The Genius of Weldon’s Practical Needlework

Elizabeth Prose’s handspun Tenney Park Scarf from Spin-Off Summer 2012 was inspired by Weldon’s Cloud Scarf from Weldon’s Practical Needlework, Volume 5. Photo by Joe Coca.

Elizabeth Prose’s handspun Tenney Park Scarf from Spin-Off Summer 2012 was inspired by the Cloud Scarf from Weldon’s Practical Needlework, Volume 5.
Photo by Joe Coca.

More than a century after it was first published, Weldon’s Practical Needlework still serves as a springboard for creative inspiration for needleworkers in all disciplines. Whether you knit, crochet, tat, or embroider, you will find patterns and instructions on these topics and much more within the pages of Weldon’s.

The genius of Weldon’s is that the projects transcend the century-plus span of years since they were conceived and allow for the makers’ own hands to be seen as the patterns are not written as step-by-step instructions. I know this from personal experience. The knitted Cloud Scarf from Volume 5 provided the inspiration for my handspun Tenney Park Scarf featured in the Summer 2012 issue of Spin-Off, one of PieceWork’s sister magazines. Or, if you need more evidence, check out the re-creations found in the discussion boards of Ravelry’s Weldon’s group.

We asked Dana Bincer, assistant editor of Interweave Crochet, another one of our sister magazines, to crochet her interpretation of the charming Toy Cat from Weldon’s Volume 9. With one skein of wool yarn and a size H/8 (5 mm) crochet hook, Dana whipped up her adorable kitty over the weekend. The Toy Cat pattern is provided below, unchanged from the original published in 1894. As English crochet notations are different from those used in America, please note the following:

Chart-7-26-16

Toy Cat
A toy cat is very amusing to little children. The body is moulded with brown paper and wadding, or it may be of grey calico stuffed with sawdust; the limbs, of course, are made separately, and when sewn together the whole body is covered with serge, over which is stretched the outer covering of crochet. The model may be any desired size; our toy, from which the engraving is taken, stands about 7 inches high, and measures about 16 inches in length from its head to the tip of its tail. Procure 2 oz. of grey Scotch fingering, a medium sized bone crochet needle, two black beads to simulate eyes, and a yard of narrow pink ribbon. Begin for the sole of a Foot, with 4 chain; join round; and do 3 double crochet in each stitch of chain; go round again, doing now 2 double crochet on each stitch, and proceed with only an occasional increase till you have a flat round of about 2 inches in diameter for the foot pad; next round decrease by continuously taking up 2 or 3 stitches together, and when the crochet is reduced to fit the leg of the model continue round and round, always in double crochet, and widening slightly as you approach the top of the leg, and

Original illustration of Toy Cat from Weldon’s Practical Needlework, Volume 9.

Original illustration of Toy Cat from Weldon’s Practical Needlework, Volume 9.

fasten off when the leg is long enough. Make three other legs in the same manner; there is not much difference between the length of the hinder and the front legs, but the former are rather the longest. Commence the Head at the top, between the ears, do 8 chain, work 1 double crochet in the second chain from the needle, and 6 more double crochet in the row, increase for 2 or 3 rows, and finally join round, and work round and round for the mouth and nose, and break off wool, and sew up. Draw the head on the model, and continue the crochet in rounds for the neck, shaping the work to the figure round the body, and thence onwards to the tip of the tail; draw the crocheted legs in position, and join the tops of the legs neatly to the crochet of the body. For the Ears, make 14 chain, and join round; do a round of treble stitches, and 2 rounds of double crochet, in which decrease for the point of the ear; break off the wool, and sew up the point and sew the ear upon the head; also make another ear to correspond. Define the mouth by a line of stitches sewn with red wool, and draw in a few strands of grey, white, and black wool, to represent whiskers; place two black beads in position for the eyes. Finally tie a ribbon as a collar round the cat’s neck.

Interweave Crochet Assistant Editor Dana Bincer’s interpretation of Weldon’s Toy Cat from Weldon’s Practical Needlework, Volume 9. Photo by George Boe.

Interweave Crochet Assistant Editor Dana Bincer’s interpretation of Weldon’s Toy Cat from Weldon’s Practical Needlework, Volume 9.
Photo by George Boe.

PieceWork is delighted to be able to continue to offer stitchers of all specialties an opportunity to discover the world of Weldon’s Practical Needlework through both downloadable eBooks and the hard-bound Deluxe Edition. What wonderful projects will Weldon’s inspire you to create?

Happy stitching!
Elizabeth