Romantic Delights to Knit

Valentines Day is on Friday, and to celebrate, I thought I'd share a few patterns from back issues of Jane Austen Knits. After all, who's more of a romantic than Jane Austen?

My favorite, and one that is perfect to kit up for a knitting friend for Valentine's Day, is the Love and Loyalty Pin Ball by Anne Carroll Gilmour. Pin balls are little balls that stitchers kept pins and needles in; they're Regency era pincushions. Anne thoroughly researched pin balls, and here's what she discovered:

In Search of the Pin Ball

In researching knitting during the Regency era, I found many existing examples of delightful little pin balls like a very inspiring one from the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Pin balls were often produced as gifts for dear friends by schoolgirls and ladies of the time. They used personalized medallion-like symbols (often derived from printed motifs used for embroidery samplers) to represent love, unity, loyalty, joy, devotion, or whatever concept appealed to their rich, creative minds.

The Love and Loyalty Pin Ball, front and back

I attempted to reflect this tradition in the charts for my pin ball project, with love and loyalty as the theme for the blue side (represented by hearts and crowns inspired by the Met sample) and a roots and wings theme for the gold side-perhaps a more modern sounding notion, but strong family connections have always been important in Jane Austen's novels. I believe that roots allowed her imagination to soar at a time when women's choices were somewhat limited.

I drafted the bird and vine motif in the Regency style as a small tribute to her rich life of the mind, with gratitude that she shared so much of it with all of us.

This little project consists of two charted pieces knitted flat in two-color intarsia technique, then stuffed and sewn together in the traditional manner with a ribbon or twisted rope trim (your choice) whipstitched in place to cover the seam. While it's true that microknitting is not for everybody, there is something to be said for a little rebellion against the instant gratification of our modern world.

—Anne Carroll Gilmour, Jane Austen Knits 2013

Fitz Fingerless Mitts by Catherine Sheilds     

Fingerless mitts are always a welcome gift, and for the man in your life, there's the Fitz Fingerless Mitts by Catherine Sheilds (shown at left). Inspired by Jane Austen's most famous romantic interest, Fitzwilliam Darcy, Fitz is a sturdy fingerless mitt perfect for your own Mr. Darcy.

Like Mr. Darcy, these mitts have more depth than may initially meet the eye. A mock cable border flows smoothly into a subtle allover mini-cable lattice. The stitch pattern is simple and easy to memorize, providing a good opportunity to practice cables if you are unfamiliar with them.

Lace and Flower Cuffs designer Carol Huebscher Rhoades says,

Lace and Flower Cuffs
by Carol Hubescher Rhoades

"Whenever I read a Jane Austen novel, I imagine the young ladies wearing lovely Empire-style cotton dresses with tiny flower buds printed on the fabric.

While there is no evidence that knitted wrist warmers were worn in the early nineteenth century, this style of cuff might have fit well with the costumes worn. After all, those cotton dresses probably weren't warm enough in drafty English countryside homes."

The cuffs (shown at right) are worked in a strip and then seamed, so you can knit the piece long enough to fit comfortably around your wrist. The garter-stitch structure is fairly elastic.

To adjust for larger or smaller sizes, work with a tighter or looser gauge by changing needle size, and feel free to stop mid-pattern when the cuff is the right size.

Imagine these cuffs peeking out of the sleeves of your coat: absolutely darling.

Give a little love to yourself this year. Download some lovely patterns—we're having a big sale in our pattern store!


P.S. Have you ever given a handknit gift to someone for Valentine's Day? Tell us about it in the comments!

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