Tuesday, 17 September 2019

Prefaces in Victorian knitting books

MA History dissertation finally finished. The submitted title was "Knitting as a leisure activity for early Victorian middle-class women 1837-1851". The research confirmed the initial peak of knitting book publishing was in the 1840s, with the exception of the 'Knitting Teachers Assistant' which seems to have first been published in 1817. The digitisation of books over the last 20 years, and the increase in catalogued archive contents has increased the availability of copies of knitting books from the nineteenth century. There were several books published that included reference to Queen Victoria and the Great Exhibition in their title. There seems to be a correlation with the most prolific and successful authors of knitting books also being being shop owners for wool warehouses that also teach knitting and crochet. I've found lots of interesting information about the author Frances Lambert, and found no evidence that Miss Frances Lambert is related in any way to Miss A Lambert. Now the dissertation is written and submitted I'm going to work through the notes to write a less-academic, more everyday-readable version of the interesting findings. Some I will submit to the Knitting and Crochet Guild newsletter, and others will appear here. What I certainly found is that the prefaces of Victorian knitting books contain a wealth of information about the authors and the social changes occurring at the time, and I would encourage their use for other researchers to ponder.

Here are a few prefaces that can be read online:

The ladies' knitting and netting book, 1838

The lady's assistant for executing useful and fancy designs in knitting, netting and crotchet work, Mrs Gaugain, 1840

My knitting book, Miss Lambert, 1844

The illuminated book of needlework: comprising knitting, netting, crochet and embroidery, Mrs Henry Owen, 1847

The workwoman's guide, containing instructions to the inexperienced in cutting out and completing those articles of wearing apparel, &c., which are usually made at home; also, explanation on upholstery, straw-platting, bonnet-making, knitting, &c., by a lady, 1838

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