About Weldon's Practical Needlework

From Interweave Press:

About 1885, Weldon’s began publishing a series of fourteen-page monthly newsletters, available by subscription, each title featuring patterns and instructions for projects using a single technique.

About 1888, the company began to publish Weldon’s Practical Needlework, each volume of which consisted of twelve issues (one year) of several newsletters bound together with a cloth cover.

Each volume contains hundreds of projects, illustrations, information on little-known techniques, glimpses of fashion as it was at the turn of the twentieth century, and brief histories of needlework. Other techniques treated include making objects from crinkled paper, tatting, netting, beading, patchwork, crewelwork, appliqué, cross-stitch, canvaswork, ivory embroidery, torchon lace, and much more.

From 1999 through 2005, Interweave published facsimiles of the first twelve volumes of Weldon’s Practical Needlework.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Project 9: Wrap in Striped Pattern with Round Border

I've been searching for a shawl to knit.  It's proven rather difficult to find the right one.  Jane Sowerby's book Victorian Lace Today includes many of the patterns I like from the earlier Weldon's publications.  I have a single issue of Weldon's Practical Knitter, Sixty-Second Series (published c. 1910) which is subtitled "How to Knit Fancy Stitches, Shawls, etc".  I found this pattern which has potential:

The shawl is made by knitting the "centre" square, then picking up the border stitches and knitting the edging around the outside.  I like this better than knitting the four border pieces separately and sewing them on, which many of the Weldon's patterns require.

However, this project is fighting me every step of the way.  First, I had trouble winding the skein of Madelinetosh Lace yarn.  My trusty old yarn winder is getting a little cranky.  I wound the yarn so tightly that I couldn't pull it off the ball winder, so I had to hand-wind a ball off the winder.  Blech.

Next problem is charting this pattern.  It's going to take some thought.  The "stripes" section is pretty simple, just columns of yarn over/knit two together (but even that is causing trouble, see below).  The tricky bit comes with the bobble "flowers" in the 2nd section.  I'm working on charting this in a non-confusing way.  So far, it's confusing :-)

And today's problem: I cast on the 198 stitches for the stripes section.  Knit 13 rows.  And realized I was doing it wrong.  I read the instructions as knit 1 row, work the yo/k2tog pattern on the 2nd row, and repeat for 28 rows.  Nope.  I am supposed to work that lace pattern EVERY row for 28 rows.  So back to the beginning and casting on those 198 stitches AGAIN.

To be continued.

Project 7: A Cravat Knitted with Cockatoo Wool Finished

And a soft, pretty scarf it is.  I didn't love knitting with boucle, those little curls have an annoying tendency to get picked up instead of the actual stitch, and it's easy to lose your stitches.  I recommend frequent counts to make sure you still have the correct number of stitches on the needles.

I do love how soft the yarn is, and not itchy.  Perfect for a scarf!  I cheated a tad by using a yarn with a smidge of nylon, which isn't accurate to the period.  But it's as close as I could come to the original "cockatoo" wool.  I purchased my yarn from this seller on Etsy, and I am happy with the color (Lakewater Blue).  The base yarn seems to be pretty common for hand-dyers to use, so a search of Etsy for boucle yarn should turn up quite a few sellers.

The "fringe" on this scarf is kind of fun; it's simply a looped chain of crochet.  Easy-peasy.

You can download the free pattern here.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Lady's Undervest Photos!

Pia took pictures for me, thanks P!  One of her students modeled, and a darling model she is. 

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Project 7: A Cravat Knitted with Cockatoo Wool

Starting again with a 250 yard skein of boucle.  I bought this from Yellow Dog Farm on Etsy, and it's the same base yarn (78% mohair, 13% merino, 9% nylon), which is very soft.  The colorway is "Lakewater Blue", blues, greens and purples.

Should be plenty to finish the Cravat this time!

The 100th Anniversary of the Titanic

2012 is the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic.  I love the fashions of this time period, and some day I'm going to sew myself an Edwardian dress.  I know, my last sewing project (a 50s style dress) is currently languishing in a box.  But I can dream, can't I?

A fantastic source of patterns for historical garments is Sense & Sensibility Patterns.  To commemorate the Titanic's anniversary, Jennie has put together an e-book on 1912 fashions, which you can download here

Friday, February 24, 2012

Project 8: Egg Cosy

What could be more Victorian than an Egg Cosy?  If it could be covered with something cute, it would be.  And what's cuter than a soft-boiled egg in an egg cup, topped with this little cover?

The Egg Cosy is from Weldon's Practical Knitter, Twenty-Eighth  Series (1895), and republished in Weldon's Practical Needlework Volume 10.

If you want to knit this project, you'll need teeny tiny needles: size 000.  I am using Paternayan Persian Wool, which comes in 8 yard skeins in many colors.  It's commonly used for needlepoint and crewel embroidery.  The yarn is 3 strands, you'll knit with 1 strand, so you need to pull a strand off to start your knitting.

Once I got through the first couple of round on the tiny double point needles, everything calmed down and it was easy to knit.  And since it's such a small project, it didn't take long.  In fact, I started my cosy last night and finished it today.  I'm just waiting for the cute egg cup I ordered to get here so I can take a picture, and then I'll provide a pattern.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Project 6: Infant's Fancy Knit Vest in Lemon Pattern

The sweet lacy vest is all done, with a pretty silk ribbon for the neckline.  I don't have a baby handy to photograph sadly.  Pia is going to see if she can use a friend's baby for a good picture for me.

