Richard Rutt and Frances Lambert

When Richard Rutt wrote A history of hand knitting he hoped his work would ‘be useful in stimulating others to write in greater details and with greater accuracy’ about knitting history.(1) However, Rutt notes that ‘Because this is not an academic thesis I have forsworn the full delights of notes and page references’ which can be frustrating when using Rutt as a launching point for further research and investigation.(2) Rutt’s work stimulated the focus of my master’s thesis on the Victorian authors discussed in chapter 5 The Victorian age and the belle époque due to the brevity of the available information. The last line, ‘We know no more’, of the section on Frances Lambert was an imperative to find out more.(3) To pass it forward to the next generation of researchers here are the relevant citations for the section on Frances Lambert. I hope other researchers can expand on individual sections of Rutt to build up an expanding knowledgebase to stimulate further research.

The Handbook of needlework published by John Murray in 1842 is available from the British Library.(4) The British Library (5) and the Cowie Collection within the University of Reading Special Collections (6) both have copies of the 3rd edition published in 1843. So far I have been unable to locate a copy of the 5th edition published in 1847.

Rutt refers to two American printings of the Handbook of needlework though Lambert is adamant that they are pirated copies and dedicates a paragraph to the subject of piracy in the preface to the 2nd edition. There are multiple copies online that can be found via WorldCat published in Philadelphia and New York. Take care as some editions contain multiple authors combined. For example, the 1854 edition digitized by Cornell University contains both the Handbook of needlework and Gaugain’s Miniature knitting, netting, and crochet book.(7)

Rutt references the Workwoman’s book published in 1838 which has been digitized by the University of California and is available via the Hathi Trust.(8)

Lambert first published My knitting book in 1843.(9) Rutt refers to the second series published in 1845 though I could only find a second series copy in the British Library dated 1846.(10) The 1847 printing of the second series contains reference to being the twenty-third thousand.(11) So far unable to locate a copy of the first volume published in 1847 that contained a reference to forty-two thousand.

Rutt talks about two addresses for Lambert’s shop premises. In the 1838 Kelly’s Post Office directory the address is 7 Conduit Street (12) and in the 1841 and 1843 directories the address is 3 New Burlington Street.(13) The directory entry for 1838 is: ‘embroideress to the Queen & repository for fancy needlework & drawings’. Lambert held a Royal Warrant of Appointment for supplying embroidery and needlework for Queen Victoria.(14)

Rutt ends the section with ‘we know no more’ and now we know considerably more. A full biography for Lambert has been submitted to the Oxford Dictionary of Biography for consideration.

Sally Kentfield


1 Richard Rutt, A History of Hand Knitting / Richard Rutt. (London: Batsford, 1987). p. vi
2 Rutt.
3 Rutt. p. 113
4 Frances Lambert, The Hand-Book of Needlework (London: John Murray, 1842), British Library.
5 Frances Lambert, The Hand-Book of Needlework, 3rd edn (London: John Murray, 1843), British Library.
6 Frances Lambert, The Hand-Book of Needlework, 3rd edn (London: John Murray, 1843), University of Reading Special Collections.
7 Frances Lambert, Handbook of Needlework (Philadelphia: Hazard, 1851), Hathi Trust <>.
8 Sarah Josepha Buell Hale, The Workwoman’s Guide: Containing Instructions to the Inexperienced in Cutting out and Completing Those Articles of Wearing Apparel, &c. Which Are Ususally Made at Home : Also, Explanations on Upholstery, Straw-Platting, Bonnet-Making, Knitting, &c (England: Simpkin, Marshall and Co. …, 1838) <> [accessed 2 July 2022].
9 Frances Lambert, My Knitting Book (London: John Murray, 1843) <>.
10 Frances Lambert, My Knitting Book, 2 (London: John Murray, 1846), British Library.
11 Miss. Lambert, My Knitting Book, Second, Twenty-third thousand, 1847, University of Southampton Knitting Reference Library <>.
12 ‘London Post Office Directories’, MF/071, London Metropolitan Archive.
13 ‘London Post Office Directories’, MF/072 and MF/073, London Metropolitan Archive.
14 ‘Lord Chamberlain’s Department: Office of Robes: Letter Books’, 1837, LC 13/2, The National Archives, Kew.

