Sunday, November 29, 2009

37. Vine Tidy

"Vine Tidy" is in a class by itself among the patterns of the sample book. Not only is it one of a mere handful of stockingnet designs, but it is the sole example of an all-over lace pattern. Rather than an edging or insertion intended as a component in a larger work, it produces a fabric that can be adapted for a wide variety of knitting projects where lace is desired. The ropy vine motifs alternate with trios of zigzagging lines to form a trellis effect. The pattern has a 12-row repeat and is worked on a multiple of 19 stitches for circular knitting, 19 + 12 for flat fabric.

You can download the full-size chart, verbal instructions and notes here.

Variations of the pattern can be found in many modern day texts. Knitting Counterpanes: Traditional Coverlet Patterns for Contemporary Knitters by Mary Walker Phillips, for example, includes "Braided Leaf Insert." While designed as a panel, the pattern is essentially the same as Vine Tidy (more about that "tidy" in a moment), the only difference being that the two vines at the center of the insertion, while flanked by trellises on the right and left, are separated from one another by a single eyelet.

(photo ©1989 The Taunton Press)

Note the scalloped cast-on edge. Worked without a border, the Vine Tidy pattern also has this feature.

I have charted the pattern as it would appear in a knitting stitch dictionary, but the instructions in the sample book were written to create a specific household article, the tidy. In some Victorian sources, the tidy is a receptacle of some kind-- a box to set in the bathroom and hold toiletries, a bag to hang from a doorknob and organize mail. Here, however, the tidy is a square or rectangular doily (antimacassar, dresser scarf, placemat, etc.) knit back and forth rather than from the center.

Worked across 89 stitches and featuring three repeats of the vine pattern, the tidy includes a stockingnet border, a curious selection given the tendency for the ends to curl up and the selvedges to curl under, as evidenced in the photo. A border of garter or seed stitch would have been a better choice. My sample was knit in fingering weight cotton on 2.25mm needles. With 16 pattern repeats, the finished piece blocked to 11¼" X 17½".

In the sample book Vine Tidy was hand-written by our anonymous knitter with no attribution, but I couldn't help but notice that it is identical in every respect (same width, same border, same three vines, everything) to a pattern found in my favorite book in my knitted lace library, Fancy Work Recreations: A Complete Guide to Knitting, Crochet, and Home Adornment published in 1884 (there's that date again!) by Buckeye Publishing Co., Minneapolis, and written by Eva Marie Niles, shown below in the frontispiece.

Ms. Niles must have been a lace knitter first and foremost. Although the text covers a wide variety of needlework including crochet, patchwork, embroidery, drawn thread, macramé, darned lace and netting, not to mention crafts such as skeletonizing leaves, splatter pictures, leather work, brass repoussé and others, fully a third of the 433-page work is devoted to knitted designs, mostly lace. An explanatory note at the back of the book cites the Housekeeper, Peterson's Magazine and the New York Tribune as sources for some of the instructions, but adds that "a greater part of the knitting and crochet is original with the author."

In this period the technology of reproducing photographs in books and newspapers was advancing, although online sources disagree on the exact date the first of such illustrations appeared. Photographic images in publications may have made their debut a few years before or shortly after Fancy Work Recreations, but whatever the fact of the matter, the process surely must have remained prohibitively expensive for some years, and drawings and etchings continued to be the most common illustrations in needlework books and magazines. The image accompanying Ms. Niles' "Vine Tidy" pattern shows a detail of the design. The swatch is presented with the cast-on edge at the top, in contrast to current practice where stitch pattern photos reflect the conventions of charting, with row 1 at the bottom.

Although the drawings are usually notable for their accurate rendering of the smallest detail, note the inexplicable eyelet in each leaf lobe-- there is no yarn over in the pattern at that point.

Up next: Untitled Edging


=Tamar said...

Maybe you were supposed to make two tidies and sew them together into a bag?

vintagekathleen said...

At first I thought maybe you were supposed to fold it and sew up the sides to form a bag, but I have found other "tidy" patterns where a flat mat is clearly intended. I have concluded that the term was used both ways.

elenor said...

thank you for all your work to save these marvellous old patterns to all of us. they are so beautiful! I always enjoy seeing a new pattern!

best wishes for a peaceful christmas time from Austria!

Venera said...

I saw your blog mentioned in the Ravelry Tiny Needles Group.

I wish to second a Ravelry writer's suggestion that you publish this work. I understand that reproducing the original journal is not possible.

I have downloaded several of the re-written patterns that catch my eye today and they are very clear and well done. What they do not have is the benefit of your knowledge and notes. Perhaps it is because I do medieval re-creation, but I do like the scholarship and explanation behind things.

Have you thought of publishing your explanations and instructions with the patterns as an e-book? I don't know how large an e-book Ravelry can handle, but there may be other places that can host your e-book for a reasonable share of the profits. I know that having seen several of the patterns and your knowledgable discussions of the patterns I would be happy to pay for an e-book of them all.

Chris Hanner said...

Saw your Vine Tidy pattern and immediately cast on to provide a lace sample to help show off the capabilities of my new Blackthorn needles. Your entire blog is so informative. I now look every day to catch the latest updates. Congratulations on your labor of love.

NiHaRiKa said...

Hey! I loved reading your blog..I also was looking forward to get scallop counterpane pattern from the book Knitting Counterpanes: Traditional Coverlet Patterns for Contemporary Knitters..but unfortunately, am unable to find the book. Can you please help me? Is there anything available online for scallop pattern given on the cover of this book? I only need that pattern..

Thanks for your help..plz write to me if possible..

Anonymous said...

Ce tricot est vraiment superbe , je suis en train de le tricoter et je pense avoir décelé une erreur au rang 9
R9: k3, (o, k2tog)3X, * o, k2, sl1 k psso, k2, sl1 k psso, k2, o, k3, (o, k2tog)3X *, o, k2tog, k1

Elga said...

I just found your blog, thank you so much for all the work you put into it. I am a miniaturist that wants to knit a bedspread for a bed in my Victorian dollhouse and was looking for an authentic pattern from the period. I hope this one will work fine for the top of the bedspread and the seed point edge for the sides.