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Posted: Tue May 22, 2012 8:19 pm
by phendriks
hello ,
as a historian im doing some research for friends of mine on the subject of knitting in the middle ages (if at all , but they had wool , they did crochet so why not knit?): does anyone know any good reference books for it? or other sources like pictures etc?
because im kinda running dead here
thanks alot!

Re: knitting

Posted: Tue May 22, 2012 8:51 pm
by guthrie
The Museum of London book "Textiles and Clothing 1150-1450" by Crowfoot, Pritchard and stanliand has photographs and information on page 72 to 76.
To summarise - they've found woollen knited bits from 14th century deposits, some of which make up a cap, and there's some evidence that gloves were also knitted at this time.

Re: knitting

Posted: Tue May 22, 2012 9:17 pm
by Midland Spinner
What sort of knitting are you looking for? When?If you can give me an idea of what sort of knitting you are looking for I can point you to more info but it's a huge subject and "the middle ages" is a long time period

The MoL book certainly has a bit on knitting - but not a lot.
There are some knitted items in the V&A
There were hats found on the Mary Rose but that's quite late in the Middle Ages. Ditto Tudor hats in the MoL.

A good starting point is "A History of Handknitting" by Richard Rutt (probably out of print). It was originally published in the 1980s and a lot more work has been done since, but not a lot published.
You could try which has a very active Historic Knitting forum.
There's probably a few links on Larsdatter.

Happy researching.

Re: knitting

Posted: Wed May 23, 2012 10:46 am
by kate/bob
Guthrie beat me to it, as the best source I've come across is that MoL one.

From my own research (focusing on 15thc), they did knit, mainly hats that were felted, but also mittens (with a thumb and two big fingers) and some baby clothes such as vests.

Re: knitting

Posted: Wed May 23, 2012 4:01 pm
by Karina
Hi phendricks, I just noticed the line about crochet (they did crochet so why not knit?) I love to crochet but have never done any while in costume because I could never find any evidence of it (I'm in a Tudor, late 16C, group) do you know what type of crochet was done and where I could go to find any further information on it?

Re: knitting

Posted: Wed May 23, 2012 5:06 pm
by lucy the tudor
No crochet, or "nun's work" in this time period, as far as the books I have read on the subject go, knitting fine though, lovely book being
" A history of hand knitting ", by Richard rutt, Bishop of Leicester. This shows a lovely polyptich of Our Lady Knitting, painted by Thomas of Modena 1325 -?75
Mr Rutt's book is worth a look just for the flowery cardigan he wears with panache on the front.

Re: knitting

Posted: Wed May 23, 2012 6:09 pm
by sally
Another vote for 'sorry, but there is no evidence of crochet at this point'. No problem with knitting though, broadly speaking its hats first in Western Europe with stockings not becoming a common item to have knitted until you are into the 16thC. One of the earliest surviving European items (I'm leaving out Islamic knitting here but its worth exploring if you are doing a wider study- some of the Coptic socks are fabulous) is the St Denis cap, 14thC French, in Byssus silk from a sea mollusc!) See also the various Knitting Madonna images

The main problem is the difficulty with survival of knitting, but the MoL has some medieval fragments that they identify as hats, and its is possible to conjecturally interpret several classic hat styles as being particularly well suited to knitting, usually well fulled afterwards. For example, those acorn caps with the little 'stalk' on top can of course be made in fabric or felt, but the stalk comes so naturally when you knit them and you can get a really good mimic of the drape and sit of them done this way.

I'm endlessly hopeful that future excavations will yield more medieval knitted fragments than we currently know, but in the meantime I second the suggestion to come and join the Historic Knitting group over on Ravelry. :D