torsdag 7 april 2016

Test knitting

So, at Double Wars I am going to give a class on renaissance knitted garments:  waistcoats, sleeves, stockings, hats and mittens. I am of course going to bring my knit silk Eleonora di Toledo stockings, but I thought that it might be a good idea to bring some samples to let people see and feel how these garments may have looked and felt to wear.

My first sample is damask knitted silk with a knotted in silk pile. This technique was used in waistcoats and sleeves in the Nordic countries in the 17th century, which is too late for teh SCA of course. Knit wool sleeves and knit silk waistcoats are, however, known from many European countries from the 16th century. So, even if none of this particular type are preserved, I thought it worth trying the technique and showing the result. I was naturally especially tempted by the fact that we have one of the preserved 17th century ones a our local museum and I have had the joy of examining it closely.

Most preserved knit silk waistcoats are from the 17th century, there are a few that could be dated earlier - if you want a lot of links to extant ones, you should have a look at this blog post.

Anyway, the yarn here is a little thicker than silk buttonhole twist, it also has a tighter twist. The originals generally had a looser twist, but I was working with what I had at home, more samples will be made later.
   I am using 1mm/US #00000 needles. They're carbon fibre, from KnitPro. I wish I had longer, steel ones though.

The dots on my kitchen table cloth are 12,5 mm/ 1/2 inch wide, so you get some size comparison.

Maj Ringgard has made the most recent analysis of the 17th century damask knitted silk waistcoats in her article  “Silk Knitted Waistcoats - a 17th-century fashion item” in Mathiassen, Tove Engelhardt, Nosch, Marie-louise, Ringgaard, Maj, Toftegaard, Kirsten & Venborg Pedersen, Mikkel (ed.), Fashionable encounters: perspectives and trends in textile and dress in the early modern Nordic world, Oxbow Books, Oxford, 2014. She found that of the damask knitted waistcoats those who were knitted in the round, which were the majority, had the silk pile knotted in afterwards, while those knitted in the flat had the pile knitted in.
   This sample is obviously knitted in the flat, but I decided to knot the pile anyway, for this sample.

Unlike the originals I used a different coloured, much looser twisted silk yarn for the pile. This was due to the fact that the salmon coloured yarn is to tightly twisted to give the soft pile you see in the preserved ones. At the same time the while silk yarn is both way too thick and too loosely twisted for the knitting.
Having seen the knit waistcoat at Gothenburg City Museum up close I am not sure if it was the same yarn used for the knitting as for the pile, though it definitely was of the same colour. More testing will be done.

Anyway, this is how it looks when finished, from the inside and from the outside.

And it feels absolutely lovely on the skin. This was ptobably not an issue in period though, since you would have been wearing a shift or shirt under it.

It is unlikely that I will ever knit a whole waistcoat, it is boring and slow work to knit on so small needles, but I will look into the 16th century sleeves more and may make a pair from wool when I start makign 16th century clothes again - the coming years I will be concentrating on the 13th-early 14th century, as you might know.

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