Knit Like It's 1845
In 1845 in London, J. Miland published New Illustrated Knitting, Netting, and Crochet Book by Miss Watts. The title page of the diminutive book (it’s 4 1/8 inches (10.5 cm) wide and 4 7/8 inches (12.4 cm) high with 92 pages) states that Miss Watts also was the “authoress of the first, second, and third series of the ‘Ladies Knitting, Netting, and Crochet Book’.”
Clearly, people in England were knitting in 1845; clearly, Miss Watts was turning out numerous pattern books for those knitters. But who was Miss Watts? The scant information from the title page of this sweet book is all of the information we have been able to locate on the elusive Miss Watts. She, like Mrs. Jane Weaver, prolific author of a multitude of projects in Peterson’s Magazine (published in the United States between 1842 and 1898), remains almost anonymous.
We purchased our copy of The Illustrated Knitting, Netting, and Crochet Book from an antiquarian bookseller. We thought it would be a treasure, and it is. We replicated the 19 knitting patterns from it for PieceWork’s newest eBook.
Although the title states the book is “illustrated,” there are only three pages of illustrations (one shows netting projects) and one page of charts. Only five of the knitting patterns are illustrated—A Knitted Baby’s Bonnet, Cardinal Cape for a Little Girl, Gentleman’s Slippers, Shetland Wool Ruffle (wrister), and A Narrow Edging.
The other patterns include a blanket for baby’s berceaunette (French for cradle or bassinet), a summer quilt, a pincushion cover, a manchette (French for cuff) with a matching collar, both to be trimmed with Valencienne lace, and a cap. There’s also a “Stitch for a Bag”; here are the complete instructions:
In German lambs’-wool or stout netting silk. 4 pins Nos. 14 to 20, according to fancy.
Cast on any number of stitches that will divide by three.
1st round. Bring the wool or silk forward, half knit a stitch, knit the other half of the same stitch and the two following stitches all three as one; repeat the same all round.
2nd round. Plain knitting.
If you make a bag using the “Stitch for a Bag,” do send us a photo! Actually, we’d love to see photos of any of Miss Watts’s patterns that you make (firstname.lastname@example.org).
We hope you’ll love the intriguing (and for those without illustrations, mysterious) mid-nineteenth-century knitting patterns from New Illustrated Knitting, Netting, and Crochet Book.