I do research on and recreate garments and objects from the past. My sources range from original items to photographs in books, periodicals, art works, literary references and period patterns. My research also involves the history of knitting needles and related implements.
The portrait in the corner is by Elisabeth Louise Vigée Le Brun (1755-1842) of Elisabeth Alexeyevna (?), location and ownership unknown.
Peterson’s Magazine, September 1861, Vol. XL, No. 3, pages 223-224
I have sudden need of a warm, mid-19th century head covering. Since this hood with its long “strings” does double duty as keeping one’s neck wrapped up, too, I settled on this pattern especially after reading it through and finding out that it is all mindless knit rows (garter stitch) one after another. Quick and easy project, I thought.
I have a new procedure before I start any new pattern, namely, check on Ravelry to see if anyone has already knit it. This I did and compared various yarns, needle sizes and experiences of several people who have made this hood. A run through the posts on this hood in the two CW Needleworkers Yahoo groups yielded more useful information.
The original pattern calls for “Shetland” (lace weight) wool in blue and white. I happen to have loads of that in my stash but I didn’t want to use it as a) I need this hood very soon and the Shetland was not immediately accessible at 10 pm on the night I was starting this project, b) I worried that it might come out too small (as one person had complained) and there was/is no time to rip and knit the hood again and c) I recently purchased some Lion Brand’s Fishermen’s Wool which is actually more of a DK weight rather than a heavy one, and could start knitting immediately as I had it at hand and, perhaps, more reliably in terms of tension/gauge. The colours are Oatmeal and Brown Heather, two natural wool shades.
"No. 4 wooden pins of the bell gauge size are used for this knitting” states the pattern. The modern equivalent would be 5.5mm/9 US. I tried that size and worked my way up to 6mm/10 US with a tension/gauge of 4 stitches to the inch which, gave me the needed measurements to go round my face and strings long enough to tie comfortably. To do the latter, however, I had to add 20 more stitches to each side of the strings, increasing from 40 to 60. Longer strings match the illustration, too.
Still thinking that I could whip the hood up in a few days, I started knitting and four episodes into Brideshead Revisited, plus the mini-documentary, and quite a few Radio 4 programmes later, I am almost finished with the first piece of mind-numbing knitting, which is why my choice of electronic companionship and encouragement had to be stimulating and gorgeous to look at (language, clothing, architecture, furniture, landscape and the young Anthony Andrews.) Once completed, I get to knit the whole bally thing again but at least this time with the added excitement of changing colours in the middle of the piece.
With five days to go.....................................