Grand Textiles from Small Islands

Journal for Weavers Spinners and Dyers Winter 2021The current edition of the Journal for Weavers, Spinners & Dyers includes a short piece by Carol Christiansen, Curator at the Shetland Museum and Archives and a previous speaker at the Knitting History Forum Conference. Issue #280 Winter 2021 of the Journal contains her article ‘Grand Textiles from Small Islands’, a reminder of how important both local collections and specialist national textile collections are both as historical record and inspiration for the future. The Shetland Museum and Archives collection is particularly well-stocked in knitted items because of the rich heritage of knitting in the Shetland Isles, from characterful colourwork to utilitarian garments to exquisite Shetland lace.

The Journal is the quarterly magazine of the Association of Guilds of Weavers, Spinners & Dyers in the UK. Available in print and digital formats, issues are available by subscription or one-off purchase at the Journal website

Holy Hands : Ceremonial Knitted Gloves for Elite Churchmen

More news about the Holy Hands research project into early knitted liturgical gloves: the latest issue of The Journal of Dress History includes the article ‘Holy Hands: Ceremonial Knitted Gloves for Elite Churchmen in Europe from the Twelfth to Nineteenth Centuries’, by Lesley O’Connell Edwards, discussing the Holy Hands research project, with extensive discussion of the documentary evidence and technical analysis of the gloves themselves as well as reflecting on their makers. The Journal of Dress History is published by the Association of Dress Historians. Volume 5, Issue 5 for Late Autumn 2021, is free to download at the ADH website

Lesley will be speaking at the online Knitting History Forum Conference on Saturday 13 November 2021. Book your ticket online via A programme and further details are available here

Stocking Knitting In Sixteenth Century Norwich

Elizabethan knitting is the subject of a newly-published article in the journal ‘Textile History’. Lesley O’Connell Edwards’s paper is entitled ‘The Stocking Knitting Industry of Later Sixteenth-Century Norwich‘ and its focus is a subject with popular interest but surprisingly little academic investigation. As the abstract explains: “Knitted garments became increasingly common throughout the sixteenth century in England, and it has been estimated that the production of stockings alone occupied at least 90,000 knitters at the end of the century. Knitting as an economic process in England has been little studied in this period. This paper examines the evidence for knitting as an industry in the later sixteenth century in Norwich, the second city in England, when it provided a source of employment for over seven per cent of the poorest people. It provides quantitative data for the socio-economic background of knitters in the 1570s, and for the minimum volume of production in the early 1580s. It analyses other evidence for this industry, including the production process and contemporary writings.”

Lesley, a long-standing member of KHF, has presented well-received papers at previous Knitting History conferences. She maintains the invaluable Bibliography Of The History Of Knitting Before 1600 and has published other pieces on early knitting, some of which are included in KHF’s select Knitting History Reading List. This latest work, which includes material from her recent masters’ dissertation, is based on her ongoing research into sixteenth century knitting. Textile History is a peer-reviewed journal published on behalf of the Pasold Research Fund. Lesley’s article is available by subscription at the Textile History website

Handknitting and Handknits in British Domestic Magazines, 1910–1939

The Early Summer 2021 issue of The Journal of Dress History includes Dr Eleanor Reed’s article on twentieth century knitting, “For Those Who Enjoy an Interesting Piece of Knitting:” Handknitting and Handknits in British Domestic Magazines, 1910–1939. The abstract reads: “Although early to mid twentieth century histories of handknitting are well documented, comparatively little research has been undertaken into the role in these histories of domestic magazines, which, appealing to and working to generate mass readerships of skilled and enthusiastic knitters, supported — and sought to profit from — a precipitous rise in the handicraft’s popularity. This article uses quantitative and qualitative analysis of The Knitting and Crochet Guild’s collection of 1910−1939 British domestic magazine knitting patterns to explore these publications’ treatment of handknitting and knitwear during a period in which knitting’s popularity soared, and the women’s magazine market boomed. Surveying a sample of 2538 patterns from 367 magazines representing 46 titles, this article spotlights, besides a rise in the popularity of knitwear and handknitting, a fall in the assumed expertise of knitters targeted by domestic magazines, and a growing intimacy in the commercial partnerships between these publications, yarn manufacturers, and pattern designers.”

