Please find below, my interpretation of Miss Lambert’s 1843 pattern for a Sontag, or Cephaline (My Knitting Book, First Series, pp 27-28).
This pattern is for an opera or travelling cap, named for the famous opera singer, Henriette Sontag. I believe that Cephaline is a romantic reference to the head. An opera cap was worn by a Victorian lady when she went to an event to keep her hair in place, hold in her body heat on a cool evening and maintain her modesty. The cap is knit flat with a picot border. Ribbons or braided wool are attached to hold the cap onto the lady’s head.
The cap is a trapezoid shape with back measuring 12.6”/ 32cm, the front measuring 16”/ 40.5cm and the depth being 4.7”/ 12cm
Yarn: Fingering weight yarn in two colours. Sample made using Knit Picks Palette.
Needles: US 2 ½ / 3.0mm
Other Materials: Tapestry needle, ribbon or extra wool for braiding
Gauge (in pattern): 24 sts x 48 rows = 4” x 4” (10 cm x 10 cm)
- MC – main colour (grey)
- CC – contrasting colour (green)
- CO – cast on
- k – knit
- p – purl
- st(s) – stitch(es)
- yo – yarn over
- yf – yarn forward
- k2tog – knit two together
- p2tog – purl two together
- BO – bind off
Using MC CO 102 sts.
Row 1: Using MC, p to end
Row 2: Using MC, k to end
Row 3: Using CC, p to end
Row 4: Using CC, *yf, k2tog, rep from * to end
Repeat Rows 1 and 2, two times
Use stitch markers to mark the centre 72 stitches
Row 1: Using CC, yo, p2tog, p1, rep from * to end
Row 2: Using CC, yf, k2tog, k1, rep from * to end of row
Repeat Rows 1 and 2 using MC. Alternating CC and MC until a total of 44 rows
To create the trapezoid shape, decrease at the end of the row a total of 30 times over the 44 rows. This equates to approximately four rows with decreases at the end, followed by two rows without decreases (72 sts)
Pick up 40 stitches on each side (152 sts)
Repeat the Border for the sides and back of the cap
Turn in the border and sew to create a picot edge
(Note: The original pattern suggests the following colour choice “the border is knitted in white, and the middle shade of whatever colour is used in the headpiece. This is prettiest in five distinct shades of any colour, with one or two rows of white between each division of shade.” (Miss Lambert, My Knitting Book, 1843, p. 28)
Enjoy wearing a piece of history that is pretty and practical!