This pattern comes from Weldon’s Practical Knitter, Number 25, Seventh Series (1888). It is also published in Weldon’s Practical Needlework, Volume 3, Interweave Press, 2000.
The original pattern calls for “ a small quantity of lemon-coloured Andalusian wool and of brown single Berlin” wool, and “a pair of steel knitting needles No. 14” (modern equivalent 2mm/US 0.) Sateen, cardboard and black fabric to convert the underside to a penwiper are needed to complete the cushion.
A brown square is knitted first. This piece is then sewn over a circular cardboard piece which has previously been covered with the sateen and slightly “raised (stuffed) in front.” Two separate strips in yellow are next knit,“in imitation of the petals” of the sunflower. These strips vary in the number of stitches to produce different widths and are “join(ed)” and “pleat(ed) to the size of the cushion” when sewn onto the first circular piece.
More sewing is required for the back of cushion – a “circle of stout cardboard,” covered on both sides with “sateen,” and sewn onto the sunflower. “Three circular pieces of black cloth for a penwiper” are then sewn onto the back circle. Not finished yet, the pattern suggests that a “ribbon” can be “attached (to it) to hang it up by.” Conversely, or if the person making this pincushion has felt enough energy has been spent on the project, the “pincushion can lie on the drawing-room table.”
I knit this pincushion/penwiper on the suggested size of needles, using Knit Picks Palette in Semolina and Bison. I did not put enough stuffing in the first circle so the pincushion part was rather flat, especially with the brown knitted part securely sewn onto the cardboard circle. To remedy this, I changed the pattern – something I have rarely, if ever, done in making more than forty reproductions from Weldon’s patterns. I discarded the two cardboard circles, and opened out and stuffed the brown section, now in its original shape of a square, adding a black felt bottom layer. I then sewed the square under the petals. Before doing that, I had sewn another piece of black felt onto the bottom of the square, creating a pocket for wiping the nibs of pens. I have also considered stitching a few more squares of black felt to the back as extra wiping cloths.
The pincushion measures 5 ½” in width, outer point to outer point and the black felt section on the reverse side is just over 3” square. The petals, in spite of blocking, do not lie flat on the drawing-room table or my desk or anywhere for that matter.
All quotations are from Weldon’s Practical Needlework, Volume 3, Interweave Press, 2000