Monday, August 30, 2010

Son of The Project

When I announced two years ago that I had set up this blog to share my 1884 knitted lace sample book project with knitters around the world, my brother-in-law had just one question: What are you going to do with the blog after the mission is complete? At the time I didn't have any idea. Abandon it in cyperspace as a finished work? Chronicle other knitting projects? Take it in a whole different direction? It wasn't long before the answer presented itself. One day while searching for something else among my textile arts books, I stumbled on the perfect thing. It had been right under my nose, and I had completely forgotten about its existence. But there it was on my shelf: another late Victorian knitter's pattern notebook!

The slim volume is bound in tawny brown leather and filled with gilt-edged, lined paper. The flyleaf and possibly a few pages are missing from the front, but by and large the pocket-size (3¾" X 5¾") notebook is in good condition, the pages showing very little signs of age.


There are no samples and no clippings. All of the patterns are copied out in the same hand, and a few include the source, usually a magazine. The dates of publication, where noted, range from 1878 to 1894.

The patterns are more varied than in the previous sample book. There is knitted lace, yes, but also mittens, baby socks, afghans, slippers, even a knitted skirt and an outfit for a boy doll!


A few pages here and there are filled with other notations. There are several grocery lists, but some are more intriguing. A list of money received and spent in early July 1884. Names and addresses, including a source for "indestructible heads for dolls." Also "3 yds - Mrs. Saunders" and similar notes. And then there's this:


Received from Miss B April 19th 3 skeins of yarn

1033 Bedford Avenue Brooklyn

Sent to Miss B one pair of socks and sample on April 23rd 1889

Might the owner of the notebook have made a living with her needlework?


Most tantalizing of all is a page with a floor plan drawing of "862 River St."


Troy NY is mentioned several times in the notebook, including at the head of the received/spent list mentioned above, so that seemed like a good place to start the search for the house. Through the Wonders of Modern Technology (specifically Google Earth), much to my surprise and delight I was able to find the actual building still standing!



It cannot be proved, but I like to think of this as the home of our second anonymous knitter. Here she may have written in this very notebook by gas- or candlelight, and here she may have practiced her art.


And so I propose to embark on a new journey. Going forward I will share in this space the patterns she collected. I will continue to work my own samples of the lace patterns, but I expect many of the larger works such as the afghans will appear without illustration. The adventure continues!


Next time: Directions for a Mitten

16 comments:

Wibbo said...

Another book - how wonderful! Thank you for all your hard work.

Lace-lovin' Librarian - Diane said...

I'm excited that you have a new project in mind! I loved the 1884 Knitted Lace Sample Book... I can hardly wait!

Cindy G said...

Wow! Tracking down the house is amazing.

I'm so glad you have a new project, because I loved the original one and will be eager to see what you have to share with this one.

Margravine Louisa said...

now that is truly fantastic- I am a collector of old books as well - what a find! Bless you for keeping these patterns alive - have you considered re-publsihing the book with your own notes alongside? or have you looked for any descendants of the original scribe!
Good luck - I can hardly wait to see the next blog!

Mary Keenan said...

So exciting! Thank you so much for sharing these old patterns - I know it's a lot of work but we really appreciate it :^)

Lion's Paw said...

How exciting! I've really enjoyed reading your blog and I'm looking forward to more!

Eustice said...

how lucky (and wonderful) that you are in possession of this book! I like even more that we are able to see where this lady likely lived. I'm looking forward to this.

Anonymous said...

City hall archives would contain the property tax for the year of that notation, and tell you the owners name. How exciting! Troy has a wonderfully rich history, burial site of Uncle Sam, Herman Meville lived here, and T'was the Night before Christmas was penned and published here too.

Unraveling Sophia said...

Fantastic! Can't wait for more beautiful historical mystery-solving from you!!

Caty said...

Wow! Amazing story, and will make a meaningful contribution! I can't wait to read all about what you discover.

The house and floor plan blew me away! So neat!

Love, Caty

Carolina said...

Acabo de descubrir tu blog y me he quedado absolutamente asombrada con tu maravilloso trabajo. Te seguiré en tu nueva aventura y te doy las gracias por compartir algo tan bonito con los demás.

Carolina - Madrid España

deb said...

I have kept notes of my patterns in books and loose pages most of my yarn life. Your book is invaluable. I have many times referred to my notes for favoured patterns. Especially the patterns that I have converted to eliminate side seams and other extra sewing and weaving ends in. The author of your book was indeed a forward thinker. How fab that you found the home where these inspiring works of art were developed.

Knitter99705 said...

Thank you for sharing not only a piece of history but all your time and effort. I'm so glad I discovered your blog.

ISABEL said...

fabulosos los puntos...
un placer...
http://allondra-isabel.blogspot.com.ar/

Patroon klub said...

Hi Cathy, I am from Cape Town. I would like to have your email address if you dont mind...

Thankyou
Madelein

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