Lacy and lush, with delightful flower patterns and lovely
colors – that is what the Victorian look is all about; it is
what Victorian knitting and crochet were all about, too.
From delightfully flattering clothes to wonderfully
luxurious bed coverings, Victorian women loved to stitch
gorgeous items in dainty patterns. Nowadays, it’s easy to
make the same kinds of wonderful pieces yourself. Sources
abound for yarns and patterns with that unmistakable
Coverlets were one of the most exquisite knitted items in
any Victorian home. They were a lavish mix of many floral
lace patterns, creating a look of opulence. According to
legendary knitting expert Mary Thomas’s Book of Knitting
Patterns, “lace knitting” is “the height of the
knitter’s art,” and to achieve the best results “knitters
used the finest of knitting needles and the
of knitting yarns.” Delicate designs such as bluebell,
laburnum, and beech-leaf captured the beauty of the garden
with leaf and flower motifs.
essential for any Victorian knitter was the doily. Ladies of
the era pulled out all the stops when they crafted these
delightful accents, using often a dozen lace designs in a
single piece. Crochet was also a popular method for crafting
doilies, as well as similar items such as vase mats –
thicker and smaller doilies meant to keep furniture free of
water spots. Three-dimensional flowers graced the edges of
many crocheted doilies, with the same styles of leaf motifs
found in knitting – adding to it flowered charm.
Picot knitting, very rare
nowadays, was meant to capture the look of crochet,
according to Thomas. It is thinner and lighter than crochet,
but made with a very similar technique. Daisies connected
with a diamond mesh are the main motif, making beautiful
bedspreads, doilies, and tablecloths. And of course, it was
a splendid trim for clothing, notes Thomas.
Crochet Plant Stand
Crochet Fashions: Stepping Out in Lace and Luxury
were another way for a Victorian lady to enjoy hand-knit
lace. Shawls were a favorite accessory. Some were simple
one-stitch designs, while others were lavish, with ornate
patterns, scalloped edges, and long fringe. For more warmth,
shawls were often crafted from non-lacy patterns, such as
garter stitch or double crochet, and then enhanced with a
lacy edge. Whether they were lacy or cozy, shawls were often
trimmed with ribbon and made in fashionable hues of red,
mauve, and blue.
enhanced many a bonnet in the nineteenth century, as well,
says Mary Thomas. Snowflakes and stars were worked in round
designs similar to doilies to be used as the back panel in
fashionable yet comfortable headgear. Other lacy accents
included collars and gloves. And of course, many a proper
Victorian lady wore lace stockings, often in bold colors.
From head to toe, women of the time added glamour to their
wardrobes with pretty styles they created themselves.
About the author: Christina Inge is a marketer, writer, and crafts designer who loves quilting and knitting. She is the Marketing and PR Manager for The New England Quilt Museum in Lowell, MA, where she gets to be surrounded by gorgeous textiles all day. Title image:
[Image: Library of Congress LC-USZ62-106947]