A number of months ago, I completed my Woolen Undersleeves. The pattern is from 1862 from Godey’s Ladies Book, and like with other historical patterns, I had to muddle my way through the historic lingo when creating my own undersleeves. I created these undersleeves to wear with my historic costume for work, knowing they would come in handy during any outreach I have to do in the cold weather.
This weekend, I had my first opportunity to use the undersleeves. My co-workers and amazing volunteers and I got dressed in our Victorian finest and marched in our local Santa Claus Parade. After a very warm Friday, the temperatures dipped on Saturday, much more appropriate for Christmas weather. Undersleeves were a necessity.
I am very happy to report that I was able to 5+ kilometres in the chilly weather, and thanks to my woolen undersleeves, I was very toasty warm. I can happily report, the undersleeves were a success.
The pattern I used was from Godey’s Ladies Book, 1862
For the modern interpretation of the pattern, please read my original post.
A few months back, I found this pattern in Godey’s Ladies Book, and I knew that woolen undersleeves were just the thing my Victorian costume needed, especially since in March, we have a table at a local maple syrup festival, which means talking to people dressed in 1860s fashion, in the cold. Because, Canada.
It was a few months between pattern discovery and casting on because of holiday knitting. I was DETERMINED to finish my dad’s sweater and all the other wonderful gifts before starting new selfish knitting. Once I got going with the undersleeves, they were a fast project with a lot of garter stitch, a great mindless project to work on.
The pattern reads:
Materials: A large pair of boxwood knitting needles, one-quarter of a pound of white and six ounces of a pretty share of violet single Berlin wood.
This warm and pretty article is comprised of two kinds of wool, and is knitted to form two small and one large puff. It is nearly entirely made of plain knitting, and is therefore quickly done. It is best when knitted loosely, to give it a very elastic appearance. It is worked in the following manner, and is commenced from the bottom by casting on 36 stitches in white wood, and knitting twelve rows. The violet wool is then joined on and 24 rows knitted with this color. After these are completed the commencement of the work should be taken up upon the needle to form the first puff. The white wool must then be joined on and 2 rows worked, the first knitting two stitches together to fasten the puff. Two rows of violet and 1 of white, and 23 rows of violet are then worked. After the bank is worked the second puff is commenced in the same manner as the first, with the white wool. This puff is also fastened like the other, and 2 rows of violet, 2 of white, and 1 of violet worked for the band. For the third puff, which is the largest, 40 rows must be worked with the violet wool, and in the first row 24 stitches must be made, so that at the end of the row there are 60 stitches on the needle. This increase is made by knitting 2 stitches into 1 stitch at intervals along the row. After the 40 rows are completed, join on the white wool and knit 1 row, taking 2 stitches together, and so decreasing the number till there are only 30 stitches left on the needle. The top of the sleeve is then knitted to form ribs, which is done by knitting 1 stitch plain and 1 stitch purl alternatively to the end of the row. After knitting 24 rows in the same manner the sleeve will be the required size; it should then be cast off and sewn together on the wrong side, with some of the same colored wool. The colors may be altered to any the worker may like, such as pink, scarlet, blue, or green.
What a set of directions!
I followed the instructions to the best that I could understand them. It started very easy with casting on and knitting plain. I was thrown for a complete loop, however, when it said: “After these are completed the commencement of the work should be taken up upon the needle to form the first puff. The white wool must then be joined on and 2 rows worked, the first knitting two stitches together to fasten the puff.” What in the what?
Here’s how I interpreted this – I picked up stitches along the cast on edge, and knit two together across the row.
And for the second puff, “commenced in the same manner as the first,” I picked up stitches on the wrong side and knit two together across the row.
The first two puffs and how to construct them was really the only challenging part of this project. The rest of if, increasing, plain knitting, decreasing, ribbing, was all very straight forward. I did make my own adjustment for the top arm band, however. Before each puff, there is a lovely striping of the white and purple, which doesn’t seem to have continued for the top band. The pattern says to switch to white and nowhere does it say to switch back. So for consistency and to match with the rest of the undersleeve, I knit two rows of white, two of violet, two of white, then the remainder in violet, so to match the rest of the undersleeve’s patterning.
When I started making these, I had no idea we were going to be enjoying such a mild Spring. Previously at this outdoor maple syrup festival, we had to wear layers on top of layers and hope that the mercury didn’t dip too low, so warm woolen undersleeves would have been a perfect addition for this event. The temperature for this past Saturday was in the teens (Celsius, because, remember, Canada), a perfect early Spring day. The woolen undersleeves weren’t required, but they are the perfect addition to my Victorian costume for when the weather gets cold again.
