Eleanor of Toledo’s Stockings 1560
These stockings seem to be the Holy Grail of medieval knitting. They are evidence of the high level of damask knitting design achieved before 1600.
The top of the pouch shows a seed stitch diamond trellis with 4 eyelets inside. These are the earliest use of eyelets that I have seen.
The lower 2/3 is a mix of double garter stitch (knit 2 rows, purl 2 rows), double seed stitch (k1, p1, repeat for 2 rows; p1, k1, repeat for 2 rows), and repetitive lines of what used to be a single back seam. I remember wearing knee socks in grade school in the late 60’s from J.C. Penney’s that had exactly the same pattern of stitches. That was about the time I learned how to knit… coincidence???
The originals are knit in silk (probably reeled silk that would give them a ‘soft hand.’) at 22 sts/in. or 8 sts/cm.
I knit this pouch using 2 strands of Gutterman silk sewing thread using #000-000 (.75 mm.). This was the finest silk thread I had access to at the time I began knitting this. I have since found several import sources and other imaginative ways of getting fine silk thread for knitting.
Moving along at a good clip, knitting 4 to 5 hours per day, I could only create about a centimeter of fabric per day. That doesn’t sound nearly as depressing as saying ½ inch in a day. This pouch, though, represents what the norm was during the Middle Ages in the scale of the knitting that was done by Master Knitters in good standing in their guilds.
Arnold, Janet, PATTERNS OF FASHION, Macmillan London Ltd, London, 1985.
Rutt, Richard, Interweave Press, Loveland CO, 1989.
Turnau, Irena, History of Knitting Before Mass Production, Polska Akademia Nauk, Instytut Histori Kiltury Materialnej, Warsaw, 1991.