The focus of Dr Reed’s research is on early to mid twentieth century domestic magazines and she gave an insightful presentation on 1958 knitting patterns in Woman’s Weekly magazine at the Knitting History Forum Conference in 2018 (in those heady days when we could all gather in person). The Journal of Dress History is peer-reviewed and published by the Association of Dress Historians. The Early Summer 2021 edition, Volume 5, Issue 2, is free to download at the ADH website

Classic Knits of the 1980s by Sandy Black

Classic Knits of the 1980s by Sandy Black Travelling Vine Design
Classic Knits of the 1980s by Sandy Black Travelling Vine design – click to enlarge

At the Knitting History Conference last year, Sandy Black mentioned her latest book, ‘Classic Knits of the 1980s’, which was published in January 2021.

Many of us know Sandy Black as Professor of Fashion and Textile Design and Technology at the London College of Fashion and Chair of Knitting History Forum, but prior to that she had a successful career as designer and director of the ‘Sandy Black Original Knits’ label from the late 1970s and throughout the 1980s.

Publisher Crowood Press notes how the book discusses “the principal fundamentals of knitwear design and features original, colourful, textural and fun knitting patterns that capture the fashion zeitgeist of the 1980s

Classic Knits of the 1980s by Sandy Black Persian Flower Design
Classic Knits of the 1980s by Sandy Black Persian Flower design – click to enlarge

designer knitwear boom” and includes “a range of innovative designs from Sandy Black knitting kits, many published here for the first time.”

“Part 1 establishes the fashion and knitwear context of the period and its influence on the development of the designs, examining the entire creative process from inspiration to final pattern.

Lavishly illustrated with photographs, diagrams and charts, special features include patchwork (modular) designs and intarsia or colour-block knitting, with techniques and tips for pattern calculations, working from charts and handling several colours.”

Classic Knits of the 1980s by Sandy Black Three Cats Design
Classic Knits of the 1980s by Sandy Black Three Cats design – click to enlarge

“Part 2 then offers twenty-one original patterns and designs, grouped into themes of textural, graphic, heraldic and ornamental, plus the unique Siamese cat, leopard and tiger accessories. Contemporary photography, together with original images from the 1980s, illustrates the designs’ timeless appeal, with close-up images of intricate pattern details and suggested design variations to aid creative knitters.”


Classic Knits of the 1980s by Sandy Black Fairisle Fun Fair Isle Fun Design
Classic Knits of the 1980s by Sandy Black Fair Isle Fun design – click to enlarge

Some may consider the 1980s so recent as hardly to seem like history at all, yet then as now it was a time of revived interest in traditional knitting and intense creativity in new knitting design. Knitwear of the period is already receiving academic attention and one of Sandy’s designs, ‘Fairisle Fun’, with her kit and the jumper knitted from it (as seen to the right), are held in the collections of the V&A Museum
Well-illustrated and with technical information as well as patterns of Sandy’s fresh and ebullient
designs, ‘Classic Knits of the 1980s’ is a welcome
introduction to the work of a pioneer of modern fashion knitwear which will be of interest to
knitters and historians of knitting and dress alike.

Classic Knits of the 1980s by Sandy Black Book Cover
Classic Knits of the 1980s by Sandy Black book cover – click to enlarge

Bibliography Of The History Of Knitting Update

As promised at the KHF AGM on Saturday 7th November, Lesley O’Connell Edwards has updated the Bibliography of the history of knitting before 1600 and once again has kindly permitted publication on the KHF website.

