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.
The ship side of my pinball will be fairly faithful to the original but the reverse will be different. Letters and numbers but no animals or that text. Both sides are knitted flat and then stuffed (I will use fleece) and the two pieces are then sewn together with a cord or ribbon around the middle, and a longer one for attachment.
I drew a chart of the ship and the surrounding design from the photographs on the link. The original pinball was knit in silks and measures 1 ¼” wide; mine will be around 3” across – considerably larger. I am knitting on 0.75mm/6-0s needles at 22 stitches to 1”, with vegetable dyed crewel wool in a greenish-gold and natural from Textile Reproductions. The working and end strands can be seen hanging below the knitting. They will be trimmed and the remaining ends will be part of the stuffing.
It takes about ten minutes to knit a row on the right side but over twenty minutes to knit a row on the reverse side. Purling with such fine needles and such fine wool is more of a challenge than reading the chart backwards. Using a metal board with a magnetic strip for a guide is a big help. I did plan to mark in the chart with dark ink and then enlarge it but I was too keen to start knitting so I have been using the original sketch. In my rush, I also forgot to knit the extra rows at the bottom to match the side “hems” and the one that will be knit at the top but I can pick up stitches from the cast on edge and knit the lower hem later on.
The knitting so far is pinned onto an antique pincushion which is stuffed with very stiff fabric. The knitting rolls up on the needle and cannot be seen at all so I pinned it out for the photograph. The rolling, as I knit, also adds to the uncomfortable and time-consuming purling. If I ever knit another pinball, I will use strongly contrasting colours of wool or silk to better see the pattern and speed along those purling rows.
This kind of knitting also cramps my hands so this project will take some time to complete as I can only manage one or two rows a day.