MKB Project #22

The 22nd pattern in Miss Lambert’s My Knitting Book (First Series, 1843) is for Another Muff.  The pattern is easy to follow, with the stitch pattern comprising only one line!

Cast on forty-five stitches.—No. 8 needles.

Every row is worked the same, with a slip-stitch at the beginning;—knit one; pearl one.—Repeat to the end of the row.

It will require a piece of about twenty inches long, to make a moderate sized muff, which should be lined with gros de Naples; and stuffed with wool, and a sufficient quantity of horse-hair to retain it in shape. Cord and tassels to match the colour of the muff, may be sewn at the ends; or it may be drawn up with ribbons.

(My Knitting Book, 1843, p. 34)

The pattern calls for No. 8 needles, which are equivalent to 4.5mm today.  The pattern does not specify a yarn weight to use, so I chose to use a DK yarn as this seemed to be best suited to the needle size.   I cast on 45 stitches and started to work away.  I quickly realized that the stitch pattern results in a moss stitch pattern.

Close up of the moss stitch:

When I reached a length of 20 inches, I cast off.  The resulting fabric was firm, without holes and had no bias:

I sewed the two short ends together and threaded a ribbon through the edgings:


Unlike the previous pattern in the book, Miss Lambert provides a lot of detail regarding construction of the muff.   Gros de Naples was a heavy silk available a the time; which could be found; however, horse hair is not so readily available, at least to my knowledge!  I will admit that I really did not know where to go next with the assembly of the muff and chose to leave it as is, unlined, as a sample of the knitted portion of an 1843 style muff.

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MKB Project #21

The 21st pattern in Miss Lambert’s My Knitting Book (First Series, 1843) is for A Muff, in colours of Sable.  The pattern is as follows:

Cast on seventy or eighty stitches.

First, second, and third rows—plain knitting.

Fourth row—bring the wool forward, knit two together, taken at the back.—Repeat to the end of the row.

Repeat these four rows, until the piece be about eighteen inches long, admitting that the shading comes in correctly.

Two No. 8 needles are required, and double German wool, in four distinct shades to match the colour of sable. Commence with the lightest shade,—then the second, third, and darkest, reversing them again to the lightest.

(My Knitting Book, 1843, p. 33-34)

The pattern calls for No. 8 needles, which are equivalent to 4.5mm needles, according to the Lambert Filiere.  Double German wool is required for the pattern, which is approximately equivalent to modern day DK weight yarn.  Although the pattern suggests that the colours of Sable be used, presumably to mimic a more expensive fur muff with blacks and browns; I chose to use up yarn from my stash and ended up with shades of blue and purple instead.

I chose to cast on 80 stitches, and I was off.  About halfway along, I realised that I was not going to reach the required length and maintain a colour balance:

So, I ended up adding a section on each side of the muff so that the colours balanced.  I picked up the stitches along each side, knit five rows in stockinette and then did the eyelet row from the pattern (Row 4), purled one row and cast off knit-wise.  There was a strong bias to the finished piece:

I sewed the two ends together and threaded a ribbon through the eyelets on the sides which gives an idea of the shape of the muff (unstuffed):

I originally planned to sew up a muff and place the knitted fabric onto it and quite honestly could not get around to doing it.  Instructions for sewing a muff for a knitted fabric are not easy to find, and I was really not 100% certain how to go about it properly.  I hope that this has given you an idea of the shape and pattern of the finished object.

If you know of any references for a sewing pattern for an 1840s era muff that would have gone under a knitted cover, please let me know in the comments below!

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MKB 20: Barley-corn Stitch

The next project in Miss Lambert’s My Knitting Book (First Series, published in 1843) is for Barley-corn Stitch (p.33).  The pattern calls for eight-thread fleecy, or double German wool, and No. 2 needles.  As we established in the post for MKB 19, No. 2 needles on the Lambert Filière are equivalent to approximately 9mm.  I chose to use a heavy worsted weight yarn to try out this stitch:

The pattern can be worked on any uneven number of stitches, as follows:

Slip the first stitch, keeping the wool in front of the needle; turn the wool round the needle, so as to bring it in front again; knit two together, taken in front.  Continue turning the wool round the needle, and knitting two together, to the end of the row.  All rows are the same. (My Knitting Book, p. 33)

I find this to be a very pretty and again, simple, stitch pattern.  It is another variation of a faggoting style stitch that would make the basis for a lovely scarf, shawl, blanket or another knitted item.

The name of this stitch pattern is interesting, and I wonder why Miss Lambert chose the name:

  • Was it because of the resemblance to the barley plant?  I think this is the most likely reason for the name of the stitch pattern, as the Victorians were fascinated with nature.


(Barley Plant, – Image ID: 100143532)

  • On the other hand, perhaps the name was a reflection something a bit more risqué, the traditional folk song, John Barleycorn, which personifies barley and talks about the process of making alcoholic beverages made from it?   I find it hard to believe that a woman who was a seamstress to Queen Victoria would have frequented raucous alehouses and known this song; however, anything is possible!
  • Another possibility is that Miss Lambert chose this name in homage to the growing temperance movement in the Britain in the early to mid-1800s.  The first temperance organization in Britain began in 1829 and a working class movement for universal suffrage included temperance as a way to prove that the working class was responsible and capable of voting in 1838.  Perhaps the stitch pattern name is a gentle hint to keep busy with honest work (knitting) and avoid overuse of alcohol?
  • And don’t forget, the barleycorn was a unit of measure, as we learned in the post about Miss Lambert’s pattern for A Bonnet Cap.  Although I am not sure that this would have anything to do with the pattern name!

Not knowing anything about Miss Lambert’s political leanings or much about her background at all, I am inclined to think that she chose the name because of the resemblance to the barley plant.  What do you think?

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