MKB 39: Pretty Stitch For a Purse

The 39th pattern in Miss Lambert’s My Knitting Book (1843, First Series) is for a Pretty Stitch for a Purse. The pattern calls for Size 22 needles on the Lambert Filiere, which is equivalent to approximately 1.75mm needles. The pattern also suggests using medium netting silk.

More About Netting Silk

Also called silk twist or purse twist, netting silks were available in several weights (light, medium, coarse). An ad for Corticelli purse twist describes it as a “three cord thread of special spin and twist” that was available in over 20 colours. The ad also claims that “purses made with genuine Corticelli purse twist will last a lifetime.” Another ad from 1896 states “there are in existence today purses nearly half a century ago of Purse Silk still preserving a in remarkable degree their beauty.”

I was unable to find a resource that specifically lists the modern day equivalents for fine, medium and coarse netting silk; however in a Piecework article Ava Coleman described how she recreated a pineapple purse that called for “second size netting silk” and No. 23 needles. She worked the project using 1mm needles and Silk Bella (a 0.21mm, 3 ply twisted silk filament thread). In my previous post, a reader shared that Purely Silk thread in size F or FF is the closest modern day equivalent to netting silk she has found based on examination of historical pieces. I am so glad to have found a few ideas to try out the next time Miss Lambert calls for netting silk!

Knitting the Pattern

The pattern comprises one set up row followed by four rows repeated until the project is the desired length. The pattern is worked over an even number of stitches and my interpretation is below.

Row 1: Knit to end

Row 2: K1, * K2tog, repeat from * to last stitch, K1

Row 3: K1, * K1, pick up stitch from row below, repeat from * to end of row, K1

Row 4: Knit to end

Row 5: Purl to end

Repeat Rows 2 to 5 until the desired length is reached

Bind off

I initially tried the pattern using lace weight yarn and small needles but my hands just wouldn’t let me do it. Not to be defeated, I knit up a sample using sock yarn and 2.0mm needles. Far easier on my hands and as a bonus, it is easier to see the stitch pattern.

The resulting fabric has a lovely texture! I think this stitch pattern would make a gorgeous cushion cover or cowl in a chunkier yarn.


A Vintage Beaded Pineapple Purse and an Adaptation, Piecework Magazine, January/February 2012 by Ava T. Coleman

How to Use Florence Knitting Silk, Nanotuck Silk Co., 1886.

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