MKB 33: Fishbone Pattern

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!

Blogging Again

It’s been a very long time since I last posted on this blog but I was recently inspired to revisit Miss Lambert’s My Knitting Book (First Edition, 1843) again.  Inspiration came from several angles and had me thinking about Miss Lambert and the materials she would have had on hand for knitting.  If you are new to the blog, I thought I would share the details of this project before I get started again. If you are not new, here is a little reminder!

The MKB Project

The examples of knitting, contained in the following pages, have been selected with the greatest care, – many are original, – and the whole are so arranged to render them comprehensible even to a novice in the art.

Miss Lambert, My Knitting Book, Preface (1843)

Miss Lambert’s My Knitting Book (First Edition) is one of the earliest published knitting manuals in English. You can view the book in it’s original format at (click here). When I first started looking at historical knitting patterns I was struck by the fact that this book has no illustrations. This made knitting the patterns especially challenging for me given my low level of knowledge of Victorian knitting terminology and Victorian fashion. Case in point, muffatees and sontags!

This book is a puzzle that I couldn’t resist!

The copy I usually work with can be accessed through Project Gutenberg (click here).  It’s a bit easier to read than the original version; however, I like to go back to the original now and then to appreciate the type set, and the layout of this book.  

To date, I have worked through the first thirty-two of Miss Lambert’s patterns from this book. True to Miss Lambert’s claims, they are well written and fairly easy to follow once you have attuned your eye to the language of the day. I have only found one pattern to be incomprehensible. Information about the previous patterns that I have worked up can be found in earlier blog posts following the format MKB – ##. I am a volunteer editor for the book on Ravelry and set up pattern pages, add photographs, and blog posts links to each pattern as I progress through the book.

I hope to one day have a sample for each pattern in the book available along with a “translation” of the pattern into modern knitting terminology. There are 107 pages of patterns in the book, so I’m 45% of the way!

What’s Next?

I am picking up where I left off, part way through Twelve Patterns for D’Oyleys, Tidies, etc. My next post will include some chatter about IX – Fish Bone Pattern (page 49), photographs of the pattern and a re-written pattern in modern knitting language complete with a chart.

MKB 32: Lace Pattern

This month, we are moving on to the thirty-second pattern in Miss Lambert’s 1843 knitting manual, My Knitting Book (first series).  The pattern is called VIII: Lace Pattern and it is the eighth in a series of stitch patterns suitable for doilies and tidies but could also be easily used in shawls, sweaters or anything you can imagine!   This pattern has already been translated into modern knitting language and charted by the inestimable Franklin Habit in Miss Lambert’s Lace Sampler.  Please use the lace pattern chart provided in his pattern write up to recreate Miss Lambert’s pattern exactly as written and take the time to read his introduction to the pattern as it is fantastic.  Franklin is definitely on my list of must meet knitters!

When I knit up my version of the stich pattern I changed for more symmetry and, I think, less likelihood of creating a bias fabric.  I hope Miss Lambert would approve!


The full pattern can be found here with written instructions and chart legend: MKB 32 Lace Pattern.

The unblocked sample was just lovely with a gorgeous texture on the right (public) side:

And the wrong (not public) side:

In a chunky weight yarn this would make a wonderfully squishy and cozy afghan, unblocked.   I almost didn’t want to block it but I did and here is the result:

Overall, this is a lovely little lace pattern and I am glad that I went for symmetry on the lozenge shapes.  I can see this in a shawl or wrap in my near future!  Not bad for 175 years old – I really do enjoy the long lasting appeal of knitting stitch patterns.

What do you think?  Would you adapt this pattern to a more modern context?  Let me know in the comments below!


%d bloggers like this: