Saturday, January 17, 2009


Several weeks ago a friend and I spent time looking at 19th century patterns and found a particularly fetching pattern for a “Spanish Opera Hood.” The lovely librarians at the Lincoln Presidential Library made a copy for us and I’ve finally gotten to trying it out. I pondered over what yarn to use and did a little research into the various types of yarn and what this particular pattern calls for. I ended up using some Alpaca Cloud yarn from Knit Picks just because I had some left over and I thought it would have a nice drape and I wasn’t exactly aiming for historical accuracy at this point. I was more worried about using some scraps to test the accuracy of the pattern.

Here’s what the pattern looks like from the Peterson’s book. Very fetching, don’t you think?!

And here’s what I’ve done so far. The size isn’t really right but just because of the yarn I’ve used but so far so good with the pattern. Now I’ve got to pick up around the gray border and do the ‘lining’ which evidently is a mirror of this section. After the lining, I’ll just have to do the little extra bit at the top and I’m done! That’s all. Ha!
I've got some changes I would make to some of the procedures but only out of convenience, not because the pattern isn't clear. For instance, next time I shall use a provisional cast-on so I won't have to pick up all those stitches for the lining (263 stitches, to be exact). Also, I shall use a fingering or dk weight yarn, which is actually closer to what the pattern calls for and a little bit larger needles. I'm working on my US 4s right now (as I almost always do with lace weight yarn). I do really like the drape of the alpaca, though.
Only 1 mistake in the pattern so far, too. But it was really only a typo and was very obvious, so I don't think that really counts.

Monday, January 12, 2009


Since I’ve been looking into 19th century patterns (Godey’s, Weldon’s & Peterson’s), I’ve been seeing patterns for things called “penwipers.” It intrigued me because I couldn’t figure out how they would wipe pens on these beautiful knitted, crocheted and sewn pen wipers.

I was finally won over by some folks on a Ravelry vintage group when it was explained that these were covers for the actual part on which the pens were wiped and that there were often black fabrics or other dark fibers for the serviceable areas. I’ve seen one now that used a pom-pom of black yarn as the wiper part.

I’ve posted some examples of the patterns on my
web site so you can have a look. I would be really fascinated to see some firsthand. Now that I know what they are, I need to start keep an eye out for them in the antique shops.

I couldn’t find any penwipers on ebay but I did find one reproduction of a book from 1896 and here are the patterns that were included:

  • Angel Penwiper
  • Chicken Penwiper and Pincushion
  • Crocheted Penwiper
  • Extinguisher Penwiper
  • Fez Penwiper
  • Jester Penwiper
  • Round Penwiper
  • Nyanza Penwiper
  • Parasol Penwiper
  • Tulip Penwiper #1
  • Tulip Penwiper #2
  • Turk's Cap Penwiper
  • Umbrella Stand Penwiper and Holder
  • Water Lily Penwiper
  • Wheel Penwiper
  • Witch's Hat Penwiper
  • Another Penwiper