Friday, 15 February 2013

Eleanor of Toledo Stockings - Part 1

I've been knitting since I was eight - when my Gran took me aside and taught me, to keep me occupied and out of my parents' hair when my first sister was born.

Since then I've knitted a fair number of things for myself and others... but I've done very little knitting for the SCA as yet because, given a choice, I generally prefer to try *new* things, rather than re-hash old ones.

However, I've never knitted myself any socks, and the nights at Rowany Festival are sometimes quite cold, so knitted stockings have been on my "festival TODO list" for some time...

My first idea was to make some Egyptian Knitted socks, and I've knitted up a sampler for that (which I'll write up and link to later), and hunted (for years) for some wool of the right colour, before finally giving up and getting a friend of mine to dye some white wool the correct shade of blue.

While that was happening, I thought I'd try some basic stockings, just to get the pattern shaped correctly and I bought some lovely bright red wool, and found myself a pattern for the Gunnister stockings (which are technically out of period, but just like those that are in period)...

And then I found these...

They are knitted silk stockings worn by Eleanora de Toledo in 1562

All I'd ever seen or heard of period knitting was that it was very simple, stocking stitch with some minor decoration around the ankle (known as "clocks"). I'd never seen *pretty* knitting, apart from the egyptian-style patterns... and I decided at once that I must make a pair.

I spotted the pictures on the Realm of Venus page Stockings of Eleonora de Toledo, 1562.

Apparently, the full-length, stretched-out version of the stockings (below) is a recent-addition to the world. They show that the stockings don't follow the usual European heel-turn method (of heel and foot flaps with a triangular short-row section, and, to my eyes, seem to indicate that the foot was knitted as a whole - with the instep being knitted as increases that makes the foot fit.

I chose to make mine in wool instead of silk, because a) it's cheaper and easier to get a hold of and b) it's more forgiving on fit...and given these are my first I can do with that small advantage... because basically I'm making it up as I go along.

As of February 2013, I haven't completed these (though I'm now most of the way through my first stocking), and I'll post pictures as I go.

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