It was first compiled by Richard Rutt, author of ‘A History of Handknitting’, before passing on the task to Lesley, who has faithfully maintained and updated it for two decades. The work is unique and remains, as stated in 2018, the most complete bibliography of early knitting history currently published and an important aid to research. Permission to reproduce the document whole or in any part must be sought directly from Lesley O’Connell Edwards, who can be emailed via the address in the downloadable PDF. This, and other useful articles and information, can be found in the Resources section of the Knitting History website.

Early Modern Knitting in Denmark

This knitted item, found in a crypt in a Danish manor church, was photographed on the day it was recognised as an Early Modern cap by Jane Malcolm-Davies during examination at the National Museum of Denmark’s store in Brede in May 2014. It is recorded in detail in the forthcoming Archaeological Textiles Review issue no. 60 by Maj Ringgaard, together with another cap found in Copenhagen. Click on the image for a larger view.

Early Modern knitted cap, National Museum of Denmark, photo by Jane Malcolm-Davies
Early Modern knitted cap, National Museum of Denmark, photo by Jane Malcolm-Davies

Available by subscription, the 2018 volume of Archaeological Textiles Review will focus on knitting in the Early Modern period, with 99 pages devoted to knitted fragments and garments with many colour photographs and detailed specifications. Collaborating authors and articles are as follows:

Ruth Gilbert – reviews published evidence for Early Modern knitting
Susanne Lervad – contributes to terminology for studying knitwork
Helena Lundin – reports knitted items from the c17th Kronan shipwreck
Jane Malcolm-Davies – introduces the issue and proposes a protocol for reporting Early Modern knitwork
Rosalind Mearns – discusses crowdsourcing for experimental archaeology to reconstruct knitted items
Lesley O’Connell Edwards – discusses c16th stockings in the Museum of London
Sylvie Odstrčilová – surveys c17th silk stockings in the Czech Republic
Maj Ringgaard – reveals the remains of two Early Modern knitted caps found in Denmark
Annemarieke Willemsen – reports mittens found in a c17th Dutch shipwreck
There will also be an article on Karen Finch, our late Honorary President, by her colleague, Rosalind Janssen.

Archaeological Textiles Review 2018 60th Issue Early Modern Knitting Special
Archaeological Textiles Review 2018 60th Issue

The print deadline has been extended, but only until after the weekend, so if you prefer a print copy, reserve yours soon. Subscriptions for the 2018 issue of Archaeological Textiles Review cost DKK250, approximately €34, £30 or US $38, and are available from the University of Copenhagen website

Archaeological Textiles Review Knitting Issue

BREAKING NEWS! The 60th edition of Archaeological Textiles Review has finally been published. This long-awaited diamond issue is devoted to the study of Early Modern knitted items with more than ten articles focussing on extant evidence, including two sixteenth century caps (one being the earliest known example of Danish knitting), sixteenth century wool stockings, seventeenth century silk stockings, items recovered from shipwrecks including mittens from the Netherlands and Sweden, and the full version of the proposal for a new protocol for recording evidence for knitting (read more here). One of the articles is an obituary of Karen Finch, our late Honorary President. A major outcome of the Knitting in Early Modern Europe (KEME) project, funded by a Marie Skłodowska Curie Research Fellowship, the volume contains 99 pages devoted to knitted fragments and garments with many colour photographs and detailed specifications such as the tension or gauge, yarn and fibre for each item.

Archaeological Textiles Review 2018 60th Issue Early Modern Knitting Special
Archaeological Textiles Review 2018 60th Issue on Early Modern Knitting

This issue is available by subscription and the University of Copenhagen is now deciding how many copies to print. Don’t delay! The print deadline is today (12th December 2018). Volume 60 of Archaeological Textiles Review costs dkk250, approximately €34, £30 or US $38. Visit the University website to subscribe:

Textile Tools for Teaching Science

'Crocheting Neuroscience: The Retina' by Dr Tahani Baakdhah
‘Crocheting Neuroscience: The Retina’ by Dr Tahani Baakdhah

In the twenty-first century, Dr Tahani Baakdhah of the University of Toronto makes models in crochet to illustrate her research on stem cells in the retina and promote science literacy. She has just published a book of patterns, ‘Crocheting Neuroscience: The Retina’. In the nineteenth and twentieth centuries British chemist and mathematician, Alexander Crum Brown (1838-1922), also made teaching models using a variety of techniques including knitting. Some of Dr Crum Brown’s models, including multi-dimensional knitting demonstrating his mathematical work on inter-penetrating surfaces, are shown in this article from the National Museums of Scotland blog, and it is really encouraging this connection between textiles and teaching science continues today.

