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Muff challenge?

Knitters Inc.

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Dec 7, 2011, 3:28pm Top

I'm fascinated with "garments from the past," and I'm looking for muff patterns. (A muff is essentially a tube you put your hands in to warm them up.)

I am working on a design cobbled up from a variety of sources and pictures on ravelry and knitty.

Meantime, if anyone can point me to a source for vintage patterns for muffs (fichus, spats, mitts, night caps, etc.), please do!

Any info about the history of the muff would be interesting, too.

As a child, one of my little friends had a muff made from fake white fur that had a zipper inside for valuables and a string for hanging around your neck. Very cool! If you were 8 years old in 1962 ...

Edited: Dec 11, 2011, 10:46pm Top

I had a white muff with a string in 1962! Aged 6...

Dec 12, 2011, 2:59am Top

Dec 12, 2011, 12:23pm Top

If you're on Ravelry, there are a whole bunch of muff patterns listed (I did a pattern search). Vintgeness not guaranteed.

Edited: Dec 12, 2011, 4:03pm Top

Project Gutenberg has some knitting books available.
Exercises in Knitting by Cornelia Mee does have a muff pattern as does My Knitting Book by Miss Lambert.

There are a couple of online resources—that I can never remember so this may not be helpful—of vintage knitting books in pdf form. They are websites for museums and/or colleges.

Also, Interweave sells Weldon's Practical Needlework series which may have muff patterns also.

eta: punctuation

Dec 12, 2011, 8:23pm Top

#3, thanks. That's the one I found on knitty I liked best, mostly double inside-out tube.

I'm trying to knit a tube on small needles to make the inside, then switch to large needles to make the outside a little looser. I think I've figured out a way to only have to sew one edge. We'll see.

Some patterns call for adding between inner and outer tube, but not sure I want to do that.

Am thinking about how to handle a pocket for cell phone. Maybe make a little pouch that will hook on with a carabiner? Saving that for the second try.

#5, great leads on the vintage books. My mother kept some old needlework books of my grandmother's, many pre 1920, and I REALLY hope she did throw them away ...

Dec 15, 2011, 5:22pm Top


Here is the link to the University of Southampton that I'd found: http://www.southampton.ac.uk/library/ldu/wsa.html
They have pdfs of books from the collection of Richard Rutt. This link, http://www.soton.ac.uk/intheloop/richardruttcollection.html , actually points to the first link (which my brain had remembered as two separate resources, silly brain).

Good luck in your search.

Dec 15, 2011, 10:37pm Top

Some time ago I found, in an obscure shop somewhere that I can't remember, a modern binding of a set of four books/booklets comprising "The Lady's Knitting Book" by E.M.C. published by Hatchards of Picadilly in 1879.
The first pattern in the "Second Series" is for a Muff. It is followed by "Tippet or Victorine, to match the above" and thirdly by a "Crimean Helmet".
What a wonderful piece of publishing and handcrafting history!
I have no idea where you might find a copy of the book/booklet but, if you try and cannot but would like me to, I'll type the pattern out for you and either send it to you or post it here.

Dec 16, 2011, 8:29pm Top

My muff is turning out OK, but doesn't have the bulk I want. I plied some recycled wool to make a boucle yarn, and I should probably have used that. I feel a do-over coming on.

7, wonderful collection! How do you find this stuff? I need to crank up my searching skills.

I found some British patterns for knitwear from the WWII era on eBay. You can tell things were scarce on the homefront due to rationing b/c people were inventing things like spats that would cover your shoes for winter so you wouldn't have to buy boots. Mend and make do inspires some interesting innovations.

Also found some "regulation knitwear" for those who wanted to knit things for American men in uniform.

@8, I'd love it if you posted the pattern! What a great find.

Edited: Dec 18, 2011, 7:07pm Top

From "The Lady's Knitting Book" Second Series by E. M. C. and published by Hatchards, Piccadilly in 1879.

Steel pins No. 13, and 1 oz. of white Andalusian. For a child cast on 42; for a full size vast on 60.
First row - plain knitting.
Second row - knit1, knit the second stitch in the following manner: put the wool round the needle in the usual way, but instead of pulling the stitch through, let the wool hang straight down over the forefinger of the left hand, wind the wool round the finger, put it again over the needle as though you were going to knit; then do the same a third time, and finish working this stitch, which ought to have the appearance of 3 in 1; knit the third stitch plainly. Continue in this manner to do 1 stitch loop knitting and the next plain.
Do three plain rows, and repeat from the first row; be careful in the alternate rows to do the loops into the stitch, which had none in the previous row.
When the knitting is 11½ inches long cast off, and sew the top and bottom together.
Make up the muff in the following way: either line it with silk or knitting; if the latter, cast on in white Berlin 52 stitches, and make it with plain knitting a trifle shorter that the loop knitting. Sew the two parts together, with 3 or 4 thicknesses of wadding between. Ribbon, with elastic run in, can be sewn round the two openings and fastened off with a bow.

Tippet or Victorine, to match the above.
For a child cast on, with white Andalusian, 36 stitches.
Knit as in the previous pattern for 18 inches, and cast off; double it and sew the sides together.
Sew 2 large white ornamental buttons, and elastic fastening at the throat; add small tassels to the end.

Another way of doing these is to do every stitch loop knitting, with only one plain row between, using Berlin wool.
Afterwards comb the wool out until it has the appearance of fur.

Dec 19, 2011, 9:15am Top

gmillar, you are the best! I never thought about loop knitting to get the bulk. Thank you so much!

Dec 19, 2011, 6:24pm Top

You could also possible thrum it to get bulk. The tufts would go in between the two layers I guess.

Dec 20, 2011, 7:57am Top

I had to look up thrumming. I guess I knew what it was but didn't know the term:


"Welsh wigs" were sometimes thrummed, I believe, by leaving loose ends hanging and adding warmth.

Edited: Dec 21, 2011, 9:32am Top

Very cute, sorchah! I see it uses Malabrigo, which I love for its softness, which you can wear right next to your skin. It does pill rather badly, though. I have shaved a pair of gloves I made umpteen times.

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