We’ve talked a lot on this blog about neo-Victorian fiction, but there are other arenas where the Victorians have gained a foothold in the popular imagination. Right now, there are a whole slew of intrepid knitters reinterpreting Victorian patterns with twenty-first century yarns, producing titles such as Victorian Lace Today.
Have you ever wondered what Victorian heroines are knitting when the narrator says they are busy with their “fancy work”? Click here for Franklin Habit’s updated pattern for Miss Lambert’s “pence jug” of 1843 and Miss Weldon’s miniature orange from the 1880s. Habit writes that while modern knitters tend to be impressed by large projects, while the Victorians tended to go in for small but impressively intricate patterns. “The Victorians had” he writes, “perhaps, more of an appreciation for these flights of fantasy than we do today. Under the catch-all heading of “fancy work” … they produced a fountain of miniature fantasies we might do well to revive. In a time of limited resources, why not rediscover the joy of small things?”
I think I’ve already damaged my eyes enough in rare books and should spare them the strain, but I do think the miniature orange would make a great holiday ornament and would love to talk to anyone who’s tried!