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.

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MKB 25: Leaf and Trellis Pattern

I am really looking forward to trying out the stitch patterns from the next section of Miss Lambert’s My Knitting Book (First Series, 1843).  The next twelve patterns are for “d’oyleys, tidies, fish or basket napkins …” and “may also be adapted with a change of material, for shawls, counterpanes, bags, and many other articles” (p. 36).  I am expecting that these will turn out to the types of lace patterns that one typically associated with the Victorian era.  To get started, however, I did some research into d’oyleys, tidies, and fish napkins:

  • D’oyleys or Doilies.  When I hear this word, I picture an object that is white, round, lacey and decorative; however, I came across the following definition of doilies in a book published in 1845:  “These are small napkins intended for wiping the fingers after eating fruit, and are placed round the table for that purpose.  They are generally of coloured cotton with a border; the colours are dark, that the stains may not be conspicuous on them” (p. 256, The House Book, by Miss Leslie, Eighth Edition, 1845).
  • Tidies.  As far as I can tell, this was a fairly generic term used to describe things like placemats, table runners, and smaller fabric pieces to protect trays and tables from getting dirty.
  • Fish Napkins.  Many of the knitting books of the era differentiate between a basket napkin and a fish napkin without further description, so I think it is safe to assume that everyone would know what a fish napkin was as it was a common household item.  In the book Savory Suppers and Fashionable Feasts:  Dining in Victorian America (1996) Susan Williams writes that “the napkin could be used to remove unfortunate grease from one’s lips, to cover the mouth during removal of a fish bone or fruit pit, or to wipe the juice of pared fruit from the fingers …” (p.43).   Perhaps a fish napkin was the name for a specific type of napkin provided when fish was served and used to discretely remove fish bones?  Conversely, according to The Workwoman’s Guide (A Lady, 2nd Edition, 1840), “napkins are often used to lay under fish, pastry or sweet things” (p. 184).   From this description, it seems that a fish napkin may simply be the napkin laid under fish when it is served.  I’m assuming this would have been a dried fish of some sort as I expect that the napkins would have been pretty greasy but maybe they were intended to catch the grease?

Armed with this knowledge, such as it is, I am ready to embark on the first pattern in the series and the 25th pattern in Miss Lambert’s book:  The Leaf and Trellis Pattern.  This is a pattern that has been worked up by others, such as here on Ravelry.  There is another pattern by Jane Sowerby that makes use of a later variation on the Leaf and Trellis stitch pattern from 1886, here.  At least I have an idea of what it should look like when I set out.

Wish me luck as I finish charting out the pattern and get started!

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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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