Just a short post this morning, we're off to visit my mother down on the south coast.
I've been knitting a lot less than usual this week, and the blame can be set squarely on Richard Rutt's excellent book 'A History of Handknitting'. I was able to borrow this from the library at the spinning guild, and I keep picking it up and getting hooked.
Did you know that in Great Yarmouth in 1605 the assembly agreed that 'all knitters which do wander knitting in the street shall be taken ... and immediately shall be carried to Bridewell (jail)'....?
So knitting in public did not meet with approval!
And I've been looking at a detailed photgraph of the 'waistcoat' - actually a long sleeved shirt - that Charles I wore at his execution. This is worked with complex plain and purl patterns at a gauge of 8 1/2 stitches to the centimetre - nearly 22 stitches to the inch. It is worked in the round from the bottom edge upwards, the shoulders are grafted, and the sleeves are also working in the round, and seamed into the armholes.
There is a copy of the oldest recorded English knitting pattern, as well. 'The order how to knit a hose' was published in a medical compendium printed in London in 1655. Richard Rutt tells us the the original was printed as a single sentence, punctuated erratically, which made it very hard to understand. He has set it out into sentences and paragraphs, thankfully. And it is all there. He has even charted out the pattern for the triangular plain and purl patterned clocks.
Interestingly, the heel wasn't actually turned. Instead it was made by working a heel flap, and then folding the heel flap in half and working a three needle bind off, so there was a short seam under the heel. This can't have been exactly comfortable.
Anyway, if you want to knit an exact copy of a seventeenth century sock, this is where to look for your pattern.
With regard to my own knitting, I have worked a little on Birch, but very little else. I seem to need a pause at the moment. However I do still have some socks to make as gifts, and I really should be getting on with those. Maybe over the weekend, I absolutely don't want a last minute rush. I should be ok though - there are, what - 31 knitting days left, not counting today. And if I put my mind to it, I can work a sock in a day - although, let us be honest here, I rarely do put my mind to it.
Mind you, in the seventeeth century a good hand knitter could produce six pairs a week, according to Richard Rutt. Now that is food for thought.