Translation Needed?

~ Half of the fun of reading the knitting patterns from the last two centuries, it how knitting terminology has changed. It looks as if effort has been made to have a “universal knitting” language. This image is a copy of the Directions for Stitches Used in Knitting found in all of the issues of Needlecraft Magazine.

Modern Translation, followed by modern abbreviation:
To knit plain = knit (K)
Narrow = knit 2 together (K2tog)
Purl or seam = purl (P)
Purl-narrow = Purl two together (p2tog)
Over = yarn over (YO)

Fagot = yarn over, purl 2 together* (YO, p2tog)
Slip, narrow and bind = slip first stitch, knit two stitches together, pass slipped stitch over knit stitch (ssp)

Slip and bind = slip one stitch, knit one, draw slipped stitch over (sk2p)

The fagot term puzzled me. I had learned that the fagot stitch was “yarn over, knit 2 together” (yo, k2tog), this article says “purl” instead of “knit”. Their definition for fagot stitch sent me off on a research journey. I LOVE research, it really is like putting a puzzle together. 😎 Google Books here I come!

Most of the middle 1800’s knitting books by Miss Lambert, Miss Pitt and Miss Copley called “yarn over, knit 2 together” the “open stitch”. Fagot stitch wasn’t mentioned. Finally, in the 1890’s I found some references to the fagot stitch:

1894 The American Agriculturist, Volume 54.
Fagot = thread over twice and purl two together. (Note: The knitting is not continental so one of the forward threads is used for purl as explained in the Directions of Stitches Used in Knitting.)

1894 Good Housekeeping, Volume 18 page 287
Fagotting – slip one, knit one, thread over twice, knit two together by seaming, thread over once, knit two together by seaming.
Translation of fagotting: slip one, knit one, yarn over, purl 2 together, yarn over, purl 2 together. Remember, the purl stitch was also referred to as “seam” so “seaming is purling. 😎

I found that this term was used through the 1920’s. I wonder when and why it went out of general usage?

Sister Barb knit a beautiful shawl and gave the pattern to me. I used it to knit  a mohair shawl for mom. The pattern called for “yo, p2tog”. I found this to be really annoying and complained loudly about the p2tog. “Why the heck is it p2tog and not k2tog?” I’d mutter as I was knitting. Finally, I just k2tog. It looked the same to me since the mohair covered any changes. Now I understand the pattern was based on the fagot stitch which was used for the lace.

In my exploration of old lace patterns I noticed two interesting differences:

  1. Some of the lace patterns had fagot stitchs on both sides, so there really wasn’t a right or wrong side
  2. Some of the lace patterns had yarn-overs, k2tog on one side and purling across the back row so there was a wrong side.

More research showed that if both sides use the fagot stitch, etc it is called Knitted Lace. If only one side uses the fagot stitch, etc, it’s called Lace Knitting. Go figure. 😎 This means that the shawl I made for mom was Lace Knitting.

If you are ever on Who Wants to be a Millionare, you will now win the $$ for the question: “Knitting with fagot stitches on both sides is called……”

Knitted Lace by Miss Lambert in My Knitting Book (I have changed to modern terms)
Cast on 12 stitches in very fine cotton or thread.–Number 25 needles. I tried the pattern with sock weight yarn and number 6 needles. It worked.
Row 1: sl 1, k 2, p 1, k2tog, yo, k2, p1, k1, yo, k2tog
Row 2: sl 1, k1, yo 2x, k2, p2tog, yo, k1, p2tog, yo, p2tog, k1
Row 3: sl1, k2, p1, k2, yo, k2tog through back, k1, k2tog, k3
Row 4: sl1, yo, p1, k2tog, yo, k4, p2tog, yo p2tog, k1
Row 5: sl1, k2, p1, k2, k2tog, yo, k3, p2tog, k1
Row 6: (sl1, k1, pass sl stitch over) 3x, sl1, k1, yo, p2tog, yo, p2tog, k1 yo, p2tog, k1

If any of you try this pattern, please send pictures.

