HNW - Knitted Stockings

Chris Laning claning at
Wed Apr 8 12:25:31 PDT 1998

I haven't seen this TI yet (hope I get it -- my membership may have lapsed
at the crucial moment, though it's back now). Is this Melinda Strehl's
(Camilla de la Reynarde's) article? It was in _Cast On_ a few years back
and in the _Raveled Sleeve_ (Known World Knitter's Guild newsletter) not
too long ago.

First, on the material. Judy Schroeder wrote:

>The new issue of TI has reprinted an article about recreating Eleanora's
>knitted stockings; I had read it before.  I am not sure I agree with all
>of the author's conclusions; for example, the photo in Rutt's History of
>Handknitting shows a long knitted strip that I suspect was the garter.

>My question is;  some time ago, on this list or another, I remember seeing
>a comment that Rutt had misread the italian, or it was mistranslated, and
>the stockings were not crimson silk but wool.  Does anyone else remember
>this comment?

I have a copy of Janet Arnold's newer description of the stockings in _Moda
alla corte dei Medici_ (1993) and the material is clearly stated to be
"Seta color rosso tinta con robbia ovvero garanza (Rubia tinctorum L.),
lavorata ai ferri" which translates (thanks to Mistress Michaela de
Neuville, OL) as "Red-colored silk dyed with madder or *garanza* (Rubia
tinctorum L.) worked on needles."

Janet Arnold also states in the same article that the long strips were at
first thought to be garters, but are now thought merely to be strips that
tied the wrists and ankles of the body together when it was originally put
in the coffin. Apparently this was a common practice at the time. They are
also not knitted, but described as "due strisce di tessuto di seta" (two
strips of silk fabric).

Second, if this is Camilla's version, it's definitely a very good
adaptation, but it's not identical to the originals. Hers is worked in
heavier thread on fewer stitches (100 rather than about 130 -- which is
good, unless you're a totally insane knitter who *likes* working at 16-18
stitches to the inch <g>). I've come up with a good approximation of the
original gauge working with Kanagawa 1000-denier silk on 0.75mm needles. (I
forget how many 0's that size is.) I also found Camilla's interpretation of
some of the patterning (at least in the article I've seen) is different
from mine.

Philippa wrote:
>I have tried a sample piece for these stockings, (if I ever have time, and
>if I can find a good photo of the heels), and I found that 000 needles and
>good old Knit-Cro-Sheen crochet cotton gave a very good gauge for them.  I
>have not tried the pattern in the TI, but don't trust Rutt for the lozenge
>pattern.  At one point he says two purls, and you can tell from the picture
>that it is three.

I scanned the photo in Rutt and enlarged it as much as I could -- it's a
good sharp photo -- and what he refers to as the "trellis" framing of the
lozenges looks like two stitches wide to me. But I haven't actually tried
to knit up a sample yet. It's a bit confusing, because the cuff that shows
best in the photo is inside out, so you are actually trying to count lines
of recessed knit stitches rather than purls.

>Has any one seen a good photo of the heels?  The photo in Rutt is excellent
>for the pattern sections, but the one heel is rotted out, and the other is
>very neatly folded up so I can't tell how it was turned.

Aggravating, isn't it? <g> Somehow it never seems to enter their heads that
someone might actually want to *make* these things! I'm having the same
problem trying to find color photos of some reliquary purses I'd like to
reproduce -- the only photos I can find are black-and-white, and while they
describe the colors, I'm still not sure exactly which stitches are which

Seriously, though -- my guess would be that the heels would be structured
like the ones from the coffin of Duke Barnim XII of Pomerania (1549-1603),
which Rutt shows a nice clear photo of on p.73.  Partly I'd use this as my
model simply because we don't have a lot of other period models to look at,
but also partly because it seems like a logical construction if you are
trying to imitate in knitting the way a cloth stocking is cut and sewn.

I've worked samples of fine knitting in crochet cotton, and it has the
excellent virtues of being cheap and widely available in many colors.
However Joanna le Mercier pointed out to me (Hi, Joanna!) that size 8 perle
cotton, if you can find it, is probably a better approximation of the
"feel" of silk. The perle cotton is more "drapey" and less stiff. Also, if
you wash crochet cotton, especially in hot water, it fluffs up and gets
even _more_ body to it, which makes it even less like silk. I am lucky
enough to have a shop not too far from where I work that stocks a lot of
colors of the perle cotton -- otherwise I'd have to mail order it.

Good luck to anyone else who's trying these --

(lady) Christian de Holacombe (SCA)

O   Chris Laning
|   <CLaning at>
+    Davis, California


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