I've had this booklet for years and while I haven't made anything from it yet, it has been a good resource for how to think through the older patterns. The booklet was printed in 1990 by the Knitting and Crochet Guild of London and compiled by Gertrude Kuehl. Not only does it have patterns from 1855 to 1917 it also has a two page introduction written by Gertrude on past terminology and pattern writing styles.
More specific terminology started to be used in the mid-19th century when patterns were beginning to be published and that led the way for more standardized terminology in crochet. It's still far from being completely standardized and one of the things I had to figure out when reading patterns in this booklet was whether the instructions were in UK or US terminology.
Gertrude says that patterns from that era were either very detailed or just gave you a stitch pattern and let you figure out how to do the rest. She goes on to remind us that the patterns that we would consider lacking in details were more "open-ended" to the Victorian crocheters since they were probably used to making their own sewing patterns. The use of what they called "tension square" (what we would call a swatch) were used to help provide calculations for figuring out measurements, how much yarn they would need as well as whether the yarn was suitable for the project. She says, "For those of us who have been spoon-fed on detailed printed instructions, this may seem like a giant leap into the unknown, but in fact it holds the potential for greater adaptability of design to an individual's needs and opens up each pattern to the use of a wide range of yarns and threads."
Let's leap into the unknown!
This booklet has a two very helpful charts; one for hook comparisons to guide you through to modern US hook sizes and another for yarn comparisons for the fibers that are used in the booklet's patterns.
I'm going to share a selection of the patterns instead of all of them just to give you an idea of what's included in this booklet.
The first pattern in the booklet is this "Wrap for Lady, With Hood". This has very detailed instructions and they are written without row breaks so it's a little difficult to read. It also gives you the yardage of fabric you need to line the wrap.
There were several patterns for tops including this Wool Jacket. The directions seemed pretty detailed but there is no information on how big this would turn out. Going with the idea of using this as a guide would work pretty well though. You could easily add or subtract rows with their construction method.
There were three collar patterns in the booklet. This is the first. The others include a Rose one that looks like Irish crochet and one done with metallic thread. This pattern, like many others, give a close up of the stitch pattern. That's almost as good as a chart.
There were several flowers intended to be decorative but this was the only one that was a sachet. The sachet packet goes in the base of the flower.
This bag is one of two in the booklet. They recommend using macramé twine and lining it with silk.
There were also hats, gloves, belts, slippers and a few smaller projects like these buttons and a narcissus flower.
The last two I'm sharing this week are a single Dahlia and the Crochet Yoke for a Lady's Nightdress. The yoke seems to have pretty detailed directions but it's also one that would allow you to make that leap. You could easily continue the pattern down for a longer top. It's worked in strips so it can be worked to fit and the thread changed up.
Next week I'll have a finished project from this booklet to share with you. Another leap into the unknown!
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I'm from Minnesota and have been crocheting since 2003. I inherited a box full of Workbasket Magazines from my mother-in-law and became obsessed with the vintage patterns.