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Before entering upon the immediate subject of this chapter, we wish to make a few remarks; which, we trust, will be acceptable to our fair readers.

The art of knitting is supposed to have been invented by the Spanish; and would doubtless form, in connection with needlework, an agreeable relaxation, amid the stiff formality and unvarying mechanical movements which made up, for the most part, the lives of the ancient female nobility of that peninsula. The Scotch also lay claim to the invention, but we think upon no sufficient authority. Knitted silk-hose were first worn in England by Henry VIII., and we are told that a present of a pair of long knitted silk stockings, of Spanish manufacture, was presented to the young prince (Edward VI.), by Sir Thomas Gresham, and was graciously received, as a gift of some importance. Clumsy and unsightly cloth-hose had been previously worn: and, though we are told by Howel, that Queen Elizabeth was presented with a pair of black knitted silk stockings, by Mistress Montague, her silk-woman, yet her maids of honor were not allowed to wear an article of dress, which her royal pride deemed only suited to regal magnificence. We believe the first pair of knitted stockings, ever made in Eng[98]land, were the production of one William Rider, an apprentice, residing on London Bridge; who, having accidentally seen a pair of knitted worsted stockings, while detained on some business, at the house of one of the Italian merchants, made a pair of a similar kind, which he presented to the Earl of Pembroke, 1564. The stocking-frame was the invention of Mr. W. Lee, M. A., who had been expelled from Cambridge, for marrying, in contravention to the statutes of the university. Himself and his wife, it seems, were reduced to the necessity of depending upon the skill of the latter, in the art of knitting, for their subsistence; and as necessity is the parent of invention, Mr. Lee, by carefully watching the motion of the needles, was enabled, in 1589, to invent the stocking-frame; which has been the source of much advantage to others, though there is reason to believe the contrivance was of little service to the original proprietor. Since its first introduction, knitting has been applied to a vast variety of purposes, and has been improved to an extent almost beyond belief. It has furnished to the blind, the indigent, and almost destitute Irish cottage girl, the means, pleasure and profit at the same time. Many ladies, including some in the rank of royalty, have employed their hours of leisure in the fabrication of articles, the produce of which have gone to the funds of charity, and have tendered to the alleviation of at least some of

“The numerous ills that flesh is heir to;”

and amongst those, the labors of the Hon. Mrs. Wingfield, upon the estates of Lord de Vesci, in Ireland, ought not to be forgotten.

To Cast on the Loops or Stitches.—Take the material in the right hand, and twist it round the little finger, bring it under the next two, and pass it over the fore finger. Then take the end in the left hand, (holding the needle in the right,) wrap it round[99] the little finger, and thence bring it over the thumb, and round the two fore fingers. By this process the young learner will find that she has formed a loop: she must then bring the needle under the lower thread of the material, and above that which is over the fore finger of the right hand under the needle, which must be brought down through the loop, and the thread which is in the left hand, being drawn tight, completes the operation. This process must be repeated as many times as there are stitches cast on.

Knitting Stitch.—The needle must be put through the cast-on stitch, and the material turned over it, which is to be taken up, and the under loop, or stitch, is to be let off. This is called plain stitch, and is to be continued until one round is completed.

Pearl Stitch.—Called also seam, ribbed, and turn stitch, is formed by knitting with the material before the needle; and instead of bringing the needle over the upper thread, it is brought under it.

To Rib, is to knit plain and pearled stitches alternately. Three plain, and three pearled, is generally the rule.

To cast over.—This means bringing the material round the needle, forward.

Narrowing.—This is to decrease the number of stitches by knitting two together, so as to form only one loop.

Raising.—This is to increase the number of stitches, and is effected by knitting one stitch as usual, and then omitting to slip out the left hand needle, and to pass the material forward and form a second stitch, putting the needle under the stitch. Care must be taken to put the thread back when the additional stitch is finished.

To Seam.—Knit a pearl stitch every alternate row.

