Victorian Knitting

Knitting, although thought of as an "old" craft, is comparatively young compared to many other crafts. Although its history is debated among scholars, it is known that once it was discovered, virtually all countries developed their own style.

During the Mediaeval period, Guilds controlled almost every type of craft known. Knitting was no different. Knitted garments were highly prized during this time and were only available to the nobility due to the cost.

During the 14th and 15th centuries, knitting was a craft that became a mainstay to many counties' export goods. While most used wool, those with wealth would choose to knit (or have knitted) items in silk. Queen Elizabeth was said to like silk stockings with elaborate stitching. A few remnants of these stockings can still be seen today.

By the mid-1890's, knitting was considered passé. To encourage ladies to knit, passages like the following were included in many of the embroidery books available at the time.

These snippets were taken from Art Needlework, dated 1895.

Encouragement to Knitters.

THE art of knitting is an accomplishment any lady may be proud of, and the present rage for silk underwear has increased the number of knitters. The beautiful silks we now have make the work very fascinating, and the price of these silks brings them within the reach of all. We feel satisfied that our rules for stockings, undervests, etc., can be used by beginners as well as by old knitters, and that underwear knit of silk is pleasant to wear and very durable. We propose to stimulate the knitting interest of to-day in two different ways:

1st. By making "the Best Knitting Silk in the World."

2d. By issuing from time to time new rules and books on knitting.


Would it not be a pleasant occupation for many of our girls to fashion something, the best of its kind, in the style of the days they live in, so well and so prettily that it would be worth keeping as a reminder of these days when they are past, and we ourselves are among the old-fashioned things; and would also be worth sending down the time as our grandmothers' things have come to us?

In the 1800's, knitters could find instructions and new patterns in
books that were published at the
time. These books were easy to
come by as almost every embroidery
and yarn maker published books at least yearly to highlight the newest and best products.

The following are descriptions and directions to popular knitting stitches. These were published in 1895 as a guide to help ladies learn (and continue) knitting.

Also published at that time were Abbreviations and explanation of terms to be found in rules for knitting. These helped ladies learn to read knitting patterns.

To see an AUTHENTIC VICTORIAN KNITTING PATTERN:Lady's Fancy Mittens. This pattern was published in 1895.

Be sure to check out theVictorian Crafts pagefor a full list of all the free knitting patterns and instructions available. Check back often as the list is continually growing.

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The Last and Best Book of Art Needlework
The Last and Best of Art Needlework, 1895
Over 100 pages of authentic Victorian instructions and patterns from 1895!

Beeton's Book Of Needlework
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