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Red silk garters

Actually, I have no idea what to write.

The trip really was great, but I am in a very disassociative mood, and everything is annoying me right now - probably because I'm tired and wish I didn't have a job.

Mind you, that describes 90% of us, so I really don't have any room to complain, do I?

So, let me talk about one of the things I actually went to the MFA Boston to investigate - the knitted silk garters.

First of all, like I said yesterday, they are defnitely knitted in the round - Gen suggested that they might have been knitted with two needles using an alternating stitch, but I think they are knitted on four (with a fifth travelling needle) to acommodate the double line of white decoration that goes the length of each garter. They are roughly 66" long and 2" wide (width of the knitted round laid flat, which would make the actual width if cut apart roughly 4"), and knit 20 stitches to the inch, which allows for the delicate floral pictographic design that travels vertically along each side.

They are red and white silk, and the tassels are of the same material, appearing wrapped and wound around a (very light) wooden core. (I'm sorry - I'll need to write for permission to post my pictures, and they're mostly only useful for charting the pattern and designing the tassels, which I want to try myself.)

The tightness of the stitch and the silk mean that even if the garter was pulled quite tight, it really wouldn't stretch that much - the thinner ends are the parts designed to tie, with the main part of the garter wrapping around the knee, maybe above and below.

Actually, there are a few ways in which these garters would work; cross-gartering (which works better with the high canions of the late 16th century), and double-wrapped around the knee, as well as a large bow or a small. Though these garters are not as large or ostentatious as some of the more outrageous garters bows seen on the aristocracy throughout this period, there are some images of more staid garters that are more the width of the red silk ones (though without the tassels - I haven't found a tasseled picture yet, but I'm still looking). 

Looking at the tassels, I might be tempted to say that they are earlier 17th century rather than later, because the tassels are very similar to the tassels on the pink sprang garters dated late 16th/early 17th century, but that might be a mistake, as passementerie continues to be popular for quite a while.  I think it is probably safer to look at the way garters are portrayed in paintings and engravings to get an idea of when these particular pieces might have been worn - and the narrow width combined with the fine materials makes me think they might be first quarter 17th century. 

Who knows?  My instinct is earlier, because they bear a remarkable resemblance to the early 17th century knitted jackets cathgracewas examining, but to be honest, they're the only knitted garters I've ever found.  There are rumours of others, but as we found with the pink and green garters, there are other possible methods of manufacture that can be confused with knitting.  Fortunately, in the case of our little red friends, they are clearly knit.

I am so going to try this out.
 

Comments

( 45 brains — Leave a chunk of brain! )
(Deleted comment)
attack_laurel
May. 21st, 2008 03:01 pm (UTC)
Oooo, that does help. :)
(Deleted comment)
femkederoas
May. 21st, 2008 02:50 pm (UTC)
WHY do I have this picture in my head of them on Malvolio in 12th NIght - over yellow stockings, croos gartered. ;-)

Oh, Lady Olivia!!
attack_laurel
May. 21st, 2008 03:03 pm (UTC)
Actually, I had written a whole thing about that, but it didn't really support what I was saying, and was a tangent that rather got in the way.

Mostly, is Shakespeare saying that cross-gartering is a new, or an old fashion? Is it a fancy new idiotic thing in England (probably not), or is he making fun of Malvolio for wearing an idiotic style that only vain silly people wore? It got out of hand, so I deleted it.
(no subject) - ciorstan - May. 21st, 2008 09:05 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - attack_laurel - May. 22nd, 2008 09:42 am (UTC) - Expand
hugh_mannity
May. 21st, 2008 02:59 pm (UTC)
Wow! I can't see that knitting these would be a problem... Shouldn't take more than a couple of evenings.

*ducking and running away*

maricelt
May. 21st, 2008 02:59 pm (UTC)
*sigh. wow. I would have loved to have been there to study these with you! BUT, kudos! First evidence I have seen of genuine knit garters. Strangely enough, I can see how these could be constructed on 2 needles and on 4 (or five). I'll have to go ponder them more.
attack_laurel
May. 21st, 2008 03:05 pm (UTC)
My feeling is that it is easier to work the design using four/five, because of the double line of white - you can run two lines of white silk at once, and not worry about tangling...
(no subject) - quatrefoil - May. 21st, 2008 03:13 pm (UTC) - Expand
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quatrefoil
May. 21st, 2008 03:09 pm (UTC)
I'm really intrigued by these. You say they are 'clearly knit' - what is it that makes you say this? I know you've talked about sprang ones, so what makes them different? How can you tell that they're not a warp-faced weave such as tablet or inkle weaving? (I'm guessing the answer is that they're a hollow tube and the shaping requires knitting, but how were you able to ascertain that was the construction?)

My feeling on the design elements is that they are possibly later rather than earlier seventeenth century - always hard to tell, and most of them would be ok earlier, but I associate the hearts, and to some extent the flowers in vases with later pattern books. That's an impression though - I haven't yet done the work to chart when particular designs first show up, although it's planned. Incidentally, the MFA has several printed pattern books in their collection which I looked at last time I was there.
attack_laurel
May. 21st, 2008 03:50 pm (UTC)
They are done in what is modernly called stockinette stitch, in a tube, and the stitching is identical in size and material and shape to the kitted jackets we were also looking at. There's no way this could be anything but knitting - as soon as I looked at it, I could tell.

