Thursday, 10 January 2013

Knitting instructions for Johan III's 16th century stockings

Johan III was the second of Gustaf Vasa’s sons to become king of Sweden and he did so at the very mysterious death of his half-brother Erik XIV.  King Johan as well as several of his relatives are buried at the Cathedral in Uppsala and in 1945 the tombs were opened and extensively examined, and a book was published about the finds, Vasagraven (1956), edited by Martin Olsson. The burials clothes were part of the examinations and I have posted about those earlier:
 Johan III knitted silk stocking were analyzed and a knitting description made by Mrs. S Harring. My knitting knowledge is very basic and the description about 60 years old and a bit fussy in the details to begin with. For example, there is no information on gauges or how thick the silk yarn was. He died in 1592 and the stocking were probably part of his wardrobe. The stockings have no sewn seams, so they must have been knitted of four needles. They are knitted in (now) yellow silk, possible they were white or some light colour and have been discoloured after several hundred years.

[Edited January 31 2013] After my initial post my friend Pernilla very kindly offered fix my rather stilted knitting description. As she is a knitter and I’m not, I said yes, please and thank you. So here it is, updated and improved! Pernilla also provided me with this photo and link, a stoking foot with similar construction from the same period.

Bend_gules kindly provided me with a link this  knitting description of a similar stocking.

Johan III stockings and his shoes in velvet with silver soles.

The silk burial stockings of king John III of Sweden, d. 1592

Description by Mrs. S. Harring, published in ”Vasagraven i Uppsala Domkyrka” (The Vasa Grave in Uppsala Cathedral) in 1956, ed. Martin Olsson, translated into English by Pernilla Leijonhufvud 2013
The stockings are knitted from now yellow silk, marked with a back seam done with a purl stitch. The leg length is 55 cm, the foot 24 cm. [The stockings are knit in the round, translator's comment.]
Cast on 254 s.
Purl one row, knit one row, purl one row and then knit the rest of the stocking except for one stitch centre back which is purled every other row. On either side of this purl rib, which forms a back seam, the decreases are made. The first decrease is made on the fifth knit row after the last purl row. The decreases are made two s from the seam. Decrease = k2tog. Knit 9 rows between the rest of the decreases. After 16 decreases are made, knit only 5 rows. After the 17th decrease, knit 11 rows. Thereafter, m2 on one side of the seam and m1 on the other. Knit 7 rows between each increase. (One increase forgotten on one side of the back rib.) The increase is made by knitting in the bar between stitches in the preceding row. After the eighth increase, knit 40 rows. Thereafter decreases are made once again. These are made with 5 knit rows in between. 29 decreases.
42 rows after the decreases, the dart [=gusset] is begun, 54 s from either side of the back seam. Purl 1 on every other row 4 times, thereafter purl 1 on either side of this stitch every other row until the stocking is finished. At the second and fourth purl stitch, make an increase in the knit stitch between the purl ones. At the eleventh purl stitch after the beginning of the dart, start the heel. This is made with 54 s on either side of the back seam (109 s). The heel is done in stockinette, i.e., knit one row, purl one row. On the wrong side, knit the first and last 3 stitches in the row. Make a decrease 4 s from the edge on either side with 7 rows in between.
The first decrease is made immediately after the split. The total number of decreases are 20. After the second decrease on one side, one decrease is left out, and in line with the fourth, a purl stitch is forgotten in the back rib. With the last decrease, decreases for the shaping of the heel are begun. On one side, k2tog within 2 stitches from the back rib. Make another decrease 9 s from the first. On the other side of the back rib, the decrease is made only 1 s from the rib, and 10 s are knit before the next decrease. All decreases are made by knitting 2 s together. Make a decrease every other row 7 times. The remaining s are sewn together, forming a seam under the centre of the foot.
Now knit in the round again. Along the sides of the heel flap, pick up stitches on the edges, 171 s. In the centre under the foot, purl 1 every other row on either side of the centre knit stitch. Within these purl ribs, increase 1. This increase is made every fourth row 23 times, and then every other row 14 times. Thereafter, knit 24 rows without increases, and start the decreases for the toe.
For the ankle, decreases start immediately after the stitches were picked up on the heel flap. The decreases are made on every row. For the first decrease, sl 1, k 1,  pull the slipped s over the knit s. The second decrease is made by k2tog. The second and fourth stitch from the decrease is purled every other row. After 53 decreases, k2tog (in both places) every fourth row 18 times. In one place there are five rows between decreases, which is fixed after the fact by only knitting one row after the next decrease. Finally, decrease in every row until you reach the purl rib underneath the foot. Now start the decreases for the toe. These are made in between 7 s on every other row until 30 s remain. These are sewn together.
(End of description)

Johan III:s silkesstrumpor (1592)

Ur "Vasagraven i Uppsala Domkyrka", red. Martin Olsson, 1956

Strumporna [ ... ] äro stickade av nu gult silke med markering av en baksöm genom en avig maska. Skaftens längd är 55 cm, fötternas 24 cm.

