I’ve just knitted two pairs of garters for Madeleine of La Belle Epoque Design, based on the description in Godey’s Lady’s Book from the early 1860’s. The description calls for two colours, but Madeleine wanted them in solid colours, which I too think is prettier.
I used two-stranded wool yarn (yarn with three or more strands are largely a later invention), and needles size 2,5 mm (US 2), and followed the pattern almost exactly – I added two stitches to the main garter to get the agreed on width, but that was the only deviation. They ended up 4 cm wide and 36 cm long when resting, not counting the cords and tassels.
I’m not too good at English knitting terminology, so the description might be a bit rudimentary – I post it mostly for my own future reference.
Cast on six stitches. Knit garter stitch for 45 rows. Pick up six stitches from the beginning of the knitting – you have now created a loop. Knit six rows, purl six rows, repeat until you have 33 ridges in total. * Knit garter stitch: one full row, knit the last two stitches together for two rows – repeat from * until you’ve cast off all stitches. Fasten the threads. Make a cord and tassel.
The garters turned out very well, and I might have to make a pair for myself someday, even though I already have a pair of knitted garters from the 1840’s. These are prettier though.