Knit your way through Field Guide No. 7, one ease-ful pattern and one fabulous yarn at a time.

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67 Comments
  • This story resonates with me! My grandmother left me her Johnson Brothers Strawberry Fair dinner service — but she only had service for 6 and no serving pieces. In the 1980s I was on a never-ending quest to find pieces of Strawberry Fair. Pre-internet I was able to expand my china to a complete service for 12, including several serving pieces, by haunting flea markets and antique fairs. I’ll never forget stumbling across 6 cups, saucers, and dessert plates at a flea market and purchasing them for the princely sum of $10.

  • You and Ann have led me down more than a few paths of discovery and acquisition, for which I heartily thank you! I laughed out loud when I checked out which of Nina Granlund Saether’s was a favorite of yours – now the Edvard Munch Scream cowl is a must on my list. Who knew?

  • That cowl is a hoot!

  • Every morning, I read my favorite knitting blogs, trying to limit my online time to about 30 minutes total, including e-mails and digital news. This post took me down rabbit-holes and blew that goal right out of the water! Thanks, Kay.

    • You’re welcome! Sorry! But you’re welcome!

  • Flabbergasted I say! Someone else is head-over-heels with blue and white China AND has a great Aunt Elsie! Kindred spirits no doubt. The ONLY wise thing I did when I was 19 (many many moons ago) was fall in love with the Calico pattern by Staffordshire. Drug that set for 8 through 14 moves (seriously) but finally it was a victim of a severe Kon Marie attack leaving me with only two dinner and dessert plates. I still question that move which continues to negatively impact all subsequent ideas of downsizing.

  • Just curious. Is that your square plate in the picture ?

  • In the early days of marriage we had some Royal Copenhagen Finlandia. Now there is one salad plate left to represent.

  • I LOVE this story! It hits very close to home…and I so enjoyed feeling your joy through reading it!!

  • I am a Collector of Blue & White China. Mostly Spode, but when I visited Copenhagen, I picked up a few pieces of The Real Deal at the Royal Copenhagen super-shop. Anyway. Enjoy your new china. Every day. (And now I want to knit those mittens. Because they match my RC pieces . . . ) (It never ends, does it?) XO

  • If I have a Kon Mari kryptonite (other than yarn of course), it is DISHES. I also have the blue-and-white dish love. My nice set is Villeroy & Boch Old Luxembourg, purchased for me when my parents lived near the factory store. But I too have discovered how easy it is to find additional pieces of that one charming teacup I found at a garage sale, etc. I might have recently acquired a number of pieces of Taylor & Smith Boutonniere because reasons.

    • I have the Vieux Lluxembourg set myself — my pick in 1982 for my wedding registry. My former mother-in-law called to let me know it wasn’t formal enough — I needed to pick something a bit fancier. I still have the entire set — not one piece has broken in many, many moves. But the marriage didn’t fare as well . . .

  • I can so relate to this story! I had a youthful fascination with this beautiful blue and white china for years. In fact, as I read your letter, it triggered some sort of nostalgic memories about it for me. Did I ever own some? I couldn’t remember, seriously.
    But I know I‘ve held some in my hands at some point and marveled at it’s simple, clean and fresh design. And square plates! Good for you for choosing joy over perfect order, just this one time.

  • I got a set of 8 crystal glasses by Duncan Miller when my grandmother Ray passed away. Don’t even ask me how many shelves of Duncan Miller crystal 8 multiplied into because we thought you need the full set if you are going to have one. I am the very essence of Kon Mari fail. But I actually use that Duncan Miller and all that we have added on a regular basis and I dare say it was never used more than once or twice in the 60 plus years it was in my grandmother’s house. So maybe I’m not so bad at Kon Mari after all because it gives me joy every time I see it. I’m sure your Aunt would be happy that you find joy in those plates Kay.

  • I love this story!!!!!

  • I have Indies and have used it every day since I bought it in the late 70s when I got out of graduate school! I could use a few replacement pieces though (and I never had the square plates). Any chance you could email me where you found replacements? (though I think there is a replacements.com website for that stuff?)
    It is wonderful!!