Meantime, here is the completed vest.  I have written "modern" instructions for the vest and you can download the pattern here

Monday, February 20, 2012

Project 7: A Cravat in Cockatoo Wool

Yikes.  Again.  I am about halfway through the cravat and I can see I will not have enough yarn.  Not even close.  I have a message in @ Island Fibers in hopes that they might have another skein.  And I ordered a skein of yarn from a seller on Etsy, which is hand-dyed on the same yarn base (mohair/wool/nylon) so I can start again with that if Island Fibers can't help.

Contemplating another project to work on while awaiting my yarn :-0

I have a skein of Madelinetosh Lace in colorway "William Morris":
which seems like an appropriate color for a Victorian project.  I am looking for a pretty lace shawl to knit using it.  Maybe I'll tackle this now.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Project 7: A Cravat Knitted with Cockatoo Wool

I'm knitting a very simple pattern this week, using a pretty boucle yarn from Island Fibers on Lopez Island Washington, which Lorraine and the boys bought for me a couple of years ago:
This is a hand-painted mohair boucle yarn, and I have 100 yards.  I'll use size 8 needles.

My pattern this week is from Weldon's Practical Knitter, Twenty-Fifth Series (published in 1894, and reproduced in Weldon's Practical Needlework Volume 9):  "A Cravat Knitted with Cockatoo Wool".  There's no engraving of the cravat, but it's quite simple.  Garter stitch with crocheted "fringe".

Weldon's says "Cockatoo is a peculiar kind of wool spun in a series of little rings and done up in ounce balls; it is stocked by most fancy dealers, as it is useful for shawls, wraps, and other purposes."  I think my Island Fibers boucle will do nicely.

Project 6: Infant's Fancy Knit Vest in Lemon Pattern

Here's the Fancy Vest in Lemon Stitch, blocking.  As soon as the pretty ribbon arrives, I'll find a baby and get some final pictures.

This was a quick (maybe a couple of days) and easy project, which turned out very nicely.  I love the scalloped edging at the bottom, and the sweet ruffled edging, done with crocheted double and treble stitches (I learned a new crochet stitch too!)  The vest probably took 150 yards or less of fingering weight yarn.  I have at least a half skein left of the Madelinetosh Sock yarn I used.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Project 6: Infant's Fancy Knit Vest in Lemon Pattern

Project #6 is this sweet little undershirt for baby.

From Weldon’s Practical Knitter, 16th Series (published 1891), a vest/undershirt for baby with lace body and garter stitch yoke.
“For knitting this pretty vest procure 1 1/2 ozs. of white Shetland Wool and a pair of No. 11 bone knitting needles.”
I will use US #2 needles and some pretty orange Madelinetosh Sock yarn in the color way "Citrus":
 and I found some beautiful silk ribbon for the beading around the neckline:

Project 5: Lady's Undervest Nearly Finished

All I have left to do is find 4 buttons and The Lady's Undervest is done!  And get the battery in my camera charged so I can get some good photos (or better yet, have Pia take some pictures for me, with a willowy model wearing the sweater)

I made a goof on the bottom "flounces", I now see.  The front has 2 flounces, the back has 3 :-(  Well I'm not fixing it now.  And I figure eyes will be drawn to those boob darts, so no one will even notice the bottom.

This is another pattern I'm not going to rewrite in modern "language".  The original instructions are actually quite clear, and I don't think they need reworking.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Project 5: Lady's Undervest Progress

I'm plugging away on miles of ribbing :-)  I am nearly finished with the back (about 8" to go!).

The sleeves are knit from the top down to the cuffs, which surprised me.  Not sure why they are "top down", but perhaps it will come clear once I start knitting.

I got my extra Heilo yarn, and the dye lot looks like a pretty good match.  I'll knit the sleeves in the "new" yarn, and hopefully it won't be too noticeable that I'm working with 2 dye lots.

The plan is to have this sweater done this weekend, so I can move on to Project 6.  Which I think is going to be a small shawl.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Project 5: Lady's Undervest Front Finished

Front is finally done and the buttonholes are spaced correctly, as in the engraving.  Before blocking, my front measured 30" in length, so it's going to be a bit longer than the original instructions (which say 29" long, but don't say if that is blocked or unblocked).  The engraving does show a fairly long sweater though, so I think it's okay.

Now to find a long, lean lady to model for me.  I don't think this style is going to fit my chunky body, even if it does have a lot of stretch.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Project 5: Lady's Undervest

I found more of the Heilo yarn I need, and it's on the way.  Fingers crossed that the yarn is a close match dye lot-wise. 

I've reknit the right front of this sweater 3 times now :-(  I am having trouble getting the buttonholes spaced correctly on the front placket.  The instructions say to make a buttonhole "every 10th ridge".  I first interpreted that as every 10th row (the placket is in garter stitch), which didn't work.  Ripped and tried every 10th garter ridge (20 rows) and that didn't work either.  3rd time I'm trying 10 rows between the buttonholes.  This had better work, as I'm kind of sick of knitting the placket/right front and would like to move along to the back.

I'm also writing up my instructions and knitting the samples for my first Piecework article.  Thanks to sister Sue, knitter exraordinaire, I have one less sample square to knit myself.