13 February 2023

Vintage Knitting Pattern: Knitted Fringe

© 2023 Carolyn Priest-Dorman

I was riffling through my digital collection of early knitting books one day a couple of years ago and got a wild hair to try a particular pattern from one of them. Thanks to the #Fiberuary 2023 social media event on Mastodon, I am inspired to finish the blog post I drafted about this pattern then. This is "Fringe, No. 9" from The Ladies' Knitting and Netting Book, Second Edition (London, 1838), and it amused me enough to share.
The instructions call for the creation of a strip nine stitches wide that looks a lot like a simple lace insertion tape or some similar passementerie. I used size 2 (2.75mm) needles and Webs Valley Cotton 10/2 (mercerized perle) for this sample. Here are the instructions, modernized somewhat.
  • Cast on 9 stitches (I used long-tail).
  • Row 1: Sl, k2, yo, k2tog, k1, yo, k2tog, k
  • repeat Row 1 until you have enough length for your purpose
  • Bind off five stitches.
  • Cut the working yarn and pass it through the sixth stitch to secure the knitting.
  • Unravel the four remaining stitches all the way back to the beginning of the band.
You really do just pull the stitches until they unravel.

They will all come undone to approximately the same length, into loops that are interconnected. The loop at the cast-on edge will be slightly longer than the others if you used a slip-knot at the beginning of your cast-on.

The resulting strip is completely stable. If you want, you can cut the fringes and/or trim them to a specific length; you can also block or steam them, which will make them fall more straight.

I would love to know how this fringe was used. I imagine it tacked to every single shelf-edge in the drawing-room, or dangling from perambulator shades, or maybe even (if you make it out of silk) fluttering on top of a surrey.

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