pancake syrup, not quite the same, but still fun to imagine! I eventually went to college in Wisconsin and visited Minnesota many times and experienced the long cold winters for myself.  Plan to reread some of her books to make note of all her references to knitting and quilting!  

PatriciaF@11 wrote
on May 13, 2013 8:18 AM

I have always loved the Little House books, and have reread them many, many times.  My favorite is probably "These Happy, Golden Years".  Love Laura and MAnly's love story.  I also really like "Farmer Boy" as well.  I think I like the descriptions of all the food!

SusanWAlbert wrote
on May 13, 2013 8:15 AM

I'm a fan of Farmer Boy, too, because of the wonderfully detailed descriptions of Civil War era farm life.

BTW, Rose Wilder Lane (Laura's daughter and the unacknowledged coauthor of the LH books) was an accomplished needlewoman. She wrote a series of articles on needlework for Woman's Day in the 1940's. She rewrote the articles and added new material for the Woman's Day Book of American Needlework, published in 1963. Her section on knitting includes pictures of knitted lace. Lovely!

Susan Wittig Albert

Julietknits wrote
on May 13, 2013 8:12 AM

I am 50 yrs. old (who said that?) and every few years I still read my favorite two Ingalls books. My favorite of all is Farmer Boy. I love to read how a daily life was sustained by Manly's entire family. Next is the Long Winter. I loved to read your article today sent via e-mail. It reminds me to renew my Piece Work subscription. It has expired and I miss it very much! But don't worry. Knitting Daily is my real knitting love. It has seen me through learning to knit again after many years. Thank You!

MaryTwo wrote
on May 13, 2013 7:46 AM

In 2005, my sister (2nd grade teacher) and I visited all of the Little House Houses.   She reads the books to her class every year, and this year was the 38th time she has read Farmer Boy aloud.  It may be her favorite.  If I had to pick just one, it would be These Happy Golden Years.  Our trip was 7000 miles, 18 days and 21 quilt shops (they always have clean bathrooms!).  Laura was a quilter, as well.  I've often looked at a spool of sewing thread and thought about that lace that Laura knit!

MelanieD wrote
on May 13, 2013 7:36 AM

I went to an international school in Switzerland and we were very fortunate to have great school libraries and a wonderful school librarian, who would come into our class once a week and introduce a "new" book, leading me onto many paths I would otherwise not have gone.

One of these was Little House in the Big Woods, which has remained my favourite for its simple story and style - I love simple and minimalist, so it really appeals! I also liked the costumes - the tiny-waisted dresses at the dance - and how they got maple syrup (at the time, I had no idea what that was!).

However, I went on to read all the books and the first one I owned myself was The Long Winter, so I've read that one the most often - I love them all. As an adult, I reread them all and also a later book that described Laura Ingalls life as a biography.

I feel very lucky that I had the opportunity to read American children's literature as well as British children's books, so that I have grown up with an intimate understanding of American background through stories by Laura Ingalls and Louisa May Alcott, for instance, as well as later reading things like Nancy Drew, the Bobsey Twins and my (English) granny's favourite, Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm!

Jane Lowe wrote
on May 13, 2013 7:32 AM

I have already commented but I suddenly thought from the comments by trinity2014 that there may be a special order of reading the books and do the story books contain the cooking methods etc or are they a separate set of books? Thanks.

trinity2014 wrote
on May 13, 2013 7:27 AM

The Laura Ingalls Wilder books are some of my favorite from childhood as well! From the cooking methods and laborious cleaning, to the making of dresses and other fine things, I got a glimpse of what life was like back then and I think of it often to this very day.

I could not pick one favorite book though, as I love them all so much, but Farmer Boy does hold a special place in my heart as well! :)

Jane Lowe wrote
on May 13, 2013 7:24 AM

I found this blog very interesting.  I remember watching Little House on the Prairie right up until the time I was married and sometimes beyond. Like most British people I knew nothing of America and it was just a lovely series to watch.  Since then my daughter married an American boy and has lived there for about 10 years and of course, we have spent some time visiting.  She married a Minnesotan and lives in Brainerd, MN.  I see the long, long trains carrying all their goods trailing across the state, going from one side of the USA to the other, an unbelievable sight for us Brits.  Last year was the first year that we visited Minnesota in the height of the winter.  To see the snow and the frozen lakes was indeed something to remember and lack of knowledge of another culture came through very strongly.  Last year I also went on a bus trip full of like minded American woman on a quilt shop trip.  We visited five of the states around Minnesota.  It was just wonderful to see how dedicated they were to quilting and quilting for all the family, possibly born out of the past and the way that Laura Ingalls had to work.  I haven't read the books but because of the article I will.  Thanks.  I was very moved by it.

Michelle@191 wrote
on May 13, 2013 7:17 AM

Love Little House on the Prairie!  I am an avid knitter (and love lace) and had forgotten that Laura was a knitter, too!  I used to watch the Little House series as a child EVERY Monday night!  I have read the series twice to my children!  Thank you for this article-I'm going to pull out my books again and start reading!