Saturday, February 11, 2012

Serendipitous Spider Silk

Every few years I get the urge to re-read certain books.  One series on regular rotation is Anne of Green Gables.  I simply adore the books.  Well, growing up, I can vividly remember my little blue bookshelf, where quite a bit of space was taken up by a collection of Nancy Drew books with yellow spines. 

Nancy Drew & Friends

About a year ago, I happened to pick up a novel from my local library whose characters were obsessed with rare Nancy Drew books.  This reminded me that I had my own (not so rare!) editions and they would be fun and easy reading.  They are hilarious!  The books are incredibly formulaic and are sure to mention past books in the first chapter, and the upcoming title on the last page to whet the appetite.  I guess publishers were all about selling their product even in the 1930s (or could this be part of the updates made to the original texts?).  

Nancy Drew & Friends

It turns out that revisions were made when these books were re-published.  Doing a quick bit of internet research reveals that the texts were changed during the 1950s to alter her age and to take away some of Nancy’s independent spirit and moxy and make her a bit more dependent on others.  Shame on them!  I would love to read the original.  I mean, how outspoken and pushy could she possibly be?!  Today there are hundreds of books that have been published, and instead of Nancy's "little blue coupe" she now has a cell phone and hybrid car.  Well, I will stick with my "old" updated version, thank you very much - the thought of Nancy Drew with a cell phone is just too much to take!

Image from

Last night I pulled out The Secret in the Old Attic.  Part of the story line involves a spider silk formula and a nefarious character who steals the secret to make his own silk fabric, using black widow spiders!  (The bad guys are easy to spot because they always enjoy scary things like killer spiders and dark attics.)

Well, imagine my surprise when Threads Magazine added an online article about spider silk!  How does this happen!?  Coincidence, fate, serendipity?  Whatever it is, I love it!

Image from

And I adore the original cover art from the 1930s and 1940s illustrated by Russell H. Tandy!  Nancy Drew never seems to age, but her hairstyles and clothing transform dramatically over the years.  It is a fascinating looks at how teen fashion changed throughout the years!  And now I think I may have to find myself some 1930s patterns . . .


  1. Oh, we must be kindred spirits! I can't tell you how many times I read and re-read Nancy Drew (older version -- she had a roadster) and Trixie Belden and of course Anne of Green Gables (loved the PBS seriesm, too, for the period costumes). Some books are just like home.

    How do you like your new Bernina? I was very happy that you won! All the best!

    1. I only read a couple of the Trixie Belden series, but they were just fabulous. And I, too, was in love with the PBS costumes - kindred spirits, indeed!

  2. Overheard conversation #9:

    "Here it comes."
    "Yep, all the features she loves in her new B330."
    "Of course, she's waxing all literary at the moment, but she knows curious others will give her an opening like a recessed panel doorway to a hidden staircase."
    "Yep, and she'll let us know about how a certain recently discovered attachment has alleviated her uneasiness with button holes, fittingly, all at the touch of a button."
    "Or how she's empowered by having up to a 5mm stitch length and a 5.5mm stitch width. That's a good deal of territory for one gal to be able cover."
    "Yep, and what about how having five presser feet allows Laura Mae sewing without sleuthing for some make-shift technique to put the pieces together."
    "It's as if she has an entirely new shoe collection!"
    "Yep, all of that, nine needle positions, and the ability to race along at up to a speedy 900 stitches per minute."
    "Her problem solving skills and productivity can only..."
    "...don't say it!!"
    "Well then, we'll just see what 'The Box with the Footprint' really has in store for our busybody at-large."

  3. Nancy Drew was my absolute favorite book series as a child. My first books were books from the 50s given to me by my father, who received them when he was a child. I now collect as many of the old editions as I can. I didn't realize there had been changes to the text though, that's quite vexing. I too would love to see how much more tenacious she could have been written. Not having the best examples growing up, I credit Nancy with my sense of morality :P. I even have a fairly large tattoo of the cover of The Secret of the Old Clock. :)

  4. My aunt yard upon yard of of shelving dedicated to Nancy Drew (or Kitty - they changed her name when they made the translation) books from the late 50s and from the early 60s, I read some of them when I was younger, but I never could stand them. I was also given Anne of the Green Gables, which I couldn't stand either.

    There has been a lot of both going around the internet lately, including articles (quite interesting ones) about all the changes made to Nancy over the years (e.g. moxy, age and hair colour). It always makes me feel like I've missed some crucial part of childhood, being too busy reading novels about WWII and pop-psychology from the library. At least I did read a lot of Sweet Valley Twins.

    1. Oh my! Sweet Valley Twins - I remember them well!

      I hate to admit it, but I love Janet Evanovich books - and the only reason I started reading them was the brightly colored books spines in the library caught my attention. It's like junk food reading; not very good for you, but so much fun!