A final word from Miss Lambert:

“It is easiest to learn, by holding the wool over the fingers of the left hand; the position of the hands is more gracefully when thus held”

Continental knitting holds the wool over the fingers of the left hand, I knit continental, so excuse me, I must go and make my hands look graceful while knitting!

A Blast From The Past

~All of you who visit regularly, realize that I love music! I have a Playlist that I’ve labelled “Upbeat”. It’s what I put on when cleaning the house, etc. Yesterday while it was playing up popped one of my favorites by Randy Travis, Diggin’ Up Bones. He crooned,

“…And I went through the closet and I found some things in there
Like that pretty neglige that I bought you to wear
And I recall how good you looked each time you had it on…”

And I started laughing. This is the image that popped into my mind:

This alluring, negligee ensemble is modeled by the lovely Violet. It is a must for every new, blushing bride. Order it now so you can add it to your Hope Chest.

Don’t miss out on any of our exciting lingerie ideas in our latest Needlecraft Magazine.

Needlecraft Magazine sold their own patterns and this was specifically sold as a captivating negligee for the bride! 😎 A blast from the past! 😎

The More Things Change, The More They Stay The Same!

~One of my favorite parts in magazines is letters from subscribers. Which means that while going through the old Needlecraft Magazines I had to read the letters. By reading the letters one can gain an insight to the times. When I read the following letter I laughed out loud. We may think that we have become more sophisticated than previous generations, but the more things change, the more they stay the same! The majority of the knitting/crocheting bloggers that I follow admit to having more than one WIP (Work In Progress) at any given time. I’ve admitted that I have serious KADD (Knitter’s Attention Deficit Disorder) and refuse to admit how many projects I actually have on needles. I will say that on the couch in my knitting bag I have 1 crochet project and 3 knitting projects. 😎 For all my KADD buddies, this letter is for you:

“I know the old idea is that a “thrifty woman never has several pieces of work on hand at one time, but I really think it rests me to do this. So I have several little workbags, each holding a piece of needlework with the materials necessary for it. Sometimes I work on one piece, sometimes on another, as suits my fancy. The work does not get tiresome as when I have but one piece at a time, and I think I really get more done. Just try it. – Mrs. A. B. D. Maine”

When does a WIP become a UFO (Unfinished Object)? I guess I should admit that the afghan I started in 1996 is officially a UFO and not a WIP as previously reported on the April 6 post. This was such an easy pattern that I can remember it almost 40 years later.

Afghan pattern:

Cast on 144 stitches (or multiples of 12), can make narrower for a shawl

Garter stitch for 1 inch (knit each row)

Row 1: k3, *k6, (yo, k2tog) 3x* *repeat across the row unto last three stitches, k3

Row 2 and all even rows: k3, purl across to last three stitches, k3

Row 3: k3, *(yo, k2tog) 3x, k6* *repeat across the row unto last three stitches, k3

Repeat rows 1 – 4 until length you want.

End garter stitch for 1 inch

This Sock Pattern Is Much Better!

~You may remember the horribly, uninteresting sock pattern I was using to knit a pair of socks. With much gusto, I unraveled them and started a new pattern. This is the yuck pattern:

The new pattern is Tidal Wave Socks by Deby Lake. One of my blogger friends was knitting them and I apologize I can’t remember who. 8-( I’m already loving these socks.  This is the softest yarn! Debbie Macomber Petals, merino, angora, and nylon. I purposely wanted a “water” pattern since this yarn reminds me of water. Can’t you just hear the waves against the shore? 😎

I always knit socks and hats on two circular needles. With that darn Arthur-itis in my hands it’s the only way! 😎 Anyway….. I remember when Socks Soar on Two Circular Needles: A Manual of Elegant Knitting Techniques and Patterns by Cat Bordhi was published in 2001. That technique was for me! I tried it immediately and it “took”. 😎

One of the first Needlecraft Magazines I read was August 1918. Imagine my surprise when I found a Letter to the Editor about knitting two socks at once. The following is a copy of the letter. Following the letter is the article on How to Knit Two Socks At Once. I didn’t have my great equipment for scanning, etc in Montana so I’ve Photoshopped the article together. 😎 It was so long, I didn’t want to type it incase I made a typo. If any of you try this method please let us know. 😎 I really love reading old history about knitting. 😎





Brayo Stitch

In the May 1919 Needlecraft Magazine the following “Answered by the Editor” letter caught my eye (typed as in magazine).

