Yarny Wonders -and then some!

Adventures at the Work Table

August 24, 2010

Some patterns from the mid-1800's

I've been adding some patterns to Ravelry's database of historical mid-1800's patterns. What is frustrating to me, is that they don't have a historical, or Victorian or vintage attribute that can easily sort old patterns out. Luckily, I figured out how to add the old engraving prints to the pattern while still giving credit to the original authors, so people looking for old patterns can see them for what they are. However, it would be nice if they could maybe put in an attribute that allows you to search for historical patterns- preferably by year, or decade even!

This is a really interesting pattern to me, for a "leggin" which appears to be a sort of legwarmer/spat combo- with ruffles. Awesome! I haven't seen any other pattern that resembles it, to date. It's from the December 1859 issue of Peterson's Magazine. I created a really nice, easily printed-out .pdf version of this pattern, and it is available at the The Wooly Spider site. http://woolyspider.com/2010/06/knitted-leggin-1859/ 

It's nice to have an online place for patterns that I put together to "live" since I can't create downloadable .pdf's and house them with blogger's free blog- which this blog is. 

The other pattern I added to Ravelry was this pattern by Isabella Beeton (1870) for Knitted Braces.

This is from Beeton's Book of Needlework. Awesome book!! I'm not really familiar with vintage knitting cotton sizes, so I don't know the modern equivalences for Walter Evans and Co. Knitting Cotton No.8 or 12. It says it is a "coarse" cotton, so maybe regular dishcloth cotton would work. I need to do some more research. It also doesn't recommend a needle size, but I would imagine that small needles, for tight, non-stretchy stitches is what would work best for a pair of suspenders- or rather, braces. :)
I also made a .pdf of this pattern at this url: http://woolyspider.com/2010/07/knitted-braces-1870/


August 21, 2010

Maja Cape...in Danish

I found the most amazing cape pattern on Ravelry! Written by Katrine Wohllebe, it's beautiful! I love it- it's knit in pearl knitting, which I think looks so stylie, and I just really want it as an addition to my winter wardrobe. Even more amazingly, it's a free pattern. Here's the catch...the pattern is offered only in Danish.
Ok- what to do?
I'm stubborn.
I found online resources for translating Danish knitting patterns- yes- there are more than one! And I translated it out. It appears to make sense, I think it will work. How cool is that?
One thing I was struck with as I was translating, was how knitting patterns, once you get past the specific language, have a language all their own. That's one of the reason's I think my translation will work, even without a working knowledge of Danish. The pattern flows, it makes knitting sense. I can't wait to try it.

Here's the link to the Filcolana site where you can see what I'm talking about- and download the pattern if you speak Danish! Here

July 27, 2010


So I've been busy, busy.
I was asked to design a website for an online yarn shop called The Wooly Spider -http://woolyspider.com
It sells wool and wool-silk yarns on the pound cone, -only all natural fibers and lots of lace and fingering weight wool, all you historic peeps! and because of me and my wonderful input, sometime in the near-future they will carry silk embroidery floss and threads, and other hard-to-find natual-fiber items for making period clothing. Like Linen- I WANT linen. And bone double pointed needles. Is that too much to ask for? It is very hard to find natural fibers without polyester and all other synthetics worming their way in.

But I digress, so I made the website- I think it has turned out well. I designed all the graphics, and put the whole thing together- and though it took me WAY too much time, I'm generally pleased with how it looks. I used Wordpress as the CMS. Wordpress is so easy to use!! I'm in love. This is the 2nd Yarny website that I've been asked to work on- the other one is my LYS (Local Yarn Shop for you not in on the yarny lingo) but I didn't design that one, I'm just helping the owner to update the site. That one uses CMS Made Simple, which is also a really nice CMS to work with, and is relatively user-friendly if you have computer skills. I love open-source!

So what I'm really excited about my contribution to The Wooly Spider is that I'm helping to put together Historical Patterns for the site. I also put together some information about historical yarn equivalences to help people make wise yarn choices when trying to duplicate a historical pattern. The Wooly Spider sells alot of yarn that would be really good choices to use in patterns that call for Single and Double Berlin wool, Fleecy and Zephyr, so I thought it would be nice to have the info as a guide. I also put together a guide for modern yarn weights so that when they see 2/20 lace-weight they can know what that means.

Also, sort of non-related but exciting to me, is that I came upon a historical reference from the 1840's (maybe 50's, I'm trying to do this off the top of my head) that defines Zephyr wool as a german merino wool, also known as Berlin wool. Zephyr wool can be sort of a vague, period term, so it's exciting to have that cross reference there!  I'll have to get the exact reference in here as a link for anyone who is interested in reading about that.

So, back to me putting together Historical Patterns for The Wooly Spider site. I envision patterns for knitting, crochet and netting, maybe tatting and embroidery as well as they expand their line to more types of yarn/thread. As I create them on the site there, I think I'll blog about them here, and create a link to them because, honestly, I only have so many hours in the day. lol
And when the end of August comes, and I'm back in school, I hope *fingers crossed* that I have the time to keep doing patterns and such. I'll do my best.

June 28, 2010

Knit Undersleeves

I love undersleeves. They so appeal to me!! Ever since I saw this sweet photo of Mama and adorable baby, I've wanted a pair!

This is really cool. If you check out the original url of this daguerreotype from the Nelson-Atkins Museum, you can really get a closeup of the knitting.
Click Here.

