23 October 2010 @ 11:19 pm
Stranded Waistcoat Analysis  
I want to get this done before I forget about it, because the thank you gift that my sister got me for watching Ian was yarn for the 16th-century stranded knitting waistcoat I've been talking about making for like two years now. We ordered it from Colourmart, and I selected a silk/merino blend laceweight yarn, with a high silk content. It's in "light bottle" (a medium green) and "maize" (gold/yellow). Unfortunately, I will not be able to afford enough gold or silver-wrapped yarn to knit a waistcoat until I win the lottery. Let's just say that a thousand yards of that would probably be around a thousand dollars. Ha ha -- no.

Anyway, I want to get this written down in detail before I forget, so that I'm not scrambling later to remember why I made the decision to choose these colors. I did a preliminary list at Rachel's house when I was yarn shopping, but not in detail.

For this analysis, I have defined two types of knitted waistcoats:

Type 1: Having knit/purl basketweave borders at the hems of the body and sleeves; example

Type 2: Not having basketweave borders; example 1, example 2

Location Accession/Inventory Number Date Type Colors Other Details
Germanisches Nationalmuseum, Nurnberg T 3170 ca 1600 2 ??? has garter stitch bands alternating with colorwork bands at the hems; has very orderly repeating leaf motif; closes with hooks and eyes?; Italian
Germanisches Nationalmuseum, Nurnberg T 2558 1601-1615 1 Green silk and metal (?) wrapped thread closes with loops and buttons at center front; definite set-in sleeves; large overall floral design
Germanisches Nationalmuseum, Nurnberg T3638 1601-1700 2 Light blue and silver geometric pattern; garter stitch and chevrons at body hem; diagonals slanting toward center front; motif resembling frogs/silk knots at center front; closes with small wrapped? cast metal? buttons with buttonband at center front; mimics fashion of woven cloth/sewn doublets, maybe Italian?
Museum fur Angewandte Kunst, Koln N61 ca 1600s 2 blue and gold thread short sleeves and body; wide (boat) neck; small floral (fleu de lis?) motif with geometric motifs as borders; no visible closure
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston 43.877 1500s-1600s 2 ??? missing a sleeve; definite set-in sleeves; bit of a stand collar; closes with buttons (missing?) and buttonband; sleeve seams appear to go up back of arm, as with woven/sewn sleeves; small-ish floral motif; garter stitch and colorwork bands alternate at bottom of body; slit at wrist of sleeve; colorwork band seem to resemble peeries, especially cross-within-circle at wrist
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston 43.869 1600s 2 bright yellow silk and silver lined with yellow silk; long sleeves slit halfway up arm; closes with buttons at center front (i-cord loops?); geometric motif (possible geometric floral?) with what may be either knit/purl "argyle" pattern between darker motifs or just another stranded geometric motif; funky knit/purl texture (variation on basketweave?) alternating with garter stitch borders at bottom of body; sleeve seam goes up front of arm
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston 62.65 1600s ??? red and silver no image available; "Red silk and silver-gilt thread knitted in design of flowering vine. Laces down front. Slit to waist on sides. Slightly faded, otherwise condition good."
Victoria & Albert Museum 106-1899 1600-1625 1 green and gold "some of the outlined floral motifs in reverse stocking stitch"; small-ish floral motif; gold ground with green motif on body, green ground at hems with gold "peeries" on sleeves; "loose fitting"; Length: 22.5 in, Width: 14.25 in, Length: 15.75 in (arm)
Victoria & Albert Museum 807-1904 1625-1650 1 coral silk and yellow silk partially wrapped in silver "It is constructed of five rectangular panels, one for the back, one each for the two fronts and the sleeves."; still has set-in sleeves/shaped armscyes; coral floral motif on gold ground for body and sleeves, borders in gold motif on coral ground on borders; some reverse stocking stitch as with 106-1899; lined in blue linen; "A series of regular stitch holes along the front edges of the lining on each front edge suggest that it originally fastened with hooks and eyes (since removed)."; "It was once thought that these jackets were produced on the early versions of the knitting frame. However research has shown that the frame was not developed enough in the early 17th century to produce purl stitches or such a fine gauge."
Musées Royaux d'Art et d'Histoire, Bruxelles T. 1043 1601-1700 1 green and gold thread; possibly gold? large floral motif; appears to have rather wide neckline compared to others; turned up cuffs; I would guess it's green on a gold ground from the way it photographed; appears to lace up the center front; definitely set-in sleeves; tops of sleeves/sleevecap seems to switch to a solid single-color, possible evidence of knitting sleevecaps straight and then cutting to shape?
Museo Stibbert, Florence ??? 1600-1625 1 red and gold set-in sleeves; rather wide neck; small-ish branching floral motif; peerie-like borders above basketweave
Victoria and Albert Museum 473-1893 1600-1620 1 blue and yellow, one partially wrapped in silver no picture available; "the sleeves lined in silk and completed with knitted cuffs"; "Along each centre front, a narrow strip of linen covered in blue silk has been added, with button holes and passementerie buttons, worked in silver thread."
Victoria & Albert Museum 346-1898 1600-1625 2 purple and silver-wrapped silk thread repeating damask/brocade pattern; sleeve caps NOT shaped but shaped armscyes; side seams in solid color, stranded pattern does not match at seams; "peeries" at bottom of body alternating with solid bands (garter?)
Victoria & Albert Museum 469-1884 1600s N/A green and gold sleeves only; no picture available
Cleveland Museum of Art 1931.62 1601-1700 1 green and gold large, trailing, stylized floral motif; "peeries" at shoulders, front opening, and above basketweave borders; floral motif has some berries and possibly gillyflowers? (right shoulder), other flowers may be roses; check out different views with links below photo
Musées Royaux d'Art et d'Histoire, Bruxelles 1336 1601-1700 1 green and yellow, one wrapped in metal floral motifs; set-in sleeves; closes with lacing at center front

