Vintage Halloween: Fortune Telling Apples

It’s no secret that I love Halloween. My college dorm room had pumpkin and bat garlands up year round (Let’s not even start with the number of Smashing Pumpkins posters, okay?) and even now I have a black cat die cut and pumpkin candy pail from the 1960s on permanent display. I love bad horror movies even when it isn’t October but I still love autumn and feeling the Halloween spirit inhabit everyone else for a little while. I don’t have too many plans this year save for a Twin Peaks-themed dance party in Brooklyn. (Last year it was a hoot.) I usually try to DIY as much of my own costume as I can but this year I’ve been dragging my feet a little. Mostly because I haven’t had an amazing costume idea yet but there’s still time to make and create.

For inspiration I’ve been reading a few vintage 1920s Halloween booklets and learning a bit about the beginnings of Halloween. While doing this, I kept noticing lots of references to apples. Apples?  When was the last time you got a Halloween card with a big smiling apple on it? Me neither. I bobbed for apples once as a kid but only because that was the only time I ever even had the opportunity to apple bob. I decided to find out why blindfolded children were always biting at apples on strings on vintage Halloween cards.

chloeheartsowls vintage halloween - apples

Hallowe’en or All Hallow’s Evening is believed to have originated with the Gaelic harvest festival of Samhain. The festival began on October 31 at sunset, half way between autumn and winter, and celebrated the end of the harvest and the beginning of that part of the year where the spirit world was nearest to our own. They believed that the barrier between the world of the living and the dead was weakened during this time and the souls of the dead could come visit them and help foretell their lives for the coming year. Feasts were had, bonfires were lit and costumes were donned. As Pagans associated the shape of the pentagram with fertility and the inside of an apple yields a five-pointed star, apples were seen as a promise of rebirth after a long winter and used in divination rituals. Offerings to the spirit world included burying apples to feed dead souls during their journey from this world to the next. You could also cleanse your soul by cutting an apple in half, “filling” the halves with your bad habits and diseases, putting the halves together and burying it in the ground. Supposedly, as it rotted, so to would your misgivings.

The apple has long been a symbol of fertility, also associated with the Roman goddess Pomona, and the game of apple bobbing or ducking comes from this. The star-shaped orientation of the apple pips or seeds has lead to its use in more modern fortune telling games. Suspending apples from strings or floating them in a barrel and allowing blindfolded guests to bite them was supposed to determine your future mate or who was first to be wedded. Another old Hallowe’en tradition, “apple peeling”, involves a young woman paring an entire apple, yielding one long peel which she then throws over her left shoulder. Whatever shape it lands in is the first initial of her future husband. If you peeled an apple at midnight on October 31 while gazing into a mirror, the image of your future husband would appear. Sometimes it wasn’t exactly what you had hoped for.


I’m not sure exactly why we stepped away from apple symbolism but it likely has to do with the shift from Halloween parties to trick or treating. In the late 1800s and early 1900s, Halloween parties and dances started as a way to keep kids from getting into mischief and committing acts of vandalism. The city of Anoka, Minnesota claims to be “The Halloween Capital of the World” because it hosted the first organized Halloween celebration in 1920 which manged to keep pranksters from tipping over outhouses and opening livestock gates. (It took me all of another two seconds to find another city in Kansas that was also boasting to have created the first “Halloween Frolic” in 1914, so I’m hesitant to take the capital claim with any certainty.) It wasn’t until the 1930s that the holiday shifted its focus almost entirely over to children and the trick or treating that we now associate with the holiday.

I’ll leave you with a few more vintage Halloween cards and images and in my next post I will share some 1920s Halloween party decorations and games.



Chloe Hearts Owls: Fall Sale on Etsy!

In need of a classy, vintage style winter hat? I’m having a Fall Sale in my chloe hearts owls Etsy store until Halloween! Get 10% off any orders with coupon code FALL10. I can also create custom designs in any color!

Crochet Pattern: Bluebell Cloche

This hat idea was born during my quest to find crochet cloche patterns thanks to Bonnie and Clyde. I couldn’t find a pattern for what I pictured in my head so I made it up as I worked. Made entirely in the round using one ball of yarn and only 23 rows (!!) of crochet. Pretty quick and lightweight project. Download a PDF at link below, check it out on Ravelry, or purchase this hat on Etsy.