    • That’s where I got it (replacements.com) but I happen to know that there is some on eBay as well….

  • Kay, I am so happy that your niece gave you the china and that you were able to add to it! I love how your story brings to life how having the Indies China set has sparked your joy! Wishing you many, many joyous times using that set!

  • We are downsizing (at least trying) to move. My daughter asked if I was going to keep the good china. I told her it came from a Goodwill Store in 1971. $15 for a complete and pristine service for 12. She laughed and told me to hang on to it and she’ll take it someday. Now she will have a good memory to go along with the lovely good(will) dishes.

  • I like to brag that I have one thing–a Kindle–but it’s a lie. It seems that every time I move into a new house or apartment I have to have new china. There’s method behind this madness, I swear! My super-modern condo in Chicago demanded super-modern dishes, right? But now I live in a tiny farmhouse with beadboard walls and ceilings, and the modern stuff looks … weird. So, here’s what I eat on now:

    https://www.222fifth.com/product/adelaide-blue-16-piece-dinnerware-set

    Blue? check. Birds? check. Square plates? check. Perfect cereal bowl? check. Comfy mug handle? check. I loff this stuff.

    • ALL the plates are square? That’s beyond beyond! Not sure I could handle it!

      Ann says I’ll someday Kon Mari myself down to a bowl and a spoon but I’m far from there right now.

      • When we were first married (36 years ago tomorrow!), all our dishes were square! Mikasa Silk Flowers. Pink, not blue. I loved those. Square is avant garde, right?

        https://flic.kr/p/JSLACM

        • This is 80s perfection!!

    • Mary Neal Madoor your dishes are lovely, sweet, little cottage with chintz worthy. Okay a beach cottage with white lap board on the inside, cobalt blue touches along with loads of roses and peonies. I started married life with the first of several sets of Johnston Brothers Blue Onion pattern. I have a few plates by Spode, I think it’s the Italian pattern. When children came along the dishes seem to dwindle in numbers.
      Even with two full sets.
      This thread reminded me of how I loved finding special plates, serving pieces, cups and saucers when going to a thrift store or a yard sale.
      Space is limited. Thank you ladies, this post was such a treat.

    • OMG. I thought I had conquered my blue-and-white china hoarding problem until I saw these. Lord, hold me back! So lovely, and the last thing I need after decades of compulsive thrift shop buying and inheriting dishes from everyone above me in the family tree. No kon mari-ing in my house. I bought my first batch of Royal Copenhagen, my favorite, from a super-cheap duty-free place in Malta in about 1970—dinner plates were maybe $6 each tops—and then was given another set by a family friend with no children. My mother once went on a road trip to visit various pals throughout the Northeast, and every one of them had this china pattern. Definitely a beloved classic—and the updated version with zoomed-in-on pattern is very cool.
      The mittens remind me of the jaw-dropping willow-ware socks (is it possible that a mere human knit these?). https://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/willow-ware

    • I LOVE it!!!!

  • When I was in 6th grade, my great grandmother insisted that my mother needed to take her China from Bavaria. It is a pink pattern, simple but beautiful. Not dishwasher safe and not replaceable. It was bought at different times so that the plates are of differing sizes but still lovely. I got a contemporary pattern when I married in 1975 and had decided I really didn’t like it. Eventually we brought Granny Flood’s China home and I proudly used it! It’s the set of China I kept when I moved into my retirement home and which I still love!
    BTW: the mittens pattern is now in my Ravelry library!!!

  • Those mittens and the dishes are gorgeous! And hopefully this isn’t too blasphemous: I’m no fan of Kon Mari. I’m a ‘semi-minimalist’ (I like things – my general rule is that as long as things have a space in a closet or drawer, it’s allowed. Why yes – I do have a few closets and drawers full of yarn.) Her admonishments on downsizing though? It’s basically a problem for the wealthy – because you can’t buy too much stuff that you don’t like or need unless you have the money to do so; never mind talking to your objects to thank them or ask them if they spark enough joy. (*eyes rolling*) Don’t let go of those beautiful dishes!!

