Dar Anahita: Medieval Egyptian Knitting 4

A Pouch and Mittens Using Medieval Egyptian Designs

small colorful pouchHere are two more projects I've completed in January and February of 2000.

Cotton Pouch

This small pouch is about 5 inches wide and 7 inches long, large enough to hold my wallet and a few other small items. It is knit of crochet cotton with a set of 5 needles, US size 00. My gauge is 14 stitches and 14 rows per inch. It hadn't yet been blocked when I scanned it.

I cast on at the bottom and knit around from bottom to top. The two reds and the dark ochre are a different yarn, much finer than the other colors, so I used 2 strands of each of them to knit with.

To make a place for the drawstrings, in the cream colored band, i knit one round, then a second round in which i more-or-less evenly spaced two yarn-overs, then knit 2 together, then a third round in which i knit the 2 yarn overs together so this round has the same number of stitches as round 1 of the band.

The draw strings are two simple 3-strand braids. The strap is made of wool knitting worsted and is my first attempt at using a lucet, so it's a bit uneven.

Click on the picture to see a larger view with more details.

Wool Mittens

Yes, mittens! "But," you protest, "you live in California." That's true, but it's Northern California and it's chilly here in the spring, windy and rainy, and I hate being cold. So I figured that since the Medieval Egyptians knit with wool, cotton, and silk, and made socks, hats, pouches, and cushion covers, then if such a knitter were in a cold climate he or she just might have made a pair of mittens. Obviously, this is not based on any existing Medieval Egyptian garment. But all the patterns on the mitten are historically authentic.

These are knit of fingering weight wool, except for the space dyed stripes, which is DK weight. The space dyed yarn is not a blue-purple as it appears in this scan; it is actually a very muted color. I am using US size 1 needles, my gauge is 9 stitches and 10 rows per inch. They are knit beginning at the tip and worked toward the cuff, like many socks and mittens in Eastern Europe, Turkey, and other parts of Northern Europe.

Using a "figure-8" cast-on, I began with 4 stitches and, using the technique described in Magnificent Mittens by Anna Zilboorg, knit around, with 4 stitches on the band, increasing 2 stitches every round in the front and the back until it was wide enough to go around my hand and be a bit roomy (31 stitches each front and back), then decreased the band to 2 stitches. I continued the pattern until the mitten reached the crotch of my thumb.

Following the "invisible thumb" technique in Zilboorg's book, I knit the thumb, then knitted it into the mitten. Then I continued knitting around, following the patterns as before, until it reached my wrist.

Since there's no evidence of the use of purl stitches or garter stitch rows, to make the mitten fit a bit better I decreased around 10 stitches total in the first cuff row, knit another round, then increased over the next 3 rounds until I had a total of 104 stitches for the cuff. The cuff from pattern to cast off, was knit on these 104 stitches. I knit the last round or two of the white on larger needles, US number 5 (I think), casting off with them so the edge would be stretchy (otherwise I tend to cast off much too tightly).

wool mitten backwool mitten palm

The Back of the Mitten

The Palm of the Mitten with "invisible" thumb

This mitten was blocked before I scanned it. I dampened the mitten, then pressed it with my steam iron set on wool. I let it dry completely, and then weighted it overnight, so the cuff doesn't curl.

The cuffs are wide enough so that the narrow sleeves on most of my tunics will fit inside, that way I won't have drafts blowing up my sleeves.

I finished the mittens in February. They were lovely. I slept in them at our March and April events.


I think my knitting is improving (well, I sure hope so). So my next knitting project will be a woolen hat. I haven't decided whether it will be a modified pillbox or a pointed cap with a tassel on top - there are pictures of Andalusian men wearing hats of the latter shape. I may make it of the same wool as the mittens, or maybe I'll make it of worsted and then full it.

Actually, i made the cap - pointed with a ball on top...

I still plan to make a reproduction pair of socks of cotton. I have the cotton, but I think I need to do a little more knitting in cotton before I tackle the socks. My consort was hinting that he'd like a pouch...

Up Date

The mittens were among the stolen items. I was so disheartened i stopped knitting for a year, then spent a year making "mundane" knit items. In the summer of 2003 i began knitting again, and have since made two reproduction pairs of socks in cotton as well as eight pouches in worsted weight cotton in Muslim Egyptian patterns as items for our Queen's treasure chest.

On to my Arm Warmers and Hat.

Back to my Baraka (Blessings) Socks.
Back to my First Knee High Socks.

Back to The Knitting Room in Dar Anahita

Back to al-Riyad, the Courtyard at Dar Anahita, for other Textile and Garb stuff.

Comments? Questions?
, now known as Urtatim (err-tah-TEEM)