On Thursday I gave a talk at our local Knitting and Crochet Guild group (Huddersfield) with the title ‘Crafty Victorians’. Together with my sister over the last couple of years I’ve learned a lot about yarn crafts during Victorian times, especially knitting, and it was great to have this opportunity to share some of the things we’ve learned from our research, and to show fellow knitters some of the books and artefacts we have collected. These included early knitting manuals, a volume of the ‘Leach’s Fancy Workbasket’ magazine, and some Victorian knitting needle gauges.
Preparing for the talk mostly involved reminding myself of things I already knew from our research. However, I hadn’t known how much Queen Victoria herself enjoyed yarn crafts, and was delighted to find that she was an avid knitter. There’s a lovely entry in one of her diaries in which she wrote that her husband Albert had read to her from Oberon whilst she knitted. Such a lovely detail from her life!
I found this portrait of her knitting charity blankets with two of her daughters (Princesses Helena and Beatrice):
The blankets were for wounded soldiers at the Royal Victoria Hospital in Netley.
She also crocheted, as evidenced in the 8 scarves she made very near the end of her life for soldiers who had served ‘with distinction’ in the Boer War. One of these, pictured below, was recently auctioned together with medals that had also been awarded to the recipient.
Everyone who knits or crochets knows that gifting our handiwork to others is a very loving act. Reading that Victoria did this has warmed me to her more than anything else I’ve learned about her!