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Mitts, 18th Century. MMA, C.I.44.8.9a, b

I got in a lather about not having mitts. I have been trying to knit a pair from the Mara Riley pattern for some time, as in well over a year. It’s just an unfortunate thing. I understand the pattern, I like the yarn I have, the needles are authentic enough for events, and yet: I cannot get these things done. As a result, I get cold. (I don’t mean that to sound whiny.)

There’s debate in some circles about whether or not knitted mitts were worn in New England, though there is a nice pair of black frame-knit mitts at the MFA, with a history of use in Lexington, MA. That’s a long way from what I can knit, a fair distance from what lower-middling Kitty would wear, and vastly unsuitable for a woman following the army. Still, I want mitts.

In the Fall, I tried to make myself a pair. It did not go well.

‘Camblet’ lined with linen, linen lined with cotton. More pix on flickr.

Fortunately I have developed more patience or bloody-mindedness since then. This allowed me to spend the time scaling up the pattern in Costume Close-Up. That’s where I started in the Fall, but things went better this time, and I actually have a pair of mitts.

Two pairs. I have problems, I try to solve them with sewing.

The Challenge: HSF # 7: Accessorize.

Left: Silk and wool “camblet,” lined with light-weight linen, both from Burnley & Trowbridge
Right: White linen from Fabric-Store.com, lined with printed cotton from Wm Booth Draper.

My own, scaled up from Costume Close-Up, available here for you if you have large hands,  print it at 100% on 11 x 17 paper. You will need to tweak the thumb placement. Make a muslin. Make two muslins. It’s worth the effort.

1750-1800. Narrower than that I cannot get, yet.


Mittens, 1790-1800. V&A,

Mittens, 1790-1800. V&A,

How historically accurate is it?
Say 8/10, since I have never examined a pair and don’t know exactly how they were made. Yes, I’ve read the descriptions in Costume Close-Up and Fitting and Proper, but at this foggy insomniac moment, I couldn’t tell you much about those descriptions.

Hours to complete:
The bulk of the time was in the patterning, which took a couple of evenings and 4 muslins. But once you have a pattern that works for you, finishing a pair from cutting to wearing is about 3 hours all by hand. You could cut that significantly using a machine instead of hand back-stitching, and add decorative embroidery, which I really cannot do. Really. Photos to come.

First worn:
To be worn April 13…probably the white linen pair.

Total cost:
Nothing, really, as all fabric was left over in the stash. The pretty printed scraps came in handy.

Garters! Jo-Ann plus Wm Booth Draper, but so far no implosion

Oh, I made some garters, too. Easy-peasy. Use the Pragmatic Costumer’s Ten Minute Tutorial. Completely makes up for whatever project you think you just screwed up. The main lilac ribbon is silk, the decorative ribbon is so not silk. These are better than no garters, but I expect my stockings will still droop around my ankles, as required by the laws of physics and reenacting.