Guest Post ~ Jane Austen Knits

Gentle Readers! ~ I welcome today Janeite Lynne, a JASNA-Vermont member and occasional contributor to this site, as she writes on Jane Austen and knitting!


Jane Knits


They were entering the hall. Mr. Knightley’s eyes had preceded Miss Bates’s in a glance at Jane. From Frank Churchill’s face, where he thought he saw confusion suppressed or laughed away, he had involuntarily turned to hers; but she was indeed behind, and too busy with her shawl. [Emma]


              Have you ever wanted to create the kind of shawl that Jane Fairfax might have hid behind or slippers that would have kept Elizabeth Bennet’s feet warm?  If your answer to this question is yes!, then, like me, you may be both a Janeite and a knitter.  I imagined that people with these two interests would be a very small subset of the larger groups, but this month Interweave Knits made me think I was wrong.  They have released a special edition of their magazine: Jane Austen Knits.


The patterns in the edition are organized around places: country, manor, garden, and town. There are over thirty patterns including:  shawls, shrugs, scarves, handwarmers, slippers, reticules,  Mr. Knightley’s Vest, and, of course, a tea cozy.  If you are a lace knitter, you will be in heaven.  Lace abounds!

Lydia Military Spencer

Jane Austen Knits goes beyond the patterns, though.  There are articles about knitting during Austen’s time; both Mrs. Austen and Cassandra knit.  People speculate that Austen herself probably knit, but there is no concrete evidence for this.  We know that she did needlework.  But knitting may have been one of the household chores that the family sheltered her from so that she could write.  There are other articles in the special edition on regency fashion, muslin, a timeline of her life and the historical events that happened during her lifetime, and even suggestions for Austen-inspired movies and auidobooks to watch or listen to while you are knitting.

Knitting during the Regency Period was a utilitarian activity, and therefore was a job for those without money.  Mrs. Bates in Emma, Mrs. Smith in Persuasion, and Mrs. Jennings in Sense and Sensibility all mention projects or engage in knitting.  Of course, Mrs. Jennings would be undaunted by fashionable society’s prejudices and continue to knit even when she was wealthy.  Still, I like to imagine that knitting not only served a necessary household function for the other characters but also gave them solace and satisfaction.  As Mrs. Smith says about Nurse Rooke: “As soon as I could use my hands, she taught me to knit, which has been a great amusement.”  I couldn’t agree with her more.

Pemberley slippers

[Images: from the Interweave website]


More information at the Interweave website where you can order this special issue for $14.99.

Thank you Lynne for sharing this! – makes me want to dig out my old knitting needles and get to work! 

Miss Bennet's beaded bag

Copyright @2011 by Lynne H, of Jane Austen in Vermont

Calling All Janeites & Crafters

Two “pleas” from the Vermont Chapter of JASNA:

  • A request from a member (or members) of our chapter to serve in the capacity of Refreshments Coordinator for the September 27th meeting here in Burlington. Lynne, who has served in that capacity for the past year-plus (thank you Lynne!), is resigning the post.
    Please contact Kelly and Deb.

lizzy not for sale

  • A request to crafters in and around the State of Vermont who may be interested in selling items at an Austen Boutique at the 6 December meetings. We would request that a small portion of your sales proceeds benefit the JASNA-Vermont chapter. English-inspired, Austen-inspired, Regency-inspired… — merchandise project ideas are limitless! Please contact Deb and Kelly with your product ideas, or to request more information.

Jane Austen’s Sewing Box

sewingAusten-lover and author Jennifer Forest sends information about her new book (due out in the UK July 6 and available for pre-order), Jane Austen’s Sewing Box (Murdoch Books; 224 pages; £14.99).

If you love handicrafts, this books contains 18 projects, which involve sewing skills, needleworking, netting, painting, paper craft and knitting! Forest has set the projects in their history and literary context, placing Regency-era handiwork alongside extracts from the novels; an explanation of why women made such items; full color photos; and step-by-step instructions.

“Yes, all of them [are accomplished women] I think. They all paint tables, cover screens and net purses.” — Charles Bingley

Jennifer describes the book:

The projects in Jane Austen’s Sewing Box are both objects of beauty and useful for our contemporary lives. Using a range of techniques and readily-available materials and tools, the projects are easily accessible for all skill levels and interests.

All projects are modelled on:

  • projects worked by Jane Austen’s characters
  • work of her circle, and noted in her letters
  • original objects from the Regency period

As a sewer-knitter-crocheter-needleworker, I can’t wait to see this book.

Look for information on Jennifer Forest, and Jane Austen’s Sewing Box, on her website. And stay tuned for a guest appearance by Jennifer on this blog…

[submitted by KM]