Recently I've been looking more and more at vintage books online. Google books has some really great ones if you have the knowledge of vintage patterns, and the patience. If not, thanks to the internet these days, it isn't too difficult to figure things out as well :)
One I recently started reading is called Treasures in Needlework. It's dated 1855 and it basically has several collected patterns for Knitting, Netting, Crochet, Point Lace, Tatting, Braiding and Embroidery. I'm unfamiliar with Netting and Point Lace as yet, so I looked at some of the other patterns. If you're in love with vintage crafting, you won't be disappointed with this book. It has a little of everything in there I believe, from baby socks to neck ties. Caps, Mats, Toilet (toiletry not the modern toilet) fringe, Turkish slippers, and one of my favorite subjects an embroidered pocketbook. I'm seriously hoping I can find time to do at least a couple of the patterns from this book.
If you're interested in the 1830's, and haven't already heard of it, here's a real gem. The Workwoman's guide. Have I mentioned this book before? If I have here it is again. Great resource for learning how to sew nearly everything from soft corsets, chemise, shirts, dresses, baby clothes to household goods. The one drawback that it has is the measurements, and the need for intermediate sewing knowledge. As for measurements, that's easily resolved by going to the Online Conversion Chart. Using the all lengths and distance conversions, you can easily type in how many nails and have it translate it into inches, and voile you're ready to go.
Another interesting online book is My Knitting Book by Miss. Lambert published in 1843. It's really no different than other knitting books of it's time, however I could tell immediately why it isn't widely used or shared. There's absolutely no images drawn or otherwise to go by. So when you set out to knit a Pretty Cuff, you're literally flying blind until you observe whether it really is pretty or not.
Now that might be a drawback to some. But it could also be interesting. The mystery of what the Pretty Cuff might look like could entice someone enough to knit it just to see.
I haven't personally done more than download and flip quickly through this one, but if you're up to the challenge of mystery or blind knitting The Comprehensive Knitting-Book also offers a nice assortment of patterns. Published originally in 1849 it has baby items, curtains, something it calls a habit shirt. What caught my possible interest to venture into experimentation were the gaiter patterns. One called Gaiter, with stripes down the leg (possible steampunk item?), and the Traveling Gaiters for a Lady.
I do find modern crafting interesting sometimes. But there is this certain j'nai said quoi about vintage crafts. Perhaps it's the romanticism attached to it. Whatever it is, I honestly hope they continue to share wonderful books like these online for future generations to enjoy.
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