Here is my written interpretation of this pattern, including my modern needles and yarn used.
Yarn: Cascade 220, white and Cascade 220 Heather Purple Brown (but really, you can use any worsted weight in whichever colours float your boat)7
Needles: 4.5mm (Size 7US)
Cast on 36 stitches
Knit 12 rows (garter), using white
Switch to the Purple Yarn; Knit 24 rows (garter)
Next Row, with white yarn, pick up stitches along cast on edge, one at a time, and knit picked up stitch with a stitch on the needle (k2tog = 1 c/o st and 1 live st) – knit across needle in this manner (36 stitches on needle)
Next Row – knit across with white
Knit 2 rows, garter, in purple
Knit 2 rows, garter, in white
Knit 24 rows, garter, in purple
Knit 12 rows, garter, in white
Knit 24 rows, garter, in purple
Next row, with white yarn, pick up stitches along the 1st row of white which was knit for puff 2, from the wrong side, one at a time, and knit picked up stitch with a stitch on the needle (k2tog = 1 picked up stitch and 1 live stitch) – knit in this manner across the needle (36 stitches on needle)
Next row (WS) – knit across in white, garter
Knit 2 rows, garter, in purple
Knit 2 rows, garter, in white
With purple, *KF&B, K1* across needle (54 stitches)
Next row, KF&B 3 times, knit to last three stitches, KF&B 3 times (60 sts)
Firstly, let me say a huge, big THANK YOU to everyone who has checked out my blog or followed me this week! My friend over at Knitter Nerd said many nice things about me, and now the pressure is on to live up to them! Thanks Polo for sharing my blog and posts, and I wish you so much luck with the Knitter Nerd re-launch! Please make sure you check out her amazing blog, if you haven’t already!
As Polo mentioned, I work at a small community museum in my hometown, and I am a complete history junkie. My love for history has crept its way into my knitting addiction, and I have recreated two patterns found in Godey’s magazine: my Sontag and the Sortie Cap, both patterns dating to the mid-1800s. For special events, I get to dress like a Victorian, and these knits complement my costume very nicely. I’ve perused other Godey’s magazines, that conveniently have been digitized and are available for searching online, and I have other patterns I’d like to make, but I have a feeling they will be a project for me in the new year, you know, after the holiday knits are complete!
My first historic knit came from a pattern not nearly as old as the Godey projects, but the pattern is 100 years old. Simply titled ‘Directions For Making Socks,’ this pattern was found in the Ontario Reformer in 1915, with the intention of promoting making socks for soldiers who were fighting overseas in World War I. After tackling only one pair of socks previously, I decided to make a pair of WWI socks in the spring of 2014.
Word to the wise, when working off directions from 100 years ago, basic knowledge in sock construction is key. Thankfully, I have very helpful friends in the knit circle I attend, and they held my hand when it came to setting up and knitting the gusset, and my grandmother was very helpful when I needed confidence in following the heel turn instructions. Otherwise, it is a very simple sock with a lot of ribbing and plain knitting. The sock was quite an investment in my time, but I think if I was to make another one, it would make up much faster. My knitting has improved and I’m much faster now, but the 12 inch leg truly tried my patience! Knitting the leg along was a test to my dedication of the project!
Above, I keep referring to the singular sock. I finished the first, and second sock syndrome set in… big time. Eventually, I came to the conclusion that for demonstration purposes, the museum only really needed the ONE sock, so its mate never got completed. Thankfully, the dedicated women in the 116th Knitting Society had more fortitude than I. They were a group of women who worked hard and made socks throughout the First World War which in turn were sent overseas, and the local newspaper frequently reported on their progress. As an example, in early December, it was reported that 56 pairs were sent to France.
We also know that the socks were greatly appreciated by the soldiers who received them, as the newspaper once published a letter which was sent to a woman in the 116th Knitting Society, expressing his deep gratitude at receiving the simplest of gifts. The First World War was a hard war. Yes, I know this is not a fair statement as no war is ‘easy,’ but this was one of the first with trench warfare, and trench foot was a very grim reality that soldiers faced. The arrival of new socks, lovingly made by those at home, would likely have been a source of joy and relief in an otherwise grey world.
Once again, many thanks to Polo, and to you readers for stopping by my little blog! I hope everyone is having a great Thanksgiving (to all of my fellow Canucks), Columbus/Indigenous Peoples’ Day (to those south of the border), or just enjoying your Monday!