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.
Different things, often a reproduction. I am particularly fond of doing Irish/flame stitch items in the 18th century manner. All of the wool yarns used are naturally dyed ones from Kathleen B. Smith/Textile Reproductions (Massachusetts.) Some of the wool is about twenty years old, some was purchased in 2011.
Featured here is a needle book on 25 count linen, measuring 4 1/2" x 2 1/2" (flat.) This was a kit from Textile Reproductions, based on a piece in the collection of Historic Deerfield, Massachusetts, purchased and made many years ago. The interior is lined with a layer of fleece, covered by handwoven felted wool fabric which holds the needles.
The pincushion, also a kit from Textile Reproductions, from a past time, is worked in the elongated diamond or lozenge pattern on 25 count linen, measuring 4" x 4 1/2" , stuffed with fleece, and backed with handwoven silk fabric.
The hoop contains the body of a pinball of my own design on 28 count linen . The stitching is finished and currently measures 3" x 3"; the pinball will be smaller and will be backed with the same green silk used for the pincushion.
The frame holds two projects on 30 count linen. A needle roll of my own design worked in different version of a diamond pattern, measures 3" wide with a projected length of 12". The man's pocketbook on the left is another vintage kit from Textile Reproductions but I am not following the colour guide that came with it. There are evident errors in my stitching. I am also not happy with the background stitching around the initials. I will probably change the placement of the initials and add a date on the next pocketbook I make which will most likely be a smaller woman's one based on several in the collection of Winterthur Museum, Delaware, possibly in the carnation pattern. I am also have a double sectioned man's pocketbook, a woman's pocket, a Bible cover and a handheld firescreen on my to-do list.
I love working on this kind of project. The vivid dyes and their arrangement are such fun to reproduce or design. The research on and documentation of specific objects is is some of the easiest to do as there are so many surviving pieces in this kind of stitchwork from furniture to very small personal items. Best of all, it is another way to work with wool!
This pattern is for a bag to hold wools, most likely for needlework. It is from The New Guide to Knitting and Crochet by Marie Jane Cooper, published by J.S. Cooper, Royal Marine Library, and Parry, Blenkarn & Co., London, 1847.
In keeping with patterns from this era, there is no needle size or gauge/tension. The wool suggested is six skeins of “cruels” (sic.) I chose a fingering weight (KnitPicks’s Palette) which is a tad heavier and 3.25mm/3US needles. Six panels of different colours are need with the “centre double the number of rows” all in “the plain stitch of knitting” (knit every row.) The bag is knitted as a wide piece and then folded over and sewn at one side, with a finished measurement of 8” long and 10 1/2” wide. Two different types of ribbon are needed for the drawstring sleeves and the drawstrings but no lining is recommended.
I have knit five of these caps (four are featured here) from Godey’s Lady’s Book and Magazine, April, 1858.
The pattern for “this useful little article” is very easy with alternate five row sections and colours of stocking and garter stitch. I put in an extra row in the beginning for support. Since there are five rows, the new colour cannot be carried up or over the section so I left a long loop behind the knitting each time I changed wool. I cut these in the middle when I finished and the tails became the gathering knot on each side at the end.
The puffy, lacy texture is created by knitting and dropping alternate stitches on the row before the cast/bind off row. The finished row, with fewer stitches, creates a firmer edge although the original pattern suggests that the cast-off row should be done loosely. The next step is to pull, from the middle of the cap outwards on each side, the dropped stitches. It is best to work the middle, then one side, then the other, and then back to the middle, repeating the process down the cap. I did not enjoy this part – it just feels dreadful to be tugging and pulling at the stitches. I would also recommend leaving two to three stitches unpulled on the sides as there is too much puffing out at the gathered section near the ears. The fringe was not much fun to make either but then I don’t like fringes and making them is extremely tedious. Other than that, this cap couldn’t be easier to knit and can be worked up in few hours.
The pattern suggests rosettes at the top of the ribbons although the illustration shows some sort of bow. Perhaps this is a style of mid-19th century rosette? I am not that fond of rosettes so I chose bows for my cap (burgundy/white, no fringe.) All of the other caps have rosettes that are more like small cockades as my skills were limited here. My cap rests around or over the bun of hair at the back.
The pattern required “the smallest size ivory needles” and “single Berlin wool.” These caps were knit on 3.25mm/3 US needles using Knit Picks’s Palette and Shadow Kettle Dyed (my cap.) The gathering on either side brings them up more narrowly than in the illustration. I am planning to make another one, with longer ribbons and a fringe, and not gather it tightly but let it drape more in the back to resemble the one in the original illustration. If anyone can suggest how I can create a shaggier fringe, as in the illustration, please let me know.