Friday, 1 January 2021

 When Ladies knitted lace to display a 'pretty hand'.

The Intricate Knitted Lace made by Gentlewomen in the early years of the Nineteenth Century.

And as a further diversion and a project for your brain, take a look at this beautiful 1848 pattern found in  "The Knitting Book" by Eleonore Riego de la Branchardiere. The book was digitalised by The Gutenbourg Project in 2018.

You need size 19 needles (1mm) and a single thread such as linen or cotton.

Incidentally, current wisdom from "The Piecework Magazine" states:

"Knitting pattern books began appearing in the late 1830s. Lace designs were written out—never charted—and errors were fairly common. Knitting terms and abbreviations were inconsistent from author to author, so knitters had to have rather well-developed skills to work successfully from published patterns. Victorian knitters also used lace samplers as a source for designs.

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"As with almost every aspect of knitting, we don’t know where, when, or by whom lace knitting began. Although we tend to think of Shetland lace knitting as a centuries-old tradition, there are no examples of it earlier than the 1830s."

This pattern shows just how much the art of lace knitting had developed in less than 20 years.

NOTE by myself: The ‘O, O, refers to wrapping the yarn twice to create two stitches. On the next row, one ‘over’ will be knitted and the next purled, except on Row 24 where it is involved in a k3tog. I have translated the 'recipe' into modern knitting language for ease of understanding. Charts had not yet been developed.

Only servants and 'ordinary' people knitted functional garments such as socks and baby wear. This lace would have been knitting for a lady to work.

CHANTILLY LACE EDGING

This may be used for a variety of purposes. Pins and thread, cast on 21 stitches.


1st row: K2tog, O, O, k3tog., O, k2tog, k2, k2tog, O, k3, O, k3tog., O, k4.

2nd Row: O, k2tog, k1, k2tog, O, k1, O, k2tog, k1, k2tog, O, k3, k2tog, O, k2, p1, k1.

3rd Row: K2tog, O, O, k2tog, O, k1, O, k2tog, k3, O, k3tog., O, k3, O, k2tog, k2.

4th Row: O, k2tog, k1, O, k2tog, k1, k2tog, O, k4, k2tog, O, k3, O, k2, p1, k1.

5th Row: K2tog, O, O, k2tog, O, k5, O, k2tog, k4, O, k3tog., O, k4.

6th Row: O, k2tog, k8, k2tog, O, k7, O, k2, p1, k1.

7th Row: K2tog, O, O, k2tog, O, k2, k2tog, O, k1, O, k2tog, k2, O, k2tog, k9.

8th Row: O, k2tog, k6, k2tog, O, k2, k2tog, O, k3, O, k2tog, k2, O, k2, p1, k1.

9th Row: K2tog, O, O, k2tog, O, k1, O, k2tog, k1, O, k2tog, k1, k2tog, O, k1, k2tog, O, k1, O, k2tog, k7.

10th Row: O, k2tog, k4, k2tog, O, k3, O, k2tog, k1, O, k3tog., O, k1, k2tog, O, k3, O, k2, p1, k1.

11th Row: K2tog, O, O, k2tog, O, k5, O, k2tog, k, 3, k2tog, O, k5, O, k2tog, k5.

12th Row: O, k2tog, k2, k2tog, O, k7, O, k2tog, k1, k2tog, O, k7, O, k2, p1, k1.

13th Row: K2tog, O, O, k2tog, O, k2, k2tog, O, k1, O, k2tog, k2, O, k3tog., O, k2, k2tog, O, k1, O, k2tog, k2, O, k2tog, k3.

14th Row: O, (k2tog, twice), O, k2, k2tog, O, k3, O, k2tog, k2, O, k1, O, k2, k2tog, O, k3, O, k2tog, k2, O, k2, p1, k1.

15th Row: K2tog, O, O, k3tog., * O, k2tog, k1, O, k2tog, k1, k2tog, O, k1, k2tog, O, k3; repeat from * once more, and end with k1.

16th Row: O, k2tog, k3, O, k2tog, k1, O, k3tog., O, k1, k2tog, O, k5, O, k2tog, k1, O, k3tog., O, k1, k2tog, O, k2tog, k1, p1, k1.

17th Row: K2tog, O, O, k3tog., O, k2tog, k3, k2tog, O, k7, O, k2tog, k3, k2tog, O, k6.

18th Row: O, k2tog, k5, O, k2tog, k1, k2tog, O, k2, k2tog, O, k1, O, k2tog, k2, O, k2tog, k1, k2tog, O, k3tog., p1, k1.