“Will you kindly give directions for the “brayo” stitch – am not sure about the spelling—in knitting?  Have looked through all my papers but cannot find it. –M.M.P., Massachusetts.

(Is it the “brioche” stitch that is wanted?  This is knitted as follows: Cast on some multiple of three; first row—wool over, slip one, inserting needle as though to purl, narrow, and repeat; second row—slip one, as though to purl—that is, insert the needle through front of stitch on left needle, from right to left—knit together the next stitch and the “over,” and repeat.  For the raised brioche stitch cast on a number divisible by four; then over, slip one, knit one, narrow, and repeat.  Every row is the same. Our yarn-advertisers will gladly give you any required information regarding very new stitches, or articles to be made of yarn.”

This caught my eye since we posted a blog about our Brioche Scarf project and the problems we had “deciphering” the instructions. The “yarn forward” is what newer knitting terms calls “yarn over”. The “information regarding very new stitches” made me wonder if this was a new stitch at the time the magazine was published in 1919. I turned to my much loved and typed in brioche stitch.  There were hundreds of results. If you haven’t used this wonderful tool to look-up information in non-copyrighted books run now and use it. That is, after you’ve read this post. 😎 There are others, this is just the first one I used back in the day. 😎 You can download most of the following books mentioned in the post for free.

Here are some of the results:
2001 – Hook & the Book: The Emergence of Crochet & Knitting in American Popular  Culture, 1840 to 1876 By Nicole H. Scalessa, published 2001.
“The brioche named for the French pastry, is a decorative pillow intended for a parlor. Needlework books periods between 1840 and 1875 frequently featured patterns for brioches.” (Not free)

1840– The Ladies’ Knitting and Netting Book, First Series, by Miss Watts.  I could not find the term Brioche in this book, but I did find instructions listed for a stitch under “Stitches for Purses” which in her Second Series book was used to knit a Moorish Brioche or Cushion.

1840Knitting and Netting Book, Second Series, by Miss Watts. On page 103 is a pattern for Moorish Brioche or Cushion. At this point the stitch was not called “brioche” it was just a stitch used to knit items including brioches or cushions. I found that this information is mentioned by Nancy Marchant the “A Brief History of Brioche Knitting” section of her Knitting Brioche book. I’d already found the information at Google Books and downloaded. Ms. Marchant said she tried to knit the pattern, but the instructions were incorrect.

1842The Hand-book of Needlework by Miss Lambert (F.) page 200. “The brioche stitch is simply as follows; bring the wool forward; slip one, knit two together.”  Miss Lambert says about the cushion: ” So called from it’s resemblance, in shape, to the well known French cake of that name.” The book can be downloaded for free to try the pattern.  Maybe these instructions will work! 😎

1843My knitting book by Frances Lambert (embroideress.) p. 77. A Russian Shawl in Brioche stitch. Again, download the book for free.

1869The Young Housekeeper – In a glossary of terms (found in quite a few other sources) Brioche stitch – the number cast on for brioche stitch must always be divisible by three, without a remainder. Bring the thread in front, slip one, knit two together. It is worked the same way backwards and forwards.

1869Enquire Within Upon Everything: To which is Added Enquire Within Upon Fancy. By Robert Kemp Philp
“This stitch is extremely elastic and is very suitable for comforters, polka jackets, as well as for the Turkish Cushion properly called a Brioche. Cast on any number of stitches that can be divided by three knit backwards and forwards. Thread forward, slip 1, knit 2 together, repeat.” Polka Jacket? What is that? Went back and did another Google Books search and found:

1855Treasures in Needlework, by Mrs. Warren and Ms. Pullan. Download book for instructions for Spanish Polka for a child 2 to 3 years old done in brioche stitch. This exact pattern was in 1855 Peterson’s Magazine, Volumes 27-28 by a Mlle. Defour. I did find that there seemed to be the exact same patterns in books by different people. When did copyright laws begin?