A Row, means the stitches from one end of the needle to the[100] other; and a ROUND, the whole of the stitches on two, three, or more needles. Note, in casting on a stocking, there must always be an odd stitch cast on for the seam.

To bring the thread forward, means to pass it between the needles toward the person of the operator.

A Loop Stitch, is made by passing the thread before the needle. In knitting the succeeding loop, it will take its proper place.

A Slip Stitch, is made by passing it from one needle to another without knitting it.

To fasten on.—This term refers to fastening the end of the material, when it is necessary to do so during the progress of the work. The best way is to place the two ends contrarywise to each other, and knit a few stitches with both.

To cast off.—This is done by knitting two stitches, passing the first over the second, and so proceeding to the last stitch, which is to be made secure by passing thread through it.

Welts, are rounds of alternate plain and ribbed stitches, done at the top of stockings, and are designed to prevent their twisting or curling up.

Sometimes knitting is done in rows of plain and pearl stitches, or in a variety of neat and fanciful patterns. Scarcely any kind of work is susceptible of so much variety, or can be applied to so many ornamental fabrics or uses in domestic economy. The fair votary of this art must be careful neither to knit too tight or too loose. A medium, which will soon be acquired by care and practice, is the best, and shows the various kinds of work to the best advantage. The young lady should take care to preserve her needles entirely free from rust, and to handle the materials of her work with as delicate a touch as possible.

[101]Having thus given instructions in the common rudiments of this useful art, we proceed to give plain directions for some of the most beautiful.


Bee’s Stitch.—In knitting a purse in this stitch, you must cast the loops on three needles, having twenty on each. The two first rows in plain knitting. The third is thus worked. Having brought the silk in front, a stitch is to be slipped, and you knit the next, pulling the one you slipped over it; you knit the next, and the succeeding one is pearled; proceed in this manner for one round. The next round you knit plain; the next is to be executed like the third. Proceed thus in alternate rounds, and you can introduce two colors, highly contrasted, knitting six or eight rounds of each.

Berlin Wire Stitch.—The stitches cast on must be an even number. Knit three, four, or five plain rows. Then begin the work by taking off the first stitch, knit one stitch, knit off two stitches together, and make a stitch; repeat this process to the end of the row; the next row is to be knitted plain, and so on alternately.

This work may be done either with large pins and lamb’s wool, if it be intended for shawls, &c., or with fine needles and thread, in which case it forms a beautiful kind of insertion work for frocks, capes, collars, and other articles of dress. If it is intended for insertion work, the number of stitches cast on are eight, and one pattern is formed by each four stitches.

Common Plait.—This is employed for muffatees, coverlets, and various other articles. You cast on the stitches in threes:[102] the number is unlimited. Knit one row plain, then proceed as follows. Row first, three plain stitches and three pearled. Second row the same, taking care to begin where the last is finished, that is, if you ended with plain stitches, you begin with the pearled. Proceed in the same way with the third row, and you will have a succession of squares, of inside and outside knitting, alternately. The fourth row is to be begun with the same kind of stitches as completed the first row; continue as before, and the work will be in squares, like those of a chess board. This stitch is extremely pretty.

Chain Stitch.—The number of loops to be cast on is thirteen. Knit the first two rows plain, and in beginning the third, knit three plain stitches, and bring the material in front, then pearl seven stitches; the material is then to be turned back, and you knit the other three stitches plain. The next row is plain knitting, and then you proceed as in the third row, and so on alternately, until you have completed sixteen rows. You then knit three stitches plain, and take off the four succeeding ones upon a spare pin. The next three stitches from behind the pin, are to be knitted so as to miss it completely, and the material is to be drawn so tight, as that the pins may be connected together as closely as possible. This done you knit the four stitches of the third pin, which completes the twist. The remaining three stitches are then to be knitted, and a fresh link begun, by knitting three stitches, pearling seven, knitting three, and so proceeding for sixteen rows, when another twist is to be made.

Crow’s-foot Stitch.—This stitch may be worked in two ways. If it be for a shawl, begin at the corner, and raise at the beginning and end of each row.

