Thursday, May 10, 2012

Historic knitting - Knitted Braces

I’m working on a pair of 1861 knitted braces (suspenders worn by men). The directions are in a Godey’s Lady’s Book. The braces consist of two stitches, garter and brioche. Brioche is ribbed. 

            Upon knitting a sample using four ply cotton twine, a pair of 00 knitting needles and the number of stitches in the directions I found the braces would be way too large. They did not look correct based on the measurements of other types of braces/suspenders.
The directions stated to cast on 20 stitches and for the second section to increase 10 more stitches for a total of 30 stitches. The result was 2” wide in the garter stitch and 2 1/2” wide in Brioche stitch. At first I thought it was the cotton I was using as to why my piece was so wide. The brioche sample had 10 ribs.

            I looked closely at the illustration and saw only 8 ribs. This suggested to me the original cast on stitches was incorrect. The illustration was detailed. The illustrator had the actual piece of knitting in front of them when creating the illustration. Period knitting directions are a challenge to our 21st century knitters! So I believe the illustrations are a valid source in supplementing or correcting period directions…or the lack there of.

My next try…using the same twine, needles and only casting on 16 stitches and adding an additional 8 gave me the result I expected the garter stitch is 1 1/2 “ wide and the brioche is 2 1/8” wide. 

I also printed off the illustration, (Thank you Google Books and University of Michigan)  and compared my knitting with the illustration. I was surprised and pleased to see how closely they match….woo hoo!
[IMO....illustrations show details that may or may not contradict written directions. This particular illustration appeared as if to scale for the actual knitted piece. Most illustrations are not to scale.]

 I also compared the printed page with one of my own books so the pages are of the same size and not distorted.
Got a whole lot more knitting to do to complete this pair of braces.

BTW…the twine I’m using is unmercerized butchers twine purchase at Rowes IGA (grocery store), comparable to fingering weight yarn.


UPDATE 5/15/2012
 Here is one completed brace, it measures 29 3/4" long. I need to get the buckle and leather to complete the piece.

UPDATE May 22, 2012
Finished the pair and ordered the end pieces. Now waiting...waiting...waiting...waiting for them to arrive by mail...sometime next week...maybe.

Update 8/27/2012
Braces with ends.

No comments:

Post a Comment