Monday, October 25, 2010

Ye Olde Blind Knitting

  For lack of anything better to do, I decided to take an adventure into blind knitting.  No I don't mean I'm going to knit with my eyes closed.  But I mean those very old patterns and pattern books left to us from ladies of past eras, which have no diagram, drawing or imagery of any kind.  Not even a description beyond colors of yarn to give us a clue to what they looked like when finished.
  If your imagination is extremely good, you can probably read through the patterns and get an idea of how they'll turn out.  But some you just can't tell really until it's worked up.
  So I'm starting with a little piece by Miss Lambert, called 'My Knitting Book.'  The first volume, originally published in 1843.  She did another which was published in 1847, which I also hope to explore in detail.  I haven't decided yet if I'll skip the few that can be found, such as her stitch pattern 'Leaf and trellis,' which was featured in Victorian Lace Today.  Or her Pence Jug from the first edition, as Franklin Habit did a wonderful job showcasing that in as well.
  But there's so much more to explore.  Some of no interest other than living historians, historic crafters, and re-enactors perhaps.  But still it would be nice to see what they looked like.  I'm also putting it in my mind to re-write the patterns as I go along, just in case, and as long as credit for the re-write is given they're as free as the original patterns are now.
   I didn't exactly start with the first pattern, but because I did have some yarn in the right weight matching the description of color for a pattern titled 'Very pretty cuffs.' I have worked one out.  Although I'm still a little puzzled as how it goes, since it looks nice as is, but I think it might have been folded in half and work that way.  I'll explain why but first I wanted to share an image I have of the cuff.

  It certainly came out different than I'd expected.  You'll noticed on the right side the stripes are showing the wrong side stitch along the edge of the red stripe.  On the opposite side, it did the same with the white, and after checking, double and triple checking I'd wondered if this was done on purpose.  Perhaps Miss Lambert liked the way it looked.  As I continued the yarn switched to a different weight, and I noticed the new color joins were now all showing the wrong side stitches on one side only.  Again I puzzled but continued until finished, and stitched it up along the seam.
  I'd wondered only briefly if it really was knit flat, but the fact it's worked on two needles is clue enough that it is.  It certainly was a lot of work weaving in the yarn ends, but the cuff itself knit rather quickly.  I was finished within two days on knitting in my spare time between other obligations.
  At first it seems the smaller end is the wrist half, and I thought perhaps the wider end went slightly over the hands.  In the original pattern it describes only one aspect of the cuff.
 Quote~' The cuffs, when finished, roll over at the top.' ~unquote.
    While knitting it I thought this meant it would roll naturally when finished, only when it didn't I had to consider if it was meant to be rolled.  I did this with the last red stripe at the top, and got a pretty effect of the white showing through,  however it just didn't seem like it was right.  I know so little about knits from the 1840's, so it could have been work with the ridges covering the lower half of the hands.  It's certainly so small that even on a lady who is very small boned, and tiny, it would still not slide very far along the arm.
   I'd dismissed it thinking when I have time I'll ask a living history group of ladies I know for their opinion, and I still intend to do that.  However I started thinking, what if by rolling over, it's folded in half, with the thicker end rolled completely over the thinner end?  I started thinking perhaps that's why Miss. Lambert didn't mind the wrong side stitch showing through on both sides on the one half, because perhaps it's meant to be work folded so it's covered?
  Either way, there it is.  I could find no resource to show that anyone else has worked this pattern.  If someone who comes across it has, I'd be delighted to hear about it.
   If not, perhaps by working the patterns through here, someone who might be in need of an 1840's pattern for living history, or a re-enactment in that period, may find this useful.  And if interested, here is a more modern version of how to knit it.  Free to use as you like.  I only ask that you respect copyright laws and link to my original re-write.  Other than that all other rights are waived.   Enjoy :)

                                          Very Pretty Cuffs (1843)
Original by Miss Lambert in My Knitting Book. (first series)
Translated by Sandra Coats.

One size: small

Knit Picks Palette (100% Peruvian highland Wool; 231 yards/50g); fingering weight. 1 skein each of Serrano and White.
Knit Picks Telemark (100% Peruvian highland wool; 103 yds/50g); sport weight. 1 skein each in Cardinal and Drift.

Us. Sz 0 straight or circular 16"-32"
Us. sz 2 straight or circular 16"-32"

Yarn needle
Needle threader if you use them

Knit six rows.
Yo, K2tog. Repeat across.
Knit six rows.

With the Palette yarn in white, Cast on loosely, forty-six stitches.
*Yo, K2tog. Repeat from * across.
Knit the next six rows across. This will form 6 rows of garter stitch.

With Palette in Serrano, join and work through the pattern once.

With palette in white, join and work the pattern through once.

Repeat the pattern again first with white, then with serrano once more each. You should have four stripes total.

With Palette in white, knit the next six rows. On the next row, *yo, k2tog, and repeat from * across.

Now switching to Telemark in Drift you'll work as follows:
R1: knit across.
R2: Purl across.
R3-4: Knit across.
R5: purl across
R6: Knit across.

Switch to Telemark Cardinal, join and *Knit one row. Purl one row.* (two stripes total).
Repeat from * to * four more times for a total of five stripes.
For the last row and still using Cardinal, *yo, k2tog. Repeat from * across.
Bind off all stitches in whichever manner you prefer. Weave in all yarn ends. Then with about 18" of yarn, fold the cuff over so the right side is on the inside. And whip stitch along the side to form the cuff tube. Turn right side out, and you're done :)

(Note: I haven't asked anyone but myself to test this through, so if there's any errors, please do let me know, and I'll do my best to correct it.)

Copyright Sandra Coats 2010.

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