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King Charles I's waistcoat...maybe?

Posted by bend_gules on 2010.04.01 at 11:30
Current Mood: pleasedpleased

(Also posted at Ravelry, and on my own LJ)
I had the happy opportunity to see the famous waistcoat yesterday on a visit to MoL - it's on temporary display in the 1660 War Plague and Fire area. Surprisingly balanced article from Daily Mail from February.

Getty also has several pictures

Things I noticed, that are well illustrated in the Getty photos, are

  • the buttons: photo of buttons are quite flat, perhaps formed over a firm disc to give them shape. They are of the same knit as the garment, which made me wonder if they’d been individually knit, or if they had been cut from a length of knitting and sewn on, as documented for cloth buttons in medieval period (MoL Clothing and Textiles book).

  • the button holes are edged with lovely tiny buttonhole stitches the way you would with cloth. I couldn’t tell if the buttonholes had been created in the knitting, or if the placket had been knitted flat, and then slits cut and finished the way you would in woven fabric.

  • the side ‘seams’ side seams You can just see one ‘seam’ in this pic, which looks like 3 ‘rows’ of garter stitch (p,k.p). I was puzzling over how the garment was assembled - was it knit in the round, with stitches to simulate the side seam on a fabric shirt? or was it knitted flat, front and back, starting each edge with p, and then knit together by picking up stitches on the inside and knitting them together? I leaned this way a little, because the bottom ‘hem’ of the garment is several rows of garter stitch, and lined up with the side ‘seam’ there is a slight distortion of the rows. Someone possibly had to work them together somehow. The knitting is unbelieveably fine (can’t even guess at a gauge, but picture knitting with 2-3 strands of silk embroidery floss), and the wobbles in the rows are tiny. OTOH, it’s possible the wobbles are an artifact of storage, if the garment has been laid flat (no padding as shown in the pictures) - this might create a crease in the garter stitch hem.

  • the knitting patterns imitate the way cloth would look when cut into a garment of the same shape. The waistcoat is flared, and as the flare widens, the pattern repeat continues to the edge, even though it’s half ‘cut off’ by the edge ‘seam’ - the same way you’d cut through a patterned fabric. If you were designing a knit garment to take full advantage of knitting’s strength patterning abilities, you could make sure you always got a full repeat in, before reaching the ‘edge’, either by spacing them differently, or scaling the pattern towards an edge.

I find it fascinating - knitted clothing that wants to look like brocade fabric, that is potentially still using a lot of ‘cloth’ techniques for finishing. My main interest is in medieval clothing, so this is a bit out of my range, but it's a beautiful piece, with workmanship and materials to die for.



the outlaw's wife
anachronisma at 2010-04-02 02:33 (UTC) (Link)
Wow, what a fantastic experience!

You mentioned you're into medieval clothing. Have you got many resources on medieval knitting, by any chance?
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