Every weekend my sister and I take our mother out for a meal, usually at a café or restaurant, and sometimes en famille at one of our houses. This Saturday we took her to ‘The Enchanted Wood’, one of our favourite cafés in Brighouse. We travelled in Marie’s car, and as usual Mum sat in the front next to Marie, and I sat in the back. Mum now finds walking difficult, so when we arrived Marie stopped the car next to the café door for a few moments so that I could help Mum out of the car and then into the café while Marie parked the car. But, as I went to open the door to get out of the car I suddenly noticed an antique-looking book in the door pocket. ‘What’s this?’ I cried in joy and amazement, quickly realising that Marie had carefully planted this book to surprise me!

‘This’ was an 1884 volume of ‘The Young Ladies Guide To The Worktable’, and it went into the café with us. While waiting for our meal (a plate each of scampi, peas and chips), I tenderly and carefully looked through it. Unlike most of our antique books this one contained some coloured illustrations. These were printed on small cards and stuck between the pages, near to the relevant instructions. As the book was a general guide to several types of needlework, including needle lace, embroidery, crewel work, crochet, etc, only one of these was for a knitting pattern, but what a delightful one it was. A beautiful ‘Pence Jug’.

Pence Jugs are a Victorian phenomenon, a little knitted or crocheted pouch made in the shape of a jug for keeping coins in. I first came across them at one of the Knitting and Crochet Guild open days, where they showed us some from The Collection (an extensive archive of knitting and crochet related items). Since then Marie and I have found many patterns for pence jugs in our growing collection of antique knitting books. However, I’ve never before seen a coloured illustration of one.

I know, from a knitting friend who volunteers there, that there is a pence jug in the Brontë Parsonage Museum, presumably knitted by one of the sisters. I’m hoping this will be on display when I visit the museum with the ladies on my Yorkshire Knitting Tour this July. I even think that when we’ve seen it we could possibly use our book collection to identify specifically which pattern it was knitted from. It would be quite something to be able to hypothesise that the Brontë sisters had also owned a specific knitting title from our collection!

Meanwhile, here’s a picture of the one from the latest addition to our collection. Apart from the colourwork leaves, it’s quite a simple pattern, worked in the round from the base to the lip:



One thought on “The Young Ladies’ Guide To The Worktable

  1. What lovely illustration!
    The Knitting and Crochet Guild’s Collection (stored at Lee Mills near Holmfirth) also contains some pence jugs. it has misers’ purses too, These are cleverly designed so that only after sliding the right combination of rings in the right direction can the coins in each side be accessed. They are a tube with closed ends plus a side slit to get into them. With coins in each end and each of the two ring pushed down the outside towards each end, the purse can be worn slipped under a belt with the weight of the coins holding each end in position and no risk of losing coins even if the owner stumbles or bends right over.

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