Thursday, September 24, 2009

The many beaded bag

I've received so many questions about this little miser's purse that I thought I would put the instructions and my notes online. Purely self-serving as it means I just need to remember a link instead of hunting through my computer looking for an email to forward. This is "Lady's Purse" from the October 1863 Godey's. So far, this is the only publication where I have seen this purse. The technique though seems to have been fairly common, I have seen several for sale online or in antique stores (including one store in MA which had a matched pair!) and in museum collections.

This one is in the Bowes Museum in England,

Unfortunately I don't remember where I found this one. I love the color!

This one is in the Met,

Back to my version:

I knit it with size "E" Gudebrod silk and size 14/0 seed beads, both available from Fire Mountain Gems ,on 0000 needles. The rings came from Lacis. The original instructions called for alternating bands - blue silk with steel beads and white with gold beads. This little thing uses A LOT of beads, not counting the tassels it has about 8000 beads!

The original instructions:
Cast on forty-eight stitches, work four plain rows, then commence the pattern thus:— 1st row.— Make 1, purl 2 together, *, pass down 14 beads, keep them under the thumb, make 1, purl 2 together, make 1, purl 2 together; repeat from *. 2d.— The return row to be worked in the same stitch, but without beads. 3d.— As the first, only pass down 13 beads instead of 14. Every row the same with 1 bead less, until only 2 beads remain; then work the return row, and join on the white silk and gold beads. *, pass down 14 beads, make 1, purl 2 together, make 1, purl 2 together; repeat from *. The other row same as the blue and steel; then repeat the blue and steel once more. This forms one end of the purse . The middle may be worked thus:— With white and gold beads make 1, purl 2 together, pass down 2 beads; repeat; return row plain. Repeat these two rows four times in white, four times in blue, four times in white. Then commence the other end in blue; work the same as before, only commence with 2, and increase to 14 beads. Sew up one-third at each end, and trim with mixed gold and steel tassels.

I made only one change, I added two stitched so I would have an edge stitch instead of doing a yarn over at the ends. So, I started each row with one purl and ended each row with one purl. That also gave me a nice clean edge for seaming it. Stringing the beads is a bit of a challenge, a needle small enough to go through the beads is too small for the thread. If you are stubborn you can get the thread into the needle, otherwise try gluing the end of the thread to stiffen it enough to get through the beads. I strung the beads in sections, estimating how many beads were on the thread and adding many more for goo measure than just snipped the thread and took off the spares before stringing the next set. Due to the nature of how this is knit the beads on the opposite ends will hang slightly differently. Only the most observant people might notice this given the distraction of the many beads.

  Pattern published for personal, non-commercial use only

1 comment:

  1. This is so beautiful. What size needles did you use? I want to make one so much. Have you any more ordinary miser purse patterns -- I mean no or fewer beads? Thank you for posting this pattern.