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Take a Walk on the Victorian Side

Oct 11, 2011

Caterpillar shawl.
Crocheted spill case.
Imagine it's 1890 and you're in your snug parlor in a tidy house in London. What are you doing? Knitting or crocheting, of course!

If the pattern books printed in England in the last decades of the nineteenth century are any indication, needles and hooks were flying.

About 1885, Weldon's, a long-established English paper pattern company, began publishing 14-page newsletters filled with needlework patterns, from knitting and crochet to embroidery, tatting, beading, and the why-would-you-do-that crinkled-paper work. Around 1888, Weldon's began to compile the various newsletters into books called Weldon's Practical Needlework. PieceWork is very pleased to own the first 30 volumes of these books. They are treasure troves of patterns.

Crocheted capote.
Now fast forward to the twenty-first century—you can download many of these patterns from PieceWork eBooks! We have the content (reproduced exactly as it appeared in the original publications) from the first four series of Weldon's crochet and the first eight series of knitting available now.

Tippet and muff in Point Muscovite Crochet.

The crochet books feature more than 160 patterns for "Useful Articles for Ladies, Gentlemen, and Children": skirts, socks, shawls, hats, edgings, tons of items for baby and, of course, some Victorian oddities such as a capote, a tippet, and a spill case (I have no idea what one does with a spill case!). Do keep in mind that British and American crochet notations are different: their double crochet is our single; their treble is our double; and so on.

On the knitting front, you'll find over 300 patterns, also called "Useful Articles for Ladies, Gentlemen, and Children"! Among my favorites are the shoulder cape in the Caterpillar pattern, the curly muff (I want one of these before the Colorado winter arrives!), and a tam (although designed for "small boys' ordinary size," I definitely would wear this).

Our Weldon's eBooks absolutely offer you a glimpse into the world of knitting and crocheting in Victorian England. And that includes patterns for numerous items that are not illustrated your—"mystery" projects!

Knitted tam.

Knitted curly muff.
Enjoy your walk on the Victorian side! 


                                                     Jeane Hutchins



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EmegaMart20 wrote
on Nov 6, 2011 1:03 AM

these all are amazing.....

browneyz wrote
on Oct 13, 2011 12:52 PM

I love old patterns as they give an insight into how people really lived and what they wore. I have some needlework magazines from the 20's that belonged to my Grandma and they are lovely to look at. Unfortunately my daughter feels the same way about my magazines from the 70's! I suppose history starts from just before you are born!

Karen Brock wrote
on Oct 13, 2011 10:29 AM

We at PieceWork and Traditions Today are thrilled to know what a spill is.  Thanks so much for letting us know.

on Oct 11, 2011 1:07 PM

A spill (in our house at least) was a thin stiff piece of cardboard about 8 inches long. As we had an open coal fire  the spill used to be poked into the flames and when alight was used to light other things. My grandfather used a spill  to light his pipe so presumably people used to carry spills around in cases for that very purpose. Sad to say we never had a spill case as our spills lived in a brass tube on top of the mantlepiece.

babyal wrote
on Oct 11, 2011 11:02 AM

 Spills were twisted pieces of discarded paper, used to light the fires that tended to burn in all room of 19th century homes.

MollyN@2 wrote
on Oct 11, 2011 8:12 AM

ah, my dear - a spill case, obviously, is a holder for spills, twists of paper or other flammable material used to light the fire or the candles or grandad's cigars...