1860s Garters and Summer Wonderings

All in all, it was a never-to-be-forgotten summer — one of those summers which come seldom into any life, but leave a rich heritage of beautiful memories in their going — one of those summers which, in a fortunate combination of delightful weather, delightful friends and delightful doing, come as near to perfection as anything can come in this world.

Lucy Maud Montgomery, “Anne’s House of Dreams”

Hello there! At long last, I’m back.

It’s been some time since I last wrote. With AP tests, end-of-the-year frenzy, and a busy start to summer, I rarely found the time to work on my historical projects or write up posts for the ones I did accomplish. Consequently, my WordPress sat on a spare browser tab for a few months, waiting in negligence until … well, just now! Since summer is well-established, I finally have the time (and motivation) to sew those patterns, knit those things, and write up those posts. It will be nice to get back to some “delightful doing”, as Anne would say. This post likely isn’t as artsy or developed as others, but I simply felt that I needed to hash it out and get started again. I hope it’s still applicable/interesting to you as a reader. 🙂

Wanting a quick and triumphant return to my historical costuming for the summer, I decided to try out someone else’s historical knitting pattern. This crafting adventure was also the result of necessity; I’m participating in a historical interpretation volunteer program for a nearby living history museum, and we get outfitted in full historical clothing. This means knee high socks, appropriate to the 1860s house I’ll be interpreting in. However, keeping knee high socks up is a challenge, particularly when walking or standing for the majority of the day. So, to uphold my sense of domestic decency, I decided to try a time period appropriate solution: garters!

The original pattern is another from Godey’s – however, the “translated” pattern I used comes from a blog called “A Peculiar Seamstress”. You can find that link here.

Overall, the pattern was pretty simple. The stretchiness of the knitted fabric is achieved by alternating the direction of stockinette stitch every few rows. I originally assumed that ribbing would be involved, but upon further research, I learned that ribbing was not commonly incorporated into knitted garments until later in the 1800s. It seems that knitters of the time perceived ribbing to have more efficacy in increasing volume than in creating close-fitting and elastic seams.

The garters turned out quite well, in my opinion. I liked the embellishment of the tassel, as it made them seem a little less utilitarian, and more personal. I gave them a test drive while I was volunteering, and discovered that they are, in fact, pretty effective. However, looping the garter end once more to create a more formal knot was necessary.

I’ll continue to wear them with my historical costuming for the summer, and I look forward to putting them to use! Keep an eye out for plenty of new posts in the next few weeks – the ideas and projects just keep rolling, and like I mentioned earlier, I have a lot to share.

Wishing you a summer filled with delightful weather, delightful friends, and delightful doing,

~Ava

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