How the crafters mind works: I was working on a project because I had gotten bored with the project I really wanted to finish. This side track project uses wool a friend gave me. I decided there wasn’t going to be enough so I went to buy more (from the store she said she bought it from). The wool didn’t have a label so I had to “guess” by look and feel when buying more. I should have taken a sample with me because, of course, I was wrong. What to do with the “wrong” stuff? Well, I found a cute pattern on Pinterest (aka Crafters Crack).
Well, crap! I’m now distracted from my distraction from the project I really wanted to get done! This is why there are at least 30 knitting projects sitting in various stages of completion! There was no date on the pattern that I could find but the book it comes from, Fleisher’s Knitting and Crocheting Manual seems to have started in the late 1890’s and continued into the 20’s. Based on the look of the thing, and what I have seen in the Costume Museum of Canada’s collection I’m thinking this is more 90’s than 20’s. Disclaimer: I can’t prove this at all! Just an opinion!
The wool I have is a Chunky weight (5) so I knit it as directed (using the same number of stitches and rows as in the pattern) using 6 mm needles. I have a mega melon so I think if I had used worsted weight yarn it would have been too small. Those of you with regular sized heads should use worsted weight yarn and needles recommended for that wool.
I cast on 100 stitched and made 60 rows using only the knit stitch. That is the definition of “knit plain”. I love that! NO purl stitch to slow me down!
Then, keeping in the knit only pattern, I decreased every 10th stitch for one row. Knit the next row.
Then the next row I decreased every 9th stitch and then did a row of knit.
Then decrease in every 8th stitch for a row and then knit a row.
Then decrease in every 7th stitch for a row and then knit a row.
Then decrease in every 6th stitch for a row and then knit a row.
Then decrease in every 5th stitch for a row and then knit a row. Cast off and sew up the back, which it the edges where you just cast off.
The edge, which is the end of the rows you knit will become the neck. Omitting the 8 ridges (or 16 rows) on either side of the work, pick up stitches. I found picking up stitches in between the rows easiest. Knit one row.
The instructions next say to knit 18 ridges increasing every second row. I found it easier to think of it as knitting 36 rows and I increased 1 stitch at the beginning of EVERY row. That way I didn’t have to keep track of where I was. Cast off. This is where I screwed up a bit. My cast off was too tight so the work curls a bit so I recommend a LOOSE cast off.
You can crochet scallops around the edge if you want. I’m on the fence about that. No point to them if they are curled under anyway.
Now the 8 ridges or 16 rows that got left out in the neck cape get folded back and sewed down, creating a channel. The instructions say to sew on decorative bows and strings. I think they mean a tie when they say strings. And I think the tie is run through the channel so that you can pull the hat tight around the face on a cold blustery day.
I have to go to the store and find a ribbon that isn’t so much like plastic but I think I like the red. I think people would have changed out the ties and bows to go with outfits.
The instructions also say to crochet a cord about a half yard long. At first I thought the point of that was to be the tie so I made it much longer. It didn’t work. The hat is too loose around the face to stay on and it feels like you are being strangled. That is how I came up with the idea that the tie is run through the channel. But the pattern does still say to make this half yard string so I measured from the corner of my jaw, around the back of my neck to the other corner of my jaw and made a cord that long (this was close to the half yard measure). I strung that along the top of the cape, securing the two ends. I believe the point of that string is to reduce the stretch in the knit so it sits firmly around your neck.
I will post pictures once I have bought the better ribbon and attached them.
Now the next question is: When would this be worn. Probably 1890’s. Obviously winter. Was is worn in doors? Was it worn under or instead of the big hats found in the era? Was it worn only when feeding the chickens and running to the out house? Was it only in extreme weather when one gladly forgoes fashion in favor of not dying of hypothermia? Was it day wear or evening wear? My theory is it was worn out doors. In extreme cold. It would have been worn when it was not appropriate to wear your big fancy hat so in the chicken coop and outhouse and in the evening when off to a ball or concert. What do you think?