Dar Anahita: Medieval Egyptian Knitting 5

Arm Warmers and A Hat


multicolored knit sleevesMedieval Egyptian-style knitting project:
Scoggers/Arm Warmers

Here's a picture of one of my last knitting projects before all this stuff got stolen, a pair of "sleeves" which are basically leg-warmers for arms. The patterns are taken from a single fragment of Medieval Egyptian woolen knitting, photographed in black-and-white in the catalog of the Bouvier Collection. I used Shetland yarns in a sort-of madder red, dark indigo blue, medium heather green, heather ochre, and medium-light blue, except for the dark cream (looks white here), which is a fingering weight wool. There are up to four colors in a row, not counting the large central figures, which i didn't carry all the way around - if i had there'd have been five yarns per row, with six on rows with dark indigo dots. Instead, they were done in an "intarsia in the round" technique.

Because of the relatively complex patterns and the many threads to carry, this one sleeve took me about four evenings to knit, and another to finish the many loose threads on th inside.

I started at the cuff (bottom of the picture), knitting with five size US 0 needles, knitting to the second striped band. Just before i began the large colored shapes, i switched to size US 1 needles. The shapes were done in a technique common in the modern Balkans. I kept knitting around, and brought the color back across the knitting to begin again at the first edge of the shape, so there are diagonal floats on the backside. Then when i got to the top band (the ochre arches on the dark indigo ground) i switched to size US 2 needles and increased 8 stitches (2 per needle) in the single color bands just before. The gauge is around 8-1/2 stitches per inch at the wrist, and about 7-1/2 stitches per inch in the top band. The sleeves reach from my wrist to just above my elbow.

While working on the second one, I experimented by carrying all the colors all the way around to see how this differed from limiting the color to the motif alone. This made the hooked shapes very thick and it made the arm warmer much less stretchy.

So i ripped it all out and started again, making the hooked motifs with the intarsia in the round technique i had used on the first arm warmer.


blue and white knit hatNon-Medieval Egyptian knitting project:
Qalansuwa-style Hat

I knit this hat in just slightly more than one evening and in time to wear at the West Kingdom March Crown Tournament. It was fun and pretty easy. It is very loosely knit of off-white DK, multi-blue space-dyed sock yarn, and three shades of blue Shetland yarn on size US 5 needles because I wanted it to be stretchy. It is not a historical Medieval Egyptian project.

I used a hat shape in 45 Fine and Fanciful Hats to Knit by Anna Zilboorg. I choose this shape because it is similar to that in a number of late 13th century Andalusian illuminations, which show Muslim men and women wear cone-shaped hats with a ball at the tip, around which they've wound their turbans. I don't know how the hats in the paintings are made. They may be felt or silk with an inner support structure, which style i'm reading about in a book about the Abbasid Caliphate.

The patterns i chose from Zilboorg's book were similar to those in Medieval Egyptian knitting, but are not historically accurate. None the less, it looks nice with a dark blue ikat turban wrapped around it.


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Back to the Courtyard of my Maghribi domicile, for other Textile and Garb stuff.

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