The 23rd pattern in Miss Lambert’s My Knitting Book (First Series, 1843) is for a Close Stitch for a Waistcoat &c. This is a stitch pattern that could be used by either men or women to make a firm fabric for a waistcoat. As far as I can tell, a waistcoat c.1843 was similar to a sleeveless, button up vest that may be worn today. In the 1840s, waistcoats for men (at least those who were wealthy enough to be fashionable) were part of formal evening attire and everyday wear. I imagine that they also added a layer of warmth for the cold and drafty houses of the day, especially when hand knit from wool.
Waistcoats and vests of the 18th and 19th centuries served as a layer protection and ornamentation during a period in fashion when the coat was intended to be left open in the front. The color was often chosen to complement the suit and covered in imaginative embroideries, heavily woven patterns or shiny satins made to draw the eye. The style of the neck, the length and the hem treatment fluctuated as the tastes changed from over-sized coats of the early 18th century to narrow tightly fitted coats of the late 18th century and onward. (Metropolitan Museum of Art)
The pattern can be found on page 34 of My Knitting Book and calls for two colours of German wool and No. 18 needles. These are the modern day equivalents of fingering weight yarn and 2.25mm needles (US 1). Although Miss Lambert does not specify whether the stitch pattern should be worked over an odd or an even number of stitches; based on how it is written, an even number of stitches seems to work best.
The stitch pattern is a two colour slip stitch pattern that has a beautiful result with an almost woven looking appearance.
Miss Lambert suggests using claret and blue; however, I chose to use grey for Rows 1-4 and orange for Rows 5-6 in the first sample and 2.25mm needles (10 sts/inch, 20 rows/inch):
For the second sample, I chose to use grey for Rows 1-4 and turquoise for Rows 5-6 and a larger needle size, 2.75mm (7 sts/inch, 18 rows/inch):
This is my favourite stitch pattern from Miss Lambert’s book to date. It goes beyond the simplicity of the earlier stitch patterns to create a colour workpiece with an intriguing woven appearance. The possibilities for this stitch pattern are endless!
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