1871The Bazaar, Exchange and Mart, and Journal of the Household, Volume 5, Issue 174
“Queries: Patent Knitting: Will the contributor of the recipe for baby’s shoe in Exchange and Mart for Aug 23 explain the term patent knitting as I am totally unacquainted with it –Elinore (The Germans call the brioche stitch patent knitting probably because it is so much imitated in woven things The detailed directions given for the first eight rows show this –The Contributor)” Note: the wasn’t a pattern for the first eight rows to see what “The Contributor” was talking about.

1907– Boston Seaman’s Friend Society

Cast on 36 to 40 stitches and knit plain or any fancy patterns for two yards in length. Brioche stitch: make 1, slip 1, knit 2 together, is a good pattern, with two plain stitches at each side. Woolen Wristers. Gray Scotch yarn. Notice the difference in this stitch instructions; make1.

December 23, 1876All the year round: a weekly journal, Volume 37 by Charles Dickens
“I should recommend Robin Dale to knit a little dress and petticoat for her baby; I think Dot and Polijane had better knit in Brioche stitch throughout….” Don’t you love it? Even Charles Dickens was into the Brioche stitch! 😎

1972Mary Thomas’s Book of Knitting Patterns by Mary Thomas “Also known as SHAWL STITCH, REVERSE LACE STITCH, ORIENTAL RIB STITCH, and in France as POINT D’ANGLETERRE !”

The last excerpt I saw was about Miss Lambert in Victorian Lace Today by Jane Sowerby. I just happen to have that book. Starting on page 40, she has a section on Miss Lambert. Mentioned is Miss Lambert’s Russian Shawl in Brioche Stitch which I have shown above.

Now the Brioche Stitch history is wrapped up. It wasn’t a new stitch in 1919. The books and articles I’ve included are just the tip of the tip of the iceberg!

Interesting side note: a lot of the early lace books mentioned in Victorian Lace Today are available for free download. 😎 I’ve downloaded a TON looking for info on this blog post. 😎 Go get them.  If you try any of the patterns, please post.  We’d LOVE to see them. 😎

Needlecraft Magazine Excitement

While “babysitting” mom, she informed me that my sister Lindsay had a stash of old Needlecraft magazines. Hurray! There were about 40 old magazines dated from August 1918 to December 1928! The Needlecraft Magazine was published monthly by the Needlecraft Publishing Company, Augusta, Maine and New York, N. Y. We went out to the storage building and carried them in! The covers alone were works of art. 😎 Art Deco was in style during the 1920’s, that was evident in the magazine covers and artwork. That is one of my favorite art and architectural styles. The magazine are quite large, size 10″ x 13 3/4″.  About the size of the old Life magazines. I found that an on-going theme through the issues was that of “filling one’s hope chest”! 😎 Time and time again the editorials addressed the fact that young women needed to sew, knit, crochet for their hope chest. Letters to the Editor also addressed the Hope Chest. As you can image, the magazines were not in pristine condition. I went through every magazine and took hundreds of pictures. 😎 I tried to scan parts, but the scan came out worse than the camera pictures. I would say that the vast majority of the patterns were filet crochet! The majority of the projects were for household use: centerpieces,  luncheon sets, library sets, and water sets. Every thing a young bride would need to set-up housekeeping “properly”. I will be sharing some wonderful information from the magazines throughout the next months.

As an opening introduction to the magazine is a poem which was published in the May 1919 issue. The cover shows an example of a luncheon set.  Look at the Art Deco style.  The center part is draped over the table and the napkins are in the four corners.


Crocheting, and sewing, and knitting–
Such pleasant things to do!
I’d like to sew, crochet, or knit
The whole of each day through.

It’s not just things you’re making,
It’s thoughts you’re wearing, too;
You sew a thought fast every time
You push your needle through.

And if you need suggestions
For the plans you wish to make,
For dreams are yet but sketches,
Just these few directions take

First, a needle in you hand, or yarn,
A window, and a rocking-chair,
Then knit and purl, or sew and sew–
Behold! –chateaux d’Espagnol, fair!

~Mildred K. Willey

And a wonderful, safe July 4th to all US followers! Happy Birthday to us! 😎