If anyone wants to share this with anyone, let me know and I'll unlock the entry. And if anyone can fill in the blanks on any of the ??? entries, then I will give you a big sloppy kiss.

Anyway, this was just a really long way to telling you all that I chose green and yellow silk because out of 16 extant items, the colors break down like this:

Green: 6
Blue: 3
Red: 2
Pink: 1
Yellow: 1
Purple: 1
Unknown: 2

There's a lot of difficulty in dating these jackets accurately, but green seemed the safest choice, since so many of them are green.

The metals break down like this, pulling from what it says in the descriptions:

Silver: 6
Gold: 6
Unknown: 4

So, if you were to be a moneybags or a very good saver of your pennies, then you'd be safe going for either silver- or gold- wrapped thread, though I'm not certain yet if it should wrapped on a silk core matching the contrast color or if it should be wrapped on yellow. The descriptions are not always so clear, and some of them (like the green/gold one at the V&A) seem to have the metal wrapped on a contrasting yellow core, since the threads are only partially wrapped and those sections are really yellow. Needs more research! Such as a trip to Europe. :/

As for the types of jackets, it breaks down like this:

Type 1: 7
Type 2: 6
Unknown: 3

So, I guess I'll need to figure out what type I'll make, since the numbers are pretty close. I really hate doing basketweave but love knitting little peerie-type patterns, though, so that may decide me.

I also need to break down the different variations on the Type 2 waistcoats, since there isn't the level of consistency that there is with the Type 1 waistcoats. I should probably also do groupings of the types of floral motifs, since there are variations there, too. And the tpe of flowers shown should be analyzed, most likely.

Yes, that was totally worth staying up until 2 AM to accomplish. My notes are now on the internet, and everyone knows the internet is forever. Comments welcome! Please argue with me over this if you have evidence to back your thoughts up. Also, if you know of any waistcoats or partial waistcoats which I've missed, please let me know so I can add them to my analysis here.
( Post a new comment )
(Anonymous) on December 13th, 2010 05:13 am (UTC)
16-17-C stranded silk sweaters
I've also been collecting pictures and descriptions of the 16+17-C silk jackets. I got to see one close-up once, at an exhibit at the Washington Textile Museum; it was from the NY Met Costume Institute 14.134.18. It was like one from BMFA in your photos, with silver-gilt wrapped color designs and knit-purl patterns between them. There is a whole category that are all the 8-pointed star pattern, virtually all found in Scandinavia. Many had of those swirly embroidery added. I'm told that the quality of the metal wrapping varies from 95% coverage to less than 50%, like Christmas sparkle yarn; tarnish makes one at V&A look green.
(Anonymous) on December 13th, 2010 06:45 am (UTC)
Re: 16-17-C stranded silk sweaters
P.S. There are links at http:// www. drakt. org
[take out the spaces]
(Anonymous) on March 26th, 2011 03:16 pm (UTC)
There's another sleeveless jacket in the Stibbert, with no basketweave: http://drupal.museostibbert.it/sites/all/files/imagecache/500xSTAR/pagina/308/giubbone.jpg
(Anonymous) on March 26th, 2011 03:17 pm (UTC)
Ignore that - it's brocade