HNW - knitted Tudor caps

Dick Eney dickeney at access.digex.net
Thu Sep 17 14:53:39 PDT 1998


On Thu, 17 Sep 1998, Judy Schroeder wrote:

> My big winter project is going to be knitting a Tudor cap - one of those
> flat, fulled, shaped etc. caps that were supposedly very common in the
> 1500's in England.  I am starting with info from Rutt's book, and
> searching from there.  
> My question is:  I assume that after fulling the knit cap, the round part
> might have been fitted over a form of some kind to get the roundness,
> right size etc.  A metal plate would have rusted and ruined the fabric.
> Does anyone have any ideas of what might have been used?  Wood is what
> comes to mind, but would constant exposure to wet wool cause the form to
> warp or swell if it were made of wood?  

Once the cap is knitted to shape, fulling it would not have changed the
basic shape unless a form was used to change the shape deliberately, as in
blocking.  I guess a more elegant crowd might have preferred a hat shaped
on a form.

Professional stocking knitters routinely used shaped wood forms to dry the
stockings on.  The wood might have warped in time, but a slight warp
wouldn't affect the shape too much and wood was cheap and easily replaced. 
Metal would probably have been forbidden; surviving guild rules for late
Renaissance and post 1600 work forbids use of metal parts where they would
touch (and possibly damage) the fabric.

The Tudor cap I saw at the exhibit was knitted of a surprisingly fine
wool, essentially fingering wool size, and definitely was knitted to
shape before fulling.  I haven't tried fulling yarn yet so I don't know
whether the wool shrinks in diameter as well as length.

=Tamar

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