My Knitting Book Pattern #25 – Leaf and Trellis

My research into Isabella Macdonald for the last post renewed my flagging interest in working through the patterns in Miss Lambert’s My Knitting Book (First Edition, 1843).  So, after a long hiatus, I picked up my sample for the twenty-fifth pattern in the book:  Leaf and Trellis.

I am somewhat ashamed to say that my initial post about this stitch pattern was back in early November 2016, before I went on my mission to get organised and take on my WIP/UFO pile.  My focus was distracted by exams, Christmas and some serious struggles with our special needs child.  I think that partly, I find that lace patterns can be a little onerous to work with when written out instead of charting, especially when life is stressful and easy knitting is all I want to work on.

My attempts to chart this stitch pattern from the written pattern didn’t work out at all!   Although now that it is knit up, it should be easier to translate into chart form.  Regardless, last weekend, I picked up my sample, frogged it back most of the way and then whipped up this sample fairly quickly.

This stitch pattern is beautiful, and I love it!   The only thing I would change is the method used for decreasing (ssk instead of k2tog) in places where it would make a smoother and more defined leave shape.

And here it is close-up:

This stitch pattern is similar to the Trellis Grapevine pattern in Barbara Walker’s A Treasury of Knitting Patterns (1998), which she describes as:

This expanded version of the Grapevine dates from the early 18th century, when the advent of finde cotton yarns ushered in the heyday of “white” lace knitting.  (p.221)

I have seen this stitch pattern or similar ones in more modern day patterns including Large Rectangle in Leave and Trellis Pattern With Trellis Border (Jane Sowerby) and Vines on a Trellis (Meredith Kermicle).  It makes my heart sing to think of women in the 1700s working up this pattern that is still around today.  I am thankful for Miss Lambert, Barbara Walker, and all the people in between that have kept this lovely stitch pattern alive for over 300 years.

Do you know anyone who enjoys history, historical knitting or knitting in general?  Please share this blog post!


MKB 24: Finished Sleeve!

The 24th pattern in Miss Lambert’s 1843 knitting manual, My Knitting Book, is for Long Sleeves to wear under the Dress.  In my first post about this pattern, I discovered that undersleeves were common additions to 19th-century ladies clothing with various purposes.  They could be easily removed for cleaning or changed throughout the day to change the look of a dress.  They were also used for warmth.  I am not 100% certain how this type of sleeve was attached to the rest of the dress; however, in this case, I am sure that a light stitch to tack it in place would have been most suitable.  The shape of Miss Lambert’s undersleeve seems to be an awkward by today’s standards; however, the narrow cuff and wide elbow and upper arm would fit very nicely in the bell shaped sleeves on overcoats that were the fashion in the 1840s.

The original pattern as written in Miss Lambert’s book was as follows:

No. 17 needles, and six-thread embroidery fleecy.

Cast on forty-two stitches very loosely, and alternately knit, and pearl, three stitches, for twelve turns.

Knit ten turns plain.

Knit thirty-five turns plain,—increasing one stitch at the beginning and end of each turn.

Knit twenty turns, plain—increasing one stitch every other turn.

Repeat the twelve turns as at the commencement.  (My Knitting Book, 1843, pp35-36)

A turn is two rows (one there and one back).  In this case, I chose to interpret this as stockinette stitch and purled on the return row of each turn; however, I think it would be just as easily interpreted as a garter stitch with each returning row knit instead of purled. I could not find any illustrations of this pattern in Miss Lambert’s other books that I have on file, so I think either interpretation could be equally correct.  Please correct me if I’m wrong on this!

After first trying to use fingering weight yarn and meeting with limited success (see my previous post), I chose to use DK weight yarn and 4.5mm needles with much greater success.

The sleeve was knit flat and then seamed up the side:

The striping effect is what happened when I thought I had a pretty good match on colour, which turned out to be more of a coordinating blue than the same blue.  Both ends of the undersleeve are done in a k3, p3 rib.

Below is a photo of the sleeve once it was sewn up.  The cuff is narrow, but very stretchy and would make for a nice warm wrist with the ribbing covering up that pulse point.  The elbow and upper arm are roomier.  When worn, this sleeve would attach nicely to a knitted undershirt and provide a nice layer of warmth to the 19th-century lady.

Coming up next is the part of the book I have been looking forward to since I started this project including twelve lace patterns “intended for d’oyleys, tidies, fish or basket napkins.”

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MKB 24: Trials and Tribulations

Today is the day that I try to reclaim my blogging mojo!

Several times in the past month, I have thought to myself that I should sit down and write something up, but inspiration failed me and I have not been too productive on the Victorian knitting front.  I am still working on the Long Sleeves To Wear Under The Dress but hit a snag that I was in denial about for a while which slowed me down as other, more successful and useful (let’s be honest) knitting projects caught my attention.

Now, for the patterns in Miss Lambert’s My Knitting Book (1843, first series), the modern day equivalent for the recommended yarn can be ambiguous as the terminology has not been passed down through time.  As I have worked my way through the book I have figured out a few of modern day equivalents that seem to work well with the recommended yarn types.  For example, patterns that call for a German or Berlin wool work well with fingering weight yarn.  However, sometimes I need to rely on the recommended needle size to determine what type of yarn to start with.  In the case of this pattern, the needle size recommended is No. 17 on the Lambert Filiere and the recommended yarn is six-thread embroidery fleecy.

Based on this, I chose to knit up the pattern using 2.25mm needles and chose fingering-weight yarn based on that needle size.  Unfortunately, the resulting sleeve was going to be super tiny – it wouldn’t even wrap around my nine-year-old daughter’s wrist!

Attempt #1: 

Once I came to terms with this, I went back to the drawing board and I started the pattern again using DK weight yarn and 4.5mm needles.  In retrospect, based on the information below, I probably should have gone with a sport or DK weight yarn at the onset but it was a bit of a coin toss between going with the needle size or going with the yarn weight:

Fleecy: DK (double knitting weight). This is a wool that was produced in a range
of sizes, from two-ply, which was probably close to fingering or lace, to 12
thread, which could be close to a modern worsted weight.  (Formby, Commend Me To A Knitting Wife)

The sizing is much, much better – in fact, the gauge could probably be a little tighter but I’m not complaining.  Unfortunately, I chose a lovely pale denim blue from my stash and have run out!  I need to venture out to my LYS and see if they still carry this yarn that I purchased over 10 years ago … or at least something that will match relatively closely.


Wish me luck maintaining my knitting and blogging mojo!

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