Monday, March 11, 2013

Knitted Garters

The latest challenge in the Historical Sew Fortnightly, Challenge #5: Peasants and Pioneers, was somehow very difficult for me. I spent most of the fortnight wondering what on earth I could make that would fit the challenge and also be useful to me. I don't do any serious reenacting or living history; my historical dressing consists almost entirely of wearing ball gowns to local themed dances. The only real opportunity I have of dressing in simple everyday clothing is the Dickens Fair, and I just made myself a completely new ensemble for that last fall.

I wracked my brain for 12 of the 14 days, then woke up Saturday morning with a plan: I would make a small, simple knitted project. While knitting can be very complex and delicate, it can also be quite practical and workaday — perfect for the current challenge. Upperclass ladies of leisure might knit fancy silk purses, but every working class woman learned to knit as an economical way to provide her family with stockings and other useful articles. After a quick brainstorming/internet-surfing session, I decided to make knitted garters. They are a small, quick knit, can be worn with the fanciest of ball gowns, but would have been made by even the lowliest peasant girl in the 19th century as an opportunity of honing her knitting skills.

The first search hit on Google for "knitted garters" leads to this lovely post from the blog World Turn'd Upside Down, complete with a pattern and helpful interpretive drawings. The pattern was published in Godey's Lady's Book in 1862, but is similar in style to instructions found in the Workwoman's Guide and other earlier sources.

I present to you my peasant girl knitted garters:

The Challenge: #5 — Peasants and Pioneers

Fabric: None

Pattern: "A New Style of Garter" from Godey's Lady's Book 1862, as shared and explained on World Turn'd Upside Down

Year: 1862, but appropriate for any part of the mid-19th century

Notions: Fingering weight wool yarn from my stash (white and burgundy), size 1 knitting needles

How historically accurate is it? Very accurate. The materials are very close to what would have been used, and I followed the pattern exactly. The only part I'm not certain about is the needle size, but I think I was pretty close. 

Hours to complete: 5-6

First worn: Will be worn later this year

Total cost: Nothing — materials came entirely from my stash. 


Here they are tied. They're not holding anything up, as I don't have any period appropriate stockings to wear them with yet. 


I love any excuse to make a tassel. 


This is the drawing that accompanied the original pattern. I did pretty good, I think!


1 comment:

  1. These are excellent! I've made the same pattern, in white and red, and they're so cute. I didn't order yarn, so I had to use sport weight wool and I think size 2 or 3 needles, but they still look VERY similar. So I think your size 1's are perfect!

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