Efterföljande beskrivning av stickningen är utförd av fru S. Harring, Trikåaktiebolaget Oscar

Uppläggning 254 m. (=maskor). Sticka ett avigt, ett rätt, ett avigt varv och därefter enbart rätt förutom 1 m. mitt bak, som stickas avig vartannat varv. På ömse sidor om denna aviga rand som bildar söm bak göras hoptagningar. Första hoptaget göres efter 5 varv från det sista aviga varvet. Hoptagningarna göras 2 m. från sömmen. Hoptagning = 2 m. stickas tillsammans rätt. Mellan de  övriga hoptagen stickas 9 varv. Då 16 hoptagningar äro gjorda stickas endast 5 varv. Efter sjuttonde hoptagningen stickas 11 varv, därefter göres utökning 2 m. på ena sidan sömmen och 1 m. på den andra. Mellan varje utökning stickas 7 varv. (En ökning glömd på ena sidan om bakranden.) Ökningen göres så att man stickar en maska i föregående varvs maskled. Efter åttonde utökningen stickas 40 varv rakt. Därefter göras åter hoptagningar. Dessa göras med 5 varvs mellanrum. 29 hoptagningar.
42 varv från sista hoptagningen påbörjas pilen 54 m. på ömse sidor om baksömmen. Sticka 1 m. avigt vartannat varv 4 ggr, därefter stickas 1 m. på ömse sidor om denna maska avigt vartannat varv tills strumpan är färdig. Vid andra och fjärde aviga maskan göres en utökning i den räta maskan mellan de aviga. Vid elfte aviga maskan från pilens början påbörjas hälen. Denna stickas av 54 m. på ömse sidor om bakranden (109 m.). Hälen stickas i slätstickning, d.v.s. ett rätt och ett avigt varv. På avigsidan stickas de 3 första och sista maskorna rätt på avigvarvet. Innanför 4 m. i varje sida göres en hoptagning med 7 varv emellan.

Första hoptaget göres omedelbart efter delningen. Hoptagningarna äro sammanlagt 20. Efter andra hoptaget på ena sidan är en hoptagning uteglömd och samtidigt med fjärde en avig maska i bakranden bortglömd. Samtidigt med sista hoptagningen påbörjas hoptagningar för hälens rundning. På ena sidan tages ihop 2 m. innanför 2 m. från bakranden. Man gör ytterligare en hoptagning 9 m. från föregående hoptagning. På andra sidan bakranden göres det första hoptaget endast 1 m. från bakranden och före nästa hoptag stickas 10 m. Alla hoptag äro gjorda så att 2 m. stickas samman med rätstickning. Gör hoptag vartannat varv 7 ggr. De återstående maskorna sys samman så att det bildas en söm mitt under foten.

Man stickar sedan åter runt. På hälbandets sidor plockas upp i maskorna intill kanten 171 m. Mitt under foten stickas en avig maska vartannat varv på båda sidor om den mittersta räta. Innanför dessa aviga ränder ökas ut 1m. Denna ökning göres vart fjärde varv 23 ggr och sedan vartannat varv 14 ggr. Därefter stickas utan ökningar 24 varv, då hoptagningarna för tån börja.

För vristen göres hoptagningarna omedelbart efter det att maskorna plockats upp på hälbandet. Hoptagningarna göras varje varv. Första hoptaget lyftes 1 m. stickas 1 m. och den lyfta drages över. Andra hoptaget stickas 2 m. ihop med rätstickning. Andra och fjärde maskan från hoptaget stickas avigt vartannat varv. Efter femtiotredje hoptagningen tages ihop vart fjärde varv 18 ggr och nu endast med räthoptagning på båda ställena. På ett ställe har tagits ihop med 5 varv emellan och detta har sedan rättats till genom att nästa gång endast sticka ett varv efter hoptagningen. Till sist tages ihop varje varv tills man kommer till den aviga randen under foten. Nu börja tåhoptagningarna. Dessa göras med 7 m. mellanrum vartannat varv tills 30 m. återstår. Dessa maskor sys samman.



cynthb said...


I found your post while searching for extant late 16th century knit stockings. Thank you for providing the translation!

I have a question: Is the plate that shows the two pictures of the stockings (and the shoes) from "Vasagraven i Uppsala domkyrka"? If so I will want to track down a copy :)


Isis said...

Cynthia: Thank you, though I'm not the translater, that's my friend Pernilla. :)

Yes, those pictures are from that book. It was printed in 1956 so a bit hard to find, I'm afraid. This is the only pictures of the stockings in it.

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