Project No. 4 – Very Pretty Cuffs (And A Dilemma)

“Very Pretty Cuffs” is the fourth pattern in Miss Lambert’s My Knitting Book (1843, First Series, p.15). I have been looking forward to trying this pattern because it has such a promising title!

The pattern calls for two colours of four-thread embroidery fleecy or German Wool, two No. 16 and two No. 20 needles. The modern day equivalents are fingering weight yarn, 2.25-2.75mm needles and 1.75mm needles (Commend Me To A Knitting Wife – Colleen Formby). To begin, Miss Lambert asks the knitter to cast on 46 stitches.

I saw two problems with these instructions:

  • The 1.75mm needles seem small for use with fingering weight yarn. Based on the Standard Yarn Weight System, I would expect to be using 2.25-3.25mm needles for fingering weight (superfine) yarn. Using such small needles would result in a tight knit fabric.
  • The number of stitches being cast on seems low.  After a quick and very unscientific survey of Ravelry, I would expect to be casting on 60-70 stitches using 1.75mm needles.  Casting on only 46 stitches could result in a cuff that that doesn’t fit my hand.

If you remember, Miss Lambert provides the following advice regarding gauge:

“It is necessary, in giving or following directions for knitting, to caution knitters to observe a medium in their work – not knitting either too loose or too tight.” (Miss Lambert, My Knitting Book, p.13)

This presented me with a dilemma … should I:

  1. Increase the needle size to something that seems more appropriate for fingering weight yarn and follow the pattern as written to ensure a nice fabric and good fit?
  2. Cast on more stitches to ensure that the cuff is wide enough to fit my own (large) hand?
  3. Follow the pattern exactly as written and see what happens?

Based on my previous projects and a fear of making something pretty that doesn’t fit, I chose Option 1.

Miss Lambert suggests using two colours, red and white.  I decided to use brown and blue, left over from my Stripe Infatuation Shawl because I like the colour contrast in the shawl and would like a pair of cuffs to match.  The yarn is Knitpicks Stroll Tonal Sock Yarn in Kindling and Blue Yonder:


Wish me luck!  I have a feeling that I will need it with this one!

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