Did you get all that?

Once upon a time, knitting was something of an oral tradition.  You learned from your mother or grandmother.  Or, if you took it up as a profession, maybe from your guild master.  And there was no such thing as a pattern.  Let me say that again.  There was no such thing as a pattern.  You learned the basics, then you freestyled.  Mostly, you made it all up as you went along.  If you saw something you wanted to duplicate exactly, you either figured it out on your own, or you went to the person who made it and asked how it was done.

The history experts tell us that knitting was invented…probably by men, probably in the middle east…a little over a thousand years ago.  The earliest known written patterns didn’t come along until more than 500 years later.  Even then, the instructions were not anywhere near what we think of as a pattern.  Look at this lovely things from Godey’s Ladies Book from mid 1800′s.  Can you figure out what they’re talking about?

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I had a first class lecture on the evolution of pattern writing and how you can learn so much from reading contemporary books and magazines.  But WordPress ate it.  It was a little convoluted and hectoring anyway.  So I think I will just content myself..and hopefully you…by giving you a few more “patterns” from Godey’s and seeing what you make of them.

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Princess Royal would be one of Victoria’s daughters.  Wonder if her mother or her nanny knit if for her.

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It’s not you; this one is incomplete.  The rest explains how to drop stitches in the cast off and pull them back to the cast on.  Kins of like the Princess Royal scarf.  It make s a kin of cheaters lace.  In the shop we call it The Surprise Scarf.

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This one doesn’t even have a picture to help you out.  Flying blind?  Apparently no problem for those mid-19th century gals.

I think I might actually try one of these to see if I am as clever as I think I am about figuring this stuff out.  Want to join me?

Written by mim

mim

One Response to “Did you get all that?”

  1. Victoria Charkut says:

    That is such a cool article! I love those old patterns, just beautiful. One day I’m going to make one of those. Thanks!

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