19th Row: K2tog, O, O, k2tog, O, k3tog., O, k2, k2tog, O, k3, O, k2tog, k2, O, k3tog., O, k8.

20th Row: O, k2tog, k1, O, k2tog, k6, O, k2 18together, k1, O, k2tog, k1, k2tog, O, k1, k2tog, O, k3tog., k2tog, p1, k1.

21st Row: K2tog, O, O, k3tog., O, k2tog, k1, O, k3tog., O, k1, k2tog, O, k6, k2tog, O, k4.

22nd Row: O, k2tog, k1, k2tog, O, k1, O, k2tog, k5, O, k2tog, k3, k2tog, O, k2tog, k1, p1, k1.

23rd Row: K2tog, O, O, k3tog., O, k2tog, k1, k2tog, O, k5, k2tog, O, k3, O, k2tog, k2.

24th Row: O, k2tog, k1, O, k2tog, k1, k2tog, O, k1, O, k2tog, k4, (O, and k3tog. twice), p1, k1; commence again at the first row.

 

ORIGINAL WORDING

1st row.—Knit 2 together, make 2, knit 3 together, make 1, knit 2 together, knit 2, knit 2 together, make 1, knit 3, make 1, knit 3 together, make 1, knit 4.

2nd.—Make 1, knit 2 together, knit 1, knit 2 together, make 1, knit 1, make 1, knit 2 together, knit 1, knit 2 together, make 1, knit 3, knit 2 together, make 1, knit 2, pearl 1, knit 1.

3rd.—Knit 2 together, make 2, knit 2 together, make 1, knit 1, make 1, knit 2 together, knit 3, make 1, knit 3 together, make 1, knit 3, make 1, knit 2 together, knit 2.

4th.—Make 1, knit 2 together, knit 1, make 1, knit 2 together, knit 1, knit 2 together, make 1, knit 4, knit 2 together, make 1, knit 3, make 1, knit 2, pearl 1, knit 1.

5th.—Knit 2 together, make 2, knit 2 together, make 1, knit 5, make 1, knit 2 together, knit 4, make 1, knit 3 together, make 1, knit 4.

6th.—Make 1, knit 2 together, knit 8, knit 2 together, make 1, knit 7, make 1, knit 2, pearl 1, knit 1.

7th.—Knit 2 together, make 2, knit 2 together, make 1, knit 2, knit 2 together, make 1, knit 1, make 1, knit 2 together, knit 2, make 1, knit 2 together, knit 9.

8th.—Make 1, knit 2 together, knit 6, knit 2 together, make 1, knit 2, knit 2 together, make 1, knit 3, make 1, knit 2 together, knit 2, make 1, knit 2, pearl 1, knit 1.

9th.—Knit 2 together, make 2, knit 2 together, make 1, knit 1, make 1, knit 2 together, knit 1, make 1, knit 2 together, knit 1, knit 2 together, make 1, knit 1, knit 2 together, make 1, knit 1, make 1, knit 2 together, knit 7.

10th.—Make 1, knit 2 together, knit 4, knit 2 together, make 1, knit 3, make 1, knit 2 together, knit 1, make 1, knit 3 together, make 1, knit 1, knit 2 together, make 1, knit 3, make 1, knit 2, pearl 1, knit 1.

11th.—Knit 2 together, make 2, knit 2 together, make 1, knit 5, make 1, knit 2 together, knit, 3, knit 2 together, make 1, knit 5, make 1, knit 2 together, knit 5.

12th.—Make 1, knit 2 together, knit 2, knit 2 together, make 1, knit 7, make 1, knit 2 together, knit 1, knit 2 together, make 1, knit 7, make 1, knit 2, pearl 1, knit 1.

13th.—Knit 2 together, make 2, knit 2 together, make 1, knit 2, knit 2 together, make 1, knit 1, make 1, knit 2 together, knit 2, make 1, knit 3 together, make 1, knit 2, knit 2 together, make 1, knit 1, make 1, knit 2 together, knit 2, make 1, knit 2 together, knit 3.

14th.—Make 1, (knit 2 together twice), make 1, knit 2, knit 2 together, make 1, knit 3, make 1, knit 2 together, knit 2, make 1, knit 1, make 1, knit 2, knit 2 together, make 1, knit 3, make 1, knit 2 together, knit 2, make 1, knit 2, pearl 1, knit 1.

15th.—Knit 2 together, make 2, knit 3 together, * make 1, knit 2 together, knit 1, make 1, knit 2 together, knit 1, knit 2 together, make 1, knit 1, knit 2 together, make 1, knit 3; repeat from * once more, and end with knit 1.

