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!