In the other method, you cast on any number of stitches that[103] can be divided by three, and you must cast on one additional for the commencement. You knit the first row plain and then proceed according to the following directions: First, knit a stitch. Second, make a stitch. Third, slip the next. Fourth, knit two stitches together. Fifth, put the stitch you slipped over the two last knitted; this is to be repeated, with the exception of the first knitted stitch, to the end of the row. The next row is composed entirely of pearled stitches. This stitch is neat and elegant.

Double Knitting.—Of this stitch there are three kinds, now in general use. In executing them proceed as follows. Having cast on any even number of stitches, knit a few rows in plain knitting; then, for the double stitch, begin the row by knitting a stitch, and pass the material in front, between the knitting pins. Then a stitch is to be taken off, being careful to put the needle inside the loop, and to pass the material back again. You then knit another stitch, and so proceed to the end of the row.

For the second kind of double knitting, you cast on an even number of stitches, as before, and the first stitch is knitted plain; the material being put twice over the pin. Then, as in the first kind, pass the material between the needles; a stitch is to be slipped, and the material passed again behind. This process is repeated in every stitch to the end of the row. In the next row, you reverse the work, knitting the stitches that were before slipped, and slipping the knitted ones. The third kind is very simple, and can be done quicker than the others. It is worked on the wrong side, and when completed must be turned inside out; hence it is necessary to knit plain at the sides or ends. The number of stitches must be even, as in the previous methods. No plain row is needed; but you commence by putting the material in front of the pins, and being careful to keep it constantly in that position.[104] Turn the first stitch, take off the second, and so on alternately, till the row is finished.

Dutch Common Knitting.—This is the common knitting stitch, performed in a more expeditious manner than that in general practised. The needle filled with stitches, is held in the left hand, and the material also, which is to be wrapped round the little finger once or twice. It passes to the needles over the fore finger. To form the loop on the needle held in the right hand, it is only necessary to put it into the stitch from behind, and knit off by putting the material round the needle.

Embossed Diamond.—You cast on any number of stitches which can be divided by seven. The first row is plain: for the second, pearl one stitch, knit five, and pearl two; thus proceed, alternately, to complete the row: for the third, knit two, pearl three, and knit four, and so proceed. The fourth row you pearl three, knit one, and pearl six, alternately. The fifth row is plain knitting. The next row you pearl two, knit two, pearl five, and so on to the end. Next knit two, pearl four and knit three, alternately. Next knit six, and pearl one, successively. Reverse the next, pearling six, and knitting one. Then in the succeeding row, knit five and pearl three, and knit four in succession. Next knit three, pearl two, and knit five, alternately. The succeeding row is plain.

Embossed Hexagon Stitch.—You can work with any number of stitches you choose, which can be divided by six. The first row is plain, the next pearled throughout; the third row is plain. For the first knit four stitches, and slip two at the end; then pearl a row, taking care to slip the stitches that were slipped before. Next knit a row slipping the two stitches as before. The next row is pearled still slipping the two stitches. The succeeding two rows are knitted and pearled like the others, and the two stitches[105] are still to be slipped. The next row is pearled, and you take up all the stitches; then a row is to be knitted plain, and a row pearled, which completes the pattern. In beginning the next pattern, you pearl a row, slipping the fifth and sixth stitches, so that they shall be exactly in the centre of the previously worked pattern; you then proceed as before.

Elastic Rib.—This as its name implies, is the proper stitch for garters, or any kind of an article which is wanted to fit easily yet firmly. You are to set on any number of loops you please, and knit one row plain; the next is pearled, the two next are plain; then one pearled, and so on alternately to the end.

Fantail Stitch.—The application of this stitch is in the preparation of mitts, gloves, &c., and sometimes it is used for purses, in which it looks extremely pretty. The material generally employed is cotton, and you begin by setting on any even number of stitches you require. A loop is made, by throwing the cotton over the pin; you then knit a loop, and make and knit alternately; each of the two last are knitted plain, and you narrow the commencement and conclusion of each row, at the second and third loops, until you have reduced it to the number originally cast on. The usual number of stitches cast on is fourteen.

