Yarn-Arts in the 19th Century

"Welsh Landscape with Two Women Knitting" by William Dyce, 1860

I am a knitter. I knit mercilessly, using up yards and yards of yarn to make hats, scarves, and socks. I take knitting when I go reenacting, I take knitting to the library, knitting to watch TV, so as you can see, my knitting goes everywhere. As I look through photos and fashion plates, I see relatively few images of people wearing knitted items.

But it’s obvious people used yarn in the 19th century, right?

Yarn-Arts (as I call them) is knitting and crochet. Both of these Yarn-Arts have a long and illustrious histories that I can take hours to retell. Let’s cut to the chase- where are the patterns and pictures of knitting in the 19th century?

While I began my research for this particular post, I used my BFF’s book: Civil War Ladies: Fashions and Needle-Arts of the Early 1860s. In this book, I found a lot of patterns:

  • “A Norwegian Morning or Bonnet Cap, In Shetland Wool.” Page 19
  • “Thibet Knitting.” Page 19-20
  • “A Creped Neck-Tie.” Page 20
  • “Baby’s Knitted Shoe and Sock.” Page 21
  • “Purse in Crochet” Page 25
  • “Pincushion in Crochet” Page 30
  • “Crochet Antimacassar.” Page 36-37
  • “Infant’s Hood in Crochet” Page 48
  • “Baby’s Mitten in Crochet” Page 62
  • “Crochet Slipper” Page 64
  • & the list goes on

I did a Google-Fu move and found a few sites that have patterns:

It’s obvious knitting and crochet were popular and practical skills to have in the 19th century. There’s a plethora of patterns in books and on the web to knit/crochet to make. Taking knitting/crochet to reenactments is a good way to show others knitting/crochet and teach a little bit of history as well.

Do you knit/crochet? Do you take your knitting/crocheting to reenactments to share with others?


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