Bluebell Cloche

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Yarn:  1 ball of Knit Picks Palette fingering weight yarn in Bluebell or equivalent yarn

Hook: Size E hook or hook that yields appropriate gauge

Gauge: 10 sts = 2 inches in hdc

Measurements: Finished hat measures approximately 8.5 inches tall and 12 inches at widest


sc = single crochet                    dc = double crochet

hdc = half-double crochet       sts = stitches

ch = chain                                   sl = slip


This hat is worked entirely in the round beginning at the crown. Be sure to chain 2 at the start of each non-eyelet round as the first half-double crochet. Each non-eyelet round is joined with a slip stitch into the first chain 2 of that round. Eyelet rounds are joined to the 3rd chain of the first ch 6 of that round. I used a magic ring to start my rounds but use whatever method you like best.


1)    Make 8 single crochet in a magic ring, slip stitching into first sc. (8 stitches around)

2)    Ch 2, 2 half-double crochet into each sc around. (16 sts)

3)    Ch 2, 2 hdc into next stitch, * 1 hdc, 2 hdc into next stitch. Repeat from * around. (24 sts)

4)    Ch 2, 1 hdc, 2 hdc into next stitch, * 2 hdc, 2 hdc into next stitch. Repeat from * around. (32 sts)

5)    Ch 2, 2 hdc, 2 hdc into next stitch, * 3 hdc, 2 hdc into next stitch. Repeat from * around. (40 sts)

6)    Ch 2, 3 double crochet, 2 dc into next stitch, * 4 dc, 2 dc into next stitch. Repeat from * around. (48 sts)

7)    Ch 2, 4 dc, 2 dc into next stitch, * 5 dc, 2 dc into next stitch. Repeat from * around. (56 sts)

8)    Ch 2, 5 dc, 2 dc into next stitch, * 6 dc, 2 dc into next stitch. Repeat from * around. (64 sts)

9)    Ch 2, 6 dc, 2 dc into next stitch, * 7 dc, 2 dc into next stitch. Repeat from * around. (72 sts)

10) Ch 2, 7 dc, 2 dc into next stitch, * 8 dc, 2 dc into next stitch. Repeat from * around. (80 sts)

11) Ch 2, 8 dc, 2 dc into next stitch, * 9 dc, 2 dc into next stitch. Repeat from * around. (88 sts)

12) Ch 6, * dc in 3rd dc, ch 3. Repeat from * around. Sl st into 3rd chain of starting ch 6.

13) Ch 2, * 3 dc into loop, 1 dc in each dc. Repeat from * around.

14) Ch 2, dc in each dc.

15) Ch 6, * dc in 3rd dc, ch 3. Repeat from * around.

16) Ch 2, * 3 dc into loop, 1 dc in each dc. Repeat from * around.

17) Ch 2, dc in each dc.

18) Ch 6, * dc in 3rd dc, ch 3. Repeat from * around.

19) Ch 2, * 3 dc into loop, 1 dc in each dc. Repeat from * around.

20) Ch 2, dc in each dc.

21) Ch 6, * dc in 3rd dc, ch 3. Repeat from * around.

22) Ch 2, * 3 dc into loop, 1 dc in each dc. Repeat from * around.

23) Ch 2, dc in each dc. Finish off.

Knitting Pattern: 1930s Style Scarf -The Volstead

I am posting my new 1930s-inspired scarf pattern up here on the blog for free (Sorry! I have completed the new version of the pattern and they are both for sale at the link below!) until I put together the pattern for the multicolored version. I decided to name it The Volstead after the Volstead Act which helped establish prohibition here in the United States from 1920-1933. The pattern uses fingering weight yarn and short rows to create the wing-like shaping.

The Volstead

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I would love to see any photos if someone makes the scarf!


My 1930s Scarf Inspiration

For the past year I have been trying out every vintage knit and crochet hat pattern I have been able to get my hands on. From the 1920s-1970s, approximately. I absolutely love the 1930s style hats and often see glorious matching scarves but had yet to make any neck warmers.

Image from 2ndlookvintage on Etsy.

Image from eStitches on Etsy.

Image from eStitches on Etsy.

I really love the shapely ascot look and finally decided to try to make one up. After hours of staring down both vintage and modern scarves I decided to design my own pattern and I have to say that it worked out better than expected for a first attempt! I ended up going with a more asymmetrical design than most of these vintage styles and utilized German short rows (the most amazing new-to-me knitting technique I’ve discovered in years!) to create the unique shaping.

I just finished working on another one of these in a Schiaparelli-inspired trompe l’oeil of seafoam green and black. I cannot wait to share that with you and hope to include the pattern as well!