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Knit a Pineapple Purse

pineapple purse

The Pineapple Purse:

This  Pineapple shaped reticule resides in the Kyoto Museum’s 1800-1810 collection. In describing this bag, the museum comments,

This small bag (called “reticule” at that time) was elaborately and three-dimensionally knitted into the shape of a pineapple. Motifs of pineapples and other exotic articles associated with the tropics became popular because of the influence of Napoleon Bonaparte’s wife Joséphine, the then fashion leader, who was from the Island of Martinique.

It is absolutely charming and amazingly, the instructions for a similar looking reticule appeared in  The Lady’s Assistant for Executing Useful and Fancy Designs in Knitting Netting, and Crochet Work by Mrs. Jane Gaugain in 1841. Those instructions have been reproduced below, though recently, a new, updated pattern for this purse has been created from the original pattern. The updated pattern and photos of the completed project can be found here:

This pinapple purse is knit to imitate the natural colour of the fruit as much as possible, still keeping the bag as bright in hues as consistency will permit. The top part is worked in four shades of green, of seven rows each, commencing with lightest, and working in succession to dark. This represents the leaves. The centre, or fruit part, is worked in shades of yellow, down to a rich brown, four in number, beginning with the lightest, and working 36 rounds of each; again with green finish as described in the working receipt.

The cast-on row looks handsome with a row of gilt beads; also on the centre stitch of each knob of fruit part there should be a bead, but it may be omitted if not wished. The green part for leaves is worked on right side, and is the right or outside part; the centre part of bag is like the wrong side of knitting, as well as the green part, at bottom. When the bag is finished, it is drawn at the termination of the top leaves; the bottom is finished with a bunch of green satin ribbon, rounded at the points like leaves.

Working Receipt.

Cast on with light-green common-sized purse twist on No. 19 wires, 96 on first wire, 96 on second wire, and 128 on third wire; work a plain round after the cast-on round.

1st Round, P6, 0, P, 0, P6, A; repeat all round.

2nd Round, *P6, 0, P, O, P6, A; repeat all round.

Repeat as second round 5 more rounds.

2nd Shade of Green.

8th Round, repeat as second round 7 more rounds.

* Observe you have here seven plain stitches before you make an open stitch, the first of which has nothing to do with the six plain, merely work it off before the six, as it is one of those three you knit into one, and will be required to finish the A on the last wire j the beginning and ending of every wire during the working of green will be the same as this.

3rd Shade of Green. 16th Round, repeat as second round 7 more rounds.

4tth Shade of Green.

24th Round, repeat as second round 7 more rounds.

32nd Round, with light yellow, turn and work a plain round. It is necessary here to observe, the A of the yellow must be transposed so as to come directly under the 0, P, 0, of green. Should you have more loops than six before taking in the three loops, lift them on to the right hand wire; do the same with the other two wires; having done so, you have not again to change any of the loops off the wires, as the following receipt is so arranged,—

33rd Round, P6, A, P6, 0, P, 0; repeat all round.

34th Round, P5, A, P6, 0, P, 0, P; repeat all round.

35th Bound, P4, A, P6, 0, P, 0, P2; repeat all round.

36th Round, P3, A, P6, 0, P, 0, P3; repeat all round.

37th Round, P2, A, P6, 0, P, O, P4; repeat all round.

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Repeat from 32nd to 49th round twice with third yellow

Repeat from 32nd to 49th round twice with fourth yellow; (if wished to be longer, add what is required in this shade.)

Repeat with each shade of green once from 32 to 49th round

P6, A, all round} Repeat these two rounds till the bag is almost closed, then draw
Plain, all round } it together with a needle.
This bag may be worked in shades of Berlin wool, on No. 16 wires.

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Preserve Green Pine Apples


The pineapple was brought to Europe as early as the 13th century by explorers such as Christopher Columbus. The plant is indigenous to South America and is said to originate from the area between Southern Brazil and Paraguay. Until the late 1600’s, however, no pineapple had been successfully grown in Europe. They were so rare that a 1675 painting commemorates the gift of a pineapple to Charles II.

Plants required special hothouses (with built in ovens to keep the temperature tropical) and take at least 2 years to mature; even then, they may produce only one fruit a season. Truly it was a fruit fit for royalty. Mrs. Austen’s great-uncle, James Brydges, Duke of Chandos (1673-1744) was one of the first Englishmen to successfully grow these exotic and prized fruits.

Regency cooks sought to use these fruits in many creative ways to preserve them and allow for maximum impact with guests. From centerpieces to “pickles” (canned or candied fruit) they were able to keep them on the table all year long. Strangely, though pineapple flesh is usually white or one of many shades of yellow in color, the following recipe calls for staining the pickled (canned) pineapple green, using vine leaves. Perhaps this accounts for the presence of green candied pineapple on today’s market shelves.

To preserve Green Pine Apples
Get your pine apples before they are ripe, and lay them in s strong Salt and Water five Days, then put a large Handful of Vine Leaves in the Bottom of a large Sauce Pan, and put in your Pine Apple, fill up your Pan with Vine Leaves, then pour on the Salt and Water it was laid in, cover it up very close, and set it over a slow Fire, let it stand ’till it is a fine light Green, have ready a thin Syrup, made of a Quart of Water, and a Pound of double refined Sugar, when it is almost cold, put it into a deep Jar, and put in the Pine Apple with the Top on, let it stand a Week, and take Care that it is well covered with the Syrup, then boil your Syrup again, and pour it carefully into your Jar, least you break the Top of your Pine Apple, and let it stand eight or ten Weeks, and give the Syrup two or three boils to keep it from moulding, let your Syrup stand ’till it is near cold, before you pour it on; when your Pine Apple looks quite full and green, take it out of the Syrup, and make a thick Syrup of three Pounds of double refined Sugar, with as much Water as will dissolve it, boil and skim it well, put a few Slices of White Ginger in it, when it is near cold, pour it upon your Pine Apple, tie it down with a Bladder, and the Pine Apple will keep many Years, and not shrink, but if you put it into thick Syrup at the first, it will shrink, for the Strength of the Syrup draws out the Juice, and spoils it.

N. B. It is a great Fault to put any Kind of Fruit that is preserved whole into thick Syrup at first.

The experienced English house-keeper: For the Use and Ease of Ladies, Housekeepers, Cooks &etc. By Elizabeth Raffald, 1769


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