“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:
- 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?
- Cast on more stitches to ensure that the cuff is wide enough to fit my own (large) hand?
- 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!