Weldon's a Week with Laurie Sundstrom

Editor's note: About 1885, Weldon’s, a London paper pattern company, began publishing monthly newsletters available by subscription and devoted to a single craft—Weldon’s Practical Whitework Embroidery, Weldon’s Practical Knitting, Weldon’s Practical Patchwork, Weldon’s Practical Crochet, to name just a few. Each fourteen-page newsletter contained patterns and instructions. About 1888, the company started compiling assortments of the newsletters into bound hardcover books called Weldon’s Practical Needlework, and they continued to publish these into the first two decades of the twentieth century.

Laurie Sundstrom’s Square for Quilt Open Ribbed Pattern from Weldon’s Practical Needlework, Volume 1. Photograph by Joe Coca.

In 1998, PieceWork purchased original copies of Volumes 1 through 30 of Weldon’s Practical Needlework. Since then, we have produced facsimile editions of Volumes 1 through 12 as well as a series of eBooks using knitting, crochet, and bead embroidery content from early volumes.

Learning about Laurie Sundstrom’s Weldon’s project in which she offers a project a week on her blog and shares selected patterns with PieceWork readers was a delight. To aid today’s knitters, she is rewriting the original patterns using modern notation and accompanying them with charts, a feature absent from Weldon’s originals.

Here’s Laurie to tell you more about her project!

Laurie Sundstrom’s Square for Quilt Foxglove Pattern from Weldon’s Practical Needlework, Volume 1. Photograph by Joe Coca.

I blame Julie and Julia. After reading Julie Powell’s book describing how she made—and blogged about—every recipe in Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking, I became interested in blogging about a similar project—in knitting. But what knitting manual would keep me interested for an entire year?

As the owner of Vintage Knits in Spokane, Washington, I had ready access to hundreds of pattern books from the 1800s to the present in my shop as well as those in my own extensive knitting library. I considered patterns from the 1940s and 1950s, two of my favorite style eras, but wanted patterns that were easily accessible to readers.

An afternoon spent perusing the incredible variety of projects (everything from an egg cozy to a barrister’s wig) in the twelve facsimile volumes of Weldon’s Practical Needlework convinced me that a year spent knitting exclusively from the pages of Weldon’s would keep me busy and interested.

I hope you’ll enjoy my Weldon’s reproductions and be inspired to create your own!

Happy knitting,