MKB 19: Coral Trimming for A Muslin Dress

One of the biggest challenges of working through the patterns of Miss Lambert’s My Knitting Book (first series, 1843), apart from the lack of illustrations, is that the shortest and apparently easiest patterns in the book are often the most difficult to complete.  The pattern for Coral Trimming for a Muslin Dress (p.32) is no exception.  The pattern is just three lines long:

Cast on two stitches.—No. 2 needles, rather short.

Turn the wool round the needle, so as to bring it in front again; knit the two stitches, take together in the front.

Every row is the same.

Excellent, I thought, I’ll just cast on and be done this in no time.

What do I need?  No. 2 needles.  No problem, I’ll go and check the reference I usually use, the table on page 8 of (Commend Me To A Knitting Wife by Colleen Formby.  Hm, her reference table stops at  No. 4.  No need to panic, I thought, I’ll  choose a needle size that fits the yarn requirement.  Hm, Miss Lambert doesn’t provide any yarn details.

So, I decided to see if there was a correlation between the needle size in metric (mm) and the Lambert Filière needle sizes and made up this little graph:


Using this graph, I was able to extrapolate and figure out what the approximate metric needle size is that corresponds to a No. 2 needle on the Lambert Filière.  Based on my chart and trend line for the points, a No. 2 needle is equivalent to approximately 8.5-9mm.  I decided to use a  9mm needle.  Armed with this information, I then choose a bulky yarn to go along with the large needle size and gave it a try.

The stitch pattern is very simple and this is how it turned out


What do you think?  I think it turned out quite nicely for such a simple stitch pattern. However, this would make for quite a bulky trim.  I’m not sure how it would work as a trim on a muslin dress – perhaps finer yarn on smaller needles would be better.

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2 thoughts on “MKB 19: Coral Trimming for A Muslin Dress

  1. I love your experiments! When I created that chart, the largest needle I had was a 6.5 mm (Lambert #4) needle…I need to go back and add the last few numbers, so thanks for the reminder on that one….your extrapolation chart is great! Now, the one thing I’d contribute is the yarn size….this time period, most knitting was done with lighter weight threads, regardless of the needle size, and we find the worsted/bulky weights only used on carriage robes, blankets, etc, so you might want to try no larger than a modern DK weight. Even lighter weight threads are used with some of the larger needles on a few things. I still only have a 7.5 mm needle here, but tried this with three different weights that were more in line with period usage, and got some interesting results….the sport weight seems to look and feel the best, although the muslin dress it trims would probably be the heavier weight muslin and not the extremely lightweight. Here’s a link to the three: The red is a true DK, the yellow is sport, and the burgundy is fingering (which might be interesting, if tacked down evenly)…I’ll be interested in seeing what you come up with when you experiment. I love that you are going through this book!

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