Monday, 29 August 2011

Q is for Queen Bess's Stockings

Diamond Faggot Pattern
Q is for Queen Bess's Stockings, another post for the ABC meme hosted by
This is also my one hundredth post.  Yay!

I was having a bit of a problem with 'Q' when I saw in Mary Thomas's Book of Knitting Patterns a picture of a pair of silk stockings worn by Queen Elizabeth I.  The picture is given in the chapter on Faggot Stitch Motifs and is headed, 'Queen Bess's Stockings'. 

Mary Thomas says that the stockings are in Diamond Faggot Stitch and below the picture (which is a little unclear) are the instructions for Diamond Faggot Pattern.  I made a swatch in the palest shell pink cotton 4 ply on 3.25 mm needles.  The colour probably isn't showing up well here.

I haven't been able to source a picture of the stockings to post, but I believe there are some at Hatfield House if you ever get the chance to visit.

The story goes that silk stockings were first made in England in 1575, knitted for Queen Elizabeth by  Mistress Montague.  Up until that time stockings had been made of cloth or felt and sewed together with seams.  Doesn't sound all that comfortable and so no surprise that Queen Elizabeth liked knitted silk stockings so much that after that first pair she always insisted on them and Mistress Montague had to keep on knitting.

Mistress Montague's Pattern
Barbara Walker's Treasury of Stitches gives 'Mistress Montague's Stitch' and also tells the story of Queen Bess's stockings.  I think this stitch is far more likely to have been the one used by Mistress Montague.  The swatch has a  little more body to it than the diamond faggot stitch and would, I think, be more comfortable to wear.  Very 'holey' stitches aren't comfortable on the feet and legs, I find, which is why I only tried fishnet stockings the one time (but that's another story).

Take a look at the wonderful website on the link below for an article all about Renaissance stockings and lots of other costume articles.

The Purple Files : Keepyng yer Legges Warme


pinkundine said...

That's really interesting, and I love the stitch pattern :)

Peppermint Mocha Mama said...

That was neat - and my mind wondered over when I read "Montague".. it babbled something about the Capulets and fighting over her stockings... lol.

Gorgeous stitch though - would make a gorgeous scarf I think.

witchyknits4ewe said...

Very interesting history and cute stockings!!

Napiligal said...

I love doing these old pattern stitches, even though I haven't done many. I have a scarf on the sticks now based on an 1897 pattern book