Postgraduate Knitting History Research Online

Two very different studies on the history of knitting are available online. One taps a vein of research that had been hardly explored before, the other re-visits a popular topic of knitting literature, but both dispel old assumptions.

‘Myth: Black People Don’t Knit – the importance of art and oral histories for documenting the experiences of black knitters’ by Lorna Hamilton-Brown can be read and downloaded here: Her MA dissertation moves beyond facile ethnic stereotypes, examining art and using oral history from living knitters to record firsthand the experience and culture of knitting among people whose stories are often marginalised or misrepresented. Lorna spoke at the Knitting History Forum meeting last November and her lively presentation both informed and entertained.

Roslyn Chapman’s PhD thesis, ‘The history of the fine lace knitting industry in nineteenth and early twentieth century Shetland’, is available in an edited form on the University of Glasgow website Roslyn’s continuing examination of Shetland lace knitting and its many imitations sheds light on how knitting traditions are created, emulated and sometimes inaccurately disseminated. Her much-anticipated presentation at the Knitting History Conference in 2016 highlighted that traditional narratives of knitting should be evaluated against the historical record.

‘Groundbreaking’ is an adjective rarely applied with sincerity, but the work of both Roslyn Chapman and Lorna Hamilton-Brown genuinely breaks new ground in knitting history scholarship, challenging preconception not by deliberate provocation but research that speaks for itself.

Early Knitted Waistcoats – An Overview

Knitting History Forum the international society for the history of knitting and crochet. Eight-pointed star, a common motif in knitting across many cultures. Following on from Jana Trepte’s presentation on Saturday, ‘Piecing the Bremen waistcoat together: an everyday knitted garment of the early 1600s’, Pat Poppy has pieced together her own helpful overview of knitted waistcoats and jackets of the sixteenth to seventeenth centuries. The post lists details of select recent scholarship on early knitted waistcoats and jackets, both ordinary and elite, with links to online records of several examples in museum collections. Pat is herself an historian as well as a long-standing member of Knitting History Forum and her post is a sound springboard for further research. Visit her blog to read more

Texel Silk Stockings Project Update

The latest newsletter from the TRC Leiden Silk Stockings Project to study and reproduce those recovered from the Texel shipwreck, shows the progress of the knitters, on course to finish their work by the end of March 2019. Read the newsletter here, in Dutch and English. The group were also recorded for television, which may be viewed here, starting at 7.30 minutes in. Ravelry users can also follow the progress of the knitters on their group, Texelstockings.

Center for Knit and Crochet Collections Resource

The Center for Knit and Crochet (CKC) is a non-profit organisation whose aim is to preserve and promote the art, craft, and scholarship of knitting, crochet, and related arts. One result of this aim is the establishment of a digital repository of knitting and crochet. The new CKC Collections Resource is an online-only collection bringing together items from different sources such as museums, galleries, libraries, archives and other public and private entities.

More than 5000 items relating to knitting and crochet may now be browsed in the Library and Museum Collections. Currently in an experimental phase, the database is drawn from the Digital Public Library of America. Other contributions are to be found in the Crowdsourced Collection, which is being used to refine the design, features and functionality of the online interface before continuing expansion. The CKC are in search of further partner organisations willing to share their collections of knitting and crochet.

Visit the CKC Collections Resource to read more, browse the collections or, perhaps, contribute your own piece of history:

Terminology of Knitting and Knitted Fabrics

We are pleased to publish an aid to knitting terminology by Ruth Gilbert, available now for downloading from the Knitting History website.

