Project No. 8: “Another Pair of Muffatees”

The eight pattern in Miss Lambert’s My Knitting Book (1843, First Series) is for Another Pair of Muffatees (p. 19).  By now, everyone should be familiar with the outdated term “muffatee” (i.e. an open tube that was worn over the wrist/hand for warmth inside chilly and draft Victorian homes).  More information can be found on my earlier post.

For this pattern, Miss Lambert calls for three thread fleece or Zephyr wool and No. 13 (sized according to the Lambert Filiére).  According to the information provided in Commend Me To A Knitting Wife, fleecy was a broad term which covered yarns ranging from two-ply (fingering/lace) up to twelve thread (worsted weight). Zephyr generally referred to German wool, but the term is somewhat ambiguous as it also referred to the texture of the yarn and there is even Zephyr yarn available today. Generally a fingering weight yarn can be used when Zephyr is called for in an early to mid-1800s knitting pattern.  The required needles are equivalent to approximately 3.25mm.

I found some fingering weight yarn in my stash and was ready to get started:

As with many of the patterns in this book, the pattern is exceedingly brief:

“Cast on thirty-six stitches. Knit twenty plain stitches, and sixteen in double knitting. When they are sufficiently large, knit or sew them up. The double knitting comes over the hand, the plain knitting setting tight to the wrist.”  My Knitting Book (1843, First Series, p.19)

Because of the brevity of the pattern and the lack of images of the finished project, I believe the knitter can feel free to make their own interpretation of the pattern.   I chose to interpret the 16 double knitting stitches as meaning 16 stitches on each side of the double knitting (instead of 8).  In my opinion, the double knit section would otherwise be too narrow to sit over the hand and provide warmth (but I do have large hands and live in Canada!).

This project was a lot of fun to knit. I had forgotten how much I enjoy double knitting and I really enjoy the contrasting directionality of the garter stitch and double knit sections.  The side to side construction allowed for an exact fit.  I also like the way that the garter stitch section flairs out naturally away from the wrist.

I think that Another Pair of Muffatees is a great example of the different ways that a modern day knitter can interpret a knitting pattern from 1843. There is one other project page for this pattern on Ravelry and you will see on KnitHeavendotCom’s project page that she has used a sport-weight yarn and 2.75mm needles.  She has assembled the muffatees sitting with the cuff sitting on the wrist and not the hand and has a narrower double knitting section (likely 8 stitches on each side of the double knitting section) and has also added a thumb hole while sewing up.

Although her interpretation is quite different from mine, it makes me so happy to see that we have both used our skill, preferences and enthusiasm for vintage patterns to bring life to this pattern that could otherwise be lost and forgotten.

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