Fernando de la Cerda’s Diaper Pattern Cushion, c. 1275
This pouch shows a portion of the design (front and back) found on a pillow in the grave of Fernando de la Cerda of Castile, who died in 1275. It is almost perfectly preserved and is an interesting relic of a time when skilled knitters included Islamic blessings in commissions for Christian princes.
Irena Turnau has seen the pillow in person and writes that it is knit in violet, gold and white. Rutt describes it as brown and yellow with green tassels, speculating that the brown was once crimson. I used red and yellow, and left off the tassels. Turnau specifies wool yarn, Rutt doesn’t say, but I have also been told in A&S classes that the yarn was silk. I used wool.
Rutt says the gauge/tension is 20sts./inch or 8 sts./cm. Mine comes out at 16 sts./inch. I used 20/2 Maine Line wool yarn from Halcyon, and size #0000 (1.25 mm.) needles.
I did this pouch knitting back and forth since there was no description of the construction methods in the written materials I found, and I couldn’t decipher the photographs clearly at what might be seam areas.
Lady Mor thinks that the original was all knit in one piece, round-and-round based on her examination of photos, so I’d like to make another pouch that way. I must say, though, I had a great time creating and executing the puzzle that is my pouch. (Can you figure it out? Ask me, I can’t begin to describe it in words.)
Rutt, Richard, A History of Handknitting, Interweave Press, Loveland, CO, 1989.
Turnau, Irena, History of Knitting Before Mass Production, Polska Akademia Nauk, Instytut Histori Kiltury Materialnej, Warszawa, 1991.