Working on these caps reminded me of the tale of Goldilocks and the Three Bears. The first one (pumpkin) I knit was too small, the second (white) was too big and the third (burgundy) was just right (scroll down to see all of them.) The pattern, Half Cap for Wearing Under a Bonnet, is from Exercises in Knitting by Mrs. Cornelia Mee, 1846. It is knit back and forth on spns but needs dpns (preferably longer than sock or glove ones) or a small circular for the final stage. Mrs. Mee’s patterns are fairly reliable; I have knit quite a few things from this book and the few mistakes I have found I have put down to typographical and not constructional knitting ones, and are thus easily fixed. As usual for this era, no gauge or tension was given. This pattern calls for “Pins No. 14” (modern 2mm) which used for the first cap but it came out very small and so became a child’s size. The white and green adult size was knit on much larger needles, 4mm, but that one came out too big, I then went down to 3.5mm for the third rendition, took it off the needles after I did the first section with the ribbon run-through and the main body of the back and measured it against the white and green cap. As there was very little difference in size, I went down to 2.5mm needles, and this time the cap looked juuuuuu-st right. During all of this needle hopping, I experimented with and used the same brand of needles, Aero. More on that subject in a future blog entry.
Here is a link to the kind of 1848 bonnet this half-cap would have been worn under, thus providing a layer of insulation (scroll down): http://www.vintagefashionguild.org/content/view/604/75/
Mrs. Mee does not suggest any kind of wool but does state that the body should be white and the edges in a “coloured wool,” the choice of that being left up to the knitter. In keeping with my stash-busting resolution, I choose Brown Sheep Nature Spun Worsted’s Snow, Grecian Olive, Sunburst Gold, Cranberry Fog and Blueberry from the bins. Dusky pink, brick red and sage green ribbons added the finishing touches.
PATTERN NOTE: Mrs. Mee does not state that the stitches will increase from 119 to 120 after the first eyelet row. I incorporated the extra stitch into the main part of the cap and left it there – it makes no difference. This is a very fast project. It took me about six hours to knit each cap with another 5 minutes for weaving the ribbons!