16th.—Make 1, knit 2 together, knit 3, make 1, knit 2 together, knit 1, make 1, knit 3 together, make 1, knit 1, knit 2 together, make 1, knit 5, make 1, knit 2 together, knit 1, make 1, knit 3 together, make 1, knit 1, knit 2 together, make 1, knit 2 together, knit 1, pearl 1, knit 1.

17th.—Knit 2 together, make 2, knit 3 together, make 1, knit 2 together, knit 3, knit 2 together, make 1, knit 7, make 1, knit 2 together, knit 3, knit 2 together, make 1, knit 6.

18th.—Make 1, knit 2 together, knit 5, make 1, knit 2 together, knit 1, knit 2 together, make 1, knit 2, knit 2 together, make 1, knit 1, make 1, knit 2 together, knit 2, make 1, knit 2 together, knit 1, knit 2 together, make 1, knit 3 together, pearl 1, knit 1.

19th.—Knit 2 together, make 2, knit 2 together, make 1, knit 3 together, make 1, knit 2, knit 2 together, make 1, knit 3, make 1, knit 2 together, knit 2, make 1, knit 3 together, make 1, knit 8.

20th.—Make 1, knit 2 together, knit 1, make 1, knit 2 together, knit 6, make 1, knit 2 18together, knit 1, make 1, knit 2 together, knit 1, knit 2 together, make 1, knit 1, knit 2 together, make 1, knit 3 together, knit 2 together, pearl 1, knit 1.

21st.—Knit 2 together, make 2, knit 3 together, make 1, knit 2 together, knit 1, make 1, knit 3 together, make 1, knit 1, knit 2 together, make 1, knit 6, knit 2 together, make 1, knit 4.

22nd.—Make 1, knit 2 together, knit 1, knit 2 together, make 1, knit 1, make 1, knit 2 together, knit 5, make 1, knit 2 together, knit 3, knit 2 together, make 1, knit 2 together, knit 1, pearl 1, knit 1.

23rd.—Knit 2 together, make 2, knit 3 together, make 1, knit 2 together, knit 1, knit 2 together, make 1, knit 5, knit 2 together, make 1, knit 3, make 1, knit 2 together, knit 2.

24th.—Make 1, knit 2 together, knit 1, make 1, knit 2 together, knit 1, knit 2 together, make 1, knit 1, make 1, knit 2 together, knit 4, (make 1, and knit 3 together twice), pearl 1, knit 1; commence again at the first row.

 

Scottish knitting for a living over the centuries

The first mention of knitting in Scotland was in the sixteenth century. The early knitters were men, tightly organised by male dominated 'Incorporations' which controlled standards, wages and prices.

As the craft of knitting stockings declined generally in Scotland (the market of sales to America having dried up), in 1661 the Gov of Scotland decreed that knitters be encouraged to produce new lines. So the impoverished stocking knitters began to raise their skills using the newly manufactured quality worsted wools (combed fleeces which lie parallel before spinning) as these gave a finer product which fetched a higher price, especially among the gentry. 

A marvellously researched dissertation dated 1981, written by Helen Bennett, is a highly respected work on the history of Scottish knitting industry. She says:

"The shank (stocking) workers and spinners of Aberdeen and places thereabout, who were all female ... in 1683 ... one George Pyper who, apart from employing 100 women to knit and spin, had encouraged 'the country people' to produce fine stockings 'by giving them a little money, ... so that from five groats the pair he caused them to sport such a fyness that he had given twenty [shillings[ sterling upward for the pair, being one of the new means of obtaining ready money'."

For centuries Scotsmen had worn bonnets, that is, heavy wide flat knitted hats with a band round the head. The width of the bonnet provided warmth and shelter from poor weather - they weighed up to 2 lbs each (over 1 kg)! Bonnets went out of fashion gradually during the late 1700s once Scotland and England had been united into Great Britain, and London's smart hats became the fashionable headwear of the Scottish well-to-do, a fashion followed by the general population! 

However, in the town of Kilmarnock in Scotland the knitting of bonnets did not die, it evolved into a slightly different of hat - a new fashion of lighterweight knitted cap for the military. The Kilmarnock cap was small, sat vertically on the head rather than flowing outwards in all directions as the bonnet had. The ingenious knitters devised headbands in diced and striped patterns to display the colours of the Regiments, and these hats were so popular that they are often seen today. Most readers will be familiar with the Kilmarnock hat worn by the piper on special occasions, and now many British Regiments wear these hats. These hats are still made today in Kilmarnock. 

