A few weeks ago, I bought a beautiful skein of sock yarn online. I won’t post details about it because it was purchased with the intention of becoming a gift, but I will say the yarn is soft, squishy, and beautifully self striping. I was looking for an interesting texture or stitch pattern for this yarn to become socks; the yarn would do most of the heavy lifting because the stripes really would shine, and I didn’t want anything to take away from it, but I also wanted to make something more than a vanilla sock. Hours, it felt like, were spent on Ravelry, Pinterest, and googling to try and find something that would be inspirational. Nothing seemed quite right to suit this yarn.
Then, I came across a blog written for Knitty by Franklin Habit, where he used patterns written in the 1840s by Mrs. Frances Lambert to create a sampler, and this got me thinking… was I looking in the wrong places for inspiration?
Well, I ended up in a historic knitting pattern wormhole. I downloaded both of Mrs. Lambert’s books, filled with historic patterns, and somewhere along the way, I found the Victorian Knitting Manuals collection on archive.org, maintained by the University of Southampton, where they had digitized The Stocking Knitter’s Manual: A Companion to the Work Table, by Mrs. George Cupples in 1870. Here I found my inspiration.
The story of sock 1, made with the amazing self striping yarn, will continue in a further blog post another day. I found a very simple lace pattern, adding interest to the overall pattern and yet simple enough so as not to take away from the yarn.
I’m currently experimenting with her ‘Simple Pattern.’ As written:
Calculate six stitches for each pattern
1st row – Pearl (sic) 3, O, T, P.
2nd row – Pearl 3, P 3.
3rd row – Pearl 3, P, O, T.
4th row – Pearl 3, P 3.
O means put over the thread
T is knit two together
P is plain 1
I charted this for knitting in the round, because I like charts.
My interpretation of this pattern, it looks like you’re working three garter stitches alternated with three stitches work as lace.
Worked as a sock, 12 or so rows in, it looks like this:
It’s rather pretty and, as the name suggests, fairly simple. This is further spinning my inspiration; the sock I’ve started in the picture is using stash yarn and isn’t intended for anyone. I’m right now knitting it for knitting’s sake and to test this pattern (shocking for a project knitter, I know!). I’m adoring the lace ‘columns,’ but I’m also thinking how I could tinker with Mrs. Cupples’ pattern and make it something new.
I’m not at a loss for inspiration now. The history geek in me should have known at the outset to start with something at least 100 years old!
Hopefully next week I’ll have another sock update!