    • I agree that Marie Kondo’s method probably works best for the well-to-do, and believe they are her audience. I’m OK with the “sparking joy” part, but a piece that I’m not OK with is, “if you find that you really do need something you have gotten rid of, get another.” Other friends on limited budgets agree with me that that is not really possible for big-ticket items. (Or some no-longer-made or one-of-a-kind pieces, either.)

    • so right. Kon Marie assumes that if you get rid of something, and you need it later, you can just buy it again. I am with her on getting rid of the outgrown, broken, and guilt producing. However, good classic clothes that fit well? sorry, keeping them. Yarn? get away, it’s all joyful!

  • By the time we down-sized I was the repository of china from my mother, mother in law and grandmother. My daughter and daughter-in-law each took a set, and we sold two to replacements. But I kept my grandmother’s china because she had 13 of everything including those very fussy cream soup bowls and because it has no gold and can be washed in the dishwasher! We use it every day. But now I have to break the no new acquisition rule and look for some Indie to mix in with the blue and white crate and barrel china at the beach.

  • Perfect for you. For some reason, we all seem to collect dishes, or a least coffee mugs. Maybe it’s all those tea parties we had with our dolls.

  • Oh so sweet! I buzzed over to Amazon to pickup a copy. Mittens for Christmas this year!

  • What’s up with that dog? haha! Scary looking pup:)
    Afterwards I made about 6 library holds on all Nordic, Latvian, etc. knits.

  • I don’t have your brand of blue and white dishes, but my mom had Currier and Ives blue and white dishes. We were, truth be told, probably below the poverty level when I was growing up and Mom got these dishes as premiums at the Humpty Dumpty where we bought our groceries. She cherished every one. Then when HD closed, her sister began shopping for more of them at estate sales, garage sales and the like. It became a joke at Mom’s house. My husband told Mom to be careful with those dishes because when we sell them on Ebay after you die, we want them to be in mint conditition. They loved teasing each other. Then when she died, my brother told me he wanted me to have them. I cried like a baby and I think of her every time I eat out of one.

    • My Grandma Mabel had those! She got them from the Safeway, collecting one new piece a week. I have found exactly one little fruit bowl at a thrift store but it’s staying with me! I loved the shallow tea cups. My love of blue and white china has deep roots. (MMM got rid of them 30 years ago and I’m still kind of mad about it.)

  • blue and white is my downfall in the collecting department -how lovely to do the mittens in the same vein.

  • Dishes should be passed on! I made my sister take my mother’s china (two 12 pc placesettings of Noritake) because she has two girls….hope they one day appreciate it. I have my grandmother’s glass plate set, and the remnants of my mother’s china set which I will fill out once I figure out where to put it! but the Wedgewood Tea Set, bought for her by her brother, is in my cabinet.

    These things embody memories … Kon Mari be damned! Memories of people and the times the things were used is far more precious!

    • Yikes – I am replying to myself! but must say those patterns are gorgeous; and offer thanks for their introduction. I have yarn I bought in a duty free shop in Iceland …. destined for colored mittens. (yes, they sell yarn in the duty free shop in Iceland, and yes, the Husbeast can be asked to bring you home an additional skein on his trip back …) Thank you Kay!

  • That story is the perfect Kon Mari circle. Everyone got to feel the rush and satisfaction of moving the set out of their lives , then the smug happiness of passing it to someone who’ll really love it. You got the bonus thrill of the hunt finding it online, and now every day, you get to eat off dishes you truly cherish. Well done, the lot of you! Much joy sparked!

  • My mother had sets of blue and white dishes, Wedgewood ? Any blue and white dishes always remind me of her. ❤️

  • I am the antikondo. 🙂

    I need to start acquiring an intentionally mis-matched set of Posh China.

  • My love in the dish world is Fiesta ware. My mother collected enough of the original for both my sister in law and me to have sets. Sister in law did not want hers. So, I got my mother’s whole collection. I love the bright colors and mixing them up for place settings. Also, they make me think of my mother whenever I open the cupboard and that makes me happy! Enjoy your blue and white!