French Stitch.—You set on the loops in fours, and must have two over. The first stitch is pearled, then turn the thread back, and knit two stitches together. Form a new stitch by bringing the thread in front, and knit a stitch; the thread is again to be brought in front, and the last stitch pearled, which completes the pattern. The next row is begun in a similar manner, the thread is turned back, two stitches are knitted together at the end, the thread is turned, and you knit the last stitch.

German Knitting.—You cast on twenty-one stitches, and pro[106]ceed as follows. First row, the material is to be passed forward, one stitch slipped, then knit one, and pass the slipped one over; three stitches are then to be knitted, and two taken as one; again pass the material forward, and knit one stitch. Second row, the same, except that when in the first you knitted three stitches, knit one; and when one, you knit three. For the third row, you pass the material as before, and slip one stitch, then two are taken as one, and the slipped one is passed over again; repeat this, except that in taking two stitches together, you knit one, and pass the slipped one over; finish by knitting two stitches.

Honeycomb Stitch.—This is also often used for shawls. It is knitted as follows. You knit the first stitch, and pass the other to make a loop over the needle. Two stitches are then knitted together, and you thus continue making the loops, and knitting two stitches together, until you have completed the row. You knit every second row thus; the alternate ones plain.

Herring-bone Bag Stitch.—You cast on the stitches by fours, and the material used is silk. Knit two plain stitches, and then make a large one, by turning the silk twice over the needle; after which, knit two stitches together, and repeat this, until you have completed the work.

Imitation Net-work Stitch.—You set on any number of stitches you please, but you must have no odd ones. The first row is plain knitting. The next row you commence by bringing the wool upon the first pin, and twisting it round it by bringing it over from behind, and putting it behind again. You are then to knit two loops together, and the pin must be put first into the one nearest to you, and the wool is to be twisted round the pin as before. Then again, knit two together, and so on to the end. Each row is done in the same manner.

[107]Knit Herring-bone Stitch.—Any number of stitches you please may be cast on, observing to have three for each pattern, and one over at each end. The first row must be plain: then, in beginning the second, take off the first stitch, and knit two together in pearl stitch. Next make one, by passing the material before, and knitting one, pearl two stitches together, and make and knit a stitch as before. Every row is the same.

Lace Wave Stitch.—The number of stitches must be even. The first stitch is to be slipped; then knit one, and make one, by casting the material over the pin. Narrow, by knitting two stitches together, and again knit a stitch; then make one, and again narrow; and so on till you complete the row. The next row is done plain. The third row is as follows: two stitches knitted plain; make one stitch, and narrow two in one; then knit one stitch; make and narrow, as before to the end; then knit a row plain. For the fifth row, knit three stitches plain, and thus proceed as in the third row. The sixth row is done plain; and the seventh one commences by knitting four stitches plain, and then proceeding as before. The eighth row is plain; and the ninth is begun by knitting five plain stitches, and proceed as above; then knit two rows plain, and the pattern is complete. This can be continued to any length required.

Moss Stitch.—This is easily done. Cast on any even number of loops, and for the first row, the first loop is slipped, the material brought in front; the stitch is pearled, and repeat so to the end. The next row is so worked, that the stitches knit in the proceeding row, must be pearled in this.

Open Hem.—The number of stitches is unlimited, but they must be capable of being divided by four. At the beginning of each row you slip the first stitch, and knit the second. Then make a stitch[108] by putting the cotton over the pin; knit two loops together; knit one stitch, make a stitch, and so proceed. You must have very fine pins and sewing cotton.

