The Woolen Wedding Anniversary
A pleasant young couple they were, with hosts of friends and acquaintances, who, after many wanderings and sojourning, found themselves at last in a home of their own, seven years, less two weeks, after the day when they were made man and wife.
Judging the approaching date to be a fitting time for a housewarming, they hunted up the significance of that particular anniversary and found it was defined by the discouraging adjective “woolen.” This discovery somewhat dampened their enthusiasm, for they thought that nothing pretty or artistic could be arranged.
“ If it were only wooden, tin or china! ” sighed my lady, “ anything but woolen—such a fuzzy, commonplace material I Suppose we give a card party instead of a wedding?"
To this suggestion his lordship assented, and, about the matter as settled, was much surprised on his return from business the next evening to find his wife engaged on what appeared to be kindergarten work, but which turned out to be invitations for the woolen wedding, which was to take place after all.
The wording of these was made as brief as possible. The letters, of exaggerated size, were first lightly printed in pencil on large correspondence cards and then outlined with white worsted twisted with silver tinsel, caught down with tiny stitches of fine thread.
An equal number of both sexes were invited, twenty of each, so my lady’s next task was to construct twenty canton flannel sheep, which she cut from a tissue-paper pattern.
Not much pains were taken with these, just enough to give a slightly sheepish appearance. Lamb’s wool was caught firmly by stitches over the canton flannel, and around the neck bits of bright-colored wool and bells were tied. By begging, borrowing, and buying, my lady then accumulated twenty pairs of scissors, and tied the handles with worsted to match the sheep.
Twenty Bo-Peep crooks, made by my lord, of five-foot pine sticks, curved at the top like a cane handle and gilded, were decorated in a like manner. Twenty little straw baskets with handles were bought; also twenty half-ounce skeins of different-colored zephyr. Twenty shuttles of very stiff cardboard, two inches long by one inch wide, cut in a deep groove at the ends and gilded, were of home manufacture.
Next, twenty different-colored strands of ice-wool, twisted with tinsel, were spun singly like cobwebs all over the house; starting at the drawing-room door and passing around chair and table- legs, over picture frames and up and down stairs until they ended at a common point in the library.
Finally, twenty chairs were placed side by side in the drawing-room, and in front of each was stationed an ottoman or a footstool. Fifteen of these had to be borrowed, for my lady had only five. A large table at one end of the room held the sheep, scissors, crooks, baskets, and skeins of zephyr.
When the guests descended from their respective dressing-rooms on the anniversary evening, the gentlemen were carried off to the library by the host, where each was given an end of the ice-wool and told to follow the strand, disentangling and winding as he went, and keeping the ball smooth, until he found his partner for the evening, who would have hold of the other end.
In the meantime the hostess was giving similar instructions to the ladies in the drawing-room, and the next half hour was spent in merry wanderings, some of which ended in the attic, some on the back stairs, and some under the grand piano. This effectually broke the ice for the evening, and all were in a cheerful mood for the next act on the program.
The ladies were escorted ceremoniously to the row of chairs in the drawing-room, the gentlemen seated themselves on the stools at their feet, and three older people (invited outside of the twenty couples) were constituted judges.
Each lady was given a skein of the zephyr, and each gentleman a shuttle, and the latter was told to wind the wool into as round a ball as his unaccustomed fingers could construct. The lady might help her partner by holding the skein skillfully, but she was not allowed to untie, disentangle or wind.
The first couple who finished in a satisfactory manner received prizes—a dainty crocheted evening hood for the lady and knitted bedroom slippers for the gentleman.
The unfortunates who came in last were given consolation prizes of a gigantic red mitten apiece, filled with bonbons, these being first enclosed in white silk bags. Each mitten bore the inscription, “A consolation for the worsted.” As the recipients said, it was hard enough to bear defeat without being assailed by bad puns.
The zephyr having been more or less wound in numerous balls, none of which deserved the adjective round, the hostess announced that a sheep-shearing match would now be in order.
The ladies were given the sheep and crooks, the gentlemen the scissors and baskets. The right hands of the shepherds were then tied up in handkerchiefs, and they were instructed to clip the sheep as thoroughly as possible by manipulating the scissors with the left hand, putting the fleece in the baskets as it fell.
The shepherds in the meantime held the sheep and aided their partners as much as possible without touching the scissors. The first shepherd to complete his task received a hand-knit golf sweater, and his partner a pretty crocheted golf vest. The consolation prizes were a pair of knit reins with jingling bells for the gentleman and a knit doll for the lady.
The only attempt that was made to carry out the woolen idea in furnishing was the replacing of ordinary portieres and curtains with blankets and draping over the folding doors with a white cashmere shawl, on which were outlined in double zephyr the dates of the two weddings.
As it was late in the spring, the guests were mercifully excused from appearing in woolen apparel. One stipulation was made, however, that no costume be worn that would be injured by fuzz.
For supper, after cards, the dining table was spread with a white cashmere cover. At each comer stood a sheep (not such as were shorn—but respectable, toy-shop affairs), laden with little straw panniers of bonbons and salted almonds. These were the only reminders of wool in table-dressing or menu, save that the individual ices took the form of vanilla and chocolate lambs gamboling over pistachio greensward.
A gay little dance may close the evening, and a woolen anniversary offers a beautiful opportunity for the giving of gifts by those who are generously inclined—soft, creamy blankets, fleecy shawls, the work of nimble and loving fingers, and pretty flannel embroideries.
At a recent wedding, several pairs of exquisite flannel blankets were used as portieres, much to the amusement of the donors, who had sent their gifts to the house a day or two previously. Golf sweaters and vests with other outdoor wraps are always desirable. The bride of seven years, discarding her original wedding-dress, was gowned in some white woolen stuff, trimmed with heavy white lace.
Jean Wilde Clark, Ed., "Wedding Anniversaries: The Woolen Wedding," in Weddings and Wedding Anniversaries: A Book of Good Form in the Conduct of Marriage Ceremonies . . . with Added Chapters about the Various Anniversaries, New York: The Butterick Publishing Company, 1910, pp. 105-109.