I do research on and recreate garments and objects from the past. My sources range from original items to photographs in books, periodicals, art works, literary references and period patterns. My research also involves the history of knitting needles and related implements.
The portrait in the corner is by Elisabeth Louise Vigée Le Brun (1755-1842) of Elisabeth Alexeyevna (?), location and ownership unknown.
I have knit two versions of these mitts inspired by the pattern, 18th Century Women’s Knitted Mitts, by Mara Riley (2006 - http://www.marariley.net/)
I knit them in two different weights of wool and adapted the pattern to fit my arms. The grey pair, in Brown Sheep Nature Spun Worsted Charcoal used two skeins although there was a fair bit left over from both. Mara Riley’s pattern calls for two skeins of Brown Sheep Nature Spun Sport wool which is what the second pair is knit in Burnt Sienna. The Charcoal pair was knit in a few days (one of those emergency projects which only allowed for a quick choice from whatever was available from the stash) on 3.25mm/US 3 needles with
7 stitches to the inch.
They are 15 ¾” inches long and 5” (10” around) wide at the top, tapering down to 3” (6” around) at the wrist and 3” (6” around) across the fingers. The Burnt Sienna pair has the same measurements but was knit on 2.75mm/US 2 needles with 7 ½ stitches to the inch. In both cases, I had to cut down Mara Riley’s original number of stitches to two different sets. The seam stitch runs along the inside of the arm, extending along the hand and thumb, and is reinstated along the side between the forefinger and the thumb.
The mitts look tight but since they are knit in wool there is a lot of give and they are completely comfortable to wear and very warm.
Now I am inspired to make linen ones like the ones on the lady holding the upright rake in this lovely painting with its haymakers fancifully garbed:
George Stubbs, British
Oil on wood
Tate Britain, London, England
Purchased with assistance from the Friends of the Tate Gallery, the Art Fund, the Pilgrim Trust and subscribers 1977