Friday, 30 November 2012

Comb Bag

This pattern comes from Weldon’s Practical Knitter, Number 17, Fifth Series (1887). It is also published in Weldon’s Practical Needlework, Volume 2, Interweave Press, 2000.
There is no actual pattern for the comb bag, only a suggestion and stitch count to make this case at the end of the Nightdress Case pattern in the same edition.
The original pattern for the Nightdress Case calls for “Strutt’s knitting cotton, No. 6” and “a pair of steel needles No. 12” (modern equivalent 2.50mmmm/US 2. No gauge or tension or finished size is stated. This bag would certainly hold a small hairbrush and comb, and a few other accessories for the hair but not one of those lovely large brush and comb sets from the 19th century. Both cases are knit into a zigzag lace strip fabric which is trimmed with a lace edge whose pattern is included in the one for the Nightdress Case. The cases should be lined with “pink sateen.”

I had originally started the Nightdress Case in white thread some years ago but changed to this lovely powder blue after discovering it last winter. Both bags are being knit on on 2.5mm/US 2 size needles, using Aunt Lydia’s Classic Crochet thread (Size 10) in Delft. I have the Nightdress Case on the needles, too, with the same thread, but I thought this smaller bag was a good warm up exercise for the larger project. A good thing, too, as perhaps I can make myself pay more attention to the larger case since there are glaring errors in the lower front part of the lace trim of this bag. I can only say that knitting lace in a poor light is a bad idea and advise that all handwork should be checked every now and then during its production.

The bag measures 8” x 5 ¼”, or 7 ¼” by 11” including the lace border. It is lined with pink imitation silk and trimmed “with strings of pink ribbon to draw.”*

*Weldon’s Practical Knitter, Number 17, Fifth Series (1887)

Wednesday, 21 November 2012

Reticule or Knitting Bag

This pattern comes from Weldon’s Practical Knitter, Number 125, Thirty-First Series (1896). It is also published in Weldon’s Practical Needlework, Volume 11, Interweave Press, 2004.
The materials suggested are “dark coloured fine macramé twine, a very little light coloured fine macramé twine” and “braid or ribbon measuring three quarters of an inch in width.”  I used DMC Cébélia Cotton, Size 10 in number 3033 for the entire bag, with no second colour, and brick-red grosgrain ribbon. The bag should be knit on “a pair of bone knitting needles No. 7” (modern equivalent 4.25mm/US 7.)
To quote the pattern again, the bag “is worked in an easy but effective stitch, the holes forming part of which gives room for lines of braid or ribbon to be run in and out, adding considerably to its appearance and firmness.” The fabric is knitted lengthways, then turned sideways and sewn closed on two sides. The remaining open side becomes the drawstring opening at top.
The pattern calls for a total of fifteen sets of holes and I added a two stitch border to each side. The stitch sequence was very easily memorized and this bag knit up quickly. Too quickly, in fact, as racing along, I made mistakes in counting the sets of rows in the beginning but these are somewhat disguised by the woven ribbons.
The weaving was fairly easy but sewing down the edges of the ribbon on either side was time consuming. The pattern stated that this should be done on the seamed bag but I found it more comfortable to work on the flat knitted fabric before it was sewn into a round bag. Several rows were left unwoven, according to the pattern, for the area around the drawstring whose ends are sewn “neatly together two inches beyond the bag.” The top of the bag is supposed to be trimmed in a crocheted pattern included with the knitted one using a “steel crochet hook No. 17.” I do not know its modern size’s equivalent and since I do not really know how to crochet, I put an elementary chain stitch and looped border along the top, with a UK 10/3mm/C-D US sized crochet hook.
The bag holds its shape well with the woven ribbon bracing it but having completed the bag, I think the twine would be a better choice than a cotton yarn as the neck is rather weak and soft when worked in cotton.
This finished bag measures 10” tall, including the crocheted edge, and 6” wide. The twill ribbon is just under ¾” wide.

