Category Archives: extant garments

Pineapple stitch, or a stitch for all seasons

Pineapple stitch, or a stitch for all seasons

What is a pineapple stitch?

I learned very basic knitting in college and then put it down for *mumblty* years because I got distracted by something shiny and wandered away, but a few years ago I started to get the historical knitting itch. Largely based on seeing the amazing projects Katherine was always making. Top on my list was a knitted pineapple reticule.


The famous Kyoto knitted pineapple reticule

Popular starting around the turn of the 19th century up till the 1840s several extant pineapples exist as well as a few versions of the pattern. The most commonly used pattern is from Jane Gaugain’s The Lady’s Assistant for Executing Useful and Fancy Designs in Knitting, Netting and Crochet Work (1840).  “I could never knit one of those though right? that looks really complicated”


Incorrect! Once Katherine talked me into facing the pattern…why it’s actually quite simple! The same basic stitch makes both the leaves and the knobby, bumpy, whatsits. The body is knit inside out and you offset the rows. If you learn the one stitch you can knit the whole thing…and that’s when a new world opened as I realized…that stitch? It pops up everywhere in historical knitting. And why not? It’s easy, it’s versatile and if there’s one thing living history has taught me it’s that the crafty ladies who came before us? They were very ingenious at making things LOOK more complicated then they are.

When done flat pineapple stitch makes up as a chevron. The first rows are pulled into a zig-zag edge by the decreases. On the pineapple this makes the top edging. But on other projects this is used as the bottom to give trim a dagged edge.


So without further ado I present to you the examples I’ve come across of what I’m calling “Pineapple stitch” stay tuned to the end for the simple instructions so you too can knit adorable lacy edges.


This one is fairly logical. Of course someone said “oh I love a spiky bag with those funny knobby whatsits but I dislike pineapple colours what else can I do”


A navy spiky reticule sold by Ruby Lane. This example has two beads on each whatsit.


Another “spiky” pineapple stitch reticule from the V&A museum 1800-1829.


Rainbow reticule 1800-1849 at the V&A museum. This one has no beads and unlike the pineapple reticule it’s not worked inside out for the section with the whatsits.


Knitted reticule sold on Ruby Lane. I’m not 100% sure this is the same stitch as I can’t tell in the photo but I suspect it is. And I enjoy the jingle bell on the end.


All yellow spiky reticule sold by Meg Andrews Auction.


Reticule 1810-1825 from the MET. I shall call it the flying saucer reticule


I know this one seems a little farther afield but bear with me. The bottom rows of this Godey’s knitted petticoat pattern? The exact same stitch as the pineapple.


Godey’s 1864 knitted under petticoat pattern


Knitted petticoat from the Missouri Historical Society. Those five bottom pattern repeats? you guessed it. Pineapple stitch.


knitted under-petticoat from the Wisconsin Historical Society.


Sample book of stitches from the V&A Dated 1825-1840. Top left corner is the pineapple stitch. Also to the right of it is a swatch for what the Godey’s pattern uses for the next band of trim. I suspect this knitter had that issue.


My example of the Godey’s Patten

Knitted Talma

Do you feel like doing a metric TON of pineapple stitch? Well for maximum impact may I suggest the giant knitted talma?


Peterson’s 1859 Knitted Talma


1860s tintype of a woman in a knitted talma very similar to the 1859 Peterson’s pattern



What really inspired this post was the trim I made for a recent sontag based on this tintype. The lace is a border of pineapple stitch followed by two stripes of “plain knitting” or garter stitch.


Mid-Victorian tintype, the lace edging is pineapple stitch


This is four rows or burgundy, a section of pineapple (I forget how many rows), four rows of burgundy and four rows of white. Then I cast off and sewed it to the edge.

How To:

And now the moment you’ve all been waiting for:

k1, yo, k3-5 sl1-k2tog-psso, k3-5, yo repeat to the end. k1.

If knitting in the round then just continue the pattern, if you’re knitting flat purl all stitches on the wrong side.

