Adventures in Medieval Knitting

This page is a collection of knitting projects I have created in the SCA. I’ve included a picture and a short story/description for each. I intend to attempt more ambitious projects. I will include process posts on my blog; the finished projects will end up here in chronological orders.

Mistress Michel's PouchIn September 2017, I spied a beautiful little piece of illumination on Mistress Michel Almond de Champagne’s FB feed. It was a monkey riding a peacock, and it called to me. Mistress Michel loves to barter, so I contacted her. She agreed, but said she would like to barter art for art. The only thing close to art that I do is knitting, so I figured it was time to learn! This pouch is my very first attempt at colorwork. My references were Chris Laning’s Tournaments Illuminated article on Medieval Knitting and 20-some-odd years of knitting experience. This first example was knit from worsted weight cotton on number 6 double pointed needles. I designed the pattern (another big first), which featured some super long floats inside. I was and am completely sure that it was not worthy of the beautiful illumination, but I am forever grateful to Mistress Michel for challenging me and getting me started on a journey of exploring medieval knitting.

After realizing that I could, indeed, do colorwork, I decided to knit a pouch for an Arts & Michele's PouchSciences competition at War of the Wings in October 2017. The theme was “make a heraldic item,” so I decided that I would make this pouch for my friend and beautiful dancer Michelle, inspired by her heraldry and that of our Canton, Barony, and Kingdom. This time, I asked around in the Atlantian knitting guild, the Company of the Clewe, and got some advice for yarn. I also purchased a copy of Richard Rutt’s A History of Handknitting, which I have found invaluable as a resource. This was knit with Knit Picks Palette (fingering weight) and size … 3? 4? double-pointed needles. Fun story–the bottom was originally charted to read: Anno Societatis LII, but after knitting almost to the last round of the chart, I realized I had misspelled it and had to frog it. I then recharted to the current pattern.

Largesse BagsMeanwhile, I had a bunch of yarn left over from Mistress Michel’s pouch. Right around this time, Mistress Anne of Grenewode posted instructions on how to knit a worsted weight pouch. I decided to use up the yarn in making pouches for largess. Using a combination of her design as well as some original charted patterns, I knitted these pouches to be delivered to the Queen to be given out as largess.

My spouse started playing in the SCA about a year or so ago. He quickly adapted a Scottish persona, and dove into research legends and myths. In a 12th century manuscript, he learned that St. Columba (a possible distant relative?) subdued the Loch Ness monster. For Christmas, I promised him a knitted pouch of his own. He got it in time for his birthday (May 2018.) Knit with Knit Picks Palette on size 2 (I was going down to get tighter stitches) I charted designs based on medieval depictions of the Loch Ness monster, rosettes from Richard Rutt, and a thistle border of my own design.

28161497_10159930928170363_8342243453452696818_oAround this time (winter 2018), I volunteered to knit a “Rose Pouch.” These are pouches that the knitting guild makes for the Queens of Atlantia upon their stepping down from the throne. I knew I wanted to make mine of silk, so I figure I should make a test pouch. This was 20/2 silk on four 000 double-pointed needles, with an spi (stitches per inch) of 14. I placed it in a Viking arts & science competition in which entrants got to choose which of the projects entered they wished to take home, much like a “dirty Santa” event. I don’t know who eventually got this little pouch, but it was a good test run to find out how silk handles, and how tiny of needles you really need to work on to achieve period gauge (this pouch was on its way, but not quite to the period-accurate 17 spi.)

Coronation Prize pouch

This blue and white pouch was created as a prize for a competition I ran at Spring Coronation 2018 in Atlantia. One of the categories for the Performing Arts Challenge was for “Best Youth Competitor.” Alas, no youths entered the competition; I put the call out on Facebook for people to nominate a youth they had seen perform service at the event and ended sending it out to one of the nominees. (I also knit up a few smaller wallet-sized pouches with the Atlantian “Spike” on the front to send to the other youths who were nominated.) This was knit with worsted weight cotton on size five needles. I charted the pattern based on an extant Egyptian medieval knitted sock.


Sophie's PouchIn the fall/winter of 2017-2018, my friend and mentor Baroness Sophie the Orange gave me the incredibly generous honor and privilege to direct her commedia dell’arte troupe, i Firenzi, in an improv-tastic adaptation of Shakespeare’s “Twelfth Night.” It was a challenging but fun experience, and I learned a great deal about every aspect of theater and working with actors. I was trying to think of some way to honor her for giving me this opportunity, and decided to (surprise!) knit a pouch. Her favorite color is orange, so choosing the yarn (Palette again!) was very easy. I charted the design to read: “I FIRENZI” on one side and “CAPOCOMICO” (the leader of a commedia troupe) on the other. The troupe’s heraldry includes a fleur de lis, and Sophie’s spouse, Manus, is a rose gardener, so I chose the rose and lily repeating motif. IIRC, I may have gone down to size 1 needles to get the square-ish stitch and smaller spi. This was a super fun project.

To Be Continued…