Open Cross Stitch.—This is done in the following manner. Two colors are to be employed, and the first row of each is done in pearl stitch. In working the second row of each, the following is the order of procedure: first, knit a stitch: second, make a stitch; third, slip one; fourth, two are to be knitted together, and the one slipped is to be drawn over the knitted ones; thus you proceed to the end of the row. The two next are to be commenced with the other color; and thus you work two rows with each color, successively. The fresh color is always to cross from beneath the last one, or otherwise a hole would be left in the work. In the making of shawls, this stitch is often adopted, and it looks well, but, of course, requires to be bordered with some other pattern.

Ornamental Ladder Stitch.—The stitches are to be set on in elevens. Commence by knitting two stitches plain, then knit two together, and repeat the same, drawing the first loop over the second; proceed thus to the end. Commence the second row by pearling two stitches; pass the material over the pin twice; again pearl two stitches, and so proceed to the end. In the next row, knit two; pass the material round the pin twice, knit two, and so continue. Thus you proceed with alternate rows of knitted and pearled stitches, being careful to slip the stitches made by throwing the material round the pin, without knitting them.

Pine Apple Stitch.—For a bag you must cast on thirty-six loops on three needles, and proceed thus: First row, knit one plain, raise one by throwing the silk over the pin, knit one plain, then raise, knit two plain, you knit the next two together, drawing[109] the last loop over the first; you will then have six loops. In the second row, knit the first raised loop, then raise, knit the next one plain, then raise, knit plain till you come to the next raising, and omit knitting the two together as in the first row. Third row, you knit plain to the raising, and then proceed as in the first row. You knit the fourth as the second; and so proceed alternately, until you have twelve rows. Then in the stitches you had previously narrowed, you must raise, and introduce a bead upon each plain loop, with a thread, and again raise. Where you had previously raised, you must narrow with the bead you have upon the silk. In this manner proceed raising and narrowing alternately, until you have twelve rows as before. You then reverse, and again work as in the first part of the pattern.

Plain Open Stitch.—The stitches set on must be an even number. The two first rows are plain. Then commence the third row, by knitting one stitch; pass the material in front, and form a new stitch, by knitting two together. This is to be repeated, until you come to the last stitch, which must be knit. Then knit two plain rows and proceed as before.

Porcupine Stitch.—This is proper for a purse, and when properly executed, is extremely pretty. You cast on, upon each of three needles, thirty-six loops, and knit one plain round. For the next, you knit four stitches: and, having brought the silk forward, knit one loop: this will form the middle stitch of the pattern. Then, again bringing the silk forward, knit fourteen stitches; after which, slip one, and leaving the under part, knit two together, and draw the stitches, last slipped, over it. Then knit four stitches, as at the commencement, and so proceed for six rounds, increasing before and after each middle stitch. You knit till within one of where you decreased. The stitch thus left is to be slipped, and[110] you then knit two together, and draw the slipped loop over it. You are then to knit one plain round, and the next row is also plain, except the loops which are over the middle stitches, where you are to insert a bead, by bringing it through the stitches. You next knit a round plain, and must be careful to keep the beads on the outside of the purse, or rather in the inside while knitting, as this purse is done the wrong side out. You are to knit, until you come within one loop of the bead, which must be slipped, and you knit the next two together. You are then to increase six rounds on each side of the stitch decreased as in the proceeding pattern, which will make that the middle or bead stitch. The material should be done in middle sized purse silk, on needles, No. 18.

Rough-cast Stitch.—Any odd number of stitches may be cast on. Each row is begun with a plain stitch, and the others are plain and pearled alternately. This is very suitable for borders, as it is firm and looks neat.

Wave Knitting.—This is proper for a pin-cushion, and looks extremely neat. Commence by casting on seventy-nine loops. Then proceed as follows. First row, knit four loops plain, pearl one, knit nine plain, and repeat to the end of the row, finishing with four plain loops. Commence the second row with three pearled stitches, knit three plain, pearl seven, repeat as before. Third row, knit two plain, pearl five, knit five plain, repeat. Fourth row, pearl one, knit seven plain, pearl three, repeat. Fifth row, pearl nine, knit one plain, pearl nine, and repeat to the end. This finishes the pattern.


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