Wednesday, 19 December 2012

Knitted Nightcap from Weldon’s

This pattern is from Weldon’s Practical Knitter, Eleventh Series, No. 46, 1889, and can be found in Interweave Press’s facsimile, Weldon’s Practical Needlework, Volume Four, 2001.
I have been living with this nightcap for over ten years. I have knit it five times in all as it kept coming out in different sizes. The sizing problem lay first with the choice of cotton (unknown, label-less from my stash) and trying to knit with a weight that was too heavy for the very fine needles suggested by the pattern, “No. 16 steel knitting needles” (modern equivalent 1.75mm/US 00.) I then moved up to larger needles, 3mm/US 2-2.50, with DMC Baroque Crochet Cotton, and it came out far too large. Another very, very fine, again, label-less cotton in my stash yielded two baby’s sized versions on 3mm/US 2-2.50 and 2mm/US 0 needles. I finally decided to go back to the 19th century sized needles of the pattern.  J&P Coats Royale Classic Crochet Thread (Size 10) was the last choice of cotton and it seemed to be a near match for “Strutt’s knitting cotton, No. 12” as the finished piece looks close to the illustration in Weldon’s and it fits my head.

The cap’s crown is knit first and then seamed up the back. The “Strip of Knitting” that goes around the neck is just that – a long narrow piece that is sewn onto the lower part of the cap. The last part is the lace edging which runs around the entire cap. It is also knit separately, and then sewn on. “A string of crochet chain worked with double cotton and finished off with a tassel at the end” for each side completes the cap.
The pattern states that the cap could be made in “a lady’s size” or for “a gentleman” by using larger needles, “No. 14 or No. 15” (modern equivalent up to 1.75mm - 00 - 0), and “a coarser cotton…No. 8.”

All quotations are from Weldon’s Practical Needlework, Volume Four, Interweave Press, 2001

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