Thursday, March 12, 2015

Having a Blast with Jane Austen Knits

It's not very often you find a book where you LOVE every single pattern. Ever since we got The Best of Jane Austen Knits in the mail, I've been nearly obsessed with it.  Not only are the patterns super classy, they are interspersed with articles about the history of knitting around Jane Austen's era. I was fascinated to learn that in the early 1800s, knitting was considered a craft for the poor. The ladies of high society would not have partaken in knitting, at least until Queen Victoria made knitting fashionable in the mid-1800s.

Knitting needles were often given to teenage girls as they left an orphanage, so that they could financially support themselves by knitting stockings.  During this era, men knit as well, especially wagon drivers who would knit stockings to earn some extra income. Although times have changed and knitting is purely a hobby for many people, I believe knitting still gives that sense of empowerment like it did over 200 years ago. Think of inmates who knit or crochet in order to save up some wages, or the many people who now earn extra income by selling handmade projects on Etsy or at fairs or farmer's markets.
I decided to knit the Sweetheart Bag pattern first.  It's the perfect tiny sized colorwork project: challenging (for me), but small enough not to take forever.

I chose 2 colors in Nature Spun Fingering, Olive Spring (NS149) and Natural (NS730).

Two-handed colorwork is so much fun to knit. For this project I learned how to wrap the carried strand on the wrong side so that my "floaters" were no longer than 4 stitches.

I found it very helpful to highlight the chart as I went along
Finished Sweetheart Bag! It will make a nice small-project bag.
Since there were so many floaters, I decided to line the bag with fabric. That's our puppy Purl in the background.

My mom knit the pattern called Pemberley Reticule. (Word of the day: reticule-- a woman's small handbag, originally netted and typically having a drawstring and decorated with embroidery or beading.) This beautiful reticule goes over the shoulder and is big enough to use as a shopping bag. Or perhaps, a bag in which to carry yarn.
Pemberley Reticule in Cotton Fleece Jubilant Jade (CW452)
The tied handles are lace-leaf shaped

I love the lace work on the bottom of the bag!
Snowshoeing + knitting = lots of fun!
I would highly recommend The Best of Jane Austen Knits book, especially because of the written articles. However you can also purchase these patterns on Ravelry:
Sweetheart Bag by Donna Kay
Pemberley Reticule by Catherine Salter Bayar

Here is the book info:
Edited by Amy Clarke Moore
Interweave/F+W; $22.99

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