  • In our family, we call the process of giving unwanted items to others “crap tagging”, as in “tag, I’m giving you this crap!” The goal of the game is to “crap tag” as many others as possible at any family gathering, without getting crap tagged yourself.

  • I am a Kon Mari fan (isn’t everyone who has small closets?) but that doesn’t mean I don’t love acquiring something significant and beautiful. Sometimes it’s magical the way something makes it’s way to you. Meant to be yours, Kay!

    And I love your writing. “MMM”….ha, ha, ha! Does she perhaps use Ponds? Since I can remember, my mom has kept a pot of that stuff in her bedside table which she slathers on her face every night. I have to say….for 89, her skin looks pretty amazing. 😉

    • Ponds and Noxema are my family’s secret elixirs, and I have to say, with the addition of sunscreen, we all look pretty darn good!

  • My blue and white dishes are Blue Nordic by Meakin. Found almost a full 10-place settings and some completer pieces at a Goodwill in Milwaukee years ago. However, I sort of have an additional mismatched collection of Spode Blue Room, Blue Willow or, basically, any blue and white transferware I could find at TJMaxx or rescue at Goodwill. Plates, cups & saucers, teapots, and platters.

    They just make me happy!

  • I love the dog!
    My blue and white china story is that when I married, we selected Spode Colonel Blue for our china. We didn’t receive much, and I planned on adding to it in the future. Several years later, my paternal grandmother died and my aunt found a box of ten full place settings of that pattern that no one had known she’d had. It made its way to me and I love it very much.
    My maternal grandmother had Willow pattern china that they used every day. Perhaps that is where my love for blue and white china came from.

  • Kay, I spilled my coffee in delight this morning while reading your post, because apparently Kay-named entities groove with the blue-and-white thing. When I was a kid back in the Dark Ages, my folks had Johnson Brothers dinnerware in Charlotte (Blue). I never got over that.

    About thirty years ago I found a blue and white German china dinner plate at a flea market; I used it to serve cookies. I looked for unmatched pieces here and there (never could afford to buy a whole matching service); finally had a couple of plates and a few serving pieces (mostly Dansk, but including a Royal Copenhagen oval serving plate in the same pattern as the mittens)) to use with my all-white regular dinnerware. I got blue and white quilted place mats, o endless joy.

    I wanted more, and I like the wabi-sabi look of a bunch of unmatched pieces all in the blue and white. I have German, Mexican, Greek, French, English, acquired one at a time… and then I discovered Replacements (replacements.com). And by now I had Social Security money. I cruised through their site and got dinner plates, salad plates, big cereal dishes, small dishes for like ice cream.. none of it matching! Wabi-sabi! Service for at least twelve! Observe me, the blue-and-white dish queen of Albuquerque.

    Now there is blue and white stranded knitting. I don’t like stranded work. I don’t do it. But I will do it now, and it’s all your fault! See what you’ve done?

    Thank you! Really! *kissy noises*

  • This time next year, Kon Mari will be just a distant memory. The “new” dishes will arrive. Then, a china cabinet will have to be obtained to display them. Matching table linens will be next. Of course, the dining room will be redecorated. That will necessitate a search for coordinating cookie jars, candlesticks, flower pots, wall clocks, kitchen accessories, dog bowls, chamber pots, and the rare, elusive Indies darning egg!

    • If you give a mouse a cookie . . .

  • This story made me smile and reminded me of my paternal grandmother’s China. My father sent/ brought it home from Japan where he was stationed with the Air Force right after WWII. It had an orange and black flower pattern and was always used for holidays. It was a 12 piece place setting with all the matching serving dishes including a teapot and coffee pot. My dad had it until he died and then I brought it home. It took up the better part of one kitchen cabinet. After a number of years, I decided to offer it to my nieces, thinking they would all decline and I would next try to get one of my siblings to take possession of it. Well, they all 3 wanted it so I had a drawing to pick who got it. The niece who got it was so happy and promised to take “ good care of it”! By the way she also got the lace table cloth and the picture of the family sitting around the table on Christmas, lace tablecloth and china pictured.

  • I love blue and white china, too! The mittens are wonderful, and remind me of the Blue Willow knitted tea cup and saucer from Debbie New’s Unexpected Knitting, and of course, Lisa Grossman’s Willow Ware pattern socks, which I think you or Ann wrote about a few years back.

  • Great post. Watched the dog after reading it. The combo = PRICELESS! Do they have Webby (sp?) awards for specific blog posts?

  • Oh how I dearly miss J.L.Brandeis! My mom’s dishes were the Blue Nordic pattern and they seemed so exotic in the 60’s. Just squared dessert plates. It is sort of a mash up of your “Indies” and the Blue Onion pattern. Still love them. Chances are they came from Brandeis or Younker’s back in the day.

  • Dishes! Cannot go unremarked. One of the very best things about Mr. Me is that somewhere in early marriage, he was giving my funny little tea dishes the side eye and asked why I had them if I didn’t use them. To which I replied that I do, in fact, like to use them, but it’s hard when they are buried in some far corner. To which his reply was to find an excellent and accessible place for them, and we use the stack of what has become “Mama’s funny-funny sandwich plates” all the time. Two Royal Copenhagen mother’s day special issues, two from a small scale ceramics artist bought on our honeymoon, one fiestaware, one from the flea market in Berlin….

    We are finally running low on our wedding set and have to decide this year before Thanksgiving: replacements to refill the set? Or…gasp…new dishes. Now in my PA colonial stone house, I wish my mother had saved her Ruska, her wedding “everyday” set.

  • I will never lead a Kon Mari lifestyle because my Less Moisturized Mom does unload the china on me. Most of it is beautiful, but my generation doesn’t lead that lifestyle, so I’m not sure what to do with it. As a recent first-time homeowner, I do have visions of as-of-yet unachieved dinner parties…

  • This story is genius. Such lovely plates but, better still, you love them! Minimalism has its limitations.

  • I just had a holiday dinner where a gorgeous table was set for 30 people. I coveted the host’s ability to lay it out so exquisitely, and have since schemed about how I could possibly do the same. Sigh. Kon Marie will forever be purely aspirational for me.

  • I’m surprised no one else has pointed this out yet: this is not a KonMarie fail. This is the epitome of a KonMarie success. You kept the set because it sparks joy! And although you had to buy more dishes to do it, by completing the set you have ensured that you will use and enjoy it, both of which are Marie Kondo’s entire point: use and enjoy the things you love, and let go of what you don’t. 🙂

  • Ooh what beautiful patterns!

  • Johnson Brothers does do those square salad plates–my mom has a set, partially the all-white, and partially the all-white-with-pink-trim-and-flowers.

  • I could see a field guide full of china patterns . . .

  • Inspired by one of my mom’s artsy friends, when I got married I just said that my china pattern was “blue & white” and would welcome both new and old. So my dishes came with _lots_ of stories and connections. And replacements are readily found at thrift shops!

  • Those are my dishes! In fact, I was having tea and a treat on one of the small plates as I read your note. The square plates (and cereal bowls too!) are so appealing. I once found nearly a whole set at a little antique mall in Lynden, Washington, and the dishes were all $3 each. I bought all they had! It was fun to find another Indies lover here today….

  • I was similarly gifted with 2 dinner, 2 salad, 2 dessert, 2 saucers and 2 mugs of a beautiful blue and white pattern.
    I expanded the set within my meager budget with a beautiful cobalt blue glass (incredibly inexpensive discounted and I have a coupon originally a couple bucks a piece looks like they were made for each other) pieces.
    White tablecloth (scotch guarded) and napkins and I had a beautiful table!…and loads of compliments.
    I don’t buy place settings unless I can find complimentary colored glass place settings to stretch budget and the table.

  • My name is Elsie, after my grandma, and I love to send random packages Kon Marie style, to my relatives. I wonder if it goes with the name?