Thursday, September 27, 2012

Knitting and Household Tips from Long Ago

One of my favorite things to do is look back at old references.  And of course, knitting patterns hold my attention, and housekeeping tips are fun to look back on and chuckle over.  How did our great, great, etc. grandmothers ever do it all without the "conveniences" we now consider necessities?  It was not that long ago that I remember my grandmother telling about the days when she had to make her own sanitary products from discarded bed sheets. Can we even imagine that? I  think not.

But I digress.  Joyce James, who guides tours through Scotland and is an avid knitter, gave references here about old knitting books and says, in part: 
I've just had a cursory look through some of the pages and it's interesting to read about the knitting techniques, vocabulary and patterns and how they have changed. Which is not surprising considering how far back the collection stretches. Who knits a "Sontag" or "Cephaline" anymore? (From the 1844 issue of My Knitting Book.) 
Another book, printed by The Royal National Mission to Deep Sea Fishermen, titled Helping the Trawlers and dated 1800, has a long list of patrons and vice-patrons. In addition to patterns for clothing to help seamen withstand the harsh weather on open ships, there is a section for donations to Labrador. 
Go here for Digital Resources from the Knitting Reference Library WSA.  It has books from the early 1800's.

And as far as references for household management, you just cannot beat the Mrs. Beaton's Book of Household Management (free on Kindle).
And The Whitehouse Cookbook (1887) Cooking, Toilet and Household Recipes, Menus, Dinner-Giving, Table Etiquette, Care of the Sick, Health Suggestions, Facts ... [free Kindle Edition] is a real look into the White House management from the 1800's.

It was not a simple life.

This is what I just finished knitting after perusing old references on knitting: baby booties with the free pattern found here.

Mrs. Mouse made a great photo opportunity with the booties.

Some things from the past just cannot be replicated.

 Beatrix Potter is one of my favorites.  You can see all of her illustrations at this site.


  1. How interesting. My great aunt, my grandfather`s sister, told me she made her sanitary products from bed sheets too.
    I have old crochet and knitting books, about 100 years old. Different stitch names and the directions are very hard to understand. The long wrap sweaters in my books are called kimono`s. The stitch patterns are beautiful, some I`d never seen before.

    I`ve heard about the White House cookbooks. They used to be big on Ebay. Thanks for sharing all this goodness.

  2. Beautiful booties and little mouse:) I love looking back over the years at old books like the cookbook! Have a blessed day dear friend, THANKS for your kind comment on my blog today! BIG HUGS!

  3. What a nice post-I also love the old books and the antiquated language. I always look for them especially at book sales.

    Beautiful knitting! I must get back to my own projects....some day!

  4. OH we absolutely LOVE Beatirx Potter - her wit and her illustrations! A very interesting post, Nancy:-) I have to wonder though if some of those old household management ideas (especially cleaning recipes) were not maybe more environmentally friendly...:-/

  5. Oh, you are a knitter! I am just a beginner specializing in mountains of dish cloths and an occasional scrubby or scarf. :) I would love to do sweet little booties like yours and especially socks.

    I like the nature illustration on that one book and it reminded me that my oldest son was telling me about picking up lunch on a street cart not long ago where fried silkworms were on the menu! He passed on those in favor of a quail sandwich. :P

  6. What a treasure The Silkworm Series is and to think for the time it was packed with the latest greatest techniques. I imagine the readers back then would say of todays knitting technology..."What will they think of next?"

    How sweet are the knitted booties. I've yet to knit a pair of booties or socks. Notice I said a pair? I have serveral onesies! I keep saying the next time, I'm doing two at a time. That's the only way I get two sleeves....LOL

    Thanks for stopping by and commenting on my 31 Days of Collecting Post. Like you, I learned very early to respect my Mothers Shears. I feel the same way about mine.

  7. Just reading all your posts in a catch-up - I love old knitting and sewing books and have quite a collection. But a lot of the patterns seem quite cryptic to me!

    Pomona x


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