Monday, 12 November 2012

Knitted Bustle from 1847

This was a quick and easy project. The pattern, which is only three sentences long, is from The New Guide to Knitting and Crochet by Marie Jane Cooper, published by J.S. Cooper, Foreign and British Depot of Berlin Patterns and Materials for Ladies’ Fancy Works, Royal Marine Library, Hastings and Parry, Blenkarn & Co., London, 1847.

The suggested needles are “No. 1” and “No. 10” (modern equivalents are 6.5mm/ US 10.5 and 3.5mm/ US 4.) The recommended wool in the pattern is an “eight-thread fleecy;” I used Lion Brand’s Fishermen’s Wool in Natural.

The top of each piece is ribbed with the smaller sized needles, and the rest of the piece, on the larger sized needles, should be “knit” which I interpreted as knitting every row resulting in a garter stitched material. The three separate pieces, with respectively increasingly numbers of rows, all measure 15” across and 3 ½”, 4 ½”, and 5 ½” long. To assemble, the pattern states to “join them altogether at the part which is ribbed, and put it on a string.”  I used cotton woven tape for the waist’s ties.

The skirts of dresses of this era were full, finely gathered all round the waist.* According to the The Workwoman’s Guide** of 1838, this style of bustle was not meant to make an unnatural curve at the rear of the body as in the latter part of the 19th century but to be “worn by those whose shape requires something to set off the skirt of the gown. They should not be too large, or they look indelicate, or in bad taste.” This “Plate 11,” from the pattern in The Workwoman’s Guide, illustrates cloth bustles (“Fig. 30, 32. “)

A similar bustle, dated 1833 and made of white cotton satin with linen tapes can be viewed here:

**The Workwoman's Guide by a Lady, London: Simpkin, Marshall, and Co., Stationers' Hall Court: Thomas Evans, Colmore Row, Birmingham, 1838

Thursday, 8 November 2012

Knitted Cover for Medicine Bottle

 This object is, in the words of Dr. Stephen Maturin, a deeply rational one in that it “is intended to cover a bottle of medicine when it is packed for traveling” as the “knitting is thick and soft enough to prevent the glass from breaking, and takes up less room, and is more sightly than the paper which is generally employed for the purpose.” So states the original pattern which is from Weldon’s Practical Knitter, Number 130, Thirty-Second Series (1896). It is also published in Weldon’s Practical Needlework, Volume 11, Interweave Press, 2004. As a further inducement, the text of the pattern warned of the danger of confusing medicine bottles that contain “a draught and a liniment or poisonous mixture” which might be “supplied in bottles of a similar size and shape; if one bottle is covered with knitting, the nurse will know at once, even if working in a darkened room, which is the harmless, which is the dangerous drug.

The knitting will prove a more effectual reminder than any poison label could be.” As a final suggestion, this “knitted case” could be “slightly modified in size” to be made “to fit a baby’s feeding bottle. It then prevents the food from cooling too rapidly, and is pleasanter to the touch than bare glass.”

The original pattern called for “bright-coloured” and “dark-coloured single Berlin wool.” I used single strands of crewel wool, now label-less, from my stash, in green and “Salmon-colour” as one of the suggested lighter colours. The cover should be knit on “Four steel knitting needles, No. 14 “ (modern equivalent 2mm/US  0.) 

The cover is worked from the bottom up. When completed, it is turned inside out to the more corrugated texture created by the stitches. Again, this is a safety feature in that it makes the bottle less slippery. The final instructions were for a ribbon to be run through the eyelets at the bottom of the bottle, and the pattern pointed out that the bottle will not stand up but “must be propped up or suspended with ribbon strings sewn firmly to the sides of the cover.”

This bottle cover measures -->6” long and 2 ¾” at its widest.

 All quotations are from Weldon’s Practical Needlework, Volume 11, Interweave Press, 2004.