Tuesday 16 March 2010

The Insane Knitting Project

For my birthday I wished for, and received, money to purchase a knitting-kit for a spedetröja to be worn with my folk costume. I was very well pleased, and ordered the kit the day after. Today it arrived!

The yarn is wool, and is knitted on needles 1,5 mm (US size 000, UK size 17). That is really tiny, but it’s fun, I like thin needles – the knitting turns out very nice as well. I started knitting at once, of course, and have now made about 1” on the first sleeve. The batteries in my camera died, so no picture of the knitting today. A little history on the spedetröja, then. A speda is a word in the local dialect of the county Skåne, meaning a splinter, or in this case, a knitting-needle. Tröja today means a knitted sweater, but in the past it usually meant a sewn piece of clothing. 18th century short jackets, for example were called tröjor. So, spedetröja just means a knitted sweater. Spedetröjor were knitted with relief patterns in purl-stitch on the shoulders, sides and bottom edge, and then felted. They where decorated (at least on the ones to be worn for representative purposes, like to church) with strips of silk and/or velvet at neck and wrists. Embroidery was also done at times. Red, green, blue and white seems to have been common in the part of Skåne I’m from. It was worn over the opplöt (blouse), and under the liv (bodice), like this:

This is an excellent example of an area where most people cheat with their costumes. The only people I’ve ever seen wearing the spedetröja with their folk costumes I’ve seen in books on how it should look. Most people don’t bother with it for. But I make historic clothing on a regular basis, and I want it to be right. Quite a few people make updated versions of spedetröjor though, to wear with modern clothes – I like that, giving historic clothing a new life in our time. On Ravelry you can find several examples of spedetröjor, made with the old techniques and decorations, but a little updated. Mine will be red, since the apron I plan to have made to wear with this costume will have red stripes in it. I think it’ll look pretty. Let me just say that this insane knitting project will truly take forever, so don't hold your breath

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