If you zoom in and look at the construction, a couple of really neat things become apparent. You can see that the knitting is striped, using more than one kind of wool. The wool that looks almost metallic-y in the daguerreotype might even be knit in moss stitch and not garter. That's up for debate, since as I look at it, I could argue either way. But what really becomes apparent is that the cuff is knit flat, and not in the round, or in any type of rib stitch. How cool! You can tell that it is simple garter stitch knit into a band, and either sewn in or knit by picking up stitches on the edges (would have to increase quite a bit, and quickly with that method, though!) The cuff only appears to be 10 stitches or so wide, and is obviously knit on smaller pins than the rest of the sleeve. And you can see that metallic-y yarn again around the very outside edge of the cuff. I can't tell if it's a crochet edge, though it could very well be since it ruffles the outside edge of the knitting a bit like crochet can do.

With this image as my guide, I found a pattern in Peterson's magazine from 1862 that shows a knit undersleeve that has the grand poof that my inspiration sleeves do.

Upon reviewing the pattern however, there are differences from my inspiration sleeve. This sleeve is knit all together on one size of needle. Also, the cuff is knit in ribbing, and I do so want to try out that garter-stitch cuff!
So, what I've decided to do is knit this pattern sort of backwards, meaning instead of working it from the upper-arm down, I'm going to work it from the wrist up, omitting the actual cuff so I can sew in my own garter-stitch cuff afterwards, but using the pattern as my guide. This way also, I feel I can adjust the size better, since I tend to be larger in the frame than the ladies our lovely Victorian patterns were written for. I'm about half-way through the first large puff, and unfortunately, I've had to put it on the back-burner for a bit and concentrate on a few other time-sensitive projects, but I'm excited to have it started, and I'll keep you posted!

I'm going to post images of the original pattern, if any of you are interested in trying it yourself!

June 17, 2010

Ye Olde Knitting Tools

I've heard other knitters talking about muscle sprains and other aches that effect their knitting, but until recently, have never had that happen to me.
Last week I did end up hurting something around my lower thumb area that stretched into my wrist. How I did it I have no idea. It did make knitting uncomfortable so I had to put the pins down for a few days.
This misforture did, however, get me interested in some of the old-time knitting implements of days gone by, when hand-knitting was a commercial industry, and speed and keeping your hands and wrists in good shape a vital part of a paid job.
So I started looking into it, and I found this blog: A Fisherman Knits
Look in particular at the posts on knitting belts and knitting sheaths, and his thoughts on pit knitting vs. knitting with a belt or sheath that you can find here. Very interesting reading! I also like his idea for a clew.
Knitting's past propensity towards very small circumferenced needles makes sense when it is understood that "dense" knitting is much warmer to the wearer than knitting that creates any kind of hole for air/heat transfer. It makes sense! Honestly, I had to wonder when I first started looking at historical knitting if it was just designed to be as labor-intensive as possible, or with some sort of masochistic tendency to knit as painfully as possible. I realize by not grasping the obvious right off the bat, that I am a thoroughly modern knitter with a modern knitter's skew. Knitting for warmth has never really been my first priority, not really - not like our knitting ancestors did. I have never thought to knit a sweater that could be worn by itself, and keep me warm without any other type of outer garment through rain or snow. This is what those tiny steel pins were made to do, take wool and turn it into a very, VERY, functional garment.

June 6, 2010


I found an amazing pattern yesterday! Lacy and lightweight, it's sort of a cross between a shawl and a shrug with cardigan sleeves- just really pretty and feminine-and lacy, did I mention lacy? You should check it out! Tthe creator has made the pattern available free from her site.
See pics and get the pattern Here.
There is an amazing amount of talent floating about the cyber-knitting sphere. It truly is awe-inspiring! I need to knit faster- I will have the best wardrobe, seriously.

May 28, 2010

Knitting Lace

I've discovered that I LOVE to knit lace. Yes, it's complicated, and yes, please don't bring it to your knitting group because you will end up ripping it all out, but it IS really addictive. Who knew putting holes into your knitting ON PURPOSE could be so enjoyable! lol
I am currently working on an 1860's Sontag from Godey's Lady's Book Magazine. The above photo is the actual pattern and illustration. I wanted a knitted lace for the edging of the shawl, instead of just plain knitting with the fake ermine spots or a crochet shell border. I like to be unique! So I went hunting for the perfect knitted lace edging.
I found this blog: 1884 Knitted Lace Sample Book
I highly recommend it. The author, Vintage Kathleen, discovered a handwritten journal from the late 1800's in an antique store that had handwritten and newsprint clippings of lace knitting patterns. She has been diligently working her way through them, knitting the lace and posting her discoveries. Go Kathleen! What a fabulous bit of American History preserved through her efforts!
And lace knitters get to enjoy the fantastic patterns. I picked out this Shell Pattern for my Sontag.
I'm using JaggerSpun Heather 2/8 wool. JaggerSpun makes some fabulous yarn, fyi. Spun in Maine, the company is over 100 years old, and has some really lovely laceweight, fingering, sport and dk weight wool. They also have a wool-silk yarn that I've not personally used, but I've heard people swooning over so I'd like to try it. I also like the idea of buying American, and I try to do that whenever I can (which can be challenging), but as this is a rant-free post, I'm going to stop there!lol


This blog is mainly to document my journey in Work: Knitting, Crochet and learning to do things such as Tatting, Netting, Drawn Thread Work and Sewing. Plus anything cool I find along the way :)
Lately, I have become really interested in 19th century fashion! But I also have a huge interest in expanding my skills with the goal that eventually, I will be able to make my clothes. I love to wear Salwar Kameez, but I want to be able to design and make my own, especially outfits in fabrics that are suited to colder weather since I live in upstate NY!