Thursday, May 1, 2008

A Lady's Fourteenth-Century Style Knitted Hood with Lirripipe

I designed and knit this hood more as an exercise in creativity and pattern-drafting than as a highly authentic garment based on surviving evidence. I had lucked into the yarn, a very nice shaela Shetland wool, and wanted to do something special with it. People definitely were knitting in the fourteenth century, but evidence that they were knitting hoods is hard to come by. I am told that in her book A History of Knitting before Mass Production, Irena Turnau presents some evidence for knitted hoods in eastern Europe during the Middle Ages, but I have been unable to get my hands on the volume to see what that evidence is, and since furthermore the quality of the English translation of her original Polish text is not said to be particularly good, it might be hard to tell if her "hoods" are the same kind of thing as western European ones.

Even if fourteenth-century people in western Europe were knitting hoods, they were probably also fulling them, which I did not do with this one. However, hoods of this style were worn by both men and women, especially in the middle years of the century, and appear frequently in the art of the time. Ladies' hoods are usually shown with buttons down the front, presumably so they could put on or remove the hoods without disarranging their hair.

My hood is worked mainly in stocking stitch although the edges of the shoulder-cape and front of the hood are in moss-stitch (also called seed stitch) to prevent them from curling. I used a 1x1 rib in the neck section to give it a little extra stretch. The buttonholes were worked as I went along, not cut in later, and the shaping in the shoulder section is designed to mimic some of the seam-lines in the Herjolfnes finds. There is only one seam, along the top of the hood. The hood section was shaped at the top back like a U-neckline in a pullover, and after the top seam was sewn I picked up the stitches around the resulting opening to work the lirripipe. If I were going to do it again, I'd probably add a false seam detail to the lirripipe and would work the decreases along that line. The buttons I used are more like some fifteenth-century ones, as filtered through a Victorian screen, but the flat shape is better suited to the knitted buttonholes than the small round metal or cloth buttons used in the fourteenth century. One could also argue that this style of hood remained in use into the sixteenth century and the buttons are appropriate to a fifteenth-century version.

The fit of the hood is very good; due to travels and uncooperative weather I haven't had much chance to wear it to events. The wool is a bit scratchy and I am considering adding a lining to alleviate the itch factor and also to make the hood a bit more wind-tight.

The Pattern:

fits a small- to medium-sized lady


10-12 oz. sport weight wool
1 4mm circular needle
1 pr 4mm needles
1 pr 3.5 mm needles
1 set 4mm dp needles
7 buttons

Gauge: 8r x 6 st = 1" on 4mm needles

MANTLE: Using 4mm circular needle, cast on 255 stitches. WORKING IN ROWS, knit in moss stitch (seed stitch) for 6 rows. Begin shaping as follows: switching to stocking stitch, but maintaining a border of 5 sts in moss-stitch at each end of every row, work as follows:

Work 5 st moss-st, k49,insert marker, k4, k2tog; k45, insert marker, k3, k2tog; k52; insert marker, k50; insert marker, k4, k2tog, k32, work 5 st in moss-st. (252 sts)

Next row: work 5 moss stitch. purl to marker, (*) slip marker, p4 p2tog, p to next marker (*) p3 p2tog, p to next marker (*) sl marker, p to next marker (*), sl marker, p4 p2tog, p to last five stitches, work last 5 in moss stitch.

Next row: Work 5 in moss-st; knit to marker, sl marker, k4, k2 tog, k to next marker, sl marker, k3, k2tog; k to next marker, sl marker, k to next marker, sl marker, k4 k2tog, k to last 5 sts; work last 5 in moss-st.

Repeat these last two rows until 93 stitches remain on needles, working buttonholes in as specified (see below). (about 53 rows)

What you are doing is decreasing after the 1st, 2nd, and 4th markers on each row. This will create saddles over each of the shoulders and a triangular section in back.

Buttonhole rows: right side rows every 1" (2.5cm) (i.e. rows 1, 9, 17, 25, 33 , 41, 49 of st-st): Work 3 st in moss, yrn, yon, work 2 in moss; k2tog and then work across, dec. as set. Next row (wrong side): work as set to last 7 sts (counting the increases); p2tog, k1, p1, k1, p1, k1

NECK: Switch to 3.5mm needles and work 2" (5cm) in 1x1 rib, maintaining moss-st border.

HOOD: Switch to 4 mm needles. Work 5 stitches moss-st, 83 stitches stocking st, 5 stitches moss-st. Maintaining the moss-st border, inc. 1 st at each end of 1st 9 rs rows (111 st). (I recommend working the increases within the moss-st edging so as not to interfere with the pattern). Work until hood measures 7" (18cm) from end of ribbing, ending with a ws row.

Next row: K55; cast off 3; K 54

Work the 54 st. after the cast-off stitches until the section measures 2.5" (6.5cm) from the cast-off sts. Cast off.

With ws facing, rejoin yarn and work remaining 54 stitches on needle to match the other section. Cast off.

Sew up seam at top of hood.

LIRRIPIPE: Using 4mm dp needles, pick up and knit 42 sts evenly around opening at back of hood (14 st on each needle). Work around, decreasing 3 sts per round (1 st per needle) every 2" (5cm) until 6 sts remain. Break off yarn. Thread yarn through remaining sts and draw up tight.

Attach buttons; wash and block.


The moss-st borders and the neck ribbing can both be replaced with garter st -- the borders help prevent curling and the ribbing provides additional elasticity at the neck, but garter st will fulfill both these functions and may be easier for some knitters.

The directions given produce a lirripipe approximately 24" (61cm) long. If you want a longer lirripipe, increase the interval between decrease rounds and allow for more yarn; if you want a shorter one, reduce the space between the decrease rounds.

If you would prefer not to have a lirripipe at all, then continue working straight across the hood section until it measures 9.5" from the end of the ribbed section. Cast off and sew up seam. Then add buttons and wash and block as above.

Updated 17 February 2003

This pattern is available as a free Ravelry download! Click the button for a .pdf:

1 comment:

Hexa said...

Hello! I am knitting the hood, but do wonder if it is will be assymatrical in the front. I would suppose that the opening in the front should be in the middle...
Can anyone tell me?
Or am I mistaken... Will what I think are the shoulders not be symmatrical.