HNW - HNW-early knitting

Dick Eney dickeney at
Wed Oct 1 15:17:16 PDT 1997

On Wed, 1 Oct 1997, Deborah Pulliam wrote:

>  <<are not particularly important when making a pillow for someone who can't
> feel it because they're dead.>>
> Actually, the two cushions I was referring to are thought to have been
> made for a wedding,  so they were not made as burial furnishings.
> <<And when the technique is of such high quality (by our modern, 
> low standards), it is not new, it is already highly developed. >>
> It was highly developed in the eastern Mediterranean, what I meant was
> it was still new in western Europe; in this case, Spain, and then
> England.

Still, it wasn't that new.  Assuming the cushions you refer to are the
ones in Las Huelgas, they are 13th Ct. (1275 in the grave of Fernando de
la Cerda, 1283 in the grave of Fernando, son of Alfonso X). There were
medieval knitted stockings and leggings in Switzerland, locally made, and
the most recent date for them is 12th Ct (early date is 7th Ct).  Six
fragments of woolen knitwear from Rownina Dolna, Ketrzyn district, in the
voivodship of Olsztyn, (I'm pretty sure this is Poland) are dated at 12th
or 13th Ct.  They are definitely knitted and appear to be local women's
work, as the working technique is highly skilled but the lack of a proper
craftman's fashioning and dressing is evident.  (Turnau, pg. 18, quoting
A. Nahlik)  Thus, knitting was already being done in northern Europe and
not unfamiliar in the 13th century.  The reason for the choice of those
cushions for the grave may have been sentimental, that the individual
preferred them in life.

> << a 17th century "waistcoat" with a slit-front opening down to the
> mid-chest and moderately belled sleeves, but no buttons>>
> It may well have been cut later--one of the waistcoats I've looked at
> clearly was remade at least twice (including the front opening being
> slit), probably over the course of about 100 years. Reworking all kinds
> of garments and accessories was very common.

Hmm. I hadn't thought of that.  Could the front opening have been done in
the 'traditional' way of Scandinavian sweaters, by being slit and hemmed
after the work was knitted up to shoulder level?  The 17th Ct waistcoat
shown in Turnau has a brocade design that includes a decorative border
around the neckline and slit, so it seems to have been part of the
original design.

=Tamar (sharing computer dickeney at


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