(The sprang ones are flat, not a tube, btw) They're absolutely not tablet weaving or inkle weaving. They are kit, just like the knitted gloves I looked at on the same table - it's just the way they look, feel, and move. It can't be anything but knit.

The earliest they could be with those design patterns is about 1620, I think - the design is much more Italian than English, and the Dutch and English design patterns from 1630 are really starting to show that kind of design, especially in needle lace patterns, and they look surprisingly modern. Plimoth gift shop has a facsimile book of lace patterns from about 1630 (I think - I'm remebering this off the top of my head, since I'm at work, and don't have my library to hand), and there were some motifs in it that really surprised me.



Edited at 2008-05-21 03:51 pm (UTC)
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(no subject) - _medb_ - May. 21st, 2008 07:14 pm (UTC) - Expand
susannaknits
May. 21st, 2008 04:03 pm (UTC)
Cool! I've seen "knitted garters" before, but this is the first time I've heard any kind of confirmation that they are actually knitted.

I'm not following what you're saying about 2 lines of white. If knit in the round, it would just be 2 repeats of a pattern.

Gauge can vary a lot. (But you knew that!) I personally get about 16 st/in on 0000 needles in #8 weight embroidery silk. I've gotten down to 17 st/in or so on 00000 using 2/30 weaving silk. Since I have a project in mind that needs to be down at that 20 st/in neighborhood, I've been meaning to try finer silks - the holdup really is finding one in the right weight and the right color. That is proving to be much harder than it sounds. Described here: http://susannaknits.livejournal.com/3949.html#cutid1
I've since decided that maybe this isn't Close Enough to satisfy me after all. . .
maricelt
May. 21st, 2008 04:05 pm (UTC)
Susanna? HI! It's Bridgette up in AEthelmearc.
::waves::
(no subject) - susannaknits - May. 22nd, 2008 04:05 pm (UTC) - Expand
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sskipstress
May. 21st, 2008 04:52 pm (UTC)
Do you know if the garters are a hollow tube?

If they are knitted in the round, which is the most likely because even good seams tend to show, I can think of three ways of doing the design.

Work the tube on 4 or 5 needles and duplicate-stitch the designs on top after the knitting is done.

Work the tube on 4 or 5 needles and carry the white along behind the work.

Work the tube on 2 needles and bring the white from one side to the other at the edge of the white section.

The first two would make hollow tubes. The third would make a tube that's tacked together in 2 places.

Duplicate-stitch is pretty obvious in person, but the photo on the website isn't clear enough for me to tell. It would make the white sections a bit thicker than the red sections, which does seem to be the case from the photos.

The two-needle technique will also make the white sections thicker than the red sections. And it will also make it much easier to block the garters flat.

With the 5 needle technique, the white would be carried along behind the red stitches on the edges of the garters.

Unless there's a seam that's not visible in the photos, I think that duplicate stitch or a 2-needle technique are more likely construction techniques for these garters.
attack_laurel
May. 21st, 2008 04:58 pm (UTC)
Well, actually, I don't know what the inside looks like - the garters are delicate, and pulling them apart to see if the thread travels is not something I was allowed to do. :)

I will have to look at my photos and see if the white is thicker - it didn't seem obviously so - and decide whether it would work that way or not. I will also have to see if the design shifts or not along the tube - I have produced a *very* flat strip using a round four-needle stitch, so I can't tell just from that whether it would be th case or not.

This is why I'm going to experiment with a couple of different techniques, including using two white threads rather than one so as to avoid floating the white thread under the red.

I thoroughly recommend trying to see them in person or contacting the curators if you want to see more than the web site picture shows - they look very different in person.
(no subject) - pinkleader - May. 21st, 2008 05:13 pm (UTC) - Expand
salviati
May. 21st, 2008 05:54 pm (UTC)
This is fascinating! I would have loved to see these in person - *envy*. :-) Mind if I ogle your project when you get to working on it?
attack_laurel
May. 22nd, 2008 09:46 am (UTC)
I live for the ogling. Live, I tells ya! :)
florentinescot
May. 21st, 2008 07:36 pm (UTC)
a tube. I was first trying to imagine why (and where) you'd cut it because that was obviously a long piece of knitting, but you mean a *tube* -- like a straw ....... with a tassel on each end.

*smacks self in forehead*

*wow*
attack_laurel
May. 22nd, 2008 09:48 am (UTC)
'sokay - we were trying to decide on the jackets whether they are knitted in tubes and then cut (like the V&A suggests on theirs), or whether they were knitted flat. I still have no idea, but that's a *big* tube. :)

And they have three or four tassels on each end - overkill, much? Those garters would be irresistible to cats and small babies.
(no subject) - susannaknits - May. 22nd, 2008 04:21 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - xrian - Aug. 13th, 2008 02:40 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - florentinescot - May. 22nd, 2008 07:38 pm (UTC) - Expand
stanci
May. 24th, 2008 12:12 am (UTC)
Those garters are neat! Am I seeing what I think I'm seeing, where the tube that is the garters changes in width along the length of the garter? It feels like a dumb question because I can't think of any other way to get that shape when knit in the round, but figured I should ask.
Thanks!
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