There is also the Balmoral cap, named after Balmoral Castle, a royal residence in Scotland, which is more of a beret with a small pom-pom on top, not so different from the styling of the original Scottish bonnet. In 1857 the Indian regiments also adopted the  Kilmarnock cap.. The "classic quality wool Scottish Glengarries, Balmorals, Kilmarnock bonnets and Tweed Tam O Shanters have been made here in Scotland since 1845 by Robert Mackie" says The House of Labhran" in the Scottish Highlands.



Saturday, 13 June 2020

A Guernsey project in Sheringham Museum, using my long knitting needles!



June 2020

I had a lovely bit of news from a good customer in Eastern England, the region we know as East Anglia, comprising mostly Norfolk and Suffolk, recently famous for its fishing fleet.

The Northfolk.org project was the brainchild of Martin Warren, ex-curator of the Cromer Museum. Martin is centered on Sheringham Museum and the website is the result of over 20 years of his research featuring the Museum’s large collection of ganseys and historical photos of old fisherman wearing ganseys.

He now has the support of many knitters and my customer has written: “Last year I was invited to a meeting of the Textile Group at Sheringham Museum and became involved in the Gansey project. A group of ladies knit swatches and samplers from charts compiled by Martin Warren from photographs and original ganseys in the Sheringham Museum and Cromer Museum collections. We are trying to replicate the fine work of the Sheringham gansey knitters.”

The various designs are beautifully catalogued in very easy-to-access pages showing dozens of photos of old fishermen and their ganseys. Each photo has its matching swatch, recently knitted, for modern knitters to access, and it is these swatches which the Textile Group knits regularly.



Belcher Johnson's herringbone and hailstones gansey and its matching chart

To see these beautiful designs, go to www.northfolk.org and lose yourself in the pages of ganseys. Val Smith has kindly mentioned me and my Youtube videos on one of the pages, and writes about the local knitting shields (elsewhere known as knitting sticks or sheaths). The shields are designed with one central hole drilled into a wooden core which snuggly fits just one size of needle. If you want to knit with a variety of sizes, you should try a knitting belt – and I sell these on my Etsy shop.
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One of my most successful patterns has been a small child size guernsey pattern which I created nearly ten years ago. I made it for my grandson who was two years old at the time, and my grand-daughter modelled it. She was three years older, demonstrating that a guernsey will accommodate a range of ages, as its constructions lends itself to stretching to fit as the years pass. The pattern will fit children from 2 to 5 or 6 years of age. For a taller child, extend the sleeve and body lengths.
The best yarn for a guernsey is a 5-ply wool, spun with a worsted method. In the UK, worsted is not a thickness of wool but a method of spinning. The fibres of the wool fleece are laid out parallel in a horizontal sheet, all the kinks and twist removed. When this is spun it creates a very strong dense yarn with no ‘fluff’ or ‘halo’. This yarn wears very well, because it does not pill or pull out. In fact, over time it gains a sheen and polish which is very attractive and adds to its longevity, added to the fact that the yarn is dense and traditionally knitted at a tight gauge which displays the textured designs of the guernsey to advantage.

A genuine Guernsey (gansey or knit frock), knitted to the traditional design, has no front or back. Both are identical, so when it is worn it will be rotated to back and front and therefore its sleeves and cuffs last so much longer before they wear out. After many years, as the sleeves eventually wear out, and because they were knitted downwards towards the cuff, it is easy to cut off the worn out section and re-knit them, thus giving the garment a new lease of life. Similarly, if the neck wears, rip the rib out and re-knit that also. A child’s guernsey should last long enough to pass through several children or to give to the next generation.

If you want to have a go at knitting a guernsey, do it traditionally round and round with no seams on 4 or 5 dpn needles or a circular needle. Britain produces some first-rate guernsey wools (no man-made fibres!) in a large range of lovely colours, traditional blues, greys and navies, as well as more feminine colours such as pink and pale green. The most economical way to purchase is to buy a couple of cones, saving so many ends to weave in, but entailing carting a large cone around with you!

My Etsy shops sells the long double pointed (dpn) knitting needles which speed up the knitting of guernseys, both in 14 inch and 9 inch (35 cm and 13 cm) sizes from 1.5 mm to 5 mm (US 00 to US 8) (old UK 16 to 6).
 There are some lovely books by such old-time experts as Michael Pearson, Gladys Thomson and Mary Wright, as well as more modern works by too many authors to mention, which will guide you on your way.

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