The Fishbone Pattern is number nine of twelve patterns in Miss Lambert’s My Knitting Book (First edition, Published in 1843) for d’oyleys (doilies), tidies etc. There are just two lines to the pattern as it was originally written so I thought it would be pretty straight forward. Cast on an uneven number of stitches, two rows and repeat. Easy right? I also had the additional support of Franklin Habit’s chart in the Miss Lambert’s Lace Sampler pattern on Ravelry. Again, straight forward, right? Um, not as much as you might think.

The original wording of the pattern is as follows:

Cast on any uneven number of stitches.

First row—Slip one; knit one;(a) bring the thread forward, slip one, taking it in front; knit one, pass the slip-stitch over it; knit two.—Repeat from (a).—There will be three plain stitches to knit at the end of the row.

Second row—Slip one;(b) turn the thread round the needle, and bring it in front again; pearl two together; pearl two.—Repeat from (b).

(My Knitting Book, p. 49)

In my first attempt, I managed to accidentally cast on an even number of stitches instead of an odd number, this gave me a really pretty pattern but I don’t think it is quite what Miss Lambert intended.

Attempt 1: Mistake Fishbone Pattern

Once I realized what was going on, I tried again, this time with an odd number of stitches. The results are also very pretty. I think there is more of a fish bone look to the pattern complete with spine when it is done this way (i.e. following Miss Lambert’s instructions!):

Attempt 2: True Fishbone Pattern

Feeling pretty pleased with myself, I trundled off to Ravelry to take a look at Franklin’s interpretation of the Fishbone Pattern in Miss Lambert’s Lace Sampler. His interpretation/translation is different again! I can see where our interpretations differ and the results fascinate me to no end.

The chart for my interpretation of the Fishbone Pattern (case on a multiple of 4 plus 1):

And, in case you’re curious about the effect of shifting the return row by one stitch, the chart for my mistaken interpretation of the Fishbone Pattern (cast on a multiple of 4):

From one fairly basic innocuous looking stitch pattern we have managed to get three variations on the theme! It is really interesting to see how little changes can change the outcome on the same Victorian era pattern. I wonder how many knitters picked up her book and put their own twist on the pattern either on purpose or by accident. I would love to know how much variation there was between the interpretations of the various knitters. When you don’t have a picture to go by, you can’t really tell if you’re doing it as intended, and that’s just fine by me!

Sample with nasturtium from our garden, one of the last flowers of fall.

What are your thoughts? I’d love to hear which interpretation you like best!

2 Comments

  1. Fascinating, that yours and Franklin’s readings gave a completely different look to the pattern! That’s how Barbara Walker ended up with so many different versions of “the same” stitch, I’m sure! (And how we ended up with variations on folksongs too, no doubt.)

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