I decided to knit useful items instead of swatches to test vintage patterns; this kitchen towel was made to test the pattern on page 180-181 in The Young Lady’s Book: A Manual of Amusements, Exercises, Studies, and Pursuits, edited by Mrs. Henry (Matilda Anne Planche) Mackarness; published 1888 in London, available online through Google’s book search. It is a pattern for a cloud, or cache-nez–a wide scarf, or stole, as Sarah Bradberry’s Knitting-and.com site explains (be prepared to spend some time browsing, if you haven’t been there already!).
This is an interesting stitch that I am not familiar with. I only did three pattern repeats, before switching to plain stockinette as the main towel component. The edging that I put on the bottom of my towel is added along cast-on and cast-off edges of the cloud, or stole as we would call it today.
It would be a great scarf or stole–you knit it long ways, casting on 334 stitches, and knit in pattern for 18”; the pattern is only a four row repeat, and three of those rows are plain knitting (i.e. garter st) so it would go quickly. It might be a bit boring–but easy to remember, a great almost-mindless take-along project where you don’t want sheets of lace charts to keep track of.
The Young Lady’s Book is interesting to browse through: for instance, besides a few knitting patterns, there are many recipes, and household tips–such as, on page 34, using newspaper to clean glass; this is how my mother always cleaned her windows, except she added a splash of white vinegar instead of plain water as The Young Lady’s Book suggests. There are outdoor and indoor games and activities (including woodcarving, carving cameos on shells, and–for older girls–”Dumb Crambo”, on page 281, a charades game in which one group thinks of a verb, the other must act out what they think it is) and a chapter on “Conversation” beginning on page 120 in which she condemns the use of slang: citing words such as
“awfully” (excessively) pretty, merry, or agreeable.
“cheeky”, impertinent, bold.
When you go hunting for knitting patterns on the internet, you just never know what you will find, or where you will get sidetracked to…It can give us great insight into the daily lives of those who actually filled their spare time and had fun without the benefit of electric appliances, chemical cleaners, video games, movies…and, of course, the internet!