Entitled ‘Words for recording knitting and knitted fabrics. An introduction to important distinctions and concepts’, Ruth’s concise but precise paper aims to avoid confusion by promoting the use of clear and accurate terms in the description of knitted fabrics and artefacts, many of which are already used in machine knitting and in the knitting industry. Please visit our Knitting History Resources and scroll down the page to view or download Ruth’s paper.

Archaeological Textiles Review

It is part of a wider movement towards improving understanding and will undoubtedly become essential to future knitting history research. More information will be available in the forthcoming and much-anticipated 60th edition of Archaeological Textiles Review, to be published this Autumn. As the Archaeological Textiles Newsletter website explains : “Issue 60 will primarily include articles on evidence for knitting in Early Modern Europe, and we hope our readers will appreciate the importance of this long needed initiative and embrace the scientific impact and upgrade of this over-looked research direction.”

The Knitting Madonna by Lise Warburg

Lise Warburg’s book, “Den strikkende madonna: 12 essays til strikningens geografi”, has been published by Vandkunsten. This collection of 12 essays discusses select aspects of the cultural history of knitting using evidence drawn from many disciplines, including archaeology, ethnography and language research, enlightened and enlivened by Lise’s depth of understanding and breadth of knowledge. This edition is in Danish but we hope public interest may encourage the publishers to issue an English edition as it deserves a wider audience. Visit Vandkunsten’s website for more information and a lovely photo of the author

“The women knit and share their secrets with one another”?

The Journal of Tourism and Cultural Change have made Remco Ensel’s article ‘Knitting at the beach: tourism and the photography of Dutch fabriculture‘ open access. The article discusses late nineteenth to mid-twentieth century representations of women and girls wearing regional Zeeland dress while knitting in the open air, examining the meanings of the images, their role in tourism marketing and their relation to reality. In addition to the title comment, French artist and photographer Ludovic-Georges Hamon gave his opinion on the region’s knitting, as seen on his trip in 1906 : “Reneetje is still busy knitting. In Holland, one does not knit with the fingertips, as in France. In their belt, the knitters have a sheath of carved wood; they put the needle in it and the wool is processed into knit stitches at an amazing speed, accompanied by a constant buzzing … Reneetje knits.” An absorbing piece of research, which may be read here:

Bibliography Of The History Of Knitting Before 1600

We are pleased to publish the Bibliography of the history of knitting before 1600, which may now be downloaded from the Knitting History website. The Bibliography was a project of the original Early Knitting History Group, founded by Montse Stanley and now reborn in the Knitting History Forum. It is an unique document, the most complete bibliography of early knitting history currently published and an important aid to research.

Originally compiled by Richard Rutt, author of ‘A History of Handknitting’, Lesley O’Connell Edwards has since taken charge of keeping the Bibliography current and relevant. In the nearly two decades since it was published in Bulletin du CIETA n.77 (2000), new work has been published and older work rediscovered. Lesley diligently updated the bibliography over the years and has now kindly permitted publication on the Knitting History website. Please visit our Knitting History Resources page to view or download the Bibliography. We hope this will be a valuable resource for further study into knitting and its origins.

Please note that while the bibliography is now open access, permission to reproduce the document whole or in any part must be sought directly from Lesley O’Connell Edwards. She can be emailed using the address in the downloadable PDF.

Miss H. P. Ryder’s “Richmond” Glove

Miss H P Ryder's "Richmond" Glove
Miss H P Ryder’s “Richmond” Glove

At a previous Knitting History Forum Conference, historian and KHF member Lesley O’Connell Edwards brought a fascinating glove she had knitted from a nineteenth-century pattern by Miss H. P. Ryder. Undated but probably published in the 1860s, Henrietta Pulleine Ryder’s set of instructions for the Richmond glove create a very warm accessory, a glove with fully fashioned fingers and an extra layer over the wrist and hand. Lesley has reworked the instructions and this, together with original research on Miss H. P. Ryder and her sister Miss E. Ryder, is being published in the March/April 2018 issue of Piecework. There are more details of Lesley’s pattern on the Piecework website and more information on the life and work of sisters Henrietta Pulleine Ryder and Elizabeth Ryder at Ann Kingstone’s blog