Well, I have tried several times to make headway on my Sontag (or Cephaline) but keep making mistakes and had to rip it back almost to the beginning at least three times. Sigh. It’s not like it’s that difficult but easy to get off by a stitch and get a wonky lace pattern! I think I have the pattern down now and read the pattern better and correct any mistakes as I make them. I hope to have a finished project to show you soon – a few more nights vegging on the couch and watching Christmas movies should do the trick.
In the meantime, I have done some research into the word Cephaline. I was curious about the origin of the word itself and wondered why Miss Lambert would call the cap a Cephaline in brackets. Presumably, the knitter of 1843 would know what a Cephaline was if they were of a younger generation that was not familiar with Henriette Sontag and her connection with the opera. Recall that she retired from her career as a well-known and famous opera star in 1829. I could not find a definitive answer, which is a bit frustrating but leaves the term with an air of mystery which is quite enticing!
In biology, the word cephaline is used when:
Denoting members of the protozoan suborder Cephalina (order Eugregarinida), characterized by bodies divided into chambers (anterior protomerite and posterior deutomerite, or anterior epimerite, protomerite, and terminal deutomerite); all are parasites of invertebrates. (Drugs.com)
In medicine, céphaline is a French term which translates to thromboplastin in English – a type of plasma protein that assists in blood coagulation (Encyclopedie Universale). While fascinating, neither of these relate to the project at hand. Also, I suspect that these terms may have come into use with the boom in biological and medical knowledge that came about in the late 1800s and in the 20th century.
Looking at the word cephalic, then we seem to be getting closer:
Relating to the head or the head end of the body. Situated on, in, or near the head. Cephalic is synonymous with cranial, relating to the cranium or head.
The word “cephalic” came from the Middle French “cephalique,” from the Latin “cephalicus”, from the Greek “kephalikos” meaning head. (MedicineNet.com)
Based on this definition, Miss Lambert may have simply called this little knitted cap a Cephaline because it was worn on the head? Perhaps a play on the French or Latin words?
Cephaline was a female name in the early Victorian period it is possible that Miss Lambert named this cap for another famous person or the era.
If anyone has any other ideas of the origin of the word Cephaline or knows of any other Cephaline patterns, please share in the comments below!
In other news, I am very excited to share with you this interview that I did with Janelle of the Eclectic Closet blog as part of the Indie Designer Gift-Along 2015. She has interviewed many designers who participated in the gift along this year and I was honoured to be chosen for an interview!
Also, I have set up a Thread Forward page in Facebook where I will share these blog posts along with any Thread Forward Instagram posts, tweets and anything of interest to the vintage knitting community in general. If you are interested, you can follow the page here.