MKB Project 15:  A Bonnet Cap

2016 has started with a very busy time including school, work and family life and I have had a difficult time finding the time to knit and blog. Hopefully, now that I have become more settled into these changes and work on developing a new routine, I will be able to make more time for these two things I enjoy doing so much.  I will most definitely continue with my MKB project in 2016!

The fifteenth pattern in Miss Lambert’s 1843 knitting manual, My Knitting Book (First Series) is for A Bonnet Cap.  To be honest, I initially considered skipping this pattern, as it is not something that a modern-day woman would wear other than in costume; however, I was soon plagued with my usual curiosity and decided to give it a try. The pattern calls for “hair brown” German wool and No. 16 needles.  These are equivalent to fingering weight yarn and 2.25-2.75mm needles, respectively.

Regarding colours, Miss Lambert recommends using a “hair brown” colour for the border and white for the remainder.  The term “hair brown” piqued my interest.  Does Miss Lambert mean that a natural or undyed colour (i.e. the brown hair colour of sheep?) or does she mean a to choose a colour similar to that of the hair of the person who will wear the bonnet cap?  Brown may not always be the right option.  For example, my hair is red (and grey … but we don’t need to mention that, do we?)

What is a bonnet cap anyway?  Is the intent to have the cap blend in with the hair so the it is subtle and modest?  Is it supposed to be worn under a bonnet or have the general shape of a bonnet but be worn alone?  Perhaps indoors for warmth?  Outdoors for informal occasions?

To get started, I took a look through some fashion plates from the 1840s to see what I could find regarding the styles of bonnets and caps of the time.  Of the many fashion plates available online, I have shared a few of my favourites below (click on the images to see a larger version).

1843:  Fashions, Winter 1843 (Source:  Claremont Colleges Digital Library)


1840:  Fashions, Winter 1840 (Source: Claremont Colleges Digital Library)


From my highly unscientific review, there seem to be many different styles of head coverings that it makes it difficult to anticipate what Miss Lamberts A Bonnet Cap will look like when it has been knitted up (knit up?).  My curiosity has been sufficiently piqued and I am eager to cast on and solve the mystery of this 1843 unillustrated knitting pattern!

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