Tuesday, 11 October 2016

Researching the knitting author Miss Lambert

After taking a break from my knitting experiments and research for 18 months, due to a seriously ill member of the family, the knitting machine and Victorian books have been dusted off. In a boost to getting back on track, there was extensive use of mind-maps to identify what I have achieved, and what directions to head off in.

The review narrowed the immediate research to three area:

  • The books of Miss Lambert
  • Building a corpus of knitting texts published between 1800-1850 with the intention of digital analysis
  • Standardisation of knitting patterns for use with virtual and physical 3D visualisations
Miss Lambert's books are at the top of the list. Luckily, Miss Lambert's books were published by John Murray Publishers, who still exist today. The archives of the last 200 years of this fascinating company are now held at the National Library of Scotland. The staff are very helpful and knowledgeable, and they provide a digitisation service for researchers unable to make it to the archives themselves. 

The initial analysis of the original accounting logs shows that the imprints of Miss Lambert's books ramp-up quickly, and provided income.

The initials "F.S." in the preface of one of Miss Lambert's books seems to have been a bit of a red-herring. Research at the London Metropolitan Archives has confirmed entries in the Thompson's business directory, and the Post Office business directory, which I am working through. Rather surprisingly, the census entries for the addresses found in the business directories don't directly link up, providing more questions than answers.

A trip to the archives at Kew is planned, to try to resolve some of these loose ends.

The results so far will be written up as a research poster to display at the Knitting History Forum and conference in November. 

On a more technical front, I'm working on 3D-printing replacements parts for my knitting machine, and intend on writing up a brief article for the Machine Knitting Guild newsletter on the subject, with a detailed blog post to follow.