Okay let me write that out for people who might need more instruction. I’ve seen patterns call for between 3 and five stitches for the width of the repeat. It doesn’t matter as long as you’re consistent and they mirror.  I will use 3 stitches in the below example but you can vary as long as it’s consistent.

Most variations start with one or two rows of plain knitting often in a contrasting color. If you don’t want to do that just do a cast on in number divisible by your repeat. In this example divisible by 10 + 1 as you need the end of the repeat to be a yarn over.


The bottom most edge is the cast on edge. You’re working bottom to top. So four rows of plain knitting in burgundy is the start of this pattern.

Yarn over, knit one, yarn over, Knit 3 stitches, slip the next stitch, knit two stitches together, pass the slipped stitch over the two knitted together. You’re creating a triple decrease. knit 3 stitches. yarn over, knit one, yarn over. Start back with your 3 stitches and repeat the pattern to the end.


I hope this helps make a fun lace edging and very versatile stitch accessible for some people. I will continue to add examples if I find more….Anyone seen pineapple stitch anywhere else?

Also does anyone know it’s real name? I mean I call it pineapple stitch but I suspect it has a real name.

And I have to thank the amazing Katherine for all her help both in this post and supporting a new knitter!

Alice’s Attic: Gauze Dress

Alice’s Attic: Gauze Dress

I know I should be blogging about the marvelous party I was at this weekend but I’ve decided to fix my shoulder issues in my new anglaise and then take new photos before I blog about it….but in an effort to not totally neglect this blog I give you the next installment of Alice’s Attic.

I thought I’d take a break from all the black on black (don’t worry there’s more coming) to take a look at this lovely 1910’s gauze gown. It’s a very delicate ivory fabric with some beautiful embroidery.


Once again Amanda was kind enough to model

This dress we didn’t even know was there till Alice went to check that there weren’t in fact MORE things on the bed…and oh look there were! It has some seriously interesting fastenings. The front has beaded tassels that hang from fabric pieces that cross over the body and snap at the waist line. The tassels themselves look like some bizarre macrame project.

I would love to hear if anyone had any idea what the beads are. They feel like some kind of early plastic, but I don’t think they’re bakelite as they don’t have the formaldehyde odor when you rub them that bakelite usually has. Perhaps celluloid? This is outside my area of expertise.

Alices Attic: Black Lace Mantle

Alices Attic: Black Lace Mantle

I don’t really know what this funny little wrap-thing was I’m going with the overly generic mantle. Once again being modeled by the ever amazing Mandie.


The mantle closes with hooks and eyes up the center front. It has no side panels just points down the front and back. The “sleeves” are lace but as there is nothing under your arm there isn’t really an under-arm seam. It originally had an elastic waist band that we think closed around the waist to pull the back panel tight to the body. But somewhere in it’s history someone tacked it up into the back.

I’m very interested in pattering this one as it’s relatively one-size-fits-most. I was able to wear it with no problems and I’m easily twice Mandie’s size. I might add a wee bit of width to the center front and center back.

As before if you know anything about this garment specifically or have questions please ask! I can always invade Alice’s house again for more photos.


Alice’s Attic, a series

Alice’s Attic, a series

This is the the first in what will be a series of posts exploring a pile of gorgeous antique clothing my friend Alice’s Dad magically pulled out of their attic. Why no one in my family can magically pull antique clothing out of the attic is something I think should be worked on. Amanda of A Dedicated Follower of Fashion was kind enough (and tiny enough) to model most of this clothing to help us see what it looked like on a real person.

I’ve decided to do these posts in a small series as there were a whole bunch of garments and I took a lot of photos of each of them.  I wanted to share some detail shots and not just one picture of each. I don’t know about you all but I like me some detail shots!

We’re going to start simple here with this lovely Edwardian shirtwaist. Amanda and I think it’s in the 1906-1910 range (roughly) but I’d of course love any input if you have a differing opinion!


I apologize for all of the backlighting. The room is lovely in that there’s windows on every side, but on a sunny day…there’s windows on every side.

The neck closure is the most interesting part. It’s sewn on one side from the back to the center front. Then it’s unsewn and just wraps around the neck to hook in the back. This allows the blouse to close with a center front fastening and the collar a center back fastening.