This pattern (and illustration) came from Godey’s Lady’s Book and Magazine, January, 1860. The pattern, with updated terminology by Colleen Formby (copyright 2006), is also available for free from http://www.raggedsoldier.com/sontag.html as well as at http://www.rolloadams.com/missmargarets/godeys2.html. Ms. Forrmby’s pattern, with an accompanying article about knitting in the era of the American Civil War, can also be found in Piecework (March/April, 2009)
The original pattern called for “small bone or wooden needles;” I used 4.5mm/ 7 US, not small at all. The knitted fabric is a block pattern. “Crimson double zephyr” was suggested for the body with white for the border and black to be “darned on…in imitation of ermine.” I chose a warm shade of brown and a soft one of pink, (Brown Sheep Nature Spun Worsted’s Bev’s Bear and Victorian Pink) instead, with no imitation stitches. There is a button and a loop on either end of the wrapping sections, and the tassels are attached to the body with i-cords for “passing round the waist and tied in front.”
My sontag, knit to the pattern, came out rather small in spite of using a worsted wool in the hope of enlarging it bit, and would fit a slim girl of thirteen or fourteen. The garment would be worn over a dress, providing another layer of warmth which would stay in place and allow movement of the arms without the fuss of a shawl.