Several times over the past two years, students and enthusiastic craftspeople have contacted us, asking how they could be involved in our project. Having thought about this, we decided to set up a voluntary knitting initiative, the ‘Renaissance knitting’ project.
During early modern period, technical developments and innovations in knitting increased manufacture of knitted objects. Knitting was a specialised craft, and while all levels of society wore knitted objects, there was a stark difference between the items artisans used themselves, and those they knitted for the wealthy elite. This citizen science project is combining scientific testing, close reading of surviving objects and texts, and skills of expert makers to gain deeper understanding of early modern knitting.
With the help of 35 experienced volunteer knitters, the project studies three types of early modern stockings, each with different focus and aims. The most ambitious reconstruction is the pair of mid-seventeenth-century fine silk stockings from the coffin of Elisabeth Bure, in Turku Cathedral. The project aims to recreate the stockings as accurately as possible and produce a digitized pattern, by studying the original pair both with the naked eye and with a macro lens and by conducting fibre and colour analysis of the yarn. It takes some 200 hours to knit one stocking with 0.7–1.0 mm needles, and once finished, the stockings will be treated and dyed using period methods. The second reconstruction, interpretations of simple artisan stockings based on examples found in excavations in Copenhagen require knitters to combine their knowledge of early modern knitting techniques with their own creativity. Finally, knitters recreating stockings from an English writtenpattern from 1655 on “The order how to knit a Hose”, need to carefully read the instructions and make decisions on how to interpret them.
As we make process in our reconstructions, we will update this page, as well as our blog.