This section is from the "The Ladies' Work-Table Book: Domestic Needlework in Nineteenth-Century America" book, by Margaret Vincent. Also available from Amazon: The Ladies' Work Table: Domestic Needlework in Nineteenth-Century America.
Netting is another employment, to which the attention of the fair has been directed from the remotest times. Specimens of Egyptian network, performed three thousand years since, are still in existence; and, from that time, the art, in connection with that of spinning flax, was there carried to its highest state of perfection. With these specimens, are preserved some of the needles anciently used in netting. They are to be found in one of the museums at Berlin. The Egyptian nets were made of flax, and were so fine and delicate, that according to Pliny, " they could pass through a small ring, and a single person could carry a sufficient number of them to surround a whole wood. Julius Lupus, while governor of Egypt, had some of these nets, each string of which consisted of one hundred and fifty threads." But even this fineness was far exceeded by the thread of a linen corslet, presented by Amasis, king of Egypt, to the Rhodians, the threads of which, as we learn from the same authority, were each composed of three hundred and sixty-five fibres. Herodotus also mentions a corslet of a similar texture.
In connection with other elegant female accomplishments, netting has continued to claim the attention of the ladies of Europe, in every advanced state of civilization, and, in the present day, is cultivated with considerable success. Netting was a favorite employment of the late Queen Charlotte, during the latter years of her life.
Take the mesh in the left hand, (having previously made a long loop with twine, and fixed it to any convenient support,) between the two first fingers and the thumb. The netting needle must be threaded with the material, and fastened by a knot to the long loop before spoken of, and the mesh must be held up as close as possible to this knot under the twine. The silk is to be held in the right hand between the fore finger and the thumb and must be passed under and around the left hand, so that the material may be formed into a slack loop, passing over all the fingers, except the little one. In this position, the silk must be held between the upper side of the mesh and the left-hand thumb, and the needle must be passed back, round the pin or mesh, allowing the material to form a larger loop, so as to include the little finger. The needle will thus be brought round,in front of the mesh, and must pass under the first loop, between the mesh and the fingers, and thus through the loop called the foundation loop, and thence over that portion of the material which goes backward for the purpose of forming the second loop. The needle must be kept in its position, till the right hand is so brought round as to be able to pull it through, and then the needle being drawn out and held in the right hand, the worker must disengage all the fingers of the left except the last, which is to retain its hold of the second loop, which was formed by passing the material round it. By means of this hold, retained by the little finger, the material is to be drawn to the mesh, and the knot thus formed be drawn tight to the foundation. This process is to be repeated, until a sufficient number of stitches are formed as are necessary, according to the width of the net desired. As the mesh is filled, some of the loops must be suffered to drop off; and when the row is completed, it must be drawn out, and a row of loops will be found suspended from the foundation by their respective knots, and moving freely onwards. The work is then to be turned over, which will cause the ends of the rows to be reversed; and in netting a second row, it will be done as before from left to right. In commencing the second, and all the succeeding rows, the mesh must be so placed as to come up close to the bottom of the preceeding row or loops, and the former process with the needle must be repeated. It will be needful, to have a sufficient quantity of material always wound on the needle, or otherwise it will not move freely round, as it is indispensible it should do.
To execute this stitch properly, requires care, but it is very ornamental. Beads of all kinds, may be introduced. In order to net with beads, you must procure a long taper darning needle: the stitch is as follows; string a bead upon the thread or silk you net with : this bead is to be brought to the front of the mesh, and held there until the knot is made; at the back of the mesh, bring the needle and thread, passing the point through the bead which is upon the front of the mesh. The needle and thread are then to be drawn through it, by which means the bead will be brought quite up to the knot just made. By working the beads in this manner, they will be kept stationary upon the